Years ago, Malaysian illustrator and The One Academy graduate Vince Low debuted ‘Vince Low: Dyslexia Couldn’t Stop Me’, a publicity campaign featuring his trademark scribble portraits which won him many awards, and shot him to international fame after it was featured in news portals such as The Daily Mail UK and The Huffington Post.
His first portraits for the campaign highlighted famous icons John Lennon, Pablo Picasso and Albert Einstein who were dyslexic to raise awareness about the disorder. Today, he continues to perfect his unique scribble motif and was recently at The One Academy to talk about his experience in the industry.
Dyslexia is the most common learning disability, believed to be caused by both genetic and environmental factors, inflicting 3-7% of the population with difficulty in reading due to issues with the brain’s language processing.
Back then, awareness towards dyslexia in Malaysia was discouraging. Many dyslexic children were not given the support they needed, not with their parents thinking they were mentally disabled. As a matter of fact, it was only at the early stages of the campaign that Low himself discovered that he was dyslexic.
At the talk, Low revealed how the condition had caused him grievances in the past. During his schooling days, he was often ostracised by his peers because he was judged by his ability to learn.
“I was jealous of friends who could memorise their textbooks while I failed all my subjects,” he said. “During that time, the good kids only wanted to hang out among themselves. So, I was rejected by them.”
As a child, Low faced extreme difficulty in reading and writing, and was frequently punished by his teacher for not completing his homework. Constantly picked on by the people around him, he lost the motivation to study and eventually became truant.
“I didn’t know why I was going to school just to think of how to survive the day, so I just skipped classes,” Low said.
But in all his struggles, he said that drawing was one way to help him focus. What he lacks in academic accomplishments, he makes up for in artistic abilities. In SPM, the only subject which he performed well was art, which eventually paved his path towards The One Academy where he received formal education in Illustration Diploma.
Not just ordinary disposable doodles, Low’s scribble art require immense effort and refined skills to accomplish. Symbolic to his positively tenacious attitude, the unbreakable lines are meshed together in chaos to construct beautiful portraits, as if an ode to how his bittersweet past had shaped him into the successful artist he has become.
Low has had a colorful background in advertising. Started off as a designer, he worked his way up to becoming creative group head and head of illustration, but not without the accompanying hurdles such as having distrustful bosses.
Having experienced so many challenges in life and work, however, had helped him to excel in the advertising field, he said. For one, he credits the success of his dyslexia campaign to his firsthand experience that helped convey the correct message to the right audience. “In advertising, I’ve noticed that many people couldn’t do it well because they didn’t experience it themselves,” he said.
When asked about how he overcomes his challenges in life and work, Low advised The One Academy students to “stick with what you believe and your interests”. In his early life, many had told him that he would not be able to make a living by drawing. Today, he has proven them wrong. “Just continue doing it. Don’t believe what others say.”
Low also offered a few advices as an entrepreneur and a successful artist. “Success isn’t just about how good you are at your work, but how well you deal with people.” He also told students to branch out to obtain different skillsets instead of specialising in just one.
In addition to his sharing session, Low also exhibited his latest scribble portraits at The One Art Gallery for students and the public. They feature characters from Star Wars, sports icons, Bruce Lee, Prince, Jimi Hendrix, Adele, Johny Depp and numerous others.
Although he is focusing on expanding his business by branching out into different creative fields, he still hopes that his new artworks can be a silver lining for his fellow dyslexics. “People with dyslexia are special, you just have to discover that talent within you and believe in yourself,” he said.
The One Academy of Communication Design