A Malaysian director creates art on a beach in Langkawi


Creating art requires a lot of investment, whether it’s energy, creativity, or building your skills. Ask any artist and they would also tell you that good art takes time, but this Malaysian artist is in a slightly different position – his art is a race against time.

Pang Sern Yong, a local artist based in Langkawi, saw the beach shore as a natural canvas on which to draw artistic patterns. Because his canvas is large, so are his masterpieces that can only truly be appreciated when viewed through a drone.

Now we’re not going to lie: when we first heard about Pang, we thought, “Is this guy too free or what?” But there was more to it than just the guy drawing with sticks in the sand.

The circles got bigger as he got more and more invested

Before his full time on the beach, Pang actually moved to Singapore at the age of 5 and grew up there. He then returned to Kuala Lumpur in 2020 to expand his media company, Gorilla Pictures, which started in Singapore.

When CMCO happened, he realized he wouldn’t be able to network as much for his business, so he went on a mini vacation to Langkawi, which he had always wanted to visit but never had the chance. While on vacation in Langkawi, he felt compelled to pursue art on the beach.

“I started drawing circles with small sticks on the sand. As the days went by, my urge to return to creating art grew stronger, ”Pang told the Vulcan Post.

“I started procuring other tools, making larger and more complex pieces, and I used a drone to document the pieces. My artwork has started to attract online, as well as from curious beach visitors inquiring about what I do on the beach. “

Drones, however, play no part in directing his art; he trusts his own precision and intuition in performing the craft in accordance with what he has in mind.

He calls himself a beach artist, not a sand artist, because for him the art he does is not just sand, but other elements of the beach like sunlight, trees and the environment, which is what he incorporates into the antenna of photographing art.

From a stick to a whole rake / Image credit: Pang Sern Yong

“I see that all these individual elements are interconnected and without any of them it would not be possible for art to exist on the beach,” he explained.

One man against the tides

Despite how great his works of art usually turn out to be, Pang creates them himself, from conceptualizing and crafting to documenting works using drones.

The tools he currently uses are reusable nylon wire for easy measurements, an iron rake mounted on a wooden stick with which he draws and a drone. He assured us that all these tools do not pollute the beach.

How his art looks from the land of VS from the air / Merits for paintings: Pang Sern Yong

Now the second challenge of making art on the beach is that you will really need to race against time to complete the piece due to the tides on the beach.

Beach art can only be made on wet sand, Pang explained, because sand that is farther from low tide is always dry and inconsistent in texture, making it difficult to draw.

On the beach where he works, each tidal cycle lasts about 6 hours, so there is a 2-3 hour time frame of the ebb that allows him to practice art on wet sand. Pang makes sure that his designs are not too sophisticated, so he can finish on time before low tide.

“With experience, I’ve accelerated the creation of my art before the tide eats a piece, and I’m also better at making a design that’s realistic to complete in that deadline. I also try to keep the pieces away from the water so as not to affect small changes in the tides, ”he shared.

One of his pieces, Retro Heart, that the tide started to devour … but Pang managed to save him and still get the desired shot / Image credit: Pang Sern Yong

More than tools and talent

Having the tools and talent to make these masterpieces is not all that is needed for beach art, he shared. The environment and time are also important, over which most cannot actually control.

The perfect environment is when the beach is without rain and the sand is wet. Pang watches for these changes by checking the schedule of weekly tides.

It is usually able to make a piece or two a day, but on days when ebbs do not occur during sunrise or sunset, it may not produce them.

Lighting plays a big role in exhibiting his artwork, so Pang will usually create his works either early in the morning at 7-9am, or early in the evening at 5pm to 5pm. These are the times of day with the best lighting for his art, while they are cold enough that he can work.

More from his work / Picture of merit: Pang Sern Yong

No art is easier than another

“I don’t think any piece was easy to create because of the challenging nature of this art form,” Pang shared for the Vulcan Post.

One of the more challenging pieces was a piece by Oriental Fans. It was a 30m x 10m piece, which was the largest he had ever made. It took him 3 separate training attempts and 3 hours for each time he was in it.

His hardest feat so far, Oriental fans / Image credit: Pang Sern Yong

So far, Pang has not yet earned on this passion of his, but he has already received personal requests to make artwork for anniversaries, memorials, as well as some corporate inquiries to make beach art for marketing purposes.

Therefore, Pang is focused on spreading awareness of this art form and its details to Malaysians. “I am looking for patrons, sponsors and partners who will use beach art together to raise environmental awareness on Malaysian beaches, because of the quality that attracts attention because of its monumental size,” Pang said.

A workshop he recently held to teach people how to create art on the beach / Picture: Pang Sern Yong

Moreover, he also wants to exhibit such exhibitions in KL and Penang through partnerships and collaboration. Shire hopes to work with hotels and travel agencies to revive Langkawi’s tourism and hospitality industry through beach art.

To make more of these projects happen on a larger scale, he is also open to training younger talents for making art on the beach through workshops and festivals, which he hopes will develop a local network of beach art.

After falling in love with the beach and the work he does there, Pang now resides permanently in Langkawi to continue working on his beach art.

  • You can learn more about Pang Sern Yong here and check out his beach art on Instagram here.
  • You can read more art related articles we have written here.

Credit for featured images: Pang Sern Yong

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