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This M’sian left architecture for illustration, now her portfolio includes Samsung & Celcom

In some ways, Kirin Sharom’s life reminds me of my own. Just like her father, my father was an architect too. The only difference is Kirin’s father used to bring her to his office frequently, whereas my father only took me twice to his office. 

It was thanks to these frequent visits that she eventually picked up art and design skills. Her father’s office became her playground for experimentation and learning new skills with the help of her father and his colleagues. 

Thus, it wasn’t a huge surprise when Kirin decided to pursue architecture. After finishing her SPM, she did her undergraduate studies in architecture at the University of Malaya (UM).

Upon graduation, she worked as an assistant architect and was a part-time lecturer at UM for two years before she headed to the Institute of Technology, Bandung, Indonesia (ITB), for her postgraduate studies.

Once she had a Masters in Architecture, Kirin took a year off to venture out and explore her career options. During that time, she joined a few architectural competitions, and conducted a few graphic design freelance projects.

Through her freelance projects, Kirin discovered her passion for graphic design, and lo and behold, Bunga dan Bintang was birthed. 

Image Credit: Bunga dan Bintang

From architecture to digital illustration

Bunga dan Bintang was established in February 2019, starting out on Instagram as a business account.

“I did miss the security that a stable income could provide during the first six months of building Bunga dan Bintang. However, I loved working on my own more as I had the flexibility and the freedom to do whatever I wanted,” shared Kirin. 

Kirin’s childhood was filled with a passion to draw and paint. However, she only properly learnt the skill of drawing digitally at the age of 27, in 2018. 

Image Credit: Bunga dan Bintang

Currently, Kirin operates Bunga dan Bintang on a full-time basis. She usually spends about four to five hours per day and about four to five days a week on her startup. 

Initially, when the brand was newly launched, Kirin used to overwork and accept every job opportunity that approached her. Eventually, she burnt out and fell sick frequently. 

“Since then, I’ve changed my strategy. I now accept one to two projects every month, and occasionally hire my sister to work part-time, if I need the extra help,” shared Kirin. 

Small brand, big clients

Bunga dan Bintang’s artworks are simplistic in nature, with inspiration drawn from Kirin’s own daily life. For example, her cat, her mum’s plants, flowers, and festive events like Hari Raya are just some of her muses.

Image Credit: Bunga dan Bintang

But her production process doesn’t just stop at illustrating, there’s also printing to consider, in order to get her artworks to her end consumers.

“I live in Negeri Sembilan and it is very hard for me to source the printing and manufacturers for my products, especially when I want to produce them in small quantities,” said Kirin. 

Hence, Kirin arranges for her artworks to be manufactured overseas. According to her, working with international manufacturers is quite tough. 

Before preparing her artworks, Kirin sources international manufacturing companies and asks them for material samples and colour match books, or charts. 

With the R&D process involving sourcing international manufacturers, obtaining the right materials, and printing colours, producing the artwork can take anywhere from one week or even up to a year.

Image Credit: Bunga dan Bintang

Kirin’s work does not go underappreciated though. Bunga dan Bintang has collaborated with various local clients such as Urbanscapes, Samsung, Celcom, and Yeo’s to provide illustrations for them. 

Recently, Bunga dan Bintang collaborated with Poplook, a fashion label to design artworks for their free gift sets during their Poplook 2022 Raya Campaign. 

Beyond local shores, Bunga dan Bintang has reached international clients too; Kirin once collaborated with a pottery brand in Qatar to produce artworks for their pottery, fabric, and packaging. 

Now, Bunga dan Bintang is also part of the NFT community, minting some art on Pentas.io. Kirin herself isn’t too involved with the NFT community, simply enjoying the experience of curating her own collection for the most part, but she acknowledges how supportive and helpful the community is.

Back to (bamboo) architecture, one day

All in all, Kirin’s entrepreneurship journey seems to be going well for her, and she’s got next to no regrets about leaving architecture.

Although, she told us that architecture might make a return in her future, since she has plans on building her own bamboo villa.

This would harken back to her days in ITB, where she took an elective about Bamboo Construction Technology twice after falling in love with the concept of bamboo architecture.

  • Learn more about Bunga dan Bintang here.
  • Read other articles we’ve written about Malaysian startups here.

Featured Image Credit: Bunga dan Bintang

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Vulcan Post aims to be the knowledge hub of Singapore and Malaysia.

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(UEN 201431998C.)

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