Side hustle: Dr Madhu – Art and NFTs

For a doctor, a side hustle isn't merely a source of income, but an escape that fuels passion and sense of strength and support.

When we discussed our theme this month to feature doctors with side hustles, the first person that came to my mind was Dr Madhu. I met Madhu at work some time last year and was immediately drawn to this free spirited woman. In getting to know her, I found out that not only was she a brilliant doctor, she was an artist as well. A glance through her Instagram account showcasing her art left me in awe at her artistic acumen. 

When I was introduced to NFTs, the idea confused me. I was familiar with magnificent works of masters being sold for a fortune. Digital art turns out to be just as lucrative and it took me some time to properly digest the fact that the world as we know it is quickly evolving. NFT stands for Non-fungible token, a digital token that allows you to buy and sell unique digital items like art. It’s a type of cryptocurrency but is unique and cannot be exchanged for another of its kind like regular currency.

That is why when I found out Madhu was selling her art on an NFT marketplace, I knew I had to speak to her about it. Here is her story. 

Tell me more about the work you do outside clinical medicine.

I’ve actually been into art since I was a kid! I started as someone who was really immersed into anime and the art behind anime characters. I used to even write little comic books. Since then I’ve self taught myself the basics of character design and of course going through med school and anatomy facilitated my art growth as well. Along the way I transitioned from sketching to painting — starting with watercolours, oil, acrylic and then I dived into the digital world. It was indeed a learning curve but really satisfying in the end. Art really brings me happiness and nothing is better than happiness shared. I’ve conducted a few art gatherings where like minded creative friends meet up and let our art juices flow. 

The idea of NFT is wild and interesting, tell me more about tapping into that. 

NFTs were new to me and I was introduced to them not too long ago. A friend of mine let me explore the world of cryptocurrency and it honestly left me quite puzzled and curious. He had a lot of experience in crypto and together we launched my little baby NFT account that is growing 🙂

How do you find the time to be present both for work in medicine and your side hustle?

Passion. Both art and medicine is where my heart is at. It would feel like something is missing if I don’t  paint or if I’m not at work. The feeling of treating patients and watching them recover gives me a sense of purpose. On those days which are rough, letting my emotions out as paintings lifts me up. They are both my strengths, complimenting one another. To add, I’ve got really good friends who love my art and keep reminding me to never stop no matter how busy I am. They’ve definitely helped. 

How does the income you earn from your side hustle allow you financial freedom? 

What a relief it is to be able to paint again. This is a portrait of the amazing poet @rupikaur_ (Source: @madsilverartsy)

I usually keep the income from my art business in its own loop. As in, whatever I spend to make art comes back to me in form of income and that profit is channelled back into making better art. One good thing about digital art is that you don’t have to spend too much on art supplies, I’d spend on art classes and tutorials from my art gurus on the net. 

Yes I do sell on multiple platforms — Instagram DMs take up most of the cake, followed by art recommendations by friends, a few of my artworks have been in exhibitions and coming up would be NFTs.  

What kind of value does this work bring you besides monetary?

It gives me a lot of inner peace and it’s probably one of the few things I have full control over. As you already know, working as a doctor in the government sector has its own drawbacks — one of which is being highly overworked with the lack of staff in view of the COVID-19 pandemic (as a good number of them are quarantined). Furthermore, I’ve been a month into my medical posting and it has been nothing but hectic. We’ve taken most of the responsibility in taking care of COVID-19 patients, and with full PPE and the lack of manpower, it gets really really, really tiring. Art has helped. It has helped me clear my mind and it has helped me keep my sanity. It’s a medium that takes my rush of emotions and rewards me with something beautiful. I’m super thankful to be able to do this. 

Do you mind sharing the work you do with our readers?

Super proud of this one. I only needed some inspiration and a pose reference. gahhhh so satisfying to see this come together 🙈. (Source: @madsilverartsy)

My artwork mainly comprises watercolours and digital art. I tend to lean towards drawing a lot of women. I love how beautiful women look. Along the way, I found how looked down upon dark skinned women were and I felt the need to draw more women of colour. Hence the number of brown and darker skinned portraits on my feed. I also love how interracial people look, so you’ll find a lot of asian looking girls with freckles on my feed. Having a predilection towards magic (Hello, Potterhead!), I do mix in a lot of sparkly gems and magical bits here and there. I also do quite a bit of acrylic work — mostly on landscapes but I dont showcase much of them as they take months to finish. They’re on demand basis. Other little things I’ve ventured into would be calligraphy and embroidery.

What kind of advice would you give to doctors who are considering starting a side hustle? 

Time management is really key for any doctor considering a side hustle. Plan your off days and leaves wisely and arrange your time so the world works for you rather than you for it. It’s also important to have people who value your side hustle to motivate you forward so you don’t get completely immersed in medicine and fall back on your side hustle. I also like to make little goals that are sustainable. For example, if I’m committed to making one piece of complete artwork to post on my Instagram, I will make sure I reach that goal. I also recommend practicing some mindful meditation prior to work. My morning routine consists of at least 10 minutes of focusing on breath and planning out my day with a mental to-do list. Don’t forget to reward yourself at the end of it!  

Inspiring, isn’t it?

Art has never failed to awe and inspire me. It’s not often I get to speak to an artist and understand the depths of her work and her motivation to make art. Medicine digs deep into human compassion. Connect that with the rapture for art making and incredible things happen. 

Check out Madhu’s work out on her Instagram account, @madsilverartsy where you can also purchase her work by sending her a DM. Alternatively, you can check her digital art shop out. 

Interested in finding out more about alternative careers for doctors? Check out our career guides and find inspiration from our case studies. For those based in Malaysia, you can sign up for updates here, and follow our MF Malaysia Instagram and Facebook pages to stay updated on our events, webinars, job vacancies and more.

The following two tabs change content below.

Victoria Navina

Victoria Navina is driven towards policy and practice-changing public health interventions, and is a strong advocate for mental health, aiming to make the conversation surrounding it louder and unrestrained.

Register with the community for FREE

Get more from your career plans