Entrepreneurial Emilia Tan
EMILIA’S PERSONAL BLOG ( BATIK DIARY)
Born in Banting, in 1981, Emilia Tan has lived and worked in Kuala Lumpur since 2004, and began painting batik during her college days at the Malaysian Institute of Art. Inspired by creative thought and action, Emilia’s business grounding came through her little batik workshop, aptly named TMSART where she paints and sells batik and conducts batik workshops daily. Her kaleidoscopic,abstract impressionist art embraces painting and installation – but batik is her usual starting point. Today, this genre is a thriving and legitimate art form, with many artists making a living selling their creations both individually and through formal groups. TMSART provides batik artists with an opportunity to support themselves financially while nurturing their own cultural traditions. The artists learn to apply their artistic skills to create products that appeal to international and domestic markets.
Emilia has taken the lessons learned in building TMSART and through developing a market-driven network model, applied it at an industry-wide level. The company’s handmade batik products clothing, fashion accessories, home furnishings and traditional Malaysian crafts are marketed locally and globally and sold to customers and retailers. Each year, TMSART introduces new product lines at local trade shows and reaches customers worldwide via its gallery and website. Clients include leading international manufacturer, distributor and marketer of high quality medical gloves, Supermax and renowned property developer, Cahaya SPK as well as world-renowned pewter brand, Royal Selangor.
Focused on driving creative development through demand, TMSART is a proof of concept creative enterprise, an art project, a job creation programme and cooperative management system that initially brought together two distinct fields fashion and art. TMSART has not only revolutionized the batik industry in Malaysia, but also grown the business of its artists and lifted the status of these crafts into art forms assigning proper aesthetic and economic value. By creating innovative and formal systems of craft development, team cooperative manufacturing, quality control and marketing to local and international audiences, TMSART ensures the producers a fair price for their art, making it the first batik organization in Malaysia to engage and connect all batik stakeholders together through a magazine called myBatik.
The primary aim of TMSART is to be an innovative leader in the batik field, creating sustainable, meaningful long-term employment opportunities and supporting batik artists, writers and suppliers. This aim is realized through the creation of an organization that is driven by marketing through myBatik magazine and other batik events. Building on the power of community, myBatik distils the success of TMSART to create an organization that, through building a network with a core of project management and marketing excellence, will have an impact on an industry-wide scale. myBatik sets the company’s broader social and community development goals in terms of skills training, individual artist development and a series of outreach initiatives in non-profit organizations, schools and impoverished communities.
In August 2011, Emilia decided to experiment with a new concept in selling batik art by opening an art cafe in National Textile Museum Malaysia. A cafe that shows art by artists is nothing new; a museum space that has a cafe on one side and a full-service art gallery on the other, is definitely something new. Inspired by this experiment in art retailing, she plans to attract a number of people who do not ordinarily visit art galleries, but once at her gallery, find themselves in a comfortable and non-intimidating space full of art while enjoying traditional Malaysian delicacies like nasi lemak and multi-ethnic pastries. This creates an atmosphere conducive to selling art to people who have never before been in art-buying situations. A strong believer in creative entrepreneurship, Emilia Tan has worked hard to ensure that TMSART is a true hybrid creative/business enterprise.
It was time to move to a bigger space and her experience at the National Textile Museum Malaysia had led her to a bigger premise in November 2012 at Yayasan Seni, Persiaran Ritchie, Jalan Ampang. There she established myBatik Visitor Center, a center for arts, knowledge, entertainment, and culture, that aims to engage people of all ages via the showcase of prestigious and world-class batik exhibitions in addition to exhibits, workshops and programs highlighting the unique heritage of the region.
A new model for urban cultural centers, the centre will feature a unique variety of changing exhibitions, special events, lectures, classes and weekend festivals.”As part of the exciting, ongoing revitalization of downtown Kuala Lumpur, myBatik Visitor Centre hopes to become a vibrant community and cultural landmark for the city, the country and beyond,” added Emilia. “Our goal to create a contemporary regional facility is about to become a reality and benefit batik artists and all of Malaysia.”