Poonam Saha, better known as Doodlebug to netizens, always had a keen interest in painting, but over the years she realised that the tools of the trade were above her pay grade. And like most Bengali households, artistic pursuits don't tend to make it on the list of priorities, thus limiting the resources at her disposal.
Far from being dissuaded, Poonam resorted to doodling mandalas in her sketchbook. "I have always had a strong affinity towards drawing almost all my life," shared Poonam. "Art has been the only constant in my life and, truth be told, a getaway and stress-buster for me after a long day of classes, work, etc."
Some of the common themes that feature in her work involve mysticism, lore, ancient history and architecture. "I really like the idea of what could be/has been, the ability to create something that has no connection to our current reality."
It is this element of feeling transported to a surreal world that has resonated with the masses, bringing a much needed appreciation for doodling as its own art form. Poonam says, "For me, doodling holds a special place solely because of its simplicity and the fact that it doesn't require you to buy the most expensive equipment."
Apart from creating dreamlike worlds, Poonam also likes to play around with symmetry and balance. "Geometry is another aspect that I really enjoy incorporating into my artworks, for some reason it has always been one of my favourite topics of study. The concept of balance and proportions in simple everyday objects fascinate me."
A childhood hobby has now grown into the driving force behind Poonam's trailblazing rise in the artistic arena. Her wide collection of works have been drawing attention, both online and offline, over the last couple of years. Doodlebug's eclectic body of work emerged from Poonam's earliest medium for drawing – a notepad and a basic gel pen.
Developing the signature Doodlebug style
Growing up, Poonam dreamt of becoming a fashion designer or an architect, professions involving art. Now with a 9-5 design career that allows her to draw all the time, Poonam spends her time working as a graphic designer and an interior architect.
"The sheer simplicity of doodling/illustrations is what inspired me to push myself into this sector."
She remembered coming home from classes, then tutoring kids, and finishing up her chores after a long day of work. She would get the chance to unwind with a simple drawing that she didn't think would pass more than 25 peoples' views. She didn't even spend money on buying expensive materials until 2017.
From freelancer to a professional
Starting off as a freelancer, Poonam has been working with brands as early as 2011. Her official collaboration from 'The Doodlebug Project' was when her illustrations caught Newscred's attention, and she was asked to illustrate for their in-house merchandise.
She has since collaborated with BYLC, Huawei and Bata.
"The memorable one has to be with Bata where I got to draw on their shoes for their museum collection. It was a brief collaboration where I was able to combine my love for apparel design with my artwork and to this day, I still get positive feedback from everyone for it."
Poonam's popularity as Doodlebug isn't limited to commissioned work; over the last year, her crossover series of artworks of the game 'Among Us' swept Reddit and spread to all other social media platforms. The game was at its peak, and the series' inventiveness touched people's hearts and tickled their funny bones all around the world.
The crossover series was even noticed by Buzzfeed, who covered it on their website.
Doodlebug's latest collaboration was with SHEIN, a $100 billion online retailing giant, to establish an artist line of products that combines the brand's and creator's visions.
Speaking on the collaboration, Poonam explained, "At the start of this year, I was offered the opportunity of a possible collaboration by one of SHEIN's representatives. We discussed printing some of my artworks on their apparels. Later, SHEIN and I agreed on an official contract to print my artworks on their shirts and other merchandise."
This collaboration will aid in the evolution of the creator's art and will also make her art accessible to the world.
Inspiring doodlers in Bangladesh and beyond
From a hobby to a passion, Poonam has established her brand, The Doodlebug Project which has garnered its own mass following and inspired doodler/artists in Bangladesh and beyond.
Doodlebug is influencing a generation of artists to put their own unique take on doodling.
"When my illustrations pop up in their newsfeed, I want people to feel something nice and warm, even if it's for like four seconds of their scrolling time."
Lastly, the humble self-made artist said that no matter how many collaborations lie ahead, she feels like she'll always be the girl who just drew her heart out from her little bedroom space without wondering whether anyone will ever see it.