This Malaysian artist is taking a stand against domestic violence—one postcard at a time
This year has been a whirlwind. We had a government collapse, regroup, collapse and then regroup again; we had the pandemic outbreak; we had International Women's Day and then we had... #WanitaBukanDoraemon? Yeah, remember that little set of infographics the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry came out with? As in, the official advice that urged women to (of all things) nag their
deadbeat partners in a cutesy 'Doraemon-like' tone. Yep. Baffling. Needless to say, this year has been a lot of things.
However, as silly as it sounds right off the bat, there are a lot of sinister undertones that underly that very misguided message—since the implementation of the MCO (now CMCO) on March 18th 2020, the ministry's Talian Kasih hotline has seen a considerable 57% increase in distress calls from women. In addition to that, WAO has seen a 148% increase in Hotline calls and WhatsApp enquiries. For the victims of domestic abuse, being homebound is a matter of life and death.
Well, Choy Yuin Quan (also known as Quan Choy) has had enough. As a freelance illustrator (who also happens to be pursuing her Business and IT degree at UCL), the 20-year-old has taken it upon herself to tackle one of Malaysia's greatest demons. Armed with little more than a few (hundred) postcards and a lot of heart, here's how she's making a difference with #KadsForKawans.
What is #KadsForkawans and what inspired you to start it?
"I'm selling postcards from my #EmmelineQuarantines series to raise funds for the Women's Aid Organisation whilst reviving the charm of snail mail. I’ve always wanted to sell my work for charity, but what inspired #KadsForKawans was the lockdown. More specifically, the kindness that circulated amongst my family & friends throughout, filling each others’ homes with many treats from afar.
"I realised that postcards were a perfectly thoughtful yet affordable option to remind all your friends of your love for them, without burning a hole in your wallet! They also remind me of my boarding school days, when we’d mail each other cards around Christmas–I wanted to revive that excitement."
Why did you choose the Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO)?
"I wanted to support a cause that’d create a large impact in the long-term. Many COVID-19 food banks and emergency funds have received a lot of publicity, so I wanted to highlight less-acknowledged, yet equally important issues magnified by the pandemic.
"I was shocked to discover the stats on domestic abuse in Malaysia, and that calls for help from the WAO have doubled within just the first month of MCO! Their work to aid these women and children with legalities, sheltering, education and mental health was deeply inspiring, and I saw this as a great opportunity to raise an issue so scarily pervasive, yet hardly discussed in Malaysia."
Tell us more about your Emmeline Quarantines series!
"Emmeline is a character I created at the start of MCO, now the star of my postcards. Impractically fashionable, she does the mundane whilst dressed flamboyantly in quarantine, with most of her wardrobe being actual pieces from local designers."
"Besides promoting local brands, I wanted to spread positivity in this trying season and to remind everyone that, essentially, “quarantine doesn’t have to suck”! In most illustrations, she’s trying new things (though often failing too), attempting to make the most out of her situation. They’re reminders to take it day-by-day, let ourselves discover new possibilities, and to find the humour in it all."
How would you describe your illustration style?
"Minimalistic, only to highlight the intricate details within my main subject. With art being a medium for release, my ethos rests on embracing imperfections and letting go—thus the seeming incompleteness and out-of-line colouring. That, or it's my laziness masked with a ‘creative license’!"
How is the campaign going so far?
"I was quite literally overwhelmed by everyone’s support! Almost 500 cards were ordered within the first three days—encouraging yet daunting for a one-man job! Many also provide additional donations to the WAO with their purchase, which definitely helps.
"I’m glad to have gotten the conversation going, especially throughout Instagram. It was touching to hear acquaintances and friends inspired to start their own fundraisers for the WAO and other charities!"
Any plans to expand the available designs?
"As a fundraiser, the campaign lasts til the end of June. I’ve just released phase 2, and the postcards will also be available in one of my favourite local stores, APOM! Apart from that, I’m excited to work on designs for upcoming brand collaborations, personal commissions and future products!"
To purchase a postcard and support #KadsForKawans, fill in the order form here. For more whimsical illustrations and content, check out Quan’s art page, @quan.creates. For her upcoming collaboration with APOM! keep a keen eye on their website. Most importantly, if you or someone you know is suffering from domestic abuse, call WAO’s 24-hour hotline at +603 7956 3488 or text their TINA Whatsapp service at +6018 988 8058.