By Aisha Hassan on September 22nd, 2021
We think of Dia as a different way to explore Southeast Asia, which is why every order has come with a free custom postcard since day one. To us, postcards are emblematic of travel and staying connected, so they seemed perfect as little gifts to keep or send on to someone else. Our newest postcard is a collaboration with Quan Choy, an artist based between Kuala Lumpur and London. We interviewed Quan to learn more about the creative mind whose work will now accompany Dia worldwide — enjoy.
Describe yourself in 280 characters (the length of a Tweet).
A go-getter, lover of all things local, and a spreader of positivity. Can get obsessive with details.
Tell us about your journey as an illustrator.
For me, illustration has been a way of embracing and finding beauty in imperfection; hence the seeming incompleteness and intentional out-of-line colouring, especially in my earlier pieces. Using Instagram as a creative outlet to balance my non-artistic university degree, I started posting my digital illustrations. Family, friends and strangers alike started enquiring about commissions and one thing led to another — brands like Naelofar, Root Remedies and Milliot & Co. reached out, and I landed my first brand collaboration with Liberty Active in 2020!
How did you come up with the design for the Dia postcards?
The ladies at Dia and I had a collaborative vision to celebrate the wonderful artisans of Southeast Asia, as well as its beautiful landscape, which inspires many of Dia’s pieces. I thought it'd be a nice touch to feature real pieces from the site, from FERN batiks and TALEE Studio earrings, to that incredible MANAVA rattan planter! I wanted to depict the essence of community, alluding to the artisan communities that these brands support, as well as to Dia's marrying of Southeast Asian countries and culture. Thus, the village scene of artisans elegantly crafting their handiwork. Brighter colors were chosen to reflect Southeast Asia's vibrancy, and to reflect your joy in receiving these masterpieces!
What are some of your most memorable past projects?
#KadsForKawans (“#CardForFriends” in Malay) is the most meaningful one to date. It was my first time selling art, motivated by a desire to help those hit the hardest by Kuala Lumpur's lockdown. Wanting to use my creativity for the better, I designed a set of postcards to fundraise for victims of domestic abuse. It struck me that while we complained about staying home to stay safe, some couldn't even stay safe at home. Worse still, calls to domestic abuse hotlines quadrupled within the first 2 months of lockdown as these women were forced to stay indoors. Fortunately, after getting back aches from single handedly writing over 200 postcards for loved ones separated by the lockdown (I virtually turned into a mailing service!), local brand APOM contacted me to acquire them as sets to sell online and in-store. Read more about the initiative here.
What do you love most about Southeast Asia?
Besides the unbeatable weather and food, I love the way each country retains its heritage after rounds of colonization and gentrification. Evident in things from food to architecture, you'll find charming cafés hidden within heritage shophouses, contemporary clothing made from traditional fabrics, and street food trucks parked outside fine-dining restaurants!
Images courtesy of Quan Choy.
Every Dia order comes with a free postcard. If you opt to add a gift message, we will hand-write this on the postcard for you.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Aisha Hassan is a writer, journalist, and co-founder of Dia. Previously, Aisha worked for Quartz in New York and Harper’s Bazaar in Malaysia. Her fiction has been published in international literary magazines. She has a bachelor’s degree in English Language & Literature from the University of Oxford, and a master’s degree from Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism.