Saturday, October 2, 2010
Singapore's Only Typainter.
I was in a terrible rush for time on Thursday when I spotted this queer guy seated at the corner of Block 76 Guan Chuan Street.
He looked like he was writing a novel with a typewriter and Tiong Bahru Estate was probably his source of inspiration.
I cannot properly describe to you how frustrated I was on Thursday because I was very sure this guy would have been a good blog subject and I just did not have the time that evening to interview him.
And they say opportunity never comes a knocking twice? Wrong!
Today I was presented with the opportunity.....again! Yipeee!
As I was seated on some stairs across Block 76 Guan Chuan Street, frying my brain cells with the Blackberry next to my ears for the longest conversation ever, I noticed this guy setting up his table and typewriter!
And while I was still happily turning more of my brain cells into cinders, this guy was happily typing away in the hot afternoon sun.
After my telephone conversation ended, I promptly walked over to greet this guy.
Since he has put up the signage like those Lemonade stall in those Charlie Brown's comic strip, he is probably friendly and won't mind me interrupting him.
It was a very fruitful conversation and I was happy to that I open my mouth to speak to him.
Ricky is very willingly to share and is very sincere about it.
Ricky told me he pioneered typewriter art since 1973 and even won a national art award in 1975. (He has a lot more awards after that and has a folder to show you if you talk to him)
How he discovered his talent was purely out of a curious mind and probably some itchy fingers (sorry, just got to add this part in).
He is the number 6th child in his family and after his 4th brother was done with the typewriter for his studies, Ricky starting toying around with the typewriter and discovered a whole new possibilities for it.
He proudly proclaimed to me that in the future, typewriters will be manufactured purely for the artist and not for "typist" anymore.
"Typist?"....Wow, that sounded so 1970's. I wonder if you can still find this word in the jobs classifieds these days.
"Can you still find typing ribbons these day?" I asked.
"No!, I looked for them like when I'm in Japan." Ricky said.
''Japan? The land of never ending innovations and inventions?" I asked in a very skeptical manner.
"You will be surprised what you can find there, young man." Ricky said.
"But still, it is not easy, you gotta ask around and it may be time consuming." Ricky warned.
Since these ribbons are so hard to obtain, Ricky tried to reuse the ribbons for as long as possible.
I always thought there were only red and black ribbons but Ricky told me there were green, brown and one more colour which escape my fried brains now.
He also said he could see which characters could be overlapped to form certain effects and how you should control the roller.
He has perfected his skill that he know which could be overlapped to get the curly hair effects or the leaves on a trees.
What amazes me while he was working on his artwork was his ability to produce those sloping lines to show these Tiong Bahru art deco apartment features.........effortlessly.
This guy is truly passionate about his work and has probably spent a long time perfecting it.
He might be at the same spot again tomorrow afternoon even though he said he will finish his piece by today.
Judging from the numerous interruption he has been getting after I left him, I have my doubts that he could finish by today.
This could be your opportunity to go and see how he produces artwork and caricatures with a typewriter.
All the best and I hope you have a chance to interact with this artist and oh yes...he was once upon a time a Tiong Bahru boy as well.