Making art accessible

'Blooming Home', an exhibition by give.me.museums' 26-year-old founder Khontarat Techatrisorn, hopes to inspire people's inner artist

Khontarat Techatrisorn at 'Blooming Home'. (Photos: Somchai Poomlard)

Walking through the exhibition "Blooming Home" by Khontarat Techatrisorn, on view at The Jam Factory, visitors will feel like they are in a lively and aesthetic home which features cosy sofas, wooden cabinets, a lamp and curtains with multicoloured flora paintings. You can even get up close and touch several paintings hung on the wall.

"This is my first solo exhibition and an introduction of myself. I would like to give credit to my parents who have supported my passion for art. The highlight is an empty wall which is for everyone to paint on. I believe every child is an artist. When I was young, I was a slow learner and could not read, so my mother helped me to discover other talents and let me draw and paint. Everyone has some talent inside them but I am fortunate to have the opportunity to use mine," said Khontarat.

Khontarat is also the 26-year-old founder and designer of the brand give.me.museums, which sells items such as tote bags, pins, candles, hats, keyrings, mirrors and notebooks with vivid designs. After she graduated from the Faculty of Fine and Applied Arts, Chulalongkorn University, Khontarat worked as a creative director at the notable advertising company Ogilvy for two years. However, she felt something was missing in her life.

"A part of myself was missing, so I took time to draw and paint in order to relax. After that, I posted my paintings on social media and people started to recognise me. Hence, I decided to develop the brand give.me.museums which sold products that could be completed in a short time such as stickers. After working on the brand for six months, I was earning more than what I made at the agency. At this point, I had to decide if I wanted to continue to work in advertising or work on my own brand. I believed I could do a good job if I dedicated my time to just one activity. In the end, I chose my brand because I could not be myself at the advertising agency. However, at give.me.museums, I can control many things," explained Khontarat.

After taking charge of the brand for two years, give.me.museums has received a warm response from both domestic and international customers such as the Japanese, Koreans and Chinese. It is no surprise that her exhibition on weekends is crowded with many female visitors who are her target audience. Since Khontarat worked in advertising, she learned how to promote her brand via social media.

A white wall for everyone to paint on.

"At the beginning, I did not have many products, so I posted my paintings and told a story about them. On social media, I provided content along with the products. I could create many stories from one painting such as which equipment I used to create it or the process of each painting. In addition to stories about my paintings, I posted about art history because I enjoy reading this kind of text. I also plan before posting on social media. In fact, I spend half-a-day planning what I will post in the next seven days. Some people think that I paint every day but I don't. I just provide updates every day," said Khontarat.

"When I launched 'griptok', which is stuck on the back of mobile phones, I thought if I designed only two or three patterns, there would not be any impact, so I released 36 patterns at once and it became viral on social media," Khontarat added.

"Blooming Home" is a mock-up of the artist's home and is divided into three parts. The first part displays drawings and paintings Khontarat made when she was very young. The artist participated in many competitions from primary school to high school and received more than 60 awards. Her family painting hangs on a wall next to the white wall allotted for visitors to draw on. However, the empty wall now has no white space left. The next section displays her works from when she resumed painting after working at the advertising agency. These paintings are exhibited without any protective cover.

Some products at give.me.museums.

"Many exhibitions do not allow visitors to touch, get up close to or sit on displays, but I want everyone to be as close as they want with my work. If they want to sit on chairs I painted, it is fine. I want to make art which is often considered as something priceless and untouchable into something common," she said.

The final section displays her recent works and the setting resembles her studio.

"Some people questioned how I can suddenly draw and paint. However, the exhibition displays paintings that I have worked on since I was young. To develop my skills, I just kept drawing and painting. I like to experiment with many techniques. I use watercolour, oil paint, chalk paint and acrylic paint and like all mediums. Sometimes for one artwork, I use several kinds of paints," she said.

The name of her brand give.me.museums was inspired by the quote "Give me a museum and I'll fill it" by the Spanish painter Pablo Picasso. Khontarat believes that a museum is not limited to only art galleries.

Khontarat's viral 'griptoks'. (Photo: give.me.museums)

"A museum is an area to showcase our expressions. For me, a museum does not mean only an art gallery but refers to everything around us. I want my work to be easy to reach, so everyone can have access to art or own a piece of artwork," said Khontarat.

At give.me.museums, Khontarat often receives many positive comments that make her day.

"I am happy to paint and work, especially thanks to nice comments. For example, one follower commented that my paintings made her want to continue to live and another female client told me that my work inspired her to return to painting," she said.

Since her brand is doing well, Khontarat is looking to take on the new challenge of establishing an art school.

"I used to tutor students who wanted to study architecture and they were accepted into the university they wanted. I was pleased to be a part of someone's story who was trying to achieve something. I want to feel that my knowledge is useful. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, I conducted two workshops and they went well. I am not sure if I can establish an art school now but it is what I would like to do," she said.

Khontarat has resumed landscape painting.

For people who want to establish their own brand, Khontarat suggests that they should start from what they are interested in.

"You cannot change to be someone else, so you should know what you like and start from your interest and be yourself. You also have to know how to handle accounting," said Khontarat.

"Blooming Home" runs at The Jam Factory, Charoen Nakhon Road, until April 25. Admission is free. Visit facebook.com/TheJamFactoryBangkok or call 02-861-0950.

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