It’s a weekday, and you just clock into your daily 9-5 job getting ready to hustle. BUT, here’s the big but! You can’t help but admit you have that creative itch that’s just wanting to get out and share with the world.
Slowly, this feeling leads to thousands of conversations in your mind. “Should I quit my job and start something on my own or should I hold on, start it as a side hustle and make that big leap?
Day after day, you start to feel lost, frustrated and lose direction, especially when the whole country is being affected by the tough economic climate.
Well, here’s the bad news and the good news.
The bad news is you’re experiencing a life crisis and it’s time to grow outside of your comfort zone. And that means you’re gonna experience failures, stress, demotivation and debts.
The good news is you’re not the ONLY ONE in this world who’s facing such an issue, and the digital illustrator that we’re gonna talk about today is the perfect example.
Before we make that grandeur entrance to introduce her, here’s a fun fact about her:
“She has a massive following of 507K followers on Instagram and you’ll soon learn her secret sauce later in this article.”
Ladies and gentlemen, presenting you Karmen Loh (better known as @bearbrickjia), who is the first Malaysian independent digital illustrator featured on Domestika.
Oh wait a second, she doesn’t only have 1 online course but 2 online courses on Domestika. Domestika is one of the fastest-growing online learning communities for creatives in illustration, design, craft, 3D, animation, and so much more. Plus, you get to join a community of international creators to make, share and grow your creative ideas together even when you are miles away from each other!
So by now you may have a burning question in your mind: How did she get her big break on Domestika? Well, like other entrepreneurs, her journey isn’t a full bed of roses. Hopefully with this article, you’re able to walk away with some inspiration.
“I couldn’t really get jobs when I first started out and I got kind of depressed.”
Karmen’s artsy blood is an accurate representation of the phrase ‘running in the genes’ – as everyone in her family is an artist. Her journey with Adobe Photoshop started while she was studying in college. When she got used to it, it became her main tool for digital illustrations.
Before becoming a full-time independent digital illustrator, Karmen worked as a concept artist for a video game company. As cool and dreamy as it sounds, despite having a steep learning growth, she still felt as though there was something missing… The inability to express herself freely - she felt restricted by the standards and limitations that she had to abide by. It was at that moment she decided to quit her job and her journey as a full-time independent digital illustrator began!
It wasn’t an easy start for her as she struggled with securing jobs when she first switched from her full-time job to a freelancer. There was nothing else she could do as art was the only skill she had. Despite falling into her lowest moment, her persistence and resilience got her going to continue creating what she truly, genuinely enjoys doing. Eventually, her talent and never-give-up spirit got more and more people to notice her and that’s the start of her career turning point.
“I'm very thankful to my art director and colleagues who taught me a lot.”
Karmen shared that there’s no shortcut in getting the following empire she has on Instagram today. She started her Instagram account by posting pencil sketches many years ago, and each time she posted, she was supported by more and more people. The key to building a big following on social media is consistency and engaging with followers. She would try to post at least once a week, ask her followers questions, and reply to them in the comment section.
“All it takes is consistency”
Through sharing her online consistently, she slowly got recognition and people started reaching out to her for collaborations and commission work. So, that’s how her art business started booming!
Although her journey at the start was a rocky one, she shared that turning to your pillar of support can make your road less lonely and difficult. For her, her parents were full on to let her explore and pursue her art freely, and that’s the main reason why she was able to focus on her passion and become who she is today.
Here are her significant achievements to date:
“You never know who sees your art and what kind of opportunity is awaiting you.”
(This is a sample artwork done by @bearbrickjia in collaboration with Mr.Suicide Sheep, a YouTube music content creator with more than 12M following.)
To all young ambitious artists who are eager to make history with their art and design talents, here’s Karmen’s piece of advice:
“Be open to learning new things, all the things you learn will eventually contribute to what you do in the future, you never know what the future holds. And make the kind of art that you enjoy and feel proud of because the things you create reflect who you are as an artist, people who like your work will eventually find you. Always be curious and keep experimenting!”
Though Malaysia’s art and design scene is still in the growing phase, Karmen believes there is always a space for everyone to flourish. Seeing Stive Asia emerging as the new platform for creatives to earn passive income, she believes this is a step to making their lives easier without the need for long working hours and heavy commitments. Besides, Stive Asia also provides people with the convenience to look for branding materials. Not only is it affordable, but it also comes with lots of options.
Lastly, if you’re up to picking up some online courses and learning something new, head on to her Domestika courses for more info. You pay less than RM40 for a course. No harm picking up a brand new skill!
Follow Karmen Loh on her latest updates of her artwork and products:
Instagram - @bearbrickjia
Facebook - @bearbrickjia
Twitter - @bearbrickjia
Artstation - @KarmenLoh
Patreon - @bearbrickjia
Art apparel shop - BearBrickJia Store by Fuku Mono
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