This article was originally published on Youthopia on 20 August 2021. Though some of the events and details in this article may have changed since, we hope to remember those in our community who made an impact to the world around them.
While Samantha Germaine Sim was still in Secondary School, a teacher once took her book and threw it away because she was caught doodling on it in class.
The teacher told the class that if they wanted to fail their tests, they should go sit with Samantha, who hailed from the Normal Academic Stream. Today, the 27-year-old is still drawing every single day, but she is far from a failure.
She’s working as a concept artist with Mighty Jaxx, a local award-winning company that designs and manufactures collectibles and lifestyle products, including collaborations with global brands such as Hasbro and Sesame Street. And she’s found success in her career.
On her second day with Mighty Jaxx, she was already tasked to create a product. It ended up being the Nyansum – a collection of cat-infused dimsum – which was Mighty Jaxx’s first intellectual property.
“That’s something really, really cool because we didn’t work with any other artists or licences. It was just us (the Mighty Jaxx team),” she says, with an unmistakable sense of pride.
“He (Jackson Aw, Mighty Jaxx founder) just came to me and told me to make something and just have fun with it. And I was like, ‘oh I have freedom?’. I think I was really hungry that day – I was craving for this dim sum I always eat near LASALLE – and it just happened that my mum sent me a picture of my cat, who is really fat.
“I looked at him and thought he looked like a xiao long bao or a liu sha bao, so I just started doodling and pitched it to Jackson. He was like, ‘I love it, let’s go with it’.”
The first Nyan Sum collection took about six months to complete and it was launched in June last year. It was so well-received that Mighty Jaxx launched Nyan Kashi, a follow-up to Nyan Sum, last month.
To have achieved what she did in a matter of months after joining Mighty Jaxx, Samantha felt “lucky”. Afterall, she headed into her career purely because of her love for drawing and did not research about the industry first.
After completing her studies in Secondary School, she took up animation, specialising in 2D animation, at LASALLE College of the Arts and went on to design educational games for kids. She then went on to do animation for kids with a local studio, but quickly suffered a burnout, and moved on to work in the fashion industry as a fashion stylist.
It was only when she hurt her knee and could not stand for long periods that she left her job and landed her gig with Mighty Jaxx.
Throughout the whole time, her relatives kept questioning her career choices.
“Chinese New Year – you know right? They asked questions like, ‘so you draw, you can earn money anot?’ and I’ll be like, ‘yes, I have a full-time job and I’m drawing a lot’,” Samantha explains.
“Over time, my relatives understood what’s happening because they kept asking me questions. In a way, they also learned that this wasn’t just a ‘cannot-make-it route’. They actually learned with me along the way that you can use your talent and get something out of it.”
Samantha adds that she is thankful for the support given to her by her parents. She says that her parents were very encouraging since she was young, knowing her love for drawing, and helped to nurture that passion into a talent by sending her for art classes.
A day-to-day life at the MightyJaxx office can be “quite rowdy”, but it’s apparent that Samantha enjoys her work. When she’s not busy with meeting deadlines for the projects she’s working on, she’s busy working on ideas that come to her mind, in the hope of turning it into the next big line MightyJaxx will produce.
“The fun fact is that I come from a team called MightyLabs (the team that recently produced football figurines in collaboration with German football club Borussia Dortmund), and we are very experimental.
“We are given the time to create and visualise a potential product, because it’s going to be our own intellectual property and we want it to be perfect before we launch it,” Samantha shares.
Aside from that, Samantha also makes occasional appearances on MightyJaxx’s YouTube channel, starring in unboxing videos intended to help customers understand the new launches better.
Samantha may make her job appear to be one that’s exciting. Yet, she also makes a point that just because it’s fun for her might not mean it’s fun for others. She cautions those who are looking to become a concept artist like her to do their research first, unlike herself.
“Read up about the industry and understand what the industry is about. It’s not just about drawing… there’s so much more to it. If you understand the industry as a whole, they would know that there’s more than comes with it.
“There’s a good and bad side to it. Are you ready to take it on? If so, then the passion will fill you and it won’t stop you from anything,” she says, adding that she has friends who struggled because they did not do adequate research before entering the industry.
“With technology now, there are videos that show behind-the-scenes stuff you can watch and you can find out for yourself what goes on and if this is life you would like. If you have the passion, then by all means, go for it.”