SINGAPORE - He cannot hear and his speech is limited.
But Mr Isaac Liang has such a flair for communicating through pictures and illustrations that companies want him to work on their projects.
The 27-year-old, who was born deaf, is a freelance illustrator and artist for organisations like DBS, Epson and the Ministry of Social and Family Development.
He specialises in illustrations for children and concept designs for animation and advertising.
A small project, which takes about a week to complete, earns him about $100, while a bigger project, which can take up to a month, brings in about $1,000.
Mr Liang's journey was full of obstacles. As a child, he struggled to master the English language.
"I used to hate English because it was a very alien language to me. I always failed in school and was retained a few times," he says.
He took nine years to complete primary school education at Canossian School For The Hearing Impaired, now known as Canossian School.
Communicating with his parents, who spoke only Mandarin or Cantonese, was also tough.
"I did not learn Mandarin and their English was very limited English, so it was difficult," he says.
Mr Liang admits he was often bored and lonely as the only deaf student in his class at Montford Secondary School.
"Lipreading can be very tiring, especially in a group. After hanging out with friends, my neck would ache," he says with a grin.
His patience and tenacity was further tested at Nanyang Polytechnic, where he studied digital media design.
"The first year was great because I had a buddy who wrote notes for me and we did some projects together. But we went our separate ways for the next two years, and it was very tough 'listening' alone. I relied heavily on the PowerPoint slides," he says.
He also missed out on materials and concepts that were not on presentation slides.
"I was always raising my hand to ask questions in class. Sometimes, I would arrange appointments with tutors and lecturers," he explains.
Although he cannot communicate verbally with his clients, Mr Liang ensures that his first meeting with his clients is face-to-face.
"It usually takes one to two hours and a lot of back-and-forth questions and answers in written form, as well as a ton of sketching before I understand clearly what they want," he says, adding that he is grateful for the chance to use his skills to make a living.
Mr Liang dreams of attending the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California.
"My family cannot afford to send me there, so I tried out for a scholarship offered by DesignSingapore Council. I made it to the top eight last year, but they give the scholarship to only the top two," he says.
"But I'm not going to give up. This year, I'm going to try again. I really hope I make it."
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