Artist Behind The Art: A Little Green Blob Meets A Little Red Dot
Ho Jun Sheng, 22, is a third-year student at NTU’s School of Biological Sciences. He’s also the artist behind Mito, a pea-shaped, Panama hat-wearing character whose sticker set has been downloaded over 43,000 times on Telegram.
“Some of my classmates are my biggest supporters, even sharing my stickers to their friends or in school Telegram groups,” he said, when we asked him if his classmates and professors were aware of his alter-ego. “They are also the people I go to religiously for feedback and advice before sharing new content online. I must say that it is pretty challenging to juggle both academics and drawing simultaneously but at the end of the day, it is something I really enjoy doing so it doesn’t wear me down.”
On top of studying and illustrating Mito, Jun Sheng has also started working with brands. In September, he collaborated with Auntie Anne's to create a canvas tote bag design for their 25th anniversary in Singapore. The result? Cartoon versions of Auntie Anne's signature items frolicking merrily - and patriotically - against the backdrop of Singapore's landmarks.
The entire process took about a month, which involved multiple drafts, a few rounds of discussions, and quite a bit of fine-tuning, but in the end, Jun Sheng was just happy that his work was so well-received.
Being true to your style while adhering to a brief isn't easy, but Jun Sheng had plenty to share about how the process helped him grow as an artiste. Here's what he shared with us about being an illustrator in Singapore, about collaborating with Auntie Anne's, and of course - about Mito's backstory (FYI: Mito ISN'T a pea!).
How did you come up with the design for Auntie Anne's 25th Anniversary canvas tote bag?
I had many initial concepts for the design, which went through several rounds of discussions with Auntie Anne’s. We wanted the design to capture the vibrant essence of the brand whilst incorporating the celebrative spirit of this special milestone. Auntie Anne’s is a brand that values delivering happiness, so we decided to portray Auntie Anne’s top selling items (which included their iconic pretzel, chocolate almond bites, cheese dog, and fresh lemonade drink) as adorable cartoon characters, each dancing and grooving animatedly.
We hope that this would put a smile on people’s faces when they look at the artwork. To further emphasise this 25th Anniversary milestone that is only unique to Singapore (Auntie Anne’s is 36 years in USA), we included the beautiful city skyline that incorporated iconic destinations on this sunny island.
What kind of challenges did you face throughout this process?
One of the greatest challenges was identifying a key way to make each individual element in the artwork stand out, whilst keeping the design clean. This was especially difficult as the design had to work in both a black and white format, and coloured format. I had to experiment with varying the thickness of the brush strokes so as to place more emphasis on the characters in the foreground, while ensuring the characters are still the key focus even without colour to make them stand out. What was most satisfying was seeing the final products in person, in stores and online! It was definitely very heartening to see people interacting with or commenting on my work.
@meetmito \ud83e\udd7a\ud83e\udd7a just checked my sticker stats,,, thanks everyone :'))) link in bio to download! #sticker #art #fyp #foryou #meetmito ♬ Beggin' - Måneskin
Your Mito stickers have been downloaded more than 43,000 times! How did you come up with the character of Mito?
Mito was actually a really random thing I drew out of boredom sometime after I graduated from junior college. At that time, Mito was only shared as sticker packs on Telegram with some of my closer friends - back then, Mito was pale green, with really long and squiggly arms!
Thereafter, I begin coming up with a backstory for this character, and eventually, one development led to the next. Very soon, Mito developed into an Instagram webcomic – an alien blob that crashes to Earth and begins exploring Singapore. To my pleasant surprise, the small Telegram sticker packs I created along the way to share with my friends also gained some popularity, and download surged. Over the years, as my art style refined, I reinvented Mito’s design several times, and also experimented with animated stickers and producing physical stickers – with more to come soon!
What inspired you to become an artist? Can you remember the first thing you ever drew?
When I was a child, my father used to draw comics for me based off my ideas - we had a short comic which spoofed on the Journey to the West characters (I still have it at home somewhere). In fact, he used to dabble in drawing for magazines and other publications in his youth as well! As I got older, I attempted drawing and designing myself. Some of my past works included helping designing cover pages for school magazine and banners. Drawing Mito was the first time I actually committed to drawing on a semi-regular basis!
What’s next for you and what’s your dream project to work on?
On the Mito front, I hope to continue drawing and also establish a long term online store - previous merchandise were released in very small, very limited collections. I also dabbled in After Effects during the circuit breaker period last year, and found animating to be very fun! I look forward to creating more animated Telegram stickers. At the same time, I’m putting the finishing touches on my short-animation video - which depicts Mito blundering his way in space and eventually crashing onto Earth. Right now, I’m also creating art for a mobile game I am developing with one of my friends. This is an exciting mobile game that involves fishing in a small town to appease a giant fish god.
As for my dream project, I do not have any particular project in mind but would love to have the opportunity to work with other local artists. I find myself loving drawing local icons/food/places, and was naturally very mesmerised by all the animated artworks that were part of the National Day event in Singapore. I would definitely love to be a part of projects similar to that one day!
Check out Jun Sheng's art, illustrations, and stickers here