The clay creations of ADM graduate Lim Qixuan has captured eyeballs all over the world, and it's not difficult to see why.
The soft pastel pinks, coupled with the macabre designs, make for a compelling combination.
Despite the popularity of her works, however, Lim has no intentions of turning it into an e-commerce brand.
Or at least not yet.
The Heart Of Qimmyshimmy
Her works began as an "accident", Lim shared.
During her time in The Apprenticeship Programme, she sculpted for a project and ended up with leftover clay.
Not wanting to waste them, she fiddled around with the remaining clay, creating baby heads hidden in pistachio shells.
"My friends absolutely loved it and encouraged me to make more."
Her works are influenced by her interest in "hybrid creatures and the tactility of flesh".
Depicting the "transition between death and life", common themes are about mortality and the relationship between humans and other living beings.
As for baby heads, well, Lim finds appeal in their contrasting natures: "vulnerability and fragility" versus "morbidness and discomfort".
So while the designs might freak you out, they are always still "relatable".
She does not begin with sketches, she reveals.
Instead she jumps right into carving and painting while making changes intuitively. Afterwards, they are baked in the same oven that cooks her food.
"That is not something I should be proud of," she admits sheepishly.
Since she started Qimmyshimmy a little under 5 years ago, it has come far as a brand.
"I am actually quite shy with my works and never take the initiative to write to people or galleries to look at my work," Lim shared.
"As Instagram is so social, it gives my work the exposure I will otherwise not receive."
"The past year has been the most exciting because I got to exhibit in 3 different cities in Europe and US, and will be exhibiting more in 2018."
Besides, there is incredible joy in being paid to travel while doing what you love, she reveals.
Baby Heads For Sale
As a Masters student in Netherlands, she now sculpts weekly and uploads photos on Instagram to an ardent following of close to 57k.
Despite the flood of buyer requests, she only sells the ones she likes and "feels confident about", with revenue ranging from €800 to €2000.
"Of course, the numbers will grow as my works get more ambitious".
As she does not trust postal services, sales are also restricted to the Netherlands. However, her frequency of travel will make it "easier to meet collectors halfway."
An e-commerce store however, is not a consideration for now as she does not want her creations becoming "cheap, mass-produced ornaments".
"I have people asking, 'how fast can you deliver to the states?' or 'I need 10, how fast can you make them?'"
I think we are getting so used to this fast-paced, mass-manufactured way of consumption that we often dismiss the processes of art-making, which not only takes time and energy, but also spirit.
As such, she considers it lucky her freelancing gives her the "financial stability to focus on her art purely for passion".
"As I grow creatively, I realise that more does not equate to better. Now I am definitely more careful with what I show, and more selective with the projects I take on."
It is also for this reason that she is not taking custom orders.
People often want me to make things they see on my social handles, and I do not want to be trapped making the same things over and over.
"I am still growing and I want to experiment and explore as many things as I can, " she shares.
"Sometimes, I am also afraid of disappointing people, which explains why I do not take commissions. Maybe one day when I am more confident, I will start to take more!"
Keep Your Eye(ball) On Qimmyshimmy
So are there any new designs in store?
"Yes! But it is a secret for now!"
"I usually do not talk about my projects before I make them because I am afraid about jinxing it."
Lim does not rule out the possibility of Qimmyshimmy becoming a full-time venture in the future.
"It depends," she says.
"I love design a lot as well and I find it really difficult to leave it for my art. I think I will work on both till it gets way too tiring, then maybe I will have to choose."
This article was first published in Vulcan Post.