About POP!

POP! is INQUIRER.net’s premier pop culture channel, delivering the latest news in the realm of pop culture, internet culture, social issues, and everything fun, weird, and wired. It is also home to POP! Sessions and POP! Hangout,
OG online entertainment programs in the
Philippines (streaming since 2015).

As the go-to destination for all things ‘in the now’, POP! features and curates the best relevant content for its young audience. It is also a strong advocate of fairness and truth in storytelling.

POP! is operated by INQUIRER.net’s award-winning native advertising team, BrandRoom.

Contact Us

Email us at [email protected]


MRP Building, Mola Corner Pasong Tirad Streets, Brgy La Paz, Makati City

Girl in a jacket

70-year-old artist keeps tradition alive as Taiwan’s last hand-painted movie billboard painter

Before the advent of digital printing which uses special ink crafted to resist weather damage and fading due to sunlight exposure, movie billboards were once hand-painted. For Taiwan, this was once a thriving tradition that is now on the brink of fading into a memory in history.

Yen Chen-fa is the sole hand painter for Chuang Mei Theater in Taiwan’s Tainan City, the only cinema in the country that is keeping the tradition alive. In a feature by TaiwanPlus News, Yen Chen-fa showcases his artistic skills by creating actual materials.

Now 70 years old, Yen’s eyesight is failing after crafting billboards for over half a century. Yen’s family opposed his decision to pursue painting but thought that he needed to learn a skill to earn a living from.

Taiwan had about 700 theaters that used to provide jobs for billboard hand painters. Yen narrated how he made over 100 billboards a month during his prime years.

70-year-old artist works

In an effort to preserve the tradition, the Chuang Mei Theater recently opened a “billboard cultural and creative camp,” where Yen is the chief instructor.

Learning the old-fashioned way, Yen practiced day after day. During his apprentice years, he did not dare voice out whenever he encountered artist blocks or errors in his works but would instead rack up his brain to come up with a solution.

“[Hand-painted billboards] have more vitality. Photographed ones are stiff and unmoving. People are alive. You have to understand the ‘core essence’ and only then can you paint a portrait that really captures the subject,” he said in an interview.

As an instructor, Yen always emphasized the need to present the “core essence” of the film characters, which he refers to as the depth of facial features, bone structure, and personality shown through the person’s eyes.

Currently, there are several regular students in Yen and the Chuang Mei Theater’s program. Among them is Japanese singer, actress, dancer, and model Chiaki Ito who gained popularity in Taiwan for her 72-day walking tour of the island in 2021.

70-year-old artist works

Moreover, Three-time Oscar-winning director Ang Lee says he found his passion for film in Chuang Mei. The Taiwanese-born American director also won Academy awards for his films Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon which won Best Foreign Language Film, and Brokeback Mountain for Best Director.

Some of Lee’s famous films had their billboards painted at the Chuang Mei and by Yen personally.


Other POP! stories that you might like:

So you’ve decided you want to move, work, and live abroad. What next?

The Simpsons sees a new change appropriate to the times

Teen ‘Kangkong Chips’ guy shares ‘unconventional’ path to success, sparks debate over ‘diskarte o diploma’

K-pop fans decry K-pop idols for watching and recommending ‘Made in Abyss’ series

Dog trainer Suzanne Clothier says AI was used to create a book in her name, without her consent


Related Stories

Popping on POP!