Addicted to fun job

Althought she is a specialist at STPI, Poh Kwee Choo says she is still "growing".
Althought she is a specialist at STPI, Poh Kwee Choo says she is still "growing".PHOTO: TIFFANY GOH FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

POH KWEE CHOO, 39

Assistant project leader and senior printer at STPI Poh Kwee Choo originally intended to spend no more than four years at STPI.

The Lasalle College of the Arts alumna, who holds a fine arts diploma in printmaking, says: "My plan was to learn something at STPI then do a bachelor's degree and become an artist."

Fourteen years on, she is still at STPI.

"I became addicted. I am having too much fun," she says, laughing.

She has, however, exhibited as an artist, showing drawings and installation art under the name KC Poh, which she is better known by. The moniker comes from her signature on plastic moulding designs that she drew when she worked in manufacturing engineering for three years after graduating with a diploma in the discipline. She did it to placate her parents who did not initially support her wish to go to art school.

Her solo art exhibition, With Love, showed at the Esplanade Tunnel in 2010 and last year, she was featured in the group exhibition These Sacred Things, held at the Esplanade's Jendela visual arts space. The bachelorette pursues her art practice outside of work.

A specialist in screen prints at STPI, she says: "When I came in, there were a lot of technical skills to learn. But the more you learn, you realise that there is more you don't know.

"The artists who visit STPI come with different working methods, concepts, ways of using material and views on art and they challenge us in different ways. After so many years here, I am still growing."

More than the demand on technical artistry, the fine art of working with artists is what stretches her and gives her much satisfaction.

Describing the relationship between the STPI workshop and the artist as being like that which is shared by dancers and a choreographer, she says it is vital for her as a printer to grasp the mind of the artist whom the workshop collaborates with.

"When we execute the work on behalf of the artist, we have to be able to think the way the artist thinks, to know what he means and what is acceptable to him," she says. This understanding is built through conversations about art both in the studio and over meals.

She says: "To be able to spend time with artists who are initially strangers but later become like close friends, that interaction is something magical."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 28, 2016, with the headline 'Addicted to fun job'. Print Edition | Subscribe