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The Life-changing Art Competition
Updated 2017-06-15
Goh Chee Seng, Founder of Illusionist Animation Studio

Goh Chee Seng fell in love with art when he was 11. It all began when his teacher asked if anyone wanted to participate in an art competition. He raised his hands enthusiastically; that moment historically captured his discovery and the beginning of his pursuit for art as his lifelong passion.

When he came home from school, he would rush to his colour pencils and draw endlessly, from day to night, even forgoing meals.

“Food is getting cold. Come and eat quickly,” his mother would say but instead, he would sink himself in his own world of creation.

Goh had spent his entire youth learning to draw from friends and doodling, sketching, drawing, painting at every opportunity. He even joined the art society, curriculums and kept his passion for art ignited.

Time quickly passed by and soon, it was time for him to choose his career path. Pursuing art as a career became a natural choice. His eyes were opened to the vast opportunities available in the creative industry when a team from The One Academy, the world’s best creative art college, came by to offer a talk and an art workshop.

Goh began growing intrigued with The One Academy, did his research and found that a pursuing a top-notch art diploma from the reputable college far too expensive for him. He consulted his parents and they advised him to take up accountancy instead as pursuing art with their current financial situation proved to be a challenge.

Instead of giving up, Goh kept his ears opened for opportunities and found that there was a nationwide competition happening soon which offered top 3 winners The One Academy scholarships. The New Media Award (now known as Malaysia Top 10 Outstanding Young Artists Awards or MT10) could be the solution that possibly takes him out of his financial dilemma. It was 2001 and as MT10 was held in collaboration with Walt Disney Studios, the theme for the competition was related to Monsters Inc., an animated film that to be launched that school holiday.

All participants were required to draw their own closet monster. During the competition, the 18-year-old glanced around him and found that those sitting near him were drawing replicas of the monsters brilliantly. The analytical Goh knew he couldn’t draw the monsters as the competition was far too great. Half the competition, he sat down wondering what to do as he watched the people around him complete their painting.

Then, an inspiration struck and he immediately set to work. He drew a perfectly ordinary man trying to get into his monster suit to scare his son, only to fail. The man’s bewildered expression was clearly expressed in his drawing, something he spent his time perfecting. Only time will tell if his drawing was good enough to get the Gold or win any scholarship prizes he was aiming for.

Soon, he was in the hall once again, sitting through the prize-giving ceremony. The consolation winners were already called out and they were announcing the top winners. It was just like a dream when his name was announced. The cheers were loud and it took awhile for reality to sink in: Goh was named the The New Media Award Gold Winner in 2001 and won a full scholarship worth RM50,000.

With that, Goh could pursue his dream to establish a career in the creative industry by first taking up a Digital Animation course in The One Academy. He was often under the tutelage of the very ones who had a hand in creating, drawing or directing his well-loved animated films. The One Academy which commits its teaching syllabus to its ‘Masters Train Masters’ coaching philosophy usually collaborates with experienced industry leaders and international companies. The One Academy is known for its challenging curriculum but it was hard work and perseverance that saw Goh through his studies; he graduated after 3 fruitful years.

In 2011, ten years after winning the competition, Goh founded his company – Illusionist Animation Studio which specialises in 3D animation and provides high quality 3D animation content like movies, game cinematics for international market.

One of the most notable achievements by Illusionist Animation Studio was the collaboration with Square Enix® where both companies worked on Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV which was released last year. Goh’s team created the kingdom in which the movie set was set in. After receiving directives from Square Enix®, the company translated everything to 3D to make it realistic.

“My dream to pursue a career in the creative industry was made possible thanks to the Gold Prize. To me, the competition did two things for me. First, it gave me hope and the opportunity to get an art diploma I’ve always wanted. Second, it helped the people around me change their perception of my dream. Before I won this competition, my family, relatives and friends kept questioning my choice to get an art diploma and my wish to establish my career in the creative industry. After I won the competition, they thought it was a miracle and realised that it could be possible for me to establish myself in the creative industry,” said Goh.

To Goh, that was his greatest achievement in life, to be the beacon of positivity that encourages the people around him.

“People see what I have achieved and they say, ‘If Chee Seng can do it, I can do it too.’ And they try and succeed. I feel privileged to be the person who encourages them to make that first move or to be that positive energy. When I stepped foot in the digital animation industry many years ago, there were lots of negative vibes in the industry. This is why it was an important achievement for me to be able to stay positive to flourish in the industry.”

Goh has come a long way since he won this prestigious nationwide art competition. Twenty years on since it was established in 1998, the art competition-cum-awards ceremony, which is now known as Malaysia Top 10 Outstanding Young Artists Awards, is still going strong. Secondary school students still stand a chance to win The One Academy scholarships, cash and prizes with a total worth of over RM600,000! In conjunction with MT10’s 20th anniversary, this year’s MT10 Gold Winner will also win RM20,000 cash prize in addition with The One Academy’s scholarship worth RM80,000.

On top of that, two new awards will be given out this year. The Distinguished Art Educator Awards are conferred to passionate teachers who nurtured the top 10 winners; teacher of the Gold Winner wins an additional RM1,000 cash prize. Another award, the Art Educator Lifetime Achievement Award will be bestowed to an art teacher who has dedicated his or her entire life to nurturing students who have become artists themselves.

Goh’s amazing story could be your story. If you want to follow his footsteps, keep your eyes on to find out how you can participate in the competition.

On a final note, The One Academy graduate imparted an invaluable advice to all participants: “Don’t see this as a competition. See it as art jamming and remember to enjoy art creation in those few hours. I think… that is how I won.”

[The One Academy of Communication Design was established in 1991 with the aim of promoting the region as the world’s center of creative reference. Strategically located in the thriving creative hub of Bandar Sunway, Selangor, with a branch in Georgetown, Penang, The One Academy is today a top notch leading international institute in art, design and creative multimedia, renowned with graduates who steer successful careers in creative capitals worldwide. The courses offered are Multimedia Design with Digital Media and Interactive Design, Digital Animation with Game Development, Film Visual Effects, Illustration, Movie & Game Art, Advertising & Graphic Design, Interior Design, Paris Fashion Design & Pattern Making and Fine Arts. ]

Artworks by Goh Chee Seng.

Goh Chee Seng, Founder of Illusionist Animation Studio