The man behind Miao&WafuPafu
Jian Goh, the creator behind comic blog ‘Miao&WafuPafu’.
I HAVE a confession to make: I like stalking people. If you wake up every day and get to dress up prettily, go to events, receive free goodies, come home and all you do is blog about it, you are on my stalking list. I’m talking about all the famous bloggers out there: Xiaxue, Cheesie from Cheeserland, Audrey from fourfeetnine.com. And yes, most of my stalking subjects are female bloggers.
One fine day, I came across something I’d never heard of before: comic blogging. Rather than blogging using the good old method of writing, comic bloggers tell their stories in comics instead.
Comic blogging has been there all along but what sets these comic bloggers apart from their usual blogging counterparts is that their messages are all straightforward and of course way funnier!
Another one to add to my stalking list is our own homegrown comic blogger from Sarawak, Jian Goh. He entertains his readers through the stories of ‘Miao&WafuPafu’ at akiraceo.com where all the characters based on himself and those in his real life are represented by cute anime-inspired animal characters.
Jian is represented by ‘Miao’ who is accompanied by his dead pet hamsters – Wafu and Pafu – who have been incarnated as angel and devil counterparts.
Besides comic blogging, Jian also works as a freelance designer and does his own merchandising.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Good Day, my name is Jian Goh but due to my blog, people sometimes call me, Akira or Miao. I was born in 1985 in Kuching but left the city when I was 18 to Peninsular Malaysia to further my studies in engineering for five years and became an engineer in an LED company for 4 years after that. At the same time, I was also doing comic blogging and freelance designing.
I quit my engineering job and returned to Kuching in 2012 as a freelance designer and comic artist.
How did you come to your decision to quit your job as an engineer and why?
My initial plan was to work until 30 and return to Kuching to work after that.
Then, one day near the end of 2011, I thought: “What if tomorrow’s my last day of life; will I be happy living the last day as it is now? Well, the answer was No. So I decided to take a year off and try my luck and my best in pursuing my passion in design and my dream to have my own brand, if things went well then it’s all good. If things didn’t, I still would have gained a lot experience, knowledge, and skills from it and I can always go back to my engineering field or any other field.
Another reason that encouraged me to quit was that my parents had just retired and were getting old fast. For some reason, people age at a faster speed after they retire. Anyway, as the only son, I felt it was necessary to return, accompany, and look after them. I personally feel it’s bad to earn lots of money, enjoy it elsewhere while letting your parents eat lonely at home and talking to pets because there’s no one there.
And so, I started planning for it.
Was that decision hard to make?
Not really, I’m just coming home and doing what I like. You can too. 😛
In your work as a freelance designer, who are usually your clients and what type of designing you do?
Most of them are either my readers’ companies or they introduced me to their friends. My clients range from start-ups to well-known corporate companies from KL or Singapore.
The design service I provide is quite wide, I do mostly 2D graphic designs like logos, flyers, posters, namecards, signboards, caricatures, book covers, and even product designs.
I even do murals as in wall drawings.
Then again, I actually specialise in branding designs like mascot designs, characters illustrations, and comics scripting. I believe that illustration speaks better than words alone and mascots can give the brand a life which can close the gap between the users and brands.
In the current world where social media is the norm, and companies are starting to engage with their users through the social channel, I believe a mascot can interact better than a drawing of a symbol or a logo.
What are the things you love the most about your job now?
Although, I work 24/7, I can still enjoy the freedom to do what I need to do especially attend events or join any spontaneous trips. Besides that, I enjoy meeting different people from different backgrounds and occasionally, one with the same interest as me.
Where do see yourself in perhaps, 10 years’ time?
In front of a mirror.
Okay, that’s lame.
A father, a husband, a son, and finally a real CAD (Chief Art Director) of my own brand company that handles all merchandise for all my current and future brands not just only Miao&WafuPafu, and also owning sub brands that specially focus on creating merchandise that can help with funding for charities and also help others with their dreams.
The company might not be making big money but at least I hope it will be a sustainable one for the family and the most important thing is that it’s something I would love to do and happy to do. Everything else is pointless if one is not happy.
Have there been any offers from publishing companies to publish ‘Miao&WafuPafu’ in hardcopy so far? Is it something you are now planning or working towards?
In terms of book publishing, so far no such offer yet. It is part of my plans though, but currently I have yet to decide how I want to write/draw the stories. But still, any book publisher out there? Please approach me XD.
Comic blog books are doing well now, look at my fellow comic bloggers, Boey’s and Ernest’s books. Both top selling books in MPH and Popular. 😛
Do you have your eye on any international awards or contests to win in the future?
Hmm… I’m actually not sure what awards my Miao&WafuPafu are eligible for. Anyone know any awards do send me an email and let me know. So far, I only have been nominated for internet/blogging related awards.
Any advice for young comic bloggers out there? And for those young adults who are working a freelance job?
Perseverance is a must but drawing alone is not sufficient. Engage your readers, engage other bloggers, social platforms are useful and free, use it. Get their feedbacks on your comic and improve yourself.
If after a while, you find your comic isn’t going anywhere, change. Change your style, drawing style, story style etc. Don’t be afraid to change. If you are, then start a new comic while maintaining the old one.
And don’t just sit there and hope for things to happen, make things happen or at least find way to. No matter what the result, always stay true to yourself and humble.
As for young adults doing working freelance jobs, don’t sell yourself, art, and designs cheap. I know some clients can be demoralising and look down on arts, especially Malaysian clients. Do not go against them but show them slowly that design and art is not just about pictures.
What is your opinion about comic blogging among Sarawakians,the perception of society for those who are working as a freelance, starting your own merchandise brands? What would you want Sarawak youths to know about the comic blogging, or art and design field?
Comic blogging is not actually new but it only started to get noticed in recent years. What you need is a passion, that’s it. I started with just a mouse and no academic background about it and I’m still drawing with only a mouse.
If you don’t have a passion for drawing, well go with what you passionate about. Only passion gets you motivated to keep going.
For those who are planning to start their own branding, please plan, double-triple-backup plan it. And try to think different and creatively. Always plan, those who fail to plan, plan to fail. It is okay if thing don’t go as planned but a plan keeps you together and gives you more focus.
If you have big dreams, start small, act fast. It’s never too late to go for your dreams but still it’s better to start early. 😛
How and why did you start merchandising your own brand, Miao&WafuPafu? Do you have any fans abroad who have purchased your items? From where?
Beside the fact that designing and owning a brand is my dream. I want ‘Miao&WafuPafu’ to be known by more people. As it has always been online, in order to get the Cat and hamster known to the mass and the public, I have to change them into items.
For that, I had to find sources, manufacturers, do material studies and even sampling. I even needed to learn how to do all the financial, registration, transaction matters on my own. The whole process wasn’t easy but I learnt a lot through it.
Purchases from abroad? Yes, I have a couple. There are a couple from Singapore, Indonesia and Brunei. I did receive inquiries from UK and even Korea too but the postage fee was too expensive.
Any other plans other than doing phone cases for Miau&WafuPafu? If there is, when can your fans be expecting these items in the online store?
Actually beside phone cases, Miao&WafuPafu is a partner of WWF. There is a copy of ‘Miao&WafuPafu Ranger’ handout in their bi-monthly magazine, ‘Green Heart’ where Miao&WafuPafu will share information and teach young children on the importance of nature and the conservation. You can get a copy of it just by becoming a WWF donor.
There will be two collaborative projects coming soon. One is the release of limited Miao&WafuPafu Ang Pow with Kimbay Restaurant and another one is Miao&WafuPafu Postcards with Regalo. So, do stay tune on Miao&WafuPafu Facebook for the announcement.
For those who are on mobile messenger, Miao&WafuPafu will be releasing their stickers soon on one of the top messenger app. Prepare to annoy your friends with it. It will be the first foreign sticker released by the company.
Unfortunately, all of above might not be available on the online store. As for our official merchandise that will be on online store, we’re currently in the midst of sourcing and finding channels for Miao&WafuPafu plushies which most probably will be ready and release in the first quarter of 2014.
My interview with Jian Goh reminded me of a quote by author Jodi Picoult in ‘Handle with Care’: “I wondered about the explorers who’d sailed their ships to the end of the world. How terrified they must have been when they risked falling over the edge; how amazed to discover, instead, places they had seen only in their dreams.”
He decided to try his luck in pursuing his dreams for one year, and here he is two years after making that fateful decision, still determined and going strong.
If you haven’t had your dose of Miao&WafuPafu humour yet, visit www.akiraceo.com.