28.9.15

Creativity & Biz Interview: Nazreen Nizam Rao, Hopscotchers


When you are in the creative community, you meet all kinds of like-minded people. These people are movers and shakers of the community, the reason why the creative scene in Malaysia is growing rapidly and changing the perception that Art can be more than just a way of life. Art can be a passion turned biz no matter where you are or where you go.

So, I reached out to bohemian visual artist, Nazreen Nizam Rao, a talented individual who travels with her husband as they manage a video production company called The Paradox Studio while Nazreen takes on commissioned art projects by clients as well.


1. What is your day-to-day like as a creative person? How do you juggle your tasks, projects and personal life?

Making art is kind of a full-time thing for me currently so what I am juggling is which form of art I am making at a particular moment – it could be either drawing, painting or writing poetry. Besides this, I am also learning about healing so the other thing on my schedule are reading cards and exploring healing energy. Apart from that, I am helping my partner with our video production company, The Paradox Studio, in which I assist with writing scripts and managing productions, whenever needed.

I used to also make hand-stitched dolls and accessories but now that we are traveling, it is quite difficult for me to carry a lot of tools and raw materials along in a 40litre carry-on backpack – so I just focus on drawing and painting.

2. All creative people have their own toolbox. What’s in yours and what are your favourite tools?

I have my mechanical pencil, geometry set, ink pens, colored pencils, watercolors, water brushes and ink markers. My favourite is the ink pens. Although I starts most work with rough sketches using pencil, the real ‘first step’ into the journey of making a piece is when I start letting the ink flow on the paper or canvas, so I cannot do without those pens. ;D


3. Fill in the blanks and complete this sentence:

“Whenever I am creating an art, I am exploring myself



4. Describe your creative work with just 3 words:

Flowing, Intuitive, Healing


5. They say creative people are eccentric. Sometimes are called “weird”; so, how weird can you get?

To be honest, I am not sure how weird I can get but the thing is I am not trying to be weird or make a point to be weird or anything like that. I am just being me and to me, that is not weird at all, though to others, it may be. If I am trying to be like others or trying to conform to certain things which I am not comfortable with, then to me – that is weird. I hope I do not sounds weird now  :P



6. Name your top 3 favourite books for ideas

I don’t have favourite books for ideas – I mostly get my ideas from the people I met or the places I went to and something I read or saw online.


7. Music mixes are awesome! What’s your music playlist when you are creating & making art?

Usually the music playing on the background while I am making art is from my partner’s playlist and he listens to all sorts – ambient, lounge, acoustic rock, sufi, chill-out, progressive house etc. If I am the one playing the music – it would be Urdu/Hindi or Tamil songs from YouTube :D


8. How do you organize your creative ideas & inspirations for reference?

I do not organise my ideas or inspiration. Everything is just flowing. If I came across something I like to explore more as an art piece, I either take a picture of it or make a quick sketch or a mental note.


9. What is your favourite place to go to for inspirations?

Everywhere in the world! I love local markets, especially. And train or bus stations. Cafes can also be an interesting place. If online – I like Pinterest and Instagram.


10. I SPY with my little eye: Who’s your favourite creative person (artist/crafter/baker, etc.)?

I am inspired by all creative people – it is very difficult for me to pick a favorite. I feel that every creative person I came across, be it directly or indirectly, no matter what their chosen form of art is or craft, have certain passionate vibes that inspires me.


11. If you didn’t discover this creative interest, what would Life be for you?

Life would still be amazing, I am sure. It has to be. I can’t settle for less J I would most probably still be doing my human rights NGO works, which is also something I am passionate about.


12. How has your creative passion inspired you?

I think by focusing more on my creative side, it has inspired me to look more inwardly – to be more in tune to my own feeling and my energy and it somehow help me to develop a deeper sense of peace within. I try to reflect that emotion into my works.


13. What was the most difficult part of running a creative biz?

I am so not business-minded, so it is already a difficult start. I enjoy making art and I don’t give a damn about money. When I first started selling and doing commission work, I didn’t even know how to do the pricing. My partner was the one managing that. Even now, sometime, when I’m doing a commission job, for a certain amount of money – I would go way further than what I am being paid to do and give more to the client and my partner would caught me red-handed J  But I am slowly getting it now because I understand that if I want to keep doing what I love doing, then it must at least help me to pay the bills.

The other challenging part – as I’m living a nomadic lifestyle, I need to find a convenient way to sell my artworks because I cannot carry physical stocks everywhere in my backpack. So at the moment, I am selling digital prints online and selling printed prints + merchandises through Society6, which is not ideal but the best way I can think of, for now.


14. What sort of lessons have you learned from this creative experience?

I have learned that there is magic in everything, even from the most mundane thing, if only we look a little deeper. I have learned to trust my instinct more and I have learned to let go of certain things which not under my control and just enjoy whatever this journey has in store for me. I have learned not to focus much on the result but just to enjoy the process.

15. What is your Kung Fu style to fight creative blockages?

I don’t fight it, I just let it be and do other things. I will do yoga or some bonding with my cards or read stuffs on healing or whatever else I fancy. Blockages are there for a reason, I feel. Maybe it is there for you to balance things out. Maybe it’s to give you a chance to look at your works from a different perspective. I don’t know. But yeah, that’s my Kung Fu style! Maybe it’s more like a Zen Kung Fu style :D


16. Give the readers some love! Do you have any tips, advice or words of wisdom?

Trust your heart and follow it – everything else will fall into places. And believe in magic :)

17. Daydream mode ON! How do you visualize yourself 5 years from now?

5 years is a long way to go! I am not even sure where I am going to be in 2 months’ time. But since it’s daydream mode on – let me pamper myself with some wonderful thoughts. I would love to be living and traveling in a caravan with my partner.

Our very own self-sustainable tiny home on wheels - maybe somewhere in South America.

Hopscotchers travel blog and online shop is running wildly and kicking.

Paradox Studio is expanding internationally and we have a bigger on-ground and on-line teams in more countries.

Both me and Oz continue doing what we love doing.


Visit: Facebook | Instagram | Website Portfolio / Commission work: Behance Store: Society6 | Etsy


Editor's note: This interview has been updated.
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