How far does doodling get you in life? Very far, if you’re Lim Heng Swee.
Lim first became popular through his work on Threadless, a t-shirt company based in the USA that features designs created by independent artists. The most popular designs are then upvoted by the online community, with the most successful ones going into production and sold on the website.
“I was searching for opportunities for illustrators online as I was about to move to the UK for a one-year working holiday, and wanted to be able to still draw and make a living that way,” says the self-taught artist, who originally studied engineering.
“When I found out that you could earn money illustrating a t-shirt, I was sold – the prize money back then was a big amount: USD2,000 for the winner. I came up with ideas and submitted my work diligently. I created a lot of illustrations on Threadless!”
“After illustrating for Threadless for two years, I discovered Etsy. And I was blown away by the opportunities that it offered artists. I had never ventured into print before, but after seeing how prints were selling pretty well, I decided to open an Etsy shop to sell my prints.”
Based in Malaysia, Lim is proof that artists don’t have to be limited by geography. His brand, ilovedoodle, is much loved among fans on Threadless and Etsy, the latter on which he has maintained a storefront for the past five years. “With the Etsy shop, I could have a regular income because I could now get my work printed up.”
Through his website, Lim sells prints of his popular doodles, as well as t-shirts and tote bags. He also has a following of over 120,000 people on Facebook. Lim’s personal mantra is “Doodling a Smile” – and thanks to the internet, his work has brought a smile to many.
Amy Ng writes on the topic of entrepreneurship, illustration and creativity; deciphering clues and shedding light on the intersection between them at pikaland.com. She’s also an adjunct lecturer at The One Academy.