Take-away art

Updated: 2013-09-01 08:13

By Rebecca Lo(China Daily)

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 Take-away art

Fine artworks are displayed on Macao Creations' third floor.

 Take-away art

A life-sized rendering of Soda Panda greets visitors.

 Take-away art

The exterior wall of Macao Creations in Taipa is adorned with graphic art, depicting a cartoon version of the city and its residents. Photos by Rebecca Lo / China Daily

Macao Creations sells souvenirs while showcasing the city's best visual artists. Rebecca Lo tries some homegrown heroes' work on for size.

Wilson Chi-lan Lam isn't ashamed to admit he loves making money.

The Macao native is CEO and creative director of Macao Creations but was initially a graphic designer in Toronto during advertising's 1980s heyday.

At a time when high-quality editorial photography was the realm of a few rare experts who used 35-mm cameras and film, his deft hand at illustration reaped lucrative results.

He lived in Canada for 25 years before returning to Macao about five years ago.

"When I was working in advertising there, photographers were very expensive," Lam says.

"Instead, I would be hired to draw concepts by hand. But today, it's all done on the computer. People are a lot more careful with how they spend their money. And there are more choices."

The designer of easily recognizable logos, including Air Macao's, returned to Macao to explore a semi-retired lifestyle. But he's busier than ever with Macao Creations, which he set up in 2009.

The first shop on Rua da Ressurreicao near the high-traffic St. Paul's Cathedral began in 2010 as a platform to promote local artists by printing their work on souvenirs easily tucked into suitcases.

T-shirts, mugs and postcards depicting the city's culture are inexpensive items that speak volumes about emerging and established homegrown visual artists.

Macao Creations' success meant that a second store opened a year later in the equally busy Rua do Cunha.

The Taipa artery is better known as "Eat Street" because it's flanked with shops selling biscuits, egg rolls and pork jerky. There are traditional Cantonese restaurants featuring crab congee and local restaurants offering home cooking in alleys that jut from the main drag.

Macao Creations' enviable corner location in what has been dubbed Cunha Bazaar shares the building with the popular baked goods of Choi Heong Yuen on the ground floor. Lam felt Choi Heong Yuen was the ideal partner since it also offers a slice of Macao for visitors to enjoy back home.

Graphic art adorns the facade, depicting a cartoon version of the city and its residents. A life-size version of Soda Panda, Macao Creations' popular graphic novelty, greets visitors as they enter.

Inside, Macao Creations occupies the top three floors of the building with a colorfully embellished wooden staircase.

Prices steadily rise the higher you go, with fine art and sculptures on the top floor showcasing the best of Macao's talent. The artist's biography is attached to each product.

An old fashioned red mailbox is next to a counter so visitors can send postcards featuring locals' works.

Lam sheepishly reveals that Macao Creations' staff - not Macao Post - sends them.

Take-away art

"I think Macao Creations is the perfect blend of art and commerce," Lam says, as he shows a silk scarf printed with Macao icons that he designed.

"As we promote a lot of artists' work, we sell by consignment. People have to trust me to give me their work to sell. I see myself as a problem solver. I connect artists with their potential customers."

Lam believes the local government can't solely rely on gambling for surplus revenue. He feels using taxpayers' dollars to promote art and culture is good move.

"The government is very busy now," he says.

"There's so much going on."

Contact the writer at sundayed@chinadaily.com.cn.

(China Daily 09/01/2013 page15)