Eng Tay was born and raised in Kedah, Malaysia. In 1968 he moved to New York City to study at The Art Students League, followed by graduation from The School Of Visual Arts in 1972 as a graphic designer. He worked in the graphic arts field until 1978, when he undertook several painting trips though out South America and Indonesia. These trips formed a basis for the types of scenes and moments that became his subject matter – images of people playing music, family moments and interactions, market scenes and daily rituals. He began to exhibit steadily and continued to gain international recognition as his work was shown in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia, his native Malaysia and his adopted home of New York, as well as extensively across the United States.
Tay's compositions are based on human figures, sometimes singly and sometimes in familial groupings. Children and parents with stylized faces are often shown with musical instruments. Tay's works are usually in warm color schemes that reinforce the quiet, warm surroundings of his figurative subjects.
“Emotions, relationships, color, light, wind or sounds that I experienced last night, or many years before, are the raw materials with which I try to create ‘new’ moments - the images my etchings represent - rooted in memory."