Nicole Licht is an artist, teacher and mother living in Brooklyn, New York who has exhibited her paintings and installation work as well as soft sculptures throughout the U.S.

She sells under the name Astulabee where you can find her one-of-a-kind plushies all hand stitched from various silks, and faux fur. I love her ghost dolls, in particular, this one, which isn’t scary at all!

Artist Interview: Xin of Doinky Doodles

Ever since I stumbled onto the fabulous work of Xin of Doinky Doodles (previously of Maki Squarepatch), I was hooked. I am amazed at what she does — she draws, illustrates and sews, and to top it all off, she has a little brick and mortar shop of her own in sunny Singapore. Her philosophy of using recycled materials is fabulous, as is her knack of mixing found fabrics to create awesome creatures! I think her custom creations are RAD (I kid you not. See her flickr stream to see why.) Read on about why the name change to Doinky Doodles, and how she names her creations!

Name: Pixin
Location: Singapore
Illustration media: sewing & painting

Tell us a little more about yourself!
Hello! My name is Pixin and I am the workaholic behind Doinky Doodles, shop of handmade madness. During my final year in art college , I was cutting up found infant and toddler clothing (party dresses, school uniforms, even an old Christening gown) and reconstruct them into dolls. I fell in love with using these reclaimed clothing as they had so much possible histories and stories in each of them. That final year project really kickstarted my interest in creating colorful, happier objects using recycled clothing and fabric scraps.

So how is it like living in Singapore?
Living in Singapore is good in that- it is small and resources are limited. So it forces you to work within limitations in order to come up with something as interesting as someone else who has more choices/resources to tap from.

How did you get your start in illustration?
Hmm, I think I begin to illustrate a lot more when I started making zines or illustrated journals, and these zines were made to document feelings of absolute failure after a break-up. I think I started illustrating more intensely and constantly when I got dumped. Gee, I must really thank that guy for dumping me:D

I remember that your art was sold as Maki Squarepatch, until a while back when it became Doinky Doodles instead. Could you tell us why the name change?
Maki Squarepatch was a label started by my elder sister and I. She was working as a marketing person behind the label while I designed and created the pieces. After two years working together, there came a point I felt I could be doing a lot more if I am on my own. So Maki Squarepatch had to go. Like a breakup, the name leaves a not-so-feel-goodness in the mind. So I opted for a name change in order to start anew.

How did you manage the aftermath of the name change? (I know it’s not easy to transfer to another business name while Maki Squarepatch was already very well-known in the craft circle.) Was it difficult for you emotionally?
To be honest, I had been really lucky. The name change only made sending information to the media confusing as they would think Doinky Doodles is trying to do a pirated-version of Maki Squarepatch. I had been lucky in that, the shops that I place my goods at still support my work, whether it be named Dinky, Poinky, or Wonky. Curators whom I’ve worked with to provide exhibition-pieces for their shows in the past are still keen to showcase what I do. So I learn to be hopeful and just keep on creating because that is ultimately the more important part of my task.

So what’s the biggest difference between Maki Squarepatch and Doinky Doodles?
The biggest difference is the freedom to decide on what I want to work on next.
Past customers had been wanting to buy gifts for their male friends and couldn’t find a thing at the shop as most of the things I made for Maki Squarepatch was more suited for girls & women. With Doinky, the first goal was to include something for male customers. One day, an artist/friend whom I admire and respect a lot, Kelvin Tan, showed me his sketchbooks filled with drawings of strange mutants and creatures. These drawings would soon become our collaborative effort in broadening the product range with printed mutant-t-shirts, buttons, postcards, as well as soft toys made based on his mutant drawings.

Could you tell us more about your thought process when you start a piece?
It seems to often start with an strange story, character or scenario. For instance, I recently made a set of 10 handmade toys for a friend’s wonderful floral boutique/shop. I was imagining a man buying flowers for his lady and that he may like a toy that represents him to go along with the flowers. So I made these characters and gave them names like ‘Pink Nick’, ‘Brocolli Boy’, ‘Mr Privacy’… Okay, it makes not much sense now…but back when I was preparing the toys for her flower shop, it was this scenario that was the thought process.

Do you keep a journal/sketchbook, and would you mind if we had a sneak peek? (a couple or a few images would be good, if you can manage!)
Yeah here’s a sketch in my book!

What or who inspires you?
Mostly what I find funny or absurd inspires me.

What keeps you motivated?
Maybe it is a self-indulgent obsession- I really do create to be happy. Nothing beats completing a toy that makes absolute senselessness so fun to hold, pinch, squeeze and give it super names.

What’s your favourite tool?
Color markers.

Are you a full-time artist?
Aye eye!

What advice would you like to give people who are interested in being an artist full-time?
You have to be sincere and have real love for it, because that itself will keep you constantly on the move to create. You’ll never worry about having blocks, because you love what you do. Don’t become an artist just because you like the idea of yourself being a mystery to others- not cool!

Where do you see yourself within the next few years?
Would be great to have more overseas galleries showcasing my toys, while collaborating on more exciting new projects with artists/friends.

What message do you want to send out to people about your work?
Each Doinky Doodles creation is handmade using recycled clothing and fabric scraps. No two Doinky creation is alike as no rulers or templates are used in creating the pieces. Individuality, Colors and Absurdity are elements that prevail in every piece of creation.

Tell us something random about yourself!
I am a bread freak like my dad. We both get absolute thrill just looking at bakery shelves filled with bread.

{Thank you Xin!}

On another note, I will be away from tomorrow until Thursday, 2nd of April. I won’t have internet connection or my laptop with me, but I’ve already prepared some posts for you to enjoy along the week but the email replies will be a tad slower (not that it’s lightning speed anyway when I am here… oh well, I’m working on that!)

As well, I’m hoping I won’t go bonkers from being totally cut off! See you all soon!

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