Why Amin Landak chose cartoons over preaching

By Nabihah Hamid

KUALA LUMPUR, March 28 ― Born in Kelantan, Ahmad Noor Amin Ideris spent seven years in a “tahfiz” school in Bachok ever since he was 12, where kids are taught memorising the Quran.

But his true love has always been drawing. Choosing the moniker Amin Landak ― Malay for “porcupine”, a reference to his spiky hair when he was younger ― the graphic designer said there are more than one way to preach.

“I feel I am not born to be an ustaz. I don’t know why too, because all the time [in tahfiz school] I had been drawing,” said Amin, using the Malay term for a religious teacher.

“Maybe some people assume to preach you have to be an ustaz, for me that’s wrong. To preach, it does not mean you have be an ustaz,” Amin told Malay Mail Online’s sister publication ProjekMMO over the weekend.

According to Amin, two things happened in 2005 that made him choose art instead of religious education.

According to Amin, he had read Malay daily Utusan Malaysia, which featured a cartoonist called Ajis who draws while deep-sea diving. He also found a collection of comics by renowned local cartoonist Sireh, “Student Life”, which chronicled life as a student in New Zealand.

Visitors check out Amin Landak’s drawings at the Publika Shopping Gallery in Kuala Lumpur.

This, he said, made him dream of taking the SPM examination so that he can enrol in a public university and continue his studies overseas. Things did not work out, and Amin graduated with a major in illustration from the Malaysian Institute of Art.

In 2012, Amin started drawing cartoons seriously. His works were published in iconic local humour magazine Gila-Gila, and news portal Malaysiakini.

Amin however made his name with Yak Bok Te, his satirical cartoons on socio-political issues and current affairs, published online and collected in two books so far by indie publisher DuBook Press.

The title itself is an epitome of Amin’s humour ― a nonsensical phrase in the Kelantanese dialect uttered during “melatah”, a uniquely Southeast Asian phenomenon where one behaves abnormally when suddenly shocked.

“For me illustrating to preach, is not merely by inserting in the drawing Quranic verses or the character of a man in robe, or with a mosque in the background.

“To compel people to do good itself is preaching,” Amin said.

Amin is currently hosting his own solo art exhibition in the Publika Shopping Gallery in Kuala Lumpur until April 16.

The Kota Baru native also admitted that a career as a cartoonist is not as easy as he expected, and requires one to be well-read to grasp current issues.

“When I was young, I started out reading late, so mother bought me comics to encourage me reading.

“Among my youngest magazines were Gila-Gila and Ujang. They gave me the spirit to draw,” Amin related.

Amin is currently hosting his own solo art exhibition in the Publika Shopping Gallery here until April 16, which was launched by his idol and mentor Sireh himself on Saturday.