A former writer who never saw herself as an artist, Carissa stepped out in faith and obedience to pursue art full-time in 2022. All photos courtesy of Carissa Gan.

“Can one be an artist and a Gospel-bearer? Definitely,” says artist Carissa. Many of her art pieces reflect her experiences and encounters with God, serving as a testimony to His presence in her life. All photos courtesy of Carissa Gan.

Carissa Gan never saw herself as an artist.

The journalism major spent seven years as a copywriter and content marketer, always believing that writing was her forte.

“Wildflowers are free to grow, sustained only by Him.”

But when Malaysia went into lockdown in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Carissa began to dabble in art as a form of therapy.

She would post some of her abstract creations on social media, and friends soon began encouraging her to create an account just for her art.

After prayer, Carissa named her brand Wildflower Culture.

“When we look at a field of wildflowers, no one tends to them except God. It’s His garden.

“Wildflowers are free to grow, sustained only by Him,” Carissa, 33, shared.

It is this culture of freedom, rest and reliance on God that Carissa hopes to convey and inspire through her art.

Letting God speak through her art

As an abstract artist, Carissa uses colours, textures and different application methods intuitively. 

“God’s culture calls us to value purpose and progress over perfection.”

She also finds great joy in mixing colours and creating blends that evoke a wide range of emotions.

Through the process of creating abstract art, which is largely intuitive, Carissa has learnt the art of surrender as she allows herself to be a channel for God to speak.

“Stories from God’s heart to yours. That’s my personal mission statement for Wildflower Culture,” she explained. “I always pray before I begin any piece, about the colours and process. God can use colours to minister and speak; it is a language of the soul.”

In doing so, she has heard personal stories of how her art has ministered to others.

One client, after losing her mother, commissioned a painting that would express the truth that God is good no matter the circumstance.

Carissa’s commissioned piece (far right) for Jia Zhi, a client who recently lost her mother.

“Jia Zhi told me that she felt a divine exchange taking place as He gives beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness (Isaiah 61:3) because of how the colours in the painting intertwined with each other. She experienced a sense of hope and redemption,” shared Carissa.

Another client wanted an entryway artwork in her home to remind her and her husband to always let go and let God, as well as to live a life that serves and glorifies God.

Carissa’s entryway piece for one of her client’s newly-renovated home, titled “Abundance”.

“They hope to live their lives like the little boy with five loaves and two fishes, and the client told me that the artwork serves as a beautiful reminder of God’s love and presence in their lives.”

Trading hustle for peace

In September 2022, Carissa stepped out in faith and obedience to become a full-time artist.

While the world is steeped in a culture of striving, perfection and profit, Carissa hopes that Wildflower Culture can represent what she calls a “heavenly culture”.

She explained: “God’s culture is completely different. It calls us to be unrestrained in living out who He has made us to be, and to value purpose and progress over perfection.”

As an abstract artist, Carissa’s process is often intuitive. As a believer, she has learned to surrender control to God and allow Him to guide the narrative of each piece.

Many full-time artists burn out because of the pressure to create, pay the bills and achieve perfection, she noted, adding that she hopes to create out of a place of surrender to God.

“Profit is not the ultimate goal, neither is perfection. We create from a place of peace, not pressure.”

As a small business owner heavily reliant on the digital space, this includes shaking off the pressure to “maintain” her Instagram page and keep posting on it, she shared. “I’m learning to follow God’s rhythm, not the algorithm,” she said with a smile.

“There is room for rest,” she added. “Profit is not the ultimate goal, neither is perfection. We create from a place of peace, not pressure. Excellence and rest can coexist in God’s culture.”

This theme of rest has naturally seeped into her artwork as well. One of her collections last year, named Slow Down, was a series of minimalist pieces on rest.

It was not a planned series. But as she began to create, the three pieces – Garden, Midnight and Cloud – came to life.

“The whole series ended up being about encouraging people to slow down, going back to the culture of rest which I feel God always has in His heart for people,” she said.

Little did she know that other artists would resonate strongly with the artwork and be blessed by it.

“I feel that when I release control and act based upon what He puts in my heart, my art reaches the people that He wants to reach,” she said gratefully.

Hanging on to God’s promises

As a Christian, Carissa believes that her faith speaks the loudest through the way she lives her life.

“Can one be an artist and a Gospel-bearer? Definitely,” she said. Many of her art pieces reflect her experiences and encounters with God, serving as a testimony to His presence in her life.

Art was never part of the plan for Carissa, but God is full of surprises and is using her art to minister His hope and redemption to others.

For example, she struggled through one of the hardest years of her life last year and “felt as though I was carrying this ocean of grief inside of me”, she shared.

Out of that difficult season came many of her art pieces, including In Every Victory 01 and Oceans 01. Instead of focusing on the depression and sadness, however, she chose to center the artworks on God’s promises.

Two of Carissa’s pieces, In Every Victory 01 and Oceans 01, were on display at the Art of Christmas Exhibition by Sound of Art Gallery at i12 Katong Mall in December 2023.

“I felt I was constantly breaking, hitting rock bottom. But I knew that as long as I was hitting the rock of God and breaking against Him, I would be safe,” she said with conviction. “He picks up the pieces and holds us together.”

Going only where He leads

Carissa has gained much traction and success for Wildflower Culture.

Apart from receiving invitations from art galleries in Europe and New York, among other places, she was also invited last June to be a guest teacher at the Virtual Art Summit 2023: Return to Play alongside 15 other artists from around the world. 

She also collaborated with Mori Official, a Singapore-based social enterprise, to create a line of products for their Hope and Joy collection.

Carissa with her husband, Emmanuel, whom she counts as one of her greatest supporters.

However, she is always intentional about seeking God for the green light before she agrees to any exhibitions or ventures.

“He reminds me that He will take me where He wants me to go. If that’s not where He wants me to go, I have to surrender,” she said, adding that she has turned down exhibitions centring around worldly ideals that do not sit well with her faith.

“Wildflower Culture is God’s. It was His dream before it was ever mine. So whatever He says goes,” she said firmly, adding that every open door thus far has been God’s doing.

While she never expected to become a full-time artist, she knows it is a path that God has led her on and is excited for what comes next.

“I’m just privileged that I get to partner with Him,” she said. “God gets all the glory for where Wildflower Culture goes because this is His story.”


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About the author

Michelle Chun

Michelle believes in the power of the pen (or keyboard) to inspire conversation, influence change and impact people. She believes that everyone has a story, and her prayer is for every heart to discover the joy of knowing God.