SHOP TOGETHER WE DANCE SCARF
Hi, my name is Joyce Lay Hoon Ho. I was born and raised on a tiny idyllic island in Malaysia called Penang.
As a little girl, I used to be obsessed over colouring books. My mother would buy them for me and they kept me occupied for hours. I remembered it being such a treat whenever my mother would get me new art supplies.
But for practical reasons, I ended up pursuing a career in Bioengineering instead of the Arts. At that point in my life, I have completely given up on my childhood dream of becoming an artist. It did not take long for me to realized that a career in Bioengineering was just not right for me. I decided to to take night classes in multimedia design in the hopes to make a career change into design and advertising. Working in the creative industry for more than a decade as a designer/art director in Singapore had been very fulfilling for me.
In 2019, my family and I immigrated to Canada and shortly after that the pandemic happened. It was an extremely difficult period for me trying to juggle a full time job without daycare, dealing with homesickness, seasonal depression and social isolation. I would illustrate every night after putting my son to sleep, as a means to cope and cheer myself up by creating joyful imageries that reminded me of home. To my surprise, my works started gaining attention when I shared them on social media and I began realized that I could actually make a living out of doing art.
Today, I’m so grateful to be able to call myself a full-time artist.
Tell us about the design and what lead you to create it.
Inspired by a story that was shared with me by my loved one who was undergoing cancer treatment at that time. She told me she drew a lot of strength from her support group, a group of women who were also fighting cancer themselves. It just made her feel less alone in her struggles.
This artwork is a celebration of all these amazing women who despite all their pain and suffering, still choose to show up everyday to fight for their lives and support each other, refusing to be brought down by their disease.
They say “Not Today” and march on to face another day.
Can you tell us about your experience supporting someone through treatment and share any advice for others doing the same.
Whenever I fell sick as an adult, I would think back fondly about my childhood, where my mother would pamper me and go above and beyond to make sure I was comfortable and gave me special treats to cheer me up. I wanted to do the same for my mother when she was undergoing treatment for terminal cancer.
I would prepare little treats that she likes (frozen banana smoothie and steam chickpeas) and try to make her as comfortable as possible. It was frustrating when she would grumble that things taste funny and would just eat one or two spoons before rejecting everything else. Her treatment affected her sense of taste.
A wise friend advised me that I should be grateful that my mother still had the energy to complain about the little things, because that was a sign that there is still had fight in her. I would pass on this advise to anyone else who is dealing with a grumbling patient.
At the end, I think it meant a great deal to her that she was nursed by someone who loved her .
Where do you find your inspiration and what do you do to get into the creative zone?
I get my inspiration from everywhere but mostly from introspection. I like to create in my art, from things that I find lacking in my life. Whenever I feel restricted, I would draw ladies dancing freely in the wild. When I feel overwhelmed by daily responsibilities, I would draw a woman lying down relaxing, doing nothing. I create a fierce tiger to remind myself to be brave whenever I feel afraid to take action. It is a way I process my feeling and the things that are happening around me.
To get into my creative zone, I put on my headphone and listen to a murder podcast or a comedy show and have my favourite beverage nearby.
Your Instagram bio you describe yourself as a “joyful art creator” with your creations always being so full of life, movement, and colour! How do you hope a design like yours can help make the cancer journey a little less horrible for those who wear it?
I hope it can lift their spirits and remind them that they are not alone in their cancer journey.
Where can we go to swoon over more of your amazing work?