Jason and Ymei (pronounced as Wai Mei), or as most people have known them as The Potato Couple is one of the most popular and renowned Malaysian comic artists.
With 548k followers on Instagram, The Potato Couple tells their life story and daily shenanigans through comics and share it with their followers. I personally am one of their fans too! Their comics are full of cuteness and mostly relatable with their followers. Honestly, they are many Malaysians’ couple goals!
We at The Cool Bears interviewed them to understand more about their vision, goals and future plan, and we’re so excited when they said yes to the interview!
Some people out there might still not know about The Potato Couple, therefore we asked them to introduce a little bit about themselves for our readers.
Introducing ‘The Potato Couple’
“I am Jason, and she is Ymei.” These are the names behind The Potato Couple! Let’s learn a little more about their background and current career.
“We are based in Butterworth (mainland) Penang. I am an engineer, working at an engineering firm at Perai Industrial Park in Penang. We have our day jobs, and J&Y Productions and The Potato Couple are my part-time projects, where I not only write my books, but I also create contents every day for my Facebook and Instagram page. We also endorse and collaborate with brands to help them build brand awareness on social media with our characters and comics.”
Jason claimed himself as a coffee lover. Whenever he has some free time, he would make sure to go out for a cup of coffee to take a break, relax and unwind from work. He also added that whenever he feels down and in need of something to motivate himself, he will look ‘forward’ and ‘backward’.
“I look ‘forward’ to visualise the goals that I want to achieve. And I look ‘backward’ to look at all the achievements that I have made so far”.Jason
Other than that, he will also read motivating comments and messages from readers as it helps to pump him up a lot.
“Listening to motivating and up-beat songs, and podcasts/videos of successful individuals”, he claimed, also helps him.
Maybe our readers could also apply this whenever you feel unmotivated too?
The Life Of A Slasher
As Jason mentioned that he is working as an engineer at day and making comics at night. It got us thinking that being a “slasher” and doing two jobs at the same time, must be really tiring and without proper balance, one thing might overpower the other. So we asked him, how did he manage to maintain the balance between both of it?
“It is always very challenging to take up so many roles at a time, even though I have been doing it for 7 years (thank god I’m not drowned yet).” He then continued saying, “I think I managed to prioritise things the FIFO method (first in first out), and also based on urgency. But these methods aren’t applicable to our relationship, which we need to maintain it 24/7”.
Going full time is not exactly an option for them at the moment, as they are still figuring out and trying to put things in their places.
There must be something that fueled his desire to create The Potato Couple despite being busy as an engineer. Being inspired by his passion, the readers (be it local or international) and Ymei, those are the things that keep Jason going and helps him to create The Potato Couple that we all love to read now.
Job insecurity is one of the main dilemmas of Millenials these days, and more people opt to be a “slasher” and work two jobs every day just to get through the tight financial situation. Jason as a “slasher” himself and someone who has given a TEDx Talk in January at USM Nibong Tebal about being a slasher, we tried to ask his opinion about it becoming a catalyst to solve job insecurity.
“Yes, it will help in some ways. It depends on individuals, though. I do comic part-time for passion, not because I lack security in my day job. But when I am fed up with my day job, I will go,“it’s ok I still have my comic career”. And when I face challenges in J&Y Productions, I will go “luckily I still have a day job”.Jason
The Potato Couple
Jason described The Potato Couple as “It is a little world full of cuteness and wonder”. I personally find the title of the comic very cute and I am pretty sure that most of the readers think so too!
When being asked how did he come up with such a cute and catchy name of the title, he mentioned because it’s catchy and simple enough as a book title! However, there are 2 explanations for this oddity:
- A potato has a mild and slightly sweet taste. Hence, it symbolises love which is supposed to be innocent and slightly sweet (not too much sweetness as that would cause diabetes).
- A potato is a good source of carbohydrates, which could mean that love is always full of energy. So innocent, slightly sweet and err.. Full of energy. “I bet you get the drift.”
Jason’s answer got me thinking, ah… even such a simple thing can have a deeper meaning to it! Do all of you feel the same way?
The Life Of Jason, The Artist
Process of drawing can vary between different artist. It is up to them which way is more comfortable for them and helps them to be more productive. According to Jason, his process comprises of 5 stages.
The first one is conceptualisation where he tried to get ideas from other sources such as news, daily life, etc. It then followed by drafting and creating a layout. “We do the blue line sketch to layout the comic to make sure it is presentable and visually effective. I will keep adjusting until I am satisfied with the outcome”.
After that, it is time for the inking stage where he creates the outline of the comic. Next is coloring and finishing. Jason explained that “when the outline is done, I will fill in the colors and logos”.
Lastly is copywriting and captioning. Jason will brainstorm for the right words to be placed in captions to increase the effectiveness of the comic on social media.
Completing the drawing process according to Jason, differs with the complexity of the drawing. He explained further that a simple 2-3 box comic and Phoodle* (Photo + Doodle) may take any time from 30 mins to 3 hours.
“It takes even longer time to make our animated videos and Wechat stickers. One animated sticker takes me one whole night! I make animation using the conventional way, drawing frame by frame, which is a very tedious process. I will take some time to learn another software to make these.”
*Phoodle stands for Photo+Doodle. It means drawing my characters on top of photos, interacting with the objects inside.
Fuh! That’s a long process innit? We sneakily ask him after he finished all his works, to whom he shows it first. He brightens up before answering “Definitely Ymei first!”
On 2016, J&Y Production published their first The Potato Couple comic book and met their fans at Book Fest. We at WOKE believe that it is such an important mile for our beloved The Potato Couple. When asked how they feel, Jason said that “it’s surreal. Our comics have always been displayed on the screen in the form of a webcomic. We weren’t used to seeing our comics being printed on paper. It feels magical to see the materialisation of my comics”.
“The ‘Meeting the PotaFam’ at KLCC Bookfest was exciting. I spoke, they laughed and they clapped. The first time is always the most memorable one”.Jason
Some PotaFam who missed the fan meeting session, don’t be sad because we got some secret from Jason himself that they will try to attend Bookfest every year. You can always grab the chance in the future! For their overseas fans, Jason also mentioned that they hope to have the chance to go abroad to meet their PotaFam outside Malaysia. The chance might just come anytime soon! So don’t give up!
Future Plan, Goals and Vision
Jason shows his determination to have diverse content in the future and not solely focus on couple comics. He added, “there are many interesting things in life to be documented such as life, work, horror, childhood, etc. We can make content of multiple genres, therefore, our high content flexibility allows us to attract a wide range of audience and opportunities. I also want to do more animation if I have time”.
There’s still a long way to go before end of 2020. We were very curious about their plans in order to end 2020 with a good note. Jason revealed that he hopes to write more books of different genres.
“Story writing is hard, especially for someone who doesn’t like to watch movies or read novels like me. I got to learn it the hard way; take up story writing courses, trial and error with my shitty stories, tell people these shitty stories and get feedback, then pray that I can finally be a good story writer”.Jason
How long do you plan to continue drawing The Potato Couple, we queried. “For as long as I can”, was his answer.
Before we ended our interview, we managed to slip in one more question for Jason, exclusive for those who dreamed to be a web artist like him. He pointed out a few things:
Jason’s Advice For Upcoming Web Comic Artists
#1: Watch his TEDx talk (Don’t worry we have the video here! Click on it!)
#3: Research artworks of other artists and identify what makes them successful
#4: Do market research: know what the market wants to see and create contents for them, and then build a network of readers. Remember ‘content is king’!
#5: Create and improvise your own drawing style that will distinguish you from others
#6: Set goals and execute towards them