{Interview 11}: Peter Draw – Artist

Peter Zhuo, better known as Peter Draw, 31, is an artist who has 4 Guinness World Records under his belt. Largest Caricature, 2007, Largest Art Lesson, 2010, Longest Drawing, 2014 and Longest Drawing by Individual, 2014. He has also been awarded JCI’s Singapore Outstanding Young Persons of Singapore for contributions to Children, World Peace & Human Rights, 2008.

This initiative is part of our 101 Paths to Success series of interviews to gain insight into how successful people came to do what they are doing, and enlighten parents that there is a vast array of occupations for our children to discover. Hopefully it might spark an interest in our children and youths to start their journey of discerning their life’s path.

Peter Draw

Describe your typical work day

I am always figuring out how to showcase life’s most important values and lessons in the cutest, simplest way. I start each day with a sip of coffee.

Tell us about your career path

Growing up, drawing was the only thing I loved and helping people was the most meaningful thing I learnt. I believe everything changes but nothing really changes, unless we start doing what we do with love. My entire career path has been to use art to protect children, especially children who cannot protect themselves.

I was very shy, but after my grandfather passed away when I was 16, I found the courage to put my shyness aside and start taking little steps to pursue my dreams.

How did you find your passion?

I fell in love with drawing when I was 3. Even today, I feel a sense of happiness when I see children drawing, and happier when I am drawing.

Which aspect of your job gives you the most satisfaction?

When a child comes up to me and lets me know that what I have done has fulfilled their childhood – with happy hopes.

There have been many incidents which gave me immense satisfaction.

The time when a little boy in Sichuan broke his only sweet into 2 and gave me one before he returned home. He wrote me a letter and secretly put it into my bag. I only found out when I was on the plane home to Singapore.

The time when a girl showed me her jotter book filled with fashion design drawings, all in black and white. She told me she had never owned any colour pencils or crayons before. Knowing it was her birthday (she is the daughter of our local driver arranged by the local ministry of Foreign Affairs), and Yangon was the last city for our tour, I took out over 100 boxes of Faber Castell crayons and gave it to her and told her “Happy Birthday”, and she cried.

The next day, on our way to the airport, her father gave me a gift – a new jotter book filled with more fashion design drawings. This time, all filled with colours, including the words. On the last page, she wrote that she hoped that one day, I would wear one of her designs. I was half happy and half confused, because all her fashion designs are sexy dresses.

The time in South Africa when a group of children waited for me at the airport to thank me and see me off with their school Principal. My flight was at night, but they came in the morning. Luckily, a fellow Singaporean recognised the name on their signboard and took the pictures which they had drawn. I chatted with one of the kids on the phone and thanked them.

The time in Saitama, Japan, when a pair of playful twin girls sat down quietly with me and started folding paper cranes which we later brought to children in Fukushima.

What does success mean to you?

Sometimes, people ask me if it’s worthwhile dedicating my entire life to pursue an ambitious dream to benefit other people. The way I see it, if at the end of my life, I fail, the loss is personal. If I succeed, children for many generations will continue to benefit long after I’m gone. To me, it’s an obvious choice. Just having the chance to do what I love and serve more children along the way, I am already contented.

You must be incredibly busy. How do you avoid being burnt out?

Even though I work very hard, I don’t think I’m incredibly busy. I hope that young people don’t get the wrong idea and focus on keeping themselves busy to feel successful. Sometimes we can’t avoid getting burnt out, but after resting, just get back on your feet and keep going. If it is something you love, how hard can it be?

Are you involved in any voluntary work?

I try to help as much as I can. Next month, I am starting to teach art to a group of elderly, and will be working with them to draw portraits for the younger ones in their neighbourhood. I have children who call themselves “Little Draws” – little versions of Peter Draw, and now we will have our first “Senior Draws” šŸ™‚

One piece of advice to parents

Whatever you do with and for your children, do it with love.

One piece of advice to teens

Sometimes, we don’t realise the true value of a moment until it becomes a memory. As a child, I promised my grandfather I would be a great artist and make beautiful works of art to show him. I can’t do that now as he has passed away. Thus, never take anything in life for granted, especially human relationships. Hesitate and you may lose the chance forever.

To be a good artist…

If you have created a work that you and others keep falling in love with, you have made a great work of art. Make something people love, and you can only do that with love.

{Interviews} 101 Paths to Success

#1 – Dr Karen Crasta Scientist Associate Prof at the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine

#2 – Jeremiah Choy Creative Director Sing50 Mega concert at the National Stadium

#3 – Elaine Yeo Musician Singapore Symphony Orchestra

#4 – Chong Ee Jay Cyber Wellness Educator TOUCH Cyber Wellness

#5 – Professor Tan Huay Cheem Cardiologist Director of National University Heart Centre

#6 – Ruth Wan Children’s Book Author Timmy and Tammy series

#7 – Andrea Decruz Media Personality Owner of CINQ Salon & Belmont Flora

#8 – Ebelle Chong Dance Practitioner / Choreographer SSLD:7 in R.e.P 2015

#9 – Dr Phillip A. Towndrow Research Scientist Centre for Research in Pedagogy and Practice

#10 – Christine Teo Mental Health Social Worker Founder of Generation 414

~ www.mummyweeblog.com – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~