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  • Writer's pictureMich Zhi Xin

You're never too small to make a difference: The 'Duduk Rumah Artists' Stories

Updated: Nov 14, 2022

It all started 2 weeks ago, with 2 hours worth of voice messages on Instagram, setting up a Facebook page, Google forms, and creating a Messenger group with 3 other friends who were artists. All of this within 48 hours.

Within 2 weeks, we have had 100 drawing requests, with the total donation amount hitting 10,000 ringgit (about 2.1k Euro, 2.2k USD), onboarding 7 more kind volunteers as our artists and admins to join us, and lots of lovely stories and kind gestures as rewards!

A little background on how this initiative works:

1. We listed a series of NGO and support groups that were helping in the COVID-19 relief effort, as well as the vulnerable groups that were affected by the #MovementControlOrder / #RestrictedMovementOrder including refugees, the blind, single mothers, the B-40 etc. (This step is important as we prioritized groups that are often sidelined but need help the most)

2. We encourage everyone to make donations to NGOs and support groups, then send us their proof of payment via google form with a picture they would like drawn, and our local artists will reward them with customized art portraits, delivered via E-mail.

This streamlined process with the help of social media has made this a very easy and replicable model, as well as applicable almost universally. All you need is: Some paper, a pen, and a computer with Internet connection, Mobile phones for social media posting, a few kind-hearted, passionate individuals, diligent hands and you are good to go!

5 Success Factors

1."You deserve a cookie!"- Way of narrating matters.

Buying a portrait for a charitable cause with a fixed price / Donate any amount to a charitable cause and get portraits as a token of appreciation

It seems that word choice has had an effect on the public. 'Buying' and 'Gifting' feel different. We don't mind how much you donate, as long as you donate to people in need, we will reward you. This is a token of appreciation to YOU, because you care and are willing to give attention to the vulnerable. Of course, the sequence of actions makes a difference too. People that had already donated will see this as an extra reward, and a memorable medal for them - "you deserve a cookie!"

2. Keep the process simple, leverage on different online tools.

We keep all our instructions and process as simple as possible, using simple language, short sentences and infographics to deliver our instructions. All submissions are encouraged to be done via a single platform, (Google Forms) to maximize our work efficiency. (However, we do expect submission from different platforms) Templates for replying messages and e-mails are also prepared beforehand. As we are all designers, we produced our artworks with mainly Adobe Suites, but as new volunteers come in to help us with admin and social media works, we utilize Canva to create simple posters.

3. Address diversity, be inclusive.

Key instructions are available in all 3 languages that are widely used in Malaysia (English, Mandarin and Malay) to ensure everyone can understand how we work. We also allow submission from different platforms as people from different age groups have different preferences of social media.

We also work on our suggested list of NGOs and support groups. These include Makers such as those that are making DIY shields and PPE, as well as vulnerable groups that are affected by the Movement Control Order, including Women's Emergency Fund, Tabung Orang Asli, Refugees etc. We keep our list updated to make it as inclusive as possible.

On the artist end, we welcome anyone that wishes to contribute and join us. We have recruited some guest artists, professional comic artists, who may be occupied with work but still wish to join the movement, people who retired that wish to give a helping hand, art hobbyists etc. We are also planning to extend our reach to Autistic artists as April is Autism awareness month.

4. Add on some personal touch, be genuine.

How do we keep our momentum? I'd say it's the warm messages by our donors, and the creative, fun requests! You wouldn't imagine how creative these people are: A portrait of her with K-pop idol in front of Eiffel tower, A portrait of him with Elon Musk, A portrait of her with Chinese Idol Wang Yi Bo together in a movie scene. We're also moved by some submissions, which reunites family members together with their grandma that passed away, where sister showering sibling love to her autistic brother, and also portraits as gifts for their parents etc... We all love stories! We listen, we create and we share it on our social media. Stories and art weave us together, it feels more needed than ever to yield this connection with strangers in this movement control period. After completion of the drawing, all our artists send it to the donors via a common email but attaching their very own personal message to the donors. Reading the joyful replies, and changing of new profile pictures make our day!

Korean pop star Jeon Jung Kook turned into an Electric bill distributor, with his fan Amira, under the "Eiffel Tower" (transformer tower) - Creative response by Celine Tan from CO2

Due to Movement Control Order, Queenie couldn't visit her grandma from her mom's side nor pay respect to her late grandma from her dad's side during Cheng Meng festival. Here's a warm gesture from our artist, Oscar Lee from CO2, bringing back childhood memories of Queenie with her grandmas.

A portrait with a touching story behind, where Chemaine is playing piano with her autistic brother, coincidentally resonates and connects with our artist, Queenie Wong from Q Dezigns , who has a down-syndrome younger brother and has inspired us to reach out autistic artists to generate awareness!

5. Collective effort - Little drops make mighty oceans!

We started this because we were inspired by Fahmi Reza's #DesignMelawanCovid19 project, where the famous local artist is raising funds by drawing artistic customized portraits that sell at different prices. Queenie told me about this idea and we thought, well, could we help do something similar with some art enthusiasts as well? And here it goes - We started as 5 people who don’t make art for a living. We all have a background in architecture, and we would call ourselves "amateur artists". But we leverage on our diversity of different art styles that cater to different audiences - adding a surprise element for the donors as well! Soon, more artists volunteered to join, as well as guest artists come in. There are also kind souls that volunteered to help with the not-so-fun admin tasks! After MCO comes to an end, I wish all our #dudukrumahartists family members get their cookies, they deserve it! I wish it could serve as a platform to showcase local talents, a platform for knowledge transfer, a platform of kindness. We empower our artists by crediting them in social media, shoutouts etc.

We also thank NGO groups and support groups that reach out to us, art platforms that featured our work, thank you different media for the coverage so that we could reach more people.

I hope this easy, convenient model could help with your initiatives. I would happily provide any help and share our experiences.

We are all drops of the ocean, and you are never too small to make a difference.

It all started with a 2am voice messages exchanging on Instagram :)


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