Heart-to-heart with Aparna Singh of mydoodlesateme
Hi Aparna! Thank you so much for agreeing to interview BUZZ. We’re really intrigued by the company’s name. Why did you name it MyDoodlesAteMe?
I get asked this a lot more than I thought I would be. Had I known, I would have come up with either a rather witty, cool, funny answer or maybe a different name (???) haha.
Honestly, I was just brainstorming with a random Pigeon on my window sill, bouncing off names for the brand — writing them all down, thinking about the what, how, why. And I was doodling silly things. And I was hungry. And then just like that I wrote “My doodles ate me… on nom nom!”. And that was it! I thought it was hilarious at the time (the Pigeon agreed). And that’s how “MyDoodlesAteMe” was born. I actually used to use the words “om nom nom” everywhere too for a few months, but later streamlined it into just MyDoodlesAteMe (it’s a mouthful as it is haha). So now you know the real story — there IS no story! I just thought it was funny. Oh, and also, I researched a lot, in case there was ANY other brand/blog/drawing/animal/anything already using this name or something similar, and there wasn’t one — none. I wanted it to be something unique (because I like unique, and also for SEO purposes obviously). So, yes. That’s it!
As you know BUZZ Magazine 2.0 is all things bookish. What attracted us most towards your page was the Bookish Calendar. What was the inspiration for it?
I have always been a crazy book worm since as far back as I can remember. I used to borrow books from three different libraries each week when I was little and was absolute besties with the librarians there. Once I had access to a steady broadband internet (finally an upgrade from the dial-up), I discovered eBooks! I used search for .jar (java) extension eBook files to read under the covers all night, on my tiny 2.5inch-ish Nokia 6300 screen (don’t ask me how, those were desperate times for eBook-lover-kids). I bought my first Kindle Paperwhite with my first internship stipend in 2014 and literally bawled my eyes out at how HAPPY I was in that moment, holding this sleek black device of infinite literary goodness! My mother consoled me thinking I was sad, then thought I had finally cracked under Architecture College’s pressure and gone bat-shit crazy — once she saw that I was crying and laughing and hugging the kindle simultaneously. Anyway, moving on. I had also started a Book Blog back in 2011, because NOBODY around me liked to read as much as I did back then and I was desperately looking for like-minded people to talk and share about my favourite reads with (it was by a different name back then, but now it’s been rebranded and is called MyDoodlesAteMe Blog!).
So long story short (or long story long?), I have lived and breathed books (and art) all my life. That’s all the inspiration I could possibly need to make MyDoodlesAteMe’s first ever Calendar.
Would you be making a Bookish Calendar for 2021?
I definitely would be making a Calendar for 2021 — desktop, wall or bookmark calendar or maybe all three. For the theme though I have SO many ideas, bookish and non-bookish, that I’ve been sketching on and off. I might do a bookish one, yeah. Something completely different from the 2020 one though, of course. We’ll have to wait and see.
Let’s talk about the other bookish products that you have. Our favourite is the enamel pin: Book Hoarder. How does inspiration strike for the same?
Oh I absolutely adore the Book Hoarder pin! ALL of the illustrations I draw or products or comics I make have their inspiration somewhere in my day to day life. I have always been a little too observant (and quiet) as a kid and I guess now that translates into my work too. I love reading, I love books, I hoard books haha — the TBR stacks on my shelf keep staring daggers at me whenever I buy a fresh pile of books to add to it. There are the well-loved Personalised Bookmarks, the latest addition of Magnetic Bookmarks, the Bookish Planning Companion that I’ve had to restock thrice already, the new Jotbooks for bookworms and so many more. Same goes for almost all of the other merch as well. The concept for anything comes from personal experience, a deep-seated fondness for it and observation.
Now let’s talk about your other products for a minute. Which was the most fun to create?
I’m seriously giggling right now. This is like asking a bookworm what their favourite book is! It’s torturous haha (for the record, I can NEVER answer this question). Okay, but seriously, I think the most ambitious, time consuming, meticulous and fun project till exactly day before yesterday was the 2020 Bookish Calendar. Yesterday though, I sat myself down and learnt some basic programming on the Spark AR software by Facebook, and made four illustrated Augmented Reality filters for Instagram. All four got approved by Facebook and went live on Instagram today. There’s a ‘Luna Glasses’ filter inspired by one of my favourite Harry Potter characters, Luna Lovegood. And three more super fun ones that all use different techniques and offer different hilarious experiences (go see, you’ll instantly know what I’m talking about — they’re on @mydoodlesateme Instagram profile). Since I had zero tech/programming background, there seriously was a learning curve to it, but oh my God I can’t describe how much FUN working on these was! I probably had about two hours sleep total in the past two days, but the thrill and satisfaction in making something like this made it totally worth it.
The other thing we would love to talk about is the love for chai and cats. Has adopting Thanos been an inspiration to your work?
Chai! Oh I adore chai, always have. I love a good coffee too, but one never has to ask me if I’d like some tea. The answer is always yes, any time of the day or night (seriously, wake me at 2am and give me tea? I’ll drink it and happily go back to sleep).
And cats? Oh wow have I dreamed, prayed and cried for a kitty all my life. I used to have a little feral kitten when I was twelve, but she followed her mum outside once and got hit by a car. Years later, I wanted to adopt a kitty again (and vowed to keep her/him strictly indoors). I’ve been begging the parents and later my partner to let me have a cat (Abhishek wanted a dog, but I’m allergic to dog dander, else I wanted both). A year and half of pleading, endless tagging in kitty memes, threats of “I’ll just go and bring five kitties and hide them at home myself and you’ll just have to deal with it!” and running off randomly to pet stray cats on the street later, he agreed. And we got this tiny clingy delicate baby Thanos.
Yes, of course he’s been an inspiration. That, and so much more! I knew already that I’m going to be crazy in love with him, but Thanos has had Abhishek wrapped around his little ‘peet’ since day one!
You also make comics from everyday life, and you have been making doodles and GIFs. So, what has been your most favourite project to work on so far?
Ooh yes, I love this one. So, my partner and I got married exactly two years ago now (yes, we had a lockdown anniversary on April 18th — it was fun, we mopped the floors and sparkly cleaned the dishes together), and I made him a Comic Strip Website as a wedding gift hehe! He used to ask this question a lot, “Why do you love me so much?”. The Comic Strip Website was my answer(s) to this question. I did not have my iPad back then, or a stylus — I drew and inked the whole thing on paper, scanned it on my smartphone, and colored/finished them ON my phone with my fingers as stylus (yes, ALL of my old comics were drawn, finished and posted from my phone — till about June 2018 I think). Then uploaded them and made the website on my laptop. Looooooong crazy process — took me three whole days with very little sleep — but I loved every second of it. Seriously, so fun and satisfying. Though he’ll probably not admit it, Abhishek might have shed a tear or two when he saw it. And I most certainly spotted a shy blush beneath all that beard. Yup.
There have been more such ‘favourites’ since then, but this one has a super special nook in my heart. From the intent to the process to the final surprise, everything.
Is there a product that you were not too sure about but did well?
T-Shirts! The t-shirt market in India is pretty saturated. That too with mostly super cheap low-quality tees EVERYWHERE. Who’s going to spend decent money on premium quality t-shirts then? At least that’s what I thought at first. For MyDoodlesAteMe, I refused to compromise on quality just to lower the costs or to get a good profit margin — quality had to come first. They had to be something that I would happily invest on for my own wardrobe. I can’t sell or endorse what I won’t use myself. It took almost a full year to finalize the vendor. Bonus? They also had the size inclusivity I was searching for — from Small to XX-Large. And they picked up so well! I just launched them as a pilot at first, but kept getting requests for more designs and kept adding them. And now there’s a good-big collection on the website well loved by all of the most adorable people who prioritize quality, comfort and design for their own wardrobe too.
What about the reverse — a product you believed was the jackpot but didn’t do so well?
Not absolutely terrible, but I would have to say probably the Wall Decals. But to be fair, I only launched two designs in the Wall Decal category initially, and just didn’t think to add more because of the response not being as good as everything else. This question actually, made me reflect quite a bit (thanks!) and maybe I need to revisit the collection and add fresh designs to it after the lockdown ends. Let’s see how Wall Decals 2.0 is received!
The lockdown 1.0 and lockdown 2.0 has greatly affected all small businesses. Is there anything you’re doing to ensure MyDoodlesAteMe is able to survive the hit?
Honest to earth answer? It’s hard. I don’t have interns or employees yet, but there are monthly bills and so many other dues to pay still. We’re also paying our cook & help their full salaries and donating at multiple other places for food & supplies and doing as much as we can for those who need it more, while staying home. Physical merch sales are scarce right now, because no shipping services are available (not very safe). But I still have ongoing illustration commissions and some other freelance work that I don’t normally talk about on Instagram, albeit less than usual. We’re staying put, doing all we can.
But that also means I personally have a lot more of free time to do things I had been keeping on the back burner, somewhere in the low-priority/later zone. Creative things! Personal projects that I’ve been itching to work on since ages — like the AR Filters I finally got around to learning and making, a lot more comics, more GIFs for Google & Instagram, a brand new portfolio website for MyDoodlesAteMe, some much needed personal branding exercises, making silly IGTV videos with Thanos, amongst other things. I’m also very very keen on picking up Water & Gouache paints, film a couple of illustration tutorials, learn to play the guitar a bit, read more, and try making Clay Jewellery that I’ve had the raw material for since the past two years, yet NEVER had the time! So, if this turns into a further lockdown 3.0, which seems highly likely right now, you’ll be watching me experiment with more such stuff!
Finally, do you have any message for our readers?
Tough, scary times. But now is the time to be strong. Mentally more so than any other way. And kind, to everyone else, but first to yourself. Stay home. Stay safe. Stay sane.
Oh, and Thanos says hi!
Thank you so much for taking the time out to talk to us. To our readers, you can follow My Doodles Ate Me on their social media listed below. And order all the cool goodies by logging on to their website (also listed below!)
Book Blog: blog.mydoodlesateme.com
Work Portfolio Website: work.mydoodlesateme.com
“Why do I love you so much?” Website: theaparnasingh.wixsite.com/abhishek
AR Filters: instagram.com/stories/highlights/17970680182305583
Google Official GIFs Page: tenor.com/official/mydoodlesateme
Giphy (Instagram Stickers) Official GIFs Page: giphy.com/mydoodlesateme