Artist's Gallery
Joseph Foo is one of the three directors of design agency 3nity. Established in 1996, it is a multi-disciplinary brand-identity consultancy serving international and local clients from a broad spectrum of industries. The award-winning Foo has graced many overseas and local publications. Apart from his day job as a graphic designer, he is also an active speaker and panellist at design seminars and workshops held in Malaysia and beyond.

The seven-year-old art4soul, a division of 3nity, is the product of Foo's interest in using graphic design to delve into the Asian identity. He is drawn to Asia's way of life, its Tao ways. Characterised by more altruistic work, it provides a channel for creative forces - designers, artists and writers - to use their skills to inspire the public. Foo thinks that the art scene in his city could be improved through early education. Then art wouldn't be seen as a subject you choose because you are no good at science. Also, art should be regarded as a respectable field that enriches the fabric of a society.

Art4soul tackles the themes of human rights, social values and spirituality in Malaysian and Southeast-Asian society. Especially noteworthy is the long-term project "Man & God", a travelling poster exhibition and book. To date, it has garnered the support of more than 70 international contributors across the creative spectrum, from graphic design to fashion design, fine arts to performing arts.

Question & Answer

What was the thinking behind your artwork?

The distinction between East and West is no longer obvious. Today, there is East in the West and West in the East. In other words, they merge together.

If a friend had 24 hours to spend in your city, how should he/she spend it?

Eat, eat and eat.

What does your city mean to you?


What influence does your heritage have on your work?

Being a Malaysian Chinese, one realises that one is different from a Chinese Chinese. In Malaysia, there are many individuals in the Chinese community who do not speak a single Chinese dialect. This would be someone Malaysians refer to as "banana". A banana has yellow skin, like a Chinese, but is very Western in terms of thinking, values, etc., therefore is white on the inside, like the banana. It is this very Malaysian thought that inspired our idea for this submission. Our multi-cultural society is a unique source of inspiration for design ideas. While it is undeniable that the design work produced in Asia today has a "global" look, at the core of the work could still be an idea that is very local and quintessentially Asian. Living and growing up in a multi-racial country also shapes us to be respectful of the cultures and beliefs of the other races - a characteristic we transfer into our working process. In short, our heritage is a great source of inspiration and a shaper of the personality and character of Malaysian designers.

Who/what are the three biggest influences on your work?

God, man and woman.

Do you have any beliefs or superstitions other people might find crazy?

I believe that Lao Tzu and King Solomon were buddies.

Name one film that everyone should see.

Team America, World Police.

Who are your top musicians/bands/DJs?

Brian Eno and U2.

If you had to do any other job, what would you choose?


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