#IdolaSeni: Ahmad Hakym Ahmad Hilmy + KLSketchNation, Malaysia’s Urbansketching Community

Assalamualaikum wbt.

This post is part of the #IdolaSeni series to show my gratitude to five Malaysian creatives who agreed to become respondents for my team and I’s research paper, ‘Instagram as a Platform for Emerging Visual Artists to Build Their Brand’.


“‘Togetherness in sketching’ refers to us putting sketching and art making in the context of a social activity to let art vibes spread from the grassroots of the community.” — Ahmad Hakym Ahmad Hilmy @ @kymioflario

Ever heard of urbansketching? It’s become quite popular lately for a group of artists to gather at a certain place, armed with notebooks and drawing pens, and sketch away. Like, live sketch.

According to the KLSketchNation website, ‘during the student year out in March 2014, AHMAD HAKYM, a student from the Manchester School of Architecture has founded a community group of sketching enthusiast based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and named it ‘Kuala Lumpur Sketch Nation’ or KL SKETCH NATION. This group was formed to host events and activities that brings a manifesto of celebrating the act of ‘sketching’ as an important tool in creative environment towards building a better nation that are more sensitive to their surrounding. The activities involve mainly on urban sketching and celebrate communal events at local level‘.

“Honestly speaking, my journey in sketching only started when I was enrolled in architecture school. Growing up in a family of architects, most of my family members are passionate in the arts sector especially my dad, an architect/cartoonist and my cousin, a well-established fine artist Hafidz Shabri. Our past time as kids was unlike others – we were entertained by being involved with the artist community in Central Market. The love for sketching grew more profound, developing each day through the way I see things around me as architecture slowly enhance my sharp eye in observation and appreciation towards my surrounding. There are so many things to tell and admire. Thus, I decided to do express it through sketching”, Hakym told YKENI.

I’ve been actively following them for a while now, and I get excited every time I see them getting together for a sketch walk (even if I haven’t had the opportunity to join them… YET!). They look so happy, coming from all over KL, gathering together because of one shared passion: art!

There is something truly magical about having multiple completed sketchbooks filled with illustrations of places you’ve been to. Imagine that blazing sense of accomplishment! When you sit down to sketch, you really ‘feel’ or ‘menghayati’ the moment. I’ve been trying it lately. It makes you really observe the sights, scents, and sounds around you, and you’ll end up noticing things that you never knew were there, even if go past that place every single day.


And yet you don’t have to be an artist to dabble in the art of livesketching. Hakym believes that everyone can draw, no matter what their background — whether they’re from architecture or medicine or law. “Any human being can draw. If you can write, you can draw, because essentially, when you make the shapes of the alphabets, you are technically drawing them out,” he told Eksentrika.

In an interview with BFM he also mentioned that he also believes that the diversity of people during a sketch walk leads to a great range of interesting sketches, with various perspectives, angles and emphasis — because different people see different things, and we get to see that through their sketches. I don’t know about you, but in my opinion, that truly is a beautiful concept.

“KLSN have been using Instagram as our main ground of spreading the sketching vibes since 2014. The sole reason of the formation of KLSN is maximizing the potential of the contagious nature of artistic inspiration into further educating people on the important of arts, and leading the nation towards ahigher sense of inspiration in the artistic field. We share everything we are doing (eg. Urban sketching) on location so that others know these kind of activities existed and its fun to do and our audience always felt the urge of doing it as well as its simple and does not need a big capital to do so. It is a chainreaction in which grows through time”, Hakym mentioned.

According to an article from the Malay Mail, “One of the things Hakym did to expand KL Sketchnation was to start Sketch Nation Global, a wing that is beyond KL and Malaysia. It is based in Manchester where he is studying. So far, 30 students from the Manchester School of Architecture joined Sketch Nation Global. This May, KL Sketchnation together with Manchester Urban Sketchers had an event called Manchester Sketch Fest 2015 which was endorsed by Pertubuhan Arkitek Malaysia (PAM)”.

So far, KLSketchNation has conducted thirty sketch walks (usually in places easily accessible by public transport), sketch mobs, sketch jams, and sketch collides. Right now they’re taking a break during Ramadhan and making way for the #RamadhanSketchChallenge2017, a challenge to sketch one drawing for all thirty days of Ramadhan. #istiqamah

As of right now (the 21st day of Ramadhan), the hashtag on Instagram has over 2000 public posts. Even my mother tried it for the first few days!



But KLSketchNation isn’t just limited to merely art on its own. They thrive on involvement in community work and volunteerism, including:

  • activities with children including orphans
  • sketching and watercolour workshops
  • collaborating with other NGOs and societies
  • talks

“Since 2014 until 2017 KLSN has grown from just a group of sketching enthusiasts, into an art movement, a social entrepreneur to a research based organization and contributes in academic field in psychology and anthropology. The small ideas brought by us has now been heard where almost all public universities including UITM, UTM, UM, USM, UPM has endorsed our existence and our causes by inviting us officially for talks and workshops. More and more people were exposed into the idea and now we have becoming the best platform for these artists to pursue their dreams”, stated Hakym.

Hakym was the curator of @twt_seni a few weeks ago and one thing I admire about him is that he sees his ability to create art as not a free gift from God, but he sees it as an obligation and responsibility to do good. Hope you and KLSN soar to great heights!

Here’s my art journal entry to you (featuring an inspiring quote):



@KLSketchNation: Instagram | Twitter | Website

@Kymioflario: Instagram | Twitter | YouTube

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