Street art has become one of the most popular contemporary art forms in Cambodia. Most well-known artists in this genre are men, but Cambodia now has its first woman to succeed in this arena.
Lisa Mam, 24, is the first Cambodian woman to make a name for herself in urban street art, much of it in the form of wall paintings. She has been doing it since 2011, gradually building a following since then.
YT: Could you introduce yourself and tell us when you started doing this kind of art?
Ms Lisa: I’m a wall painter, and I have been working as an artist since 2011. By 2012, I had already participated in two art shows in Thailand, both of which went very well.
I also have a degree in dentistry, but after exhibiting in Thailand my painting career kept growing and my paintings were seen by many people outside of Cambodia, so that was when I really decided to make this my career.
YT: How many works of art have you made so far? Have you worked with any international organisations?
Ms Lisa: I couldn’t say how many paintings I have done; too many to count. I paint every day on different surfaces, from large walls to canvases to smaller works on paper. As an artist it is important to work every day.
Some great projects that I did in Cambodia were painting for Starbucks’ BKK 1 flagship store, and for a Charles & Keith campaign.
The most recent was only about two weeks ago; I was sponsored by Bangkok Airways and a Thai design consultancy, Farm Group, to paint a large canvas during their Hotel Art Fair 2017 event.
I have been to the Kuramathi Island Resort in the Maldives, and to Paris and Belgium [Ms Lisa was selected along with two other artists from Uganda and Brazil to design their Beer Chalice].
YT: What inspired you to become an artist? What obstacles have you faced in your career?
Ms Lisa: Being inspired by someone or something is very important if you want to succeed. I have been inspired by many things, including my surroundings, Khmer culture, my family, the city, different places like islands, and, importantly, by inspirational people.
There has never been any real obstacle for me because I always stay positive about what I am doing. I think sometimes in life people create their own obstacles in their mind, so for me it is always just about having a different perspective on life and how we can control our careers and destiny.
YT: What is your main message to young people? What are your future goals?
Ms Lisa: Follow your passion and don’t give up. Don’t expect things to happen overnight, and if things seem tough just keep going; one day your dreams will become a reality. Also to really practice positive thinking and actions in everything you do.
Travelling across many countries is my dream and I really have accomplished my dream through my art. I want to keep painting and travelling the world through my art, and also to one day have major art shows in New York, Paris and London. And also a very big art show back in Phnom Penh! https://www.facebook.com/LisaMamArt/