A picture which changed a life
While everybody of Myanmar were excited to see US President Barack Obama in November last year, Arkar Kyaw, 21, painted a graffiti of the president on a wall somewhere Yangon to welcome him. He never thought that such graffiti would bring him heartfelt luck the next day.
“I took a photo of my art and posted it on facebook the same day I painted. The next day, several incoming calls woke me up, bringing unexpected dreams. Local journals offered me interviews”, said Arkar Kyaw, ” because of this art, I had a great chance to attend the US President’s Speech at Yangon University Convocation Hall, plus I got many more job opportunities that I never expected before”.
Not being able to afford to buy spray-paints, he who used to draw with charcoal is now owing ten thousand US dollars within only this March, 2014. He had been invited by the government to Naypyitaw to paint murals of athletes for SEA Games 2013. Besides, he has been invited as a representative of Myanmar to participate in the Meeting of Styles, a worldwide graffiti festival which was held in Bangkok, Thailand on April 5th and 6th, 2014. This was his first international meeting experience in life.
“I know the organizer of this festival in person. He is also a graffiti artist. I hope this festival will expose me to many different experiences as over 50 countries will gather there at the meeting. I’m really excited to learn new things and see what I have never seen before. That is, I am sure, a great opportunity for me.”, said Arkar Kyaw who creates his arts with the name of “Night”.
He created a graffiti of Myanmar Culture and Street Art on Graffiti Live program at the festival. It made him think carefully not to go the same as others and be obvious among other countries. Through online, he’s been learning about graffiti and trying to make his work unique.
Almost all youngsters envy his success and art. But there’s always a background story of every success as we all know. He is the one who had faced a very hard time in his recent old years. He used to share a small apartment with his two brothers and a family and they had been pushed away from that apartment since they got a lot of stuff inside by the owner family. He used to sell cheap clothes on roadsides to survive. Still he was not sure what to do and what to stick on. His childhood life was quite okay since his father stood stand for the family. However gambling spoiled his father’s life and they faced the toughest time of life. Three brothers separated their mother and father in 2012. They brought mom abroad where her brother lives. But things did not go well. They came back Myanmar and left mother in her hometown and they themselves challenged life in Yangon. He drew this and that of small pieces of picture for friends. And also he saved money by drawing occasionally in festivals held in Kandawgyi Park. Besides, he went to Sakyin, Mandalay where he earned some money by painting Buddha statues. Those times were too hard for him to be able to buy spray paints. But he never wanted to give up, just wanted to try to escape from that hell of poverty.
“Books taught me a lot although I am not a bookworm. Luckily, just one or two books that I read gave me priceless knowledge and courage”, he said.
“What we all need in life to succeed is just to polish the things or talents of your own”. That’s the sentence which showed him the way. All he knows is painting. Later days, he saw a foreigner drew graffiti, he imitated and gave it a try with a brush. Since then people noticed his art and offered more and more paintings.
He drew graffiti of Burma President U Thein Sein to honor him. Then he painted Obama graffiti which made him more noticeable, to welcome him to Yangon. He said that’s the only way he could welcome Obama. He even borrowed some money to buy spray paint.
Now his family is back again in unity and live happily so far. He, for the time being, volunteers in non-profit organizations with his art. He is the one with confidence who values his work and keeps trying to upgrade his art.
Article translated from the Myanmar times by Mingalapar team writer