Name: Latifa Bte Aziz
Country of Origin: Singapore
“I wish for people to love my work – to be able to relate to them.. I want my drawings to cheer sad people up.. to cry for the ones feeling down.. I hope my drawings help bring out the feelings buried deep within them.. feelings that some of us fear to show others~ It won’t be easy, but that’s what i hope my drawings will bring out… And I want to live my life, my way.”
~ Childhood ~
I wasn’t truly interested in art, though I used to doodle dresses quite a bit as a kid. I was influenced by my grandma, who was a seamstress. Things changed when I turn 11. My 3 drawings, a study of birds of prey, was first presented to my classmates by my form teacher, Ms Lee. I was surprised that someone would like my drawings enough to share it with others. Some of whom had mock me behind my back for being different. I was a loner, a chinese-malay mix. My classmates didn’t know I understood all the mockery they had said behind my back (literally). I didn’t tell anyone about it back then. It didn’t matter. (•‿•) Ms Lee continued to encourage me and asked me to create more art – some of which she put on display during the school’s art exhibition. To this day, I’m still thankful for her encouragements. I continued to work on my drawing skill.
~ Teen Days ~
The sudden introduction of many more new subjects in secondary school was stressful. Art was the one subject that I was most comfortable in. It was encouraging when I managed to score among the highest in class for art. And I can’t describe how terribly pissed I was when my art teacher then suddenly claimed he lost some of my artworks, including a papercut that i worked like crazy on, to create all the small details! Sometimes I wonder if it was really lost. (︶︹︺)
By the age of 14, I was certain i love art. I was afraid of choosing the arts stream though. My older brother was in the science stream and there was a stigma – that only those who can’t make it with their studies would go into arts stream. It didn’t help that my art teacher then was a super strict lady. (^^ゞ Though she’d sometimes praise me and I got high scores often, her fiery temper scared me.. Thanks to a wonderful friend of mine though, Rachel, I end up joining the arts stream. (*´꒳`*)
Since then, I received more training from her very kind hearted teacher, Mrs Ng. She was very patient us. Even got us a Batik instructor in secondary 3 to prepare us for the O’level project next year. She’d even come back to school during holidays to company and guide us as we work on our O’Level project. Now that I think about it, I’m actually glad that we had a change in band instructor. The new band instructor was so nasty, I end up focusing more on my studies instead of spending too long hours in the school band. (≧∇≦)
In the end, I managed to get Best in Art for O’Level. I couldn’t believe it when I first heard the news. My classmates taking art were all great in art too; I didn’t expect to score the highest. Unfortunately, all the studies I’ve drawn as part of my O’Level project was LOST AS WELL!!! ( ͒˃̩̩⌂˂̩̩ ͒) I was so pissed and upset. And to think the school also told me I’m not allowed to take back my batik painting as they wanted to display it in the school hall. (►˛◄’!) Lucky for me, a few years later, Mrs Ng later helped me get back my painting before the school was dissolved. (๑˃̵ᴗ˂̵)و
Despite receiving the Best in Art, I wasn’t confident of entering any of the local arts school. I scored a mere A2, and Mrs Ng back then used to tell me “you need to score A1 to go to an art school”. So I went for a polytechnic’s graphics design course orientation session instead.. and got totally turned off when I heard the lecturers scoffing and laughing at during the presentations they asked us to prepare. I knew I won’t work well under condescending lecturers.
So I ventured into something “similar” to a Design course – I took Diploma in Multimedia Technology. I later found out that my other classmates in secondary school end up in arts school.
Though surprised, i wasn’t too regretful. I’ve met wonderful friends and lecturers in Singapore Polytechnic. My friends sometimes teased me for being lecturer’s pet, though I’ve always kept to myself in classes. It did felt nice and encouraging to have the audio and graphics lecturers liking my work though. ⁄(⁄ ⁄•⁄-⁄•⁄ ⁄)⁄ It was in back then, in Singapore Polytechnic, that I came across gfxartist.com, and created my first online profile name – Frozenfa. Why “Frozenfa”? ‘Cause my friends call me “Fa”, and the computer labs were always freezing cold back then~ (≧∇≦)
~ Stepping into Adulthood ~
I grew to love digital drawing, particularly vector drawing. Unlike most vector illustrators, I prefer drawing in Flash instead of Illustrator~ In my own opinion, it’s much easier and faster to draw in flash. In fact, all of my vector drawings in my portfolio is done using Flash! (≧∇≦) I hoped that one day I can sell my illustrations on t-shirts and to have my own shop one day. My family however, forced me to follow the norm – find a job asap and stay there for as long as possible. And so I took up the first job I managed to get – a multimedia web designer. It was hard to find a graphic designer job with a Diploma in Multimedia from a school that is not well known for their design students.
A few months after starting my first job, I developed a Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) on my right hand – Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS), due to excessive use and bad arm support while working on my most detailed vector piece to date – Light Up My Path. The pain that came with CTS was terribly intense. I tried using mouse in my left hand instead, in hope of helping my right hand recover faster. Alas I end up with CTS in my left hand too. -_-” There was signs of De Quervain too on my right hand’s thumb. And my shoulders loose joints started to act up as well.. The pain kept me up at night, even when I wore braces to sleep. People joked when they saw my braces – asked me if I was into boxing. I had to attend physiotherapy every week. Some days I felt better after the different heat treatments the hospital sent me to. Some days, the pain worsen after physiotherapy. I started to think of suicide. The pain probably really got to me. A few months later, I forced myself to seek further help – something is wrong if I keep thinking of ending my life. Something must be wrong since I kept waking up with headache as well. I was referred to a specialist and got diagnosed with Clinical Depression.
It was a crazy moment for me and I struggled through physical and mental pain. Too many ugly visions in my mind. Some of my friends seem disgusted when they heard I was taking medicine for depression. They scare me with stories about how some people became more crazy after taking the drugs. So crazy they would end up in the mental institute. They asked me to stop taking my medication for depression. I ignored them and continued getting treatment instead. It was probably easy for them to say so – they’re not the one in pain. They’re not the one losing their mind.
Whether I kept my eyes open or closed them, ugly visions haunted me day and night. I woke up every single day with a terrible headache.. My hands hurt so bad some nights I couldn’t sleep… Lucky for me, depression hardly affect me at work. In fact, the only time I felt down at work, was when my friend texted me to stop taking “the drugs”, blah blah blah~ The medicine for my depression started to numb my mind eventually. I was like a zombie for awhile. It’s like I was running on autopilot. When I went out with my best friend, I noticed that sometimes I listened to her, without any of the words really sinking into my head. I couldn’t respond to her words properly. Thankfully she was patient with me and I also manage to continue designing websites on autopilot~ (≧∇≦)
It was kind of weird how I could notice things about myself, but couldn’t control my thoughts sometimes. I’m glad that I’m often aware of my state though. When the pain in my hands weren’t feeling so pain, I’d continued creating vector drawings during my free time, and for work as well. Unfortunately I felt like I wasn’t able to improve myself much in terms of web design at my first workplace.
And so I left, and later joined a company that I freelanced for. There, I managed to team up once again with my close friend from polytechnic – Hafizah. I learned so much when it comes to web design, html formatting and flash actionscripting. I was so busy, working day and night, I hardly have time for myself and my family. We even work during weekends and holidays. I was so busy, I didn’t have time to be depressed. It helps that my medication kept me numb most of the time. It was odd, but despite my busy worklife, I was soon discharged from the hospital for my RSI issues. The pain finally reduce to manageable aches that comes and goes.
I later joined another company to work further build up my savings. Thanks to counseling sessions over at the Family Service Center, I’ve learn a lot about myself. My depression became much more manageable too. I decided that I want to recover fully. After making sure I have saved enough to last me awhile, I gathered my courage and left my third workplace. I wanted to live for myself and work hard on recovery and finding happiness.
It took me several months to figure out what I’d like to do. I continued doing freelance projects – designing and creating websites and corporate designs for my ex-bosses and friends. During my free time I played games and went to the National Library to look at art/design references and doodle ideas. Encouraged by my friend, Ganz, I then joined RedBubble.com, an online art community and print-on-demand website. Since then, life change for the better. Wanna know more about how I grew Frozenfa? Find out more here! ⃛ヾ(๑❛ ▿ ◠๑ )