Creating art takes a lot of investment, be it energy, creativity or building your skills. Ask any artist and he would also tell you that good art takes time, but this Malaysian artist is in a slightly different position – his art is a race against time.
Pang Sern Yong, a Langkawi-based local artist, viewed the beachfront as a natural canvas on which to draw on art subjects. Because his canvas is large, it is also his masterpieces that can only be really appreciated with a drone.
Now we’re not going to lie: when we first heard about Pang, we thought, “Is this guy too free or what?” But he had more to offer than just a guy who drew in the sand with sticks.
The circles got bigger as it got more invested
Prior to his full-time life on the beach, Pang moved to and grew up in Singapore at the age of 5. He then returned to Kuala Lumpur in 2020 to expand his media company Gorilla Pictures, which he founded in Singapore.
When CMCO happened he realized he wasn’t being able to network well for his business, so he went on a short break in Langkawi, which he had always wanted to visit but never had the opportunity to do. While on vacation in Langkawi, he felt compelled to make art on the beach.
“I started drawing circles in the sand with small sticks. As the days went on, my urge to create art grew stronger, ”Pang told the Vulcan Post.
“I started buying other tools, making larger and more complex parts, and documenting the parts with a drone. My artwork gained prominence online, as did curious beach goers inquiring about what I was doing on the beach. “
The drones don’t play a role in guiding his art, however; He trusts his own precision and intuition when it comes to doing the craft the way he imagined.
He calls himself a beach artist rather than a sand artist, because for him his art is not only about sand, but also about other elements of the beach such as sunlight, trees and his surroundings, which he includes in the aerial photography he takes from art.
From sticks to a whole rake / Photo credit: Pang Sern Yong
“I see that all of these individual elements are connected, and without these elements, beach art would not be possible,” he explained.
A man against the tide
Despite the size of his work of art, Pang manages everything himself, from the conception and production to the documentation of the piece with drones.
The tools he currently uses are reusable nylon cord for easy measurements, an iron rake mounted on a wooden stick that he uses to draw, and a drone. He assured us that all of these tools would not pollute the beach.
What his art looks like from the ground VS from the air / Photo credit: Pang Sern Yong
The other challenge in making beach art is that because of the tides on the beach, you really have to race against time to complete the piece.
Beach art can only be made on wet sand, Pang explained, as the sand farther from the tide is always dry and has an inconsistent texture, making it difficult to draw.
On the beach he works on, each tidal cycle is about 6 hours, so there is a 2-3 hour timeframe for the tide to go out that allows him to do art on wet sand. Pang makes sure his designs aren’t too refined so that he can finish on time before the high tide.
“With the experience, I became faster at creating my art before the tide engulfs the piece and better at producing designs that are realistic to be completed within that timeframe. I also try to place the parts away from the water so that they are not affected by small changes in the tide, ”he said.
One of his pieces, Retro Heart, that the tide started to engulf … but Pang managed to save it and still get his desired shot / Photo credit: Pang Sern Yong
More than the tools & talents
Having the tools and talent to create these masterpieces isn’t all there is for beach art, he shared. The environment and timing also play a role, most of which he cannot control.
The perfect environment is when the beach is out of rain at low tide and the sand is wet. Pang monitors for these changes by reviewing the weekly tide schedule.
He can usually make a piece or two a day, but he cannot make one on days when the ebb tide does not occur at sunrise or sunset.
Lighting plays a huge role in the presentation of his artwork, so Pang will typically produce his pieces either early in the morning at 7-9am or early in the evening at 5-7pm. They are the times of the day with the best lighting for his art and at the same time cool enough for him to work.
More of his work / Photo credit: Pang Sern Yong
No art is easier than the other
“I don’t think the challenging nature of this art form made it easy to create a piece,” Pang told the Vulcan Post.
One of the more challenging pieces was Oriental Fans. It was a 30 x 10 m piece, the largest he has made so far. It took him 3 separate tries to perfect and 3 hours for each time he was at it.
His heaviest performance at the moment, the oriental fans / Photo credit: Pang Sern Yong
As of now, Pang has not earned with his passion, but he has received personal requests to make art for anniversaries, memorials as well as some corporate requests to make beach art for marketing purposes.
Therefore, Pang focuses on spreading awareness of this art form and its peculiarities among Malaysians. “I’m looking for patrons, sponsors and partners who will work together to use beach art to raise environmental awareness on Malaysia’s beaches because the monumental size is attention-grabbing,” said Pang.
A workshop he recently held to teach people how to do beach art / Photo credit: Pang Sern Yong
In addition, he would like to organize exhibitions like these in KL and Penang as part of partnerships and collaborations. On a larger scale, he hopes to work with hotels and tourism agencies to revitalize Langkawi’s tourism and hospitality industries through beach art.
To get more of these projects done on a larger scale, he’s also open to training younger talent to do beach art through workshops and festivals that he hopes will build a local beach art network.
After falling in love with the beach and the work he does there, Pang now lives permanently in Langkawi to continue working on his beach art.
- You can learn more about Pang Sern Yong here and check out his beach art on Instagram here.
- More articles on art that we wrote here can be found here.
Selected image source: Pang Sern Yong