Lau is wide awake
Kia Hau Lau aka NeverAsleep is a Malaysian artist who creates richly layered, colorful worlds in his work. Kia was kind enough to answer some questions about his work, especially his new collection “Little Bio-luminescent World.”
When did you first hear about NFTs?
I started hearing about NFTs back in 2020 when some artists on my Twitter feed mentioned and shared crypto art, but I had no idea what was that back then, until early 2021 when it became a much-discussed topic. Being curious and excited about this new development, I decided to take the leap and minted my first piece in late Feb 2021.
What opportunities do you think that NFTs present for artists?
Besides giving opportunities to artists to make a living through creating art and doing what we believe in, it also makes Self-sovereign Identity possible.
Your work features what I can only describe as colorful, complex landscapes. Can you tell me what draws you to a particular scene? How do you compose your shots?
Many years ago, when I started doing art, someone told me I had bad colour sense. Since then I have been working hard on colours – constantly exploring combinations in order to improve, especially while doing personal projects where I can go really wild without the limitations of client work. I guess that’s why the colour part is now the strongest and the most eye-catching element of my artworks.
I also love to add many details in my artworks to give viewers the possibilities of discovering something new in them at every consequent glance, hence the elaborate landscapes and fine details which are waiting to be discovered.
What kind of “post-production” do you apply to a photograph after shooting?
There is no fixed process in all my artworks – I always try to explore new techniques and new processes in almost every piece or series, but the usual process for my photographs are processing the RAW in Lightroom, and then doing some paint-overs and detailing in Procreate on iPad to match the surrealism treatment I have in mind. Finally, I finish up with some effects, compositing, and fine-tuning colours in Photoshop. Some artworks have added 3D elements with Cinema4D or were animated in AfterEffects.
How do you decide on the use of color in your work? What is its significance?
The colours are mainly driven by the feelings I want to portray in the artworks, of what I want viewers to feel when they see it. I do a lot of experimenting on colour combinations until I achieve the “mood” that I want.
How has your work evolved over the years?
I always believe everything needs to be constantly evolving, even for an artist, be it the styles, techniques or even the medium. I enjoy experimenting with new ways to create art, exploring the techniques, learning new technical skills and most importantly improving in conveying feelings and emotions with my artworks.
This drives the constant evolving in my artworks from cyberpunk photography animation, to anime style paint-over photography, to aesthetic 3d artworks. But these are only some of many types of art directions I love doing, there is still so much more for me to explore and improve, which I believe will help my artwork evolve even more in the future.
Your recent work seems to take a turn towards the creation of alternate worlds. Can you elaborate on that?
Since the beginning of the pandemic, I have been “grounded” and spent most of my time at home, hardly even picking up my camera for outdoor shoots, which accelerated the evolving from mixed-media of real world captures to fully computer-generated artworks which I’m working on now.
During the lockdown, what has been happening around us has taken a heavy toll on our mental health. So, I worked on this Little World series where I could lose myself in the process, like an escape to this calming world. It is a very personal piece where I just enjoyed the process of creating as it kept me calm and relaxed. I am really glad they turned out well.
Talk a little more about the Little Bio-Underwater World collection.
It is actually part of this big series of Little World I am creating. This is the second piece of 3 where I focus on the underwater scene. It is an alternate surreal world where it is floating amongst the dancing jellyfishes. The sea anemones and soft corals are gracefully moving under the refracted light with bubbles floating around them, making the scene look like it’s taking place underwater yet also floating in the air. The slow and graceful pace of this animation gives a moment of peace within the fast-paced world around us.
There are 4 close-up sections from this work being minted as more affordable NFTs and the loopable full shot as the main piece, which makes a total of 5 artworks in this collection. It is the biggest collection I have minted so far. It was unbelievable that AOI, or known as Art On Internet, a well-known collector, placed bids on all 5 of them and acquired the whole collection. I’m incredibly grateful and honoured that they believe in my artworks and invested in them.
How were they created? What tools did you use?
They were created with Cinema 4D (a 3D software that I love to use), rendered with Redshift 3D, and composited with Adobe After Effects.
What are some of the themes you are exploring with your art?
Currently I do a lot of aesthetic pieces and may later venture into darker or sci-fi themes.
What are some things you want to do with your art that you haven’t yet?
I would love to have the chance to collaborate with other artists or even programmers, especially in creating generative art. It is something I always want to try out and explore.
What advice would you have for artists getting into NFT?
I’m not sure if I am qualified to give advice, but one very important issue I would like to bring up is to take good care of your mental health. It takes a big toll on us when self-doubt is creeping in. It helps a lot to seek out a community of supportive peers to keep hanging in there.
What is the local NFT community like where you are? How do you stay connected in that community?
The local NFT community in Malaysia is growing with more artists joining the cryptoart scene each day. Many of them are quite active in Hic et Nunc, a platform I haven’t really gotten into yet but have heard a lot of good things about.
How do you publicize your work?
I mostly use Twitter and Instagram to share my art. I’ve also recently been participating in Discord groups to learn more about the international art scene.
You’ve sold quite a few pieces, what was that like? How important is that when creating a piece? Do you think of it at all?
I’m very fortunate that my art has managed to reach artists and collectors that believe in my work and invested in me. I’m also tremendously grateful to every single person who has supported me by retweeting and sharing my works. It’s an amazing feeling to be able to connect to other creators and collectors!
This has been a huge motivation for me in keeping on with what I’m doing, constantly learning and improving in creating art.
What else should we know about your work?
My final piece/collection of the Little World series is coming soon!