Chwen Lim is passionate about graphic design and enjoys coaching small and medium-sized businesses through creating online branding to tell the story of their products and services on the web. Chwen earned her degree in art from Central Saint Martins—University of the Arts London and her postgraduate teaching diploma from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. When Chwen and her family moved to California, she was thankful to establish a network of like-minded people and receive support from her new community when starting her internet marketing consulting business.
Chwen has traveled extensively through Asia to ensure her late artist father’s work is professionally curated and documented. She worked closely with museum curators, art gallery owners and collectors to educate future generations on South East Asia art history. Before his passing, Chwen helped her father put together the giant public mural art piece, “Let the Show Begin,” at Singapore’s underground Esplanade train station on the Circle Line.
When she has the time, Chwen enjoys painting in studio with her young students. She also conducts annual creative summer programs for children and coaches adult art students at Southbay Gospel Center in Cupertino.
How did you become interested in creating art, and why did you decide to study graphic design in college?
I come from an artistic family. My late father was an artist in Singapore, and my mom was a fashion teacher. Since I was young, my dad would send my art pieces to newspapers to be published, and my mom would have us participate in various art contests. Through those contests, I won awards and they paved the way for me to pursue art. I chose Graphic Design because I don’t want to be in my dad’s shadow. It is hard to meet the expectations of others. For example, when I studied in the UK, I didn’t want others to know I have an artist father so that I could prove my abilities on my own merit. I really like to make art applicable in real life like posters, flyers, publications, especially design with the end result in mind. I like to see how a raw idea can be taken through a process of transformation and result in applicable marketing collaterals.
How does good graphic design contribute to successful business branding expressed on websites?
Good design includes applying graphic elements appropriately on web pages. Branding means consistency in the use of logo, color, photo direction, etc. It has to give viewers a sense of familiarity and security when they move around the web pages.
Why did you decide to start your own graphic design firm instead of working for a firm?
I used to work with a design house, and I still love that kind of fast-paced environment. However, when I came to the USA, I wanted to stay home with my two young children, so having my own graphic design firm allows me flexibility.
Tell us about how partnering with maWebcenters changed the nature of your business.
When my husband, children and I relocated to the USA, my professor advised me to explore web design along with my graphic designs. However, the nature of maintaining an updated web presence can be challenging. Back then, websites did not have user-friendly backends. Content management software was new, and business owners needed more than just a website. They needed internet marketing tools and consistent tech support to help them maintain a good web presence. All these can be expensive.
I work with programmers and freelancers to serve our clients. Not only were our profits lean, we found ourselves spending too much time on maintenance and not doing result-producing activities. I was looking for a system with tech support, project managers and programmers to help serve my clients. I was also looking for a system that would allow my clients to make edits to their websites whenever they needed to. But it was difficult to set up a system as a self-employed creative professional. I was afraid to lose my style when I helped clients. But technology runs like a horse, and I can’t race with it.
When one of my clients took our design and hosted it with maWebcenters, a web development and hosting company in Las Vegas, it was a turning point! I invited my programmer to evaluate maWebcenters with me. With his blessing, I was encouraged to use the system, and it was the best decision I’ve made. Now, I have a team of professionals who speak four different languages (English, Spanish, Mandarin and Cantonese) to support my clients. As a result, I built my business around the globe. I was able to take on more clients, and my clients are supported 24/7.
As an internet marketing consultant, how do you help small to medium-sized business clients grow their business?
The solutions we offer include digital marketing services, social media management, Google and Facebook ads, online reputation management, text marketing, search engine optimization and more. I have discovery sessions with my clients to see where they are now with their web presence and provide consultation accordingly. We also refer clients to Shop.com for affiliate partnerships online or offline, depending on the nature of their business. Whatever we can do to help businesses grow, we explore those opportunities. We also work with affiliate vendors like FreshLime, The App Store, Morse Connect, and others to help small to medium-sized companies maintain their web presence.
How have you been able to balance your career and family as an entrepreneur?
I traveled a lot to South East Asia when my business expanded and my boys were teenagers. I tried to be a presence whenever I could. I communicated quite often with my sons and husband to maintain the relationship. During my business trips to Singapore, I was able to visit my aging parents and my in-laws in Hong Kong as well. I helped my father with his public mural commission and curated his art exhibitions with museums and galleries. I am glad to have spent quality time with my family members and relatives in Singapore.
I chose to work from home to have more time with my two boys, who are now 22 and 23. I had the best time of my life growing up with them. Unlike in Asia, we didn’t have domestic support here. I was a stay-at-home mom, laundry lady, cook, taxi driver, everything, but I enjoyed every minute of it.
Looking back, I have no regrets. I am thankful to have a very understanding and supportive husband and two wonderful sons. Today, we are still living happily as a family.
What do you enjoy about teaching art to children at the Cupertino Language Immersion Program (CLIP)?
Learning the Chinese language Mandarin is not easy for our students. The Cupertino Language Immersion Program director back then, Mary Jew, approached me to design a cultural art program, incorporating speaking and hearing modules to stimulate student interest in learning the language. We slowly expanded our teaching team, and now, the curriculum is even more interesting, and we offer more classes for students in CLIP grades K-12. We attract many parent volunteers who support and get to learn alongside their kids. The CLIP art program has been very well received; students love it.
Your father, Lim Mu Hue, was a successful artist and well known throughout South East Asia. Why is it important for you to be involved with the curation and continued displaying of his work?
I am honored to be my father’s daughter. After his passing, I am handling his art legacy with my siblings. He was born to do art and dedicated his life to art. While we organized his collections, we couldn’t leave the wealth of his collections buried, so we donated a huge portion of his art to the National University of Singapore Museum. We also worked with his art school, Nanyang Academy of Fine Art, to curate his retrospective exhibition. As an educator, I hope those resources my father gathered can benefit future generations.
For more on Chwen’s website and digital marketing services visit: imartconsultant.com.
You can also see Chwen’s interview on Issuu:
By Eva Barrows