Bold, informative, and absolutely hilarious — this is how I’d describe visual arts influencer Megan Foo (A.K.A. @Maegzter).
Foo’s profile rings a bell if you’ve ever trawled Instagram or TikTok looking to learn more about art. @Maegzter’s profile states that she “talks about art online for fun” and the proof is in the pudding: her profile boasts 49,200 followers on TikTok and 15,800 followers on Instagram.
On her TikTok page, you’ll find everything from odes to Singaporean watercolour master Lim Cheng Hoe to short videos of Foo asking her hair stylist to draw inspiration from René Magritte’s surrealist masterpiece The Lovers and sexual misconduct allegations against the late American visual artist Chuck Close. If anything, the variety is astounding; don’t blame us if you fall down a rabbit hole of Foo’s content!
In line with how we at Plural are all for making the visual arts accessible, I met Foo for lunch in the heart of Orchard Road. Over plates of pasta, I asked her more about getting started in the social media space, her behind-the-scenes process, and the wider discourse that her content sparks.
What’s your relationship with art?
I started drawing when I was very young. Like many others, I used to love (Japanese) manga comics. As a kid, I had every single copy of the Pokémon Adventures comics. I wanted to replicate that so I started drawing manga-looking characters on my own. When I was seven or eight, I had a phase where I got How to Draw Manga books.
When MapleStory (a massively multiplayer online role-playing game, or MMORPG) came along, everyone at school wanted me to draw caricatures of their characters. This progressed for me when art became a curriculum subject later in primary school. I fell in love with art and later joined the AEP (Art Elective Programme) in secondary school. I did that for six years and then pursued art at ‘A’ Levels.
After that, I stopped to find myself and realised that I still loved the arts a lot, even though I wasn’t a practising artist. I still wanted to connect with the arts so I began going to museums and exhibitions more, even when I travelled. After graduating from university, I went on a five-week trip to the U.S. where I visited a museum for every state I was in.
What was the favourite museum that you visited?
I don’t have a specific one, but I recall Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks at The Art Institute of Chicago. I also saw Constantin Brancusi’s Bird in Space sculpture at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. That was cool because it was something that, up till then, I had only seen in textbooks.
When I came back to Singapore, I missed those experiences and wanted to get more into the arts again so I started a TikTok account. My dream was to become a museum docent but then COVID-19 hit so that wasn’t possible.
What’s your day job?
I’m in social media for a beauty brand as my day job. What’s interesting is that my TikTok ‘career’ led me to this role. I started creating TikTok content way before my company had a TikTok account, so I was the one who pitched for it to exist. In my current role, I share the know-how I’ve gained from being a content creator.
How did you decide on your username?
It was random! People call me Meg but I think it’s a bit weird, so my friends call me Megs instead. One day, someone was like, “Maegzter!” And I liked that a lot.
How do you decide on what stories to feature?
I read art news and follow media outlets regularly. Sometimes my friends send me interesting articles that I talk about. Most of the time, a good friend who’s very into pop culture and art brainstorms ideas with me.
Sometimes there’s a particular art exhibit that reminds me of something or there’s an artist I want to talk about. I used to plan my content more before, but now it’s just whatever strikes my fancy.
You talk about art alongside pop culture topics such as fashion, manga and anime, astrology, and memes. Are you also interested in these topics?
I do enjoy pop culture and would love to cover more of it. My friend’s really into pop culture and sometimes sends me things I’ve never heard about. He doesn’t want to be the content creator, so it works out.
You don’t shy away from lesser-mentioned topics such as inequality, the white gaze, sexism, sexual harassment, and queer histories in your content. Why do you feel it’s important to tackle these topics on your platform?
I don’t go into the history of these topics as there are a lot of creators who already do that and if you wanted to learn more, you should go to those videos. Other creators create more in-depth content about why a particular artist is a certain way, but for me, getting people started with art history appeals more to me.
In Singapore, it’s not really about getting people interested but people seem scared to even talk about art. And I don’t want their first interaction with art to be like, “oh my gosh, I can’t talk about a certain artist because he’s sexist or misogynist”.
When you look at art and go on your journey [to understand] it, you shouldn’t feel stressed about being politically correct about an artist that you want to talk about.
I respect people who have art history degrees — I don’t have one — so I don’t know as much as them. For me, it’s about introducing facts without a stance so people can make their judgments. That’s important to me. It’s not evident on my TikTok but on Instagram reels instead. There’s a lot of discussion on there.
Can you talk more about the differences between receptions to your videos on TikTok and Instagram?
I made a reel about how Pablo Picasso would pick up a gun and shoot blanks at people if they questioned his work.
So I posed an innocuous question: “this is a reason why you wouldn’t want to shoot another shot at Picasso, right?” People had mixed feelings in the comments and I think that sort of discourse can be funny.
Compared to TikTok, people on Instagram seem more willing to speak about what they care about. I want to create a space where people can have that discussion. I don’t have to take a stance and people can come to conclusions or read others’ comments. I think that’s constructive as you can hear people’s perspectives from all over the world.
What do you enjoy the most about running an art TikTok?
The idea of community and having the ability to make friends with other creators from different niches and categories, which I wouldn’t have been able to meet without TikTok.
How has the reception to your content been?
Generally positive! When I used to do TikTok Live and speak in person, people would ask me how to go into a museum and not feel scared. Some people also told me that they love my art TikToks because it made them feel like art wasn’t as boring as they thought.
What’s the most challenging thing about running an art TikTok?
Constantly creating content.
Do people have any misconceptions about what you do?
People don’t have misconceptions but I’d say that if you want to create content, then start.
Lastly, do you have any career highlights?
I love being able to talk with different people about different things in art. I work with Art Outreach and volunteer my platform to them because they’re a non-profit. I typically try to interview their Art Encounters artists [who work and display their works in shipping containers over a few months].
This is a really good way to leverage my platform to get the word out about local artists’ works, especially since they occupy the containers for some time.