Thai food artist finds sweet success in Malaysia

During the pandemic, Sulakkana Marc took matters into her own hands.

Thai food artist finds sweet success in Malaysia
Digital artist Sulakkana Marc, who hails from Hat Yai, Thailand, is a food lover and food traveler

When the pandemic made it difficult for her to find a job at any art gallery, Thai artist Sulakkana Marc knew she had to take matters into her own hands.

"I couldn't just sit and waste my time waiting for the situation to get better without creating any art. So during the pandemic when everyone had to work from home, I decided to switch to digital painting," Marc told Digital Life Asia.

Nasi campur digital painting for Restoran Meena

Marc hails from Songkhla province's largest city, Hat Yai, which is near the Malaysian border.

"I have been to Malaysia many times because it's the nearest country. So I decided to explore the Malaysian art market. To get the real experience about Malaysian food, I have to bring myself to the real place, and that is why I'm here now," she said.

Showcasing the mouthwatering dishes of Ru Yu Xuan Kopitiam

Happily, it turned out that Marc made the right decision, as her highly detailed digital paintings eventually landed her many clients among restaurant and café owners in Malaysia and Thailand, and even other countries. Her success even led to her being featured on Free Malaysia Today which is how I learned about her amazing journey.

"It was in 2017 when I started trying to paint with digital art. But at the time I didn't expect to become a digital artist yet," she said.

Char kuey teow painting for Penang Road Famous Laksa

"The biggest challenge was how could I change my mindset from fine art to digital art, and then turn it to commercial art like what I'm doing now," Marc added.

Asked if becoming an artist was her childhood dream. Marc replied: "To become an artist was one of my dream jobs. Also, I have other interests such as languages. I was in the English-French program when I was in high school and learned more Chinese as well. Until I had to choose to enter university and applied to the faculty of Fine Arts. That surprised my parents and they didn't appreciate that much in the beginning, but I proved to them that I can make it."

Stir-fried menu page for SIam Thai Cuisine Restaurant in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida

She said that she discovered that she had artistic talent during her elementary school days.

"When I was in Grade 4, my class teacher sent me to a drawing competition, just because they couldn't find any students to send. But it turned out that I won for my school. And I realized that I liked it. And I started competing throughout my childhood as my hobby," she said.

Menu for Chor Malee, a Thai restaurant in Abu Dhabi

Marc said that she has always embraced a realistic art style, whether she's making oil or digital paintings. She added that she loves being able to combine her passions as a food artist.

"I'm a food lover and food traveler myself, and it challenges me to present the food so that people will want to try them. And to understand the food, you need to experience them in person yourself," she said.

Menu for Daddy Kitchen, a pizzeria in Thailand

Marc said that she realized painting food is what she really loves.

"I received a few portrait commissions before, but I don't like them. I don't feel connected with it and it makes me feel like I can't present it that well. Until I remembered what I really love. Yes, it's food painting, so why do I have to chase after other commissions? I started doing digital paintings of a few dishes as samples and created my business page on social media. Then my first client appeared within one week in 2019 during the pandemic," she said.

Dessert and bakery menu for Valentine's Day concept

Asked what message she would like to share with aspiring artists, Marc replied: "You should know yourself and what you really like to create. I enjoy painting food, but I used to change and follow the market too much, so it came out worse. You can adjust but don't change completely to something you don't really like. It will never come out great when it's not you. Be sincere with your work and then more good opportunities will come to you."

Now that's food for thought.

Image credit: All photos courtesy of Sulakkana Marc