'It's so bad it's good': Singaporeans and Malaysians are lapping up these deliberately ugly portraits sold online

Fancy having your own customised portrait? Now you don't have to pay a hefty penny for it. 

Singaporeans and Malaysians have been buying cheap and badly done portraits of their family and friends off Shopee for less than a dollar. 

For such a low price, what you pay for is what you get — a simplified black and white sketch, sometimes with exaggerated features like nose hair sticking out of the nostrils. 

It's so bad, that it's actually good. 

The listing that's based in Singapore is titled S****y Crappy Ugly Personalised Custom Portrait Drawings Fan Art, and includes some photographs of past artworks. 

Among these pictures is also a disclaimer, assuring customers that the artist is "not a scammer", and that this service "just for pure entertainment reasons"

The artist behind these kooky portraits is Laura Jiang, who decided to sell her ugly portraits merely three months ago, after seeing something similar on TikTok. 

"A Shopee seller [overseas] was doing [this] similar concept of ugly drawings," she told AsiaOne. 

The 20-year-old student explained that she was unable to find such a listing on Shopee Singapore, which thus prompted her to create her own. 

"Plus, it was [during] circuit breaker," she added, "so I was super bored as well."  

So far, 38 orders have been made. The sketches have gained an average review of five out of five stars from customers, some of whom have left positive comments. 

Screengrab from Shopee 

Jiang's art has also gained attention from Singapore TikTokers, who were also gushing about how good the portraits were. One TikTok video in particular, from user osnapitzbutts, went viral, garnering more than 140,000 views in two days.

@osnapitzbutts

💯 recommended!!!! support local!!!!! ##tiktoksg

♬ original sound - Matthew Rincon

"I was not expecting this many customers [when I first started]. Thanks to one of my customers, osnapitzbutts, who made a TikTok about [my work], the store blew up," she said. 

Although she initially sold a portrait for 50 cents, she had to increase the price to one dollar because of "overwhelming orders and limited manpower".

In addition, she also told AsiaOne that expanding her business might be in the cards, "if there's a huge demand for it". For starters, she has created an Instagram account, uglycrappydrawings, which she plans to use to showcase her works. 

She added: "It's always nice getting feedback from people who say they love what I did, and it makes me very happy to hear that!" 

Inspired by Malaysian artist 

Jiang was inspired by Malaysian artist Adib Afdzal, whose ugly portraits are also for sale on Shopee. Adib's work first gained attention after  a TikTok video by user towkey_phone went viral in July. 

@towkey_phone

##shouldbeme Buat duit dengan phone korang. Jangan biarkan diri jadi hamba gajet. Biar gajet jadi hamba kita. Miahahahaha😈 ##tiktokguru ##towkeyphone

♬ original sound - MAWANG

In an interview with Malay Mail, Adib said that he was inspired to create these ugly portraits after he saw someone selling motivational quotes on the e-commerce platform.

He said: "I was editing a poster at that time for my company using photoshop, and I thought to myself, why not just sell my art on Shopee?" 

Using only photoshop and a mouse, he sells his art at RM0.50 (S$0.16) for a black and white portrait, and RM0.80 for a coloured one. His business opens at 6pm every day.

claudiatan@asiaone.com