Exhibits Highlight the Talents Of Phare Ponleu Selpak Artists

Not every art school graduate becomes an artist.

To help some of its graduates find another way to use their skills, Phare Ponleu Selpak, a child welfare NGO that specializes in performing and visual arts, created Sonleuk Thmey, a graphic design and illustration firm, in January 2009.

And the firm’s work can be seen on a variety of things including all of Phare Ponleu Selpak’s materials, the covers of the French cultural center’s monthly programs and the side of literary NGO Sipar’s library buses. The latest exhibit at the cultural center, “Imagine…a new page,” features the firm’s sketches, original illustrations and other works that led to the completed projects to give visitors a chance to see the efforts that go into the products.

“The purpose was to show the start to the finish,” said Marie Almonte, the Sonleuk Thmey’s instruction coordinator. “I don’t think a lot of people know how graphic design works and how it gets to the finished product.”

In addition to teaching artists to create graphic design and illustrations, Ms Almonte said the firm also teaches the artists the business side of design in guidance on how to manage client and publisher relationships.

“Graphic design is growing and growing, and it is already important in Cambodia,” Ms Almonte said. “Other countries can produce gra­phic designs. There is no reason to not be done here.”

In addition to “Imagine,” another Phare Ponleu Selpak project is on display at the French cultural center. “(Re) Generation” features new comics by young Cambodian art­ists such as Chan Pisey, who focused on a less-than-comedic topic for her creation, “My Father.”

“Normally, fathers always care for and are warm toward their children, but this comic is about a father who is cold and doesn’t care about his family,” she said Friday.

She added that the comic or graphic novel form works well for storytelling because the images inspire viewers to better visualize the plot.

Both exhibitions are on display until April 2.

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