Ex-street artist draws good money doing caricatures

JOHOR BARU - Ten years ago, at a young age of 20, Olyhairy Othman chose to be a street artist, drawing portraits and caricatures for a modest fee of between RM10 (S$3.90) and RM30 per piece.

But today, he is considered a successful artist, deriving commissions for his works for well-known advertising agencies and owning two stalls at Medini Mall in Nusajaya and Central Market in Kuala Lumpur.

His skills for caricature are sought-after by corporate figures, politicians and local entertainers.

On good days, he could earn up to RM20,000 a month.

And the struggle that he had to go through in his early days as a street artist has prompted him to help young artists, providing them with opportunities to display their works.

Now 30, the artist who is known as Oly, is still doing what he loves best - drawing caricatures.

"I liked watching cartoons, and I started drawing cartoon characters at first," he recalled.

"I moved on to drawing portraits when I was in secondary school," he recalled.

"I didn't like doing serious artwork. That's boring. I wanted to do something different and fun," he said.

Oly said the number of caricature artists in the country was growing due to demand from locals and even tourists.

"I first started out doing caricatures on the streets of Kuala Lumpur to build up my confidence and sharpen my skills before I moved back here," he said.

Oly said he was happy as the people here appreciated caricatures. "They like to see themselves in different versions."

Oly said many caricature artists, including Malaysians, have carved a name for themselves at the world stage.