Every artist has their niche. Some paint, some sketch, some make music, some take photos, etc. And even those who paint usually specialise in a style, or consistently paint on something specific like cutlery, pottery, walls, etc.
But then I came across Mew Hui of MewDoodle, who can draw on almost anything she gets requests for. Shoes, bags, cups, macarons, and even cakes—it’s almost like you can just hand her an item you’d want to customise, and she’ll get the job done for you.
“About 5 years ago, I was sitting in a café and started doodling on my coffee cup. When I shared it on my social media, my friends started to like and comment on it,” Mew Hui shared with Vulcan Post.
“I doodled more every time I was in a café with different themes, characters, stories, and when I traveled overseas, I also doodled on cups in different places I visited as a nice keepsake for myself.” Over the next few years, she would continue honing her art.
Her aha! moment
Sometime 3 years ago, she brought her art over from cups to apparel and shoes. She was visiting her sister in New Zealand one day, and they were shopping together when they came across a pair of white shoes.
“I told her why not let me paint you a pair as a gift. Since that day I’ve been painting shoes non-stop and have painted almost 300 pairs,” she prided in her work.
Her work began gaining more traction online, and she began taking in more requests, which were usually to paint on basic white shoes. Mew Hui now fixes the price at RM280, and it includes a new pair of shoes, her art, and shipping.
These basic slip-ons aren’t the only canvas she paints on though. Mew Hui also gets requests to paint on designer handbags, which she felt were the hardest to work with because any mistake would cost her a bomb.
Building trust with her customers
One thing about doing commissioned work is that you’ll sometimes come across difficult clients who can give artists a headache if they demand too many corrections, or if they’re unable to properly communicate what the art should look like.
To fix this issue, some artists set hard rules for their work to avoid getting taken advantage of, like limiting the amount of times one can edit or change their work.
Mew Hui however shared that she doesn’t really have any of these, and almost never had to do any corrections for her work before.
“Normally, the customer will tell me what they want or what they like, and I’d give them some ideas of what I think would look great. Once they agree to the idea, I’ll show them a sketch on the shoe,” she explained, and added that most of the time, her customers trust her.
But for those who are more particular about details or whatnot, she’d update them along the way as she works on the art and ask for their input as well.
There are times when a customer won’t know what they want, so Mew Hui would check out their social media or ask them some questions to get to know them better before she proposes an idea. Usually, they’d love her ideas well.
No stranger to painting on stranger things
As mentioned earlier, Mew Hui can work on all kinds of “canvasses” with her art. Other more regular things she paints on are masks, tote bags, bowls, etc.
However, she can also work on baked goods like macarons, cupcakes, and cakes. She did note that because she isn’t a baker herself, she just does these for fun and doesn’t promote them as much as the apparels, bags, and shoes.
Because people could come to her with almost anything to paint on, she’s also had her fair share of unusual items to paint on like scuba fins, guitars, 3D figurines, cigar cases, and more.
Personally, what I find most fascinating about her art is how there isn’t a fixed art style she has, which is quite interesting seeing that most artists usually have a signature, recognisable style of their own.
If you look through her Instagram feed, you’d find that she’s able to draw realistic paintings, comic-style paintings, cartoonish ones, and more, which shows how incredibly versatile of an artist she is.
From passion project to side hustle
Mew Hui actually runs a business of her own, and MewDoodle is something she does on the side which she thinks of more as a passion project.
“Sometimes, it’s a bit tough balancing my time between working on my art and running my business, especially when the queue for requests is long and some customers have deadlines like a birthday or an event,” Mew Hui told Vulcan Post.
On average, she can earn about RM1,500 to RM2,500 per month from her doodling work, but ultimately it depends on how many requests she gets per month.
Right now, she’s looking for opportunities to paint some wall murals (MewDoodle x Chaigo, anyone?) or even do glass art. “Anything is possible, really,” she confidently said.
Featured Image Credit: Mew Hui of MewDoodle