Brush of Appreciation
“Remember when you were a child and someone gave you twenty dollars.
How did you feel?
What if someone gives you twenty dollars today? How do you feel?”
Wiilliam Sim paints to remind people of the little treasures of life; coming home to a devoted dog, the touch of loved ones, the warmth of friends and the little gifts that they give you. He chooses to appreciate these things and do what matters to him.
The road to his passion
Born in Malaysia, he took up painting under Master Tan Puay Tee, at 10 years of age. Painting became his passion. However, he opted for a career in graphic design because he saw it as more financially rewarding as compared with painting. He eventually set up his own graphic design company and worked long hours to grow the business. One day he realised he could not do this for the rest of his life and wanted to do something about it.
Over the years, William had still kept in touch with his friends in the painting world and in 2004 they formed an art collective named “Amphibios Creative”. They held roadshows, where he and his friends could showcase individual pieces of design and art. William would produce individual paintings for these shows. Eventually a gallery commissioned William to produce an exhibition and he used this as an opportunity to increase his involvement in painting.
The philosophy behind the paintings
Having experienced life in the rat race, William believes that many people have been caught up with monetary and career concerns. They work hard and come home with dour faces and nary a thought for their loved ones. As result, he feels that Singapore society has become cold and unhelpful.
Even a minute of loving attention for your cat is the practice of loving happiness. In the long run being happy makes a big difference. People who are happy will attract positive people in their lives and create worlds of joy. It is impossible to fake happiness for long, if at all and sad people will often repel joy because of their dispositions, attitudes and lack of appreciation for what they have. Being a child epitomises the appreciation of little things. Not taking little things for granted and playing with the world around them is how a child shows up.
What he does now
William’s mother has grown old and has lost her short term memory. William now communicates with her in childlike fashion. They are two children playing, having fun and enjoying the little things. The concerns and the issues of the world at large are no longer part of their conversation. This is a development that has happened in parallel with his flowering as a full time painter.
Every year William chooses a charity. Two years ago it was the Singapore Cancer Society and now the Health Promotion Board has just finished exhibiting his works in a gallery dedicated to HIV. He chooses to do this because he wants to help people. He believes that all people should give back to society in some way and this is how he chooses to give back, because his strength lies in painting.
He makes his living through selling his paintings and still does some graphic artwork design at the side. His own show is called Happiness (Pte) Ltd, a reflection of his self idea as the Merchant of Happiness, selling his wares of joy love and appreciation.
The Merchant of Happiness speaks
Keep in touch with your passion. Treasure and appreciate your loved ones and the little things in your life such as your pets, your hobbies and your family. There are things in this world money cannot buy and indeed, being happy does not require money.
PAY ATTENTION TO THE HAPPY LITTLE THINGS IN LIFE. APPRECIATE AND GOOD THINGS WILL HAPPEN TO YOU.
William’s studio is hidden behind a tall black door in the upper levels of a 3-storey shophouse. Steep stairs between the levels and the sharp segregation between the rooms make the studio feel cosy and yet tall. The studio walls present a white canvas to the bright furniture and artwork William keeps. Then there are the cats. The 5 super cute American Shorthair cats that William cares for are draped on the furniture and plastered to the floor. When I arrived, I immediately dropped everything and started playing with them and they loved the attention. I have never had so many cats to play with at one time and I drowned myself in them. William tells me he has another 5 cats at his home and breeds these American shorthair cats via his cattery, The Hedonist. These cats are models for many of his paintings.