Through his business, How to Ink, Stanley Cheah is striving to make craft accessible to everyone.
What’s your story?
I am Stanley Cheah, co-founder, graphic designer and printmaker at How To Ink, a printmaking collective I set up with a few of my friends. How To Ink is a literal translation of the Chinese characters 凹凸印 (Āo Tú Yìn). Since inception in 2014, we helped develop strong bonds and creative minds through printmaking parties and events, educational workshops and corporate team building sessions. We collaborate with local designers and artists from time to time on printmaking showcases.
What excites you most about your industry?
The joy or surprised expression of our participants when they see their prints printed! Nowadays, many younger generations’ impressions of print are usually from their digital printer and nothing else. They do not really know how or where print originated from. Another fulfilling experience is the thrill I get when I see my workshop participants experiment and produce unexpected results. I always learn something new from each workshop as well.
What’s your connection to Asia?
Asia, I would say is my culture and roots — be it about food, art and traditional customs.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Japan! It’s a country that holds the utmost pride and passion in their traditional crafts, while constantly evolving and innovating with time. I am a big fan of Japan’s intricate craftsmanship and witty design ideas. Being there not only allows me to learn and grow as a printmaker and designer, but also helps me generate new perspectives for How To Ink.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“As long you don’t give up and keep trying.” I know it sounds cliched, but I really keep it close to my heart… Maybe because my biggest challenges in life are always setbacks and rejections.
Who inspires you?
Shepard Fairey. He is a street artist, graphic designer, and activist. Through his unique designs and illustrations, he always makes an impact addressing social issues — a few examples include human rights, marriage equality and homeless people.
He does large posters and wall murals to showcase his work in town and smaller prints for sale. All his earnings go to charity. He really inspires me to create great designs to captivate people’s hearts.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
When keeping faith with others, one needs to be realistic and rational too, or else risk losing their own way.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would have approached things in a more pragmatic way instead of having too much hope and faith. I would try not to be too comfortable in whatever situation I am in, and always remind myself of my core beliefs. I need to be like a lobster — never be too complacent, and break out of my shell and comfort zone from time to time.
How do you unwind?
Playing video games, assembling plastic model kits and photography.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Taiwan! For good food, friendly people and good scenery. Best of all, I can enjoy it without burning a big hole in my pocket.
Everyone in business should read this book:
Making Ideas Happen by Scott Belsky
Shameless plug for your business:
We are in the digital age… We totally get it! But have you ever had the satisfaction of creating your own hand printed prints? We at How To Ink share a common passion in printmaking and handicrafts. We strive to push boundaries forward and make craft accessible to everyone. Find out more about printmaking history and learn interesting printmaking techniques that you can experiment at the comfort of your own home! After all, our mantra is to have fun in the process of picking up a new skill. (:
No twitter, but you can follow our instagram: www.instagram.com/howtoink
This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews
Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.