As pandemic hobbies go, selling ugly portraits of people online is definitely an unusual one.
For Laura Jiang, 20, selling out her drawings was something she did not expect when she set up her Shopee store three months ago.
Starting at S$2.50, customers will receive a digital copy of an “uglified” drawing of themselves or their loved ones, often with added features like nose hair and extra wrinkles.
Temporarily sold out
In response to Mothership's queries, Jiang said she has sold over 42 of these sketches, and is currently working on a fresh batch of orders.
She had to temporarily suspend orders on her store recently as she was worried that she could not keep up with demand.
“I’m still studying, so when the orders suddenly came, it was quite a shock. I realised that I had to start managing my time in order to finish the orders," she said.
Jiang is a communications undergraduate at Nanyang Technological University. She works on the portraits at night after her classes, when she has the most free time.
"The drawings are also a way for me to relieve stress, it's a little therapeutic in some ways," she added.
The waiting period for one of her portraits is now two weeks, and customers can submit a pre-order on Shopee.
She decided to sell these portraits after coming across a Malaysian TikToker doing the same thing.
“I went to search on Singapore’s Shopee, and surprisingly I didn’t find anyone who did the same thing locally. I decided why not just try and sell them for fun," she said.
Portraits are “oddly detailed”
The feedback from customers have been positive, with many leaving five-star reviews on her Shopee page.
One praised how "oddly detailed" the portraits were, another said that "it's so ugly I love it".
Focuses on most prominent features
Jiang shared with Mothership the creative process behind her ugly portraits:
"Usually I would see what are the prominent features that I first notice when I see the photo, then I will try to exaggerate them.
After that, I will 'uglify' it by adding nose hairs, wrinkles, stuff like that."
But by no means does she claim to be an artist.
"The whole appeal is to make it ugly, but for me it is effortless because I’m not a good artist," she added.
Jiang does her sketches on an A4 piece of paper and a black permanent marker.
Each drawing takes her about 20 minutes, but when she finds her "flow" she is able to complete one in 10 minutes.
Will draw anything with a face
For now, Jiang hopes to continue with her small business, as long as there is "continuous demand".
"As long as it’s a face, I'm ok with drawing it," she added.
When asked why people have taken to her ugly drawings, she had this explanation:
"Nowadays it's all about trying to catfish people and making yourself look good. But this is the opposite, it's not what people expect."
Jiang also made an Instagram account for her to showcase her ugly drawings and to update people who are interested in buying one.
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Top photos via nyanpoo/Shopee and uglycrappydrawings/IG