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Jordan Lam uses walls as his canvas for painting

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The Brush Factory is the brainchild of this young muralist

Most artists tend to paint on canvases not more than a metre wide.

But when I met Jordan Lam, 21, he was intricately painting the sharp edges of a huge nine-metre-long portrait of Bollywood villain, Gabbar Singh. 

The budding muralist wiped his hand on his apron before greeting me with a firm handshake. Some brown paint ended up on my hand and Jordan laughed, saying: "I've always had artistic hands."

A mural usually takes him around three days to complete but this was his most challenging piece yet. Because of the length of the wall, he had to work on the Gabbar Singh mural for a week.

Seeing his massive, impressive work sprawled across the wall, it is difficult to believe that this young artist and current national serviceman has never taken a formal art class in his life.

gabbar-singh-painting
His grandest piece yet: a portrait of iconic Bollywood villain Gabbar Singh on a tricolor background. This piece cost the owner $2,000.
PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTH.SG/DEXTER LIN

Jordan began sketching when he was 3-years-old. Over the years, he learned how to draw by sitting in front of a computer with Jurassic Park burnt onto the screen, sketching the dinosaurs from the film.

"I listened to Linkin Park for hours on end, just sketching and sketching and sketching," recalled Jordan, who also enjoys playing the guitar in his free time. 

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An old portrait of Heath Ledger as the Joker that Jordan painted back in 2014 - he still enjoys painting and drawing portraits.
CREDIT: JORDAN LAM 

Although Jordan knew he was passionate about art, he struggled to find a niche area for himself. He enrolled in Nitec twice – once in digital animation and the second time in visual communication – hoping to pursue his passion through formal education. 

Both times, he dropped out. 

"I couldn't go to school because I was so tired from doing something I hated. It was repetitive, boring and tedious. I had no drive," said Jordan.

Things turned around one day when a digital render of a polar bear illustration done by Alvin Tan, his cousin, caught his eye. Alvin, 34, also has an affinity for art, and challenged Jordan to paint the illustration on the wall of Alvin's living room.

When Jordan finished it within two days, he and Alvin had a 'Eureka' moment.

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The mural of these two polar bears effectively started The Brush Factory. 
IMAGE CREDIT: JORDAN LAM

They figured they could begin painting murals commercially – Jordan's crisp lines and vivid colors would no doubt be popular amongst those who wanted something different and more daring across their living room walls.

With their newfound enthusiasm, the cousins took a leap of faith last year and started their own company specialising in painting murals, The Brush Factory.

"Alvin quit his banking job and decided to invest in us. It was quite risky and we didn't really have much to begin with; Our capital was only around $5,000," said Jordan. Both cousins are involved in creating the designs, and most of the painting is done by Jordan.


"Every mural is a different one. Every client wants something new, so it's challenging and keeps me on my toes," said Jordan, who sees painting murals as an escape from the mundane. 

The risk paid off, and in the span of less than a year, The Brush Factory has had over 60 customers. A mural will set the owner back around $700 on average, which goes into the company for Alvin to reinvest.

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Jordan's favorite piece is a regal teal and gold geometric design he did for an interior designer's showroom. 
PHOTO CREDIT: JORDAN LAM  

Being both an artist and an entrepreneur comes with many challenges, and the young painter has to face them all while serving in the Singapore Civil Defence Force.

"After I finish my national service, I'll have more time to focus on my passion. And I can finally earn from it!" said Jordan, who now paints only during his free time. 

jordan-lam-painting-mural
Jordan paints over a projected image of artwork to bring the mural to life. 
PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTH.SG/DEXTER LIN 

Jordan's goal is to hire admin staff and other painters one day, and intends to venture into interior architecture in future.

Jordan said: "Whatever it is, I just want to be successful. I want to be the best in whatever I do, even if it takes me a ton of hard work to get there. I want to be successful not only as an artist, but also a businessman.

"Hopefully I can save up to $150,000 by the time I hit 25."