The Good Conversations features insights gained through interactions with social entrepreneurs, business movers, top public servants, social innovation experts, and non-profit leaders.
In our first interview, we speak with A’shua Imran of Mural Lingo as he shares his social entrepreneurship journey.
The idea behind Mural Lingo
A’shua Imran is a multidisciplinary artist from Singapore. He works primarily with painting, performance, photography, and installations. He graduated with a Bachelor in Fine Arts from LASALLE College of the Arts. Upon graduation, he founded, and now acts as artistic director of, Mural Lingo. Mural Lingo is an independent platform to provide opportunities for young artists and undergraduates to practice mural painting in our communities.
The idea behind Mural Lingo came from a mural commission which A’shua did for a school in 2013. Together with his team, they developed the concept of painting an educational painting on the floor so the students can learn about road safety through play. After the completion of the project, A’shua realised that there was a niche and untapped market for mural paintings in Singapore. With this inspiration, he started a platform for artists and interested clients to connect with each other.
Giving back to the community
Mural Lingo was recently involved in producing a 2m by 2.4m mural for the Migrant Workers Awareness Week (MWAW). MWAW is an annual programme to bridge the gap between the local and migrant communities. The mural was designed by five migrant workers together with Mural Lingo and painted by members of the public.
Mural Lingo joins the growing class of social enterprises in Singapore. Currently, Mural Lingo supports community-based projects through mural painting. Mural Lingo also reinvests some of their profits into organising community projects.
Starting up is not without its challenges. One of the earliest challenges that A’shua faced was turning ideas into concrete action. While it may be easy to come up with an idea, turning it into reality requires much more effort and energy. Furthermore, as the sole founder, A’shua did not have much support at the beginning. He shared that the journey can get lonely at times. Therefore, it is important to be self-motivated and methodical in the initial stage in order to build the business.
Despite the challenges faced, A’shua was able to learn key lessons from those experiences. One of the biggest lessons was to view his ideas as experiments. Instead of holding fast to and being defensive of his ideas, he made the conscious effort to analyse the results of his “experiments” from a non-judgemental and neutral perspective. This ability to dissociate keenness for his ideas from their actual effectiveness was vital for personal growth.
“Success to me is when our personal goals are in harmony with reality,” said A’shua, “while success to Mural Lingo is when we achieve the ability to become a self-sustaining entity.”
A typical day…
“is spent in the studio painting, arranging meetings with clients to visit the site, or overseeing the mural projects while training younger artists through the projects.”
The most satisfying moment…
“is observing your concept take a physical form.”
Favourite or inspiring books…
‘Powers of Two : Finding the Essence of Innovation in Creative Pairs’ by Joshua Wolf Shenk and ‘The $12 Million Stuffed Shark : The Curious Economics of Contemporary Art’ by Don Thompson. While I wouldn’t call these books my favourite or books that inspired me the most, I found their content insightful.
Who has been your greatest inspiration?
“My inspirations have changed over the years due to various experiences and different stages of my life. As an artist, I find the works of Robert Smithson, who uses the medium of photography in relation to land as sculptural artworks, poetic and inspiring. As an entrepreneur, I find the courageous and nonchalant decisions of Elon Musk inspiring.”
What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?
“I like to paint, visit the ocean, daydream, and travel. Recently, I picked up rock wall climbing and I feel that it’s becoming an addiction.”
Advice to college students who want to become entrepreneurs…
“Ask yourself how far are you willing to go to manifest your ideas. When you embark on your entrepreneurial journey, remember to keep your form fluid, be adaptive to change, and remould yourself with time.”
A’shua is willing to move away from the safe and tested paths in life to pursue an untapped market. He was able to use his talents to craft a path for himself. Furthermore, he managed to weave in social elements into his business, making this business not just about doing well but also about doing good. While his venture is still in its early phase, we believe that his talents, a worthwhile cause, and a great team will allow Mural Lingo to become a success.