Esquire ft Shahril Nizam: the Brain Gain feature

Shahril Nizam Ahmad has done short stints as a cleaner, a retail assistant, and a junior bank executive. Thankfully, none of them worked out because the 32-year-old is an art mastermind. And we had the real pleasure of working with him for our October Brain Gain Issue.

As one of the Malaysia’s most inventive illustrators and painters, he’s had several group exhibitions at the Annexe Gallery Kuala Lumpur, his works have been shown in Melbourne and Yogyakarta, and his drawings have been commissioned by authors like Amir Muhammad and Bernice Chauly. His own book of self-penned poems and illustrations, If Only, was published in 2007. We were looking for an illustrator for our Brain Gain feature after seeing some inspiring concept pictures from Dominik Smialowski, and after a talk with Valentine Willie, we were pointed in Shahril's direction.

For our “Brain Gain” feature, he spent four hours on each Illustration, working from some very rough sketches as his only guide, and with very little time or room for mistakes. Though the illustrations were done with very little planning, apart from his direction to create a suitable background according to each subject’s line of work, the impromptu, spontaneous, free-flowing sessions produced results that were nothing less than sheer mad genius. “For a self-described procrastinator, it's nice to know that I can function just as well under pressure,” he says. Hell, yeah.

Some have asked to see his drawings in full. Well, sit back, and admire the view, friends:

Read more about our four Brain Gain personalities - Khailee Ng, Pete Teo, Malik Imtiaz Sarwar and Ramli Ibrahim, and keep those pictures for posterity's sake, in our October Brain Gain Issue, out now in newsstands. Photographs by Azrul Abdullah.

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