Sometimes a made-up story can set a real dream in motion. That’s what happened to Peter Zhuo. Growing up poor in 1980s Singapore, he fell in love with drawing but got kicked out of art class at the age of 6. Thankfully, his grandfather was around to encourage him with a fanciful yet inspirational story. The kid stuck with it.
These days the man who now goes by the name Peter Draw travels the world to inspire and support kids like the one he once was. And he thinks big. He holds four Guinness World Records, including World’s Largest Caricature, for one he did of Jackie Chan. A more recent project is First, Love, an exhibition where he used 15,000 blue balloons to create a “cloud of love.”
“I drew the Guinness World Record’s largest caricature in front of children from not so well-to-do families, to show them that anything is possible in life. No matter how you begin your life, it’s not about our scars, it’s all about our heart.”
The first promise that changed my life
The first part of the whole of my adult life has been about keeping a promise I gave to my late grandfather. When I was six years old, I was kicked out of a free trial art lesson because the art teacher found out that I couldn’t hold a pencil together properly (I wrap my four fingers around it) and also that I couldn’t afford the $20 fee for future lessons. I got pushed out by the teacher, literally, and fell to the floor outside of the room.
I didn’t walk away because I wanted to learn so much, so I stayed outside the room and tiptoed to look through the tiny space between the window panels. But after a while, I ran home and cried. My grandfather asked me what happened. I refused at first, but he kept asking, so I told him. I asked him, Why am I different from others? He asked me why I wanted to be the same.
He always told me stories to encourage me, and that’s thwat he did next. “There used to be an artist who started poor, and struggled his whole career, he was even kicked out of an art lesson just like you. But he believed in his dreams and never gave up. Before he died, this artist even created Disneyland and did much charity work to protect children like himself when he was younger. The artist’s name is Picasso.”
I told him, I want to be like this artist when I grow up, and also protect other children.