Q&A with Creative Artist Maggie Tan Mui Theng (MTMT)

Sneaker Artist Maggie Tan of MTMT Designs and MTMT Studios

Running your own business can be pretty daunting. However, knowing that you wake up everyday working a job that sparks joy is truly a rewarding experience, especially when you see how far you have come in your creative career. Today, we are seeing more creative individuals emerging as talented artists and pursuing the road less traveled while leading a passion-driven career. The term starving artist is rarely used these days as creative artists are becoming business savvy, thanks to technology. It has allowed artists to create a personal branding for themselves to reach out to fans and clients from all over the world. In this brief question and answer interview session, I have invited Maggie Tan from MTMT Designs and MTMT Studios to talk about her creative entrepreneurship journey such as, what inspired her to pursue this creative career path and how she manages her brand and studio. -Shia Lynn

Hey there, Maggie! Introduce yourself.
Hi, my name is Maggie, and I am the Shoe magician of MTMT designs & Chief Everything Officer at MTMT Studios. 

I am a sneaker artist at MTMT Designs, where I’ve been customising sneakers for customers around the world, almost 15 countries and 300+ pairs of shoes so far, since my university days. I am also a current alumni of the Young Art Entrepreneurs Program (YAE) , an art residency program initiated by the National Art Gallery. MTMT Studios was a passion project that came to life after I decided to quit my corporate job back in 2018. 

Before venturing into art, I was once in the corporate world and it was this extensive exposure in the corporate world that assisted me in building up a huge circle of network that supports me with my passion for art. I was an International Business & Marketing honors graduate from Taylor’s University and a self-taught artist since my childhood days. 

Through my art, I was very honored to work with local and international brands like L’Oreal, TOMS, Jameson Whiskey, Taylor’s University, GoGet, MINI Cooper, IKEA, KL Fashion Week, Shoemo and so on. 

I aspire to educate more people about the importance of art and hope that my art studio - MTMT Studios will make my lifelong dream a reality.

How did you start your creative business?

For MTMT Designs, honestly it was a blessing in disguise. So what happened during my uni days was I initially planned to create a birthday gift to a friend who loves the SpongeBob cartoon a lot. There’s a lot of ready made SpongeBob merchandise available in the market but I chose to paint a pair of SpongeBob shoes for her. I posted the outcome of the painted shoes on social media and it was widely commended by my friends and they were sharing my post on their profile. Many were asking to get a pair themselves and they were also asking if I can do other cartoons. Even friends of friends started to place their orders, and I honestly have no idea how it went abroad as well (those were the days where ETSY didn't even exist). So that’s how the shoe customization service started, a business that was unexpected. 

As for MTMT Studios, I actually took my last paycheck in 2018 after being caught in a mild depressed state from overworking myself dwelling with 3 jobs at the same time. Back then, I had the money but I do not have the freedom of doing what I wanted to do. I wanted to change that state and took a leap of faith after working in different industries to test out my own business managing skills and also wanting to inspire more people in the community to believe in the importance of art education. 

What inspired you to take the jump and pursue a creative passion-turned-business?
I suppose it was my gut feeling that led me to this decision. Throughout my employment period, I’ve met with quite a number of employers; some selfish, some capable, some talented, some dedicated, some hot tempered and so on. I’ve learnt a lot about people skills while putting myself out in the field and I realize what are the human traits that I like and do not like. I sometimes envision myself as a business owner, what kind of world will I create with specific traits and corporate culture that I will strongly focus on? 

So I figured, if I were to start a business, what’s there to lose? I gave myself a time frame to test my own ability. So while bidding goodbye to my last company, I realised it was the first time I left a job without having any backup plans. In my mind, I only thought about action plans to execute, there was no time to think about alternatives. 

Of course, there were a lot of self-doubt moments, because I fear what people will think about me. Owning a business degree but ending up in the art world, gave a lot of opportunity for people to comment about my skills and credibility. I was given lots of titles, but I believe that dedication and persistence trumps any art certification out there. 

If an average artist puts in 100% of effort, I will need to put 500% into it. That’s the way I go about with doing what I need to do these days, especially when I manage two businesses. At the moment I would like to focus more on building the studio’s business more, so for my artist identity, it will take awhile for me to go back into it.

How did you discover your niche in your creative business?
I don’t think I actually discovered it, the niche found me. 

What are your tips on effectively building your business and get sales?
You have to create a consistent amount of shout outs from your social media. If you can’t commit everyday, do it at least every week. I realize that people may watch you silently even if they don’t interact on your posts. When the time is right, you will see sudden surprises coming your way. 

Follow Maggie Tan's artistic brand journey and creative playground on Instagram at MTMT Designs and MTMT Studios


Q&A with Creatives is an interview topic by The Artsy Craftsy to empower fellow artists, crafters and makers with artful life and business tips and advice.

The Artsy Craftsy by Shia Lynn documents her journey on exploring life through art, crafts, creativity and creative mindful living. She also covers mainly creative arts and handmade community related stories. We welcome content collaboration with creatives, creative lifestyle event invites, including sponsored content and brand partnerships. Request for our rate card or speak to us about our creative service. Email theartsycraftsy@gmail.com

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