Title:   Invoking the artist in everyman by VOICES.

Panel Speaker: Chng Nai Wee.

Abstract: Ideas are spirits of the times. The artist sensitive to the existence of these new ideas, captures it. Creativity is a mindset, a way of living life, and engaging the world. In everyman lies an artist waiting to be discovered. The creative process can be defined by a series of mental orientations that Dr Chng coins as VOICES: to visualise, observe, invert, connect, evaluate, and simplify. The creative process can be enhanced by emotional orientations: be passionate, positive, and persevering. Dr Chng reveals the VOICES orientations in play during his creation of his various artworks and projects.


Content: Creativity is a mindset, a way of living life, and a comprehensive way of engaging the world. To celebrate creativity is to celebrate openness, diversity, and the evolution of the existing into a more powerful and substantial new.


Creativity allows you to appreciate the world in all its grand diversity. Creativity is a meaningful and fun way of doing things, and it allows you to express yourself in a complete and genuine way.


Ideas are spirits and manifestations of the times in the air. The artist seeks them out and captures them, just like the man who catches butterflies with a net. It is not as if an idea emerges from the perfect void of the artist’s mind. When one artist captures and develops an idea, others elsewhere in the world are thinking about it.


Every man is an artist waiting to be discovered. To employ the creative process, requires an orientation of our mental frames of thought, and emotional tendencies.


The acronym and mnemonic VOICES, illustrates what I understand to be the creative process.


VISUALISE              See the final product, the end itself, in your mind’s eye.


                                Freely edit the mental image in your mind to change scenarios, and to introduce new elements.

                                Your mind’s eye is free portable colourful 3-dimensional movie sketch-pad.


                                Visualisation allows me to see how the work may end up, allows me to make an assessment as to whether the artwork will be successful, how the audience will response.


                                The most enduring image becomes the vision that leads and guides you, and that focuses your attention and energy.


                                I have found the best places to visualise, is to place myself in a pleasant environment that allows your inner-self to emerge. A disturbing environment demands your reactive and urgent attention and distracts you from visualisation.


                                First form the image, and add details. Sketching and moulding are tools that help me to visualise, and to give abstraction concreteness. 


Visualisation works with evaluative intuition and the making of creative connections.




OBSERVE                Observation followed by reflection and analysis is a primary means of gaining insight, for many concepts are rooted in reality.


To observe is a passive and an active act.



Open your mind, take no assumptions for granted, and extinguish all prejudices,

Invoke all senses, see the world around you and within yourself, look at the details, and the patterns.


                                We observe so as to question, to gain insight from the details, to extrapolate from the details so as to form the seeds for ideas, to form the elusive connections.


Observation may be by the use of our eyes to detect the emotional body language and the placement of physical objects in context, and or the use of our ears for the text, tone, and pitch of verbal comments.



To actively observe is to explore.

Be exceedingly curious and incessantly questioning.


                                I have expanded my artistic capability by observing on-site the construction of artworks by artists, and by scrutinising the artworks of artists.




INVERT                    To invert is turn something inside out, to reverse the order of things. Inversion involves mental perspectives and emotional values.

                                Ask ‘why not’ and ‘what if’ questions.


Mental perspectives: to challenge the perspectives, rules, conventions, the establishment,

to rebel, to play the fool, to adopt contrarian viewpoints. Be the minority. Consider viewpoints which may sometimes posture yourself at the point of provocation or apparent absurdity. Aim for paradigm shifts. Sometimes you want to go all the way with your idea.


Rules are made to help us. They are useful guidelines for the uninitiated. But rules constantly change to reflect the evolution of society, so why can you not lead the evolution by breaking them?


                                The substantial inverted idea is one when people appear shocked on hearing it, because their attitudes, beliefs, and knowledge have not kept pace with change.

                                You can however disagree, and still be pleasant.

Emotional values:

Inversion is about turning weaknesses to strengths, reframing a negative in a positive light, and embracing failure as part of the creative process. Understanding the failure will provide insights for that will make the next creative process more likely to be successful. Failures are noble failures, because they are arrived at after you have undertaken a sincere dedicated process. Failures are resting points for contemplation and recharging along the road to success. Two steps backwards, and three steps forward has been the story of my life. This reframing redirects your mind to focus on your energies.



CONNECT                Free your mind and its imagination. Explore the various dimensions, possibilities,

See if a feature, essence, logic, concept, principle, characteristic can be transplanted to another domain or reapplied elsewhere.

Discern and reapply patterns, metaphors, and analogies.

Draw from personal experience, databases, existing works and ideas.

Draw from history.

Build on the works and ideas of others.

You are not copying, but using the principles and enhancing and reapplying it.

By connecting, you gain access to exponential relationships and transposition of ideas. These relationships are not defined linearly, but exponentially. Image spheres floating in the air and connect ed to one another by a series of 3-dimensional, and even multi-dimensional ways.


Allow ambiguity to exist in your mind. Intolerance leads to discomfort, and a subconscious repression of these ideas to regain comfort.

Seek first to understand the essence of a particular culture and belief, before choosing whether to employ the essence.



Allow all parts of humanity and yourself to exist within your mind. The range of emotions and tendencies include those of the young to old, introvert to extrovert, masculine to feminine, people of different cultures and occupations.

Have all the different role identifies, knowledge domains, value systems, to employ.               



                                Value your experiences, memories, learning.

                                Have access to media, to books, exciting periodicals, expert friends, great experiences.

                                I maintain a personal library, and hang objects and text of interest on my blank walls, allowing me to subconsciously or purposefully make connections to arrive at breakthrough ideas.



EVALUATE              If you do not demand high standards from yourself, how likely are you to achieve works of high standards? Be the hardest on yourself. Criticize the work constantly.


Build a prototype and a model. These prototypes can quickly enable a feel of the processes at hand, test whether the assumptions hold true and whether the idea will work.

Tackle limitations with conscientious design.

Allow conviction to take hold, to fire yourself, and for you to persuade others.

Analyse in depth.


Responsiveness during evaluation.

                                Be responsive to the work as it develops, and evaluate new directions, make changes, and fine-tune as necessary according to the development of the work.

Re-evaluate with a clean slate of mind, free from preconceived notions.


Seeding thoughts for evaluation.

Displaying works on the wall or in the room, for daily ‘talking’ and review.

Seeding allows subconscious thinking when I am asleep, not merely dreaming, such that when I wake up, new insight emerges.


Intuition is the guard of the final unified gateway where subconscious creative and other intellectual and emotional processes work together give you a summary assessment.



SIMPLIFY                 Clarify the idea and seek the essence.

Be clear and succinct in communication.

                                Aim for ease of access and use.

Recognise aesthetics and beauty.

Value the economy of design and the elegance of the concept.

Purify and push concepts and works to their limits.

All parts must somehow contribute to the whole. Connection of diversify results in a greater simplified whole. Have no distractions and weed out any part that does not fit in.

If necessary, reserve competing ideas encroaching onto the creative process for other separate works.

                                To simplify is to observe for the crux, and to recognise overriding patterns.

To simplify is to make bold simple connections between various domains.

To simplify is also to make the bold clear presentation of the concept.





Conviction – If you do not believe in the creative process, you cannot embark on the journey.  If you do not believe in yourself, who will believe in you?  Present your ideas convincingly.

Courageous and bold – It is better to be a tiger for a day, then a sheep for a thousand years.

When you take the minority point of view, and challenge the convention – you will face opposition from those whose status and security are based on the preservation of the status quo.

Risk-taking – If you do not lose sight of the shores, how can you discover new oceans?  Unless you try, how can you know if you will succeed?

Proactive – You are the spark that sets the ball rolling.

Passionate – Play is work accompanied with passion - passion gives energy to drive the creative process.

Positive –The state of the world in your mind is heavily influenced by your perception of it. To be positive is a strategic move to frame your mind to be productive, to energize yourself, and to make your life to be more pleasant.

Persevering  – You have never failed unless you have stopped trying, the creative process may be a series of noble failures, where you fail forward, sometimes taking two steps back, but eventually taking three steps forwards.






A project without limitations does not challenge your creativity. The step-by-step following of instructions to fold a piece of paper into a paper aeroplane is a transformation by the hands, but there is no creative process engaged.

It is on encountering limitations, that you tap on the creative process to overcome obstacles for you may ingenuously consider different perspectives, observe the context, and combine and connect different options and resources available, before artfully surmounting the obstacles.

In reality, limitations challenges and engages your creative process fully.


Conclusion: Ideas are spirits and manifestations of the times in the air. The power of the idea, the elegance, the beauty, the logic takes over you - in full flow. – as if the work and you are one and the same. The spirit of the idea moves you to manifest it. Enjoy its power.