'It's about bringing joy': Dubai entrepreneur turns people into their favourite cartoon characters

Patrick Osman started I’m Cartoonified after he was made redundant during the pandemic

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If you’ve ever wondered what you would look like if you were born into the fictional town of Springfield or thrust into a Marvel adventure, now's your chance to find out.

Dubai resident Patrick Osman is the man behind I'm Cartoonified, a newly launched e-commerce venture that turns people into their favourite cartoon alter egos. UAE residents can now buy canvases of themselves in front of a two-dimensional house as members from The Simpsons, or emerging from a portal in the style of Rick and Morty.

How does it work?

Those interested in seeing themselves in 2D form must visit the I'm Cartoonified website, where they can choose the number of people in the artwork (it can be close family members or even people they've never met, like celebrities). They then choose picture style, cartoon and background – some of the styles currently available include superheroes, The Simpsons, Rick and Morty, Bob's Burgers and princesses.

They then make the payment (prices start at approximately Dh92 per person) and Osman sends customers a sample once the image is ready in case they want any tweaks. Once the picture has been approved, it is recreated on canvas and delivered to a customer’s doorstep. The entire process takes around five to 10 days.

500 orders within six weeks

Since its launch on May 8, I’m Cartoonified's customer base has surged, with the brand proving especially popular for Father’s Day gifts.

According to Osman, in the span of six weeks, he has received roughly 500 orders in the UAE, and 150 from other parts of the world. To keep up with demand, he had to hire a team of freelance designers, with three now working full-time in the UAE.

Emirati internet stars Khalid Al Ameri and wife Salama recreated as characters from 'The Simpsons'.  Courtesy of I'm Cartoonified

“It all happened so quickly. It’s funny because this is very different from what I was doing, but I’m living the dream,” says Osman.

Osman moved to the UAE from Australia last year to work in international ventures, hoping to support his family back home by paying the mortgage. However, when he lost his job earlier this year, in part due to the coronavirus pandemic, he felt the financial pressure mounting.

“I didn’t want to share the news with my family because that would just end up stressing them out. Then, one night, I wasn’t able to sleep. It was about 3am and I just had to create something. That’s when I got the idea for I’m Cartoonified.”

Osman had always loved drawing as a hobby, and is a particular fan of cartoons.

“I’m a big child at heart – I need to go to Disneyland twice a year,” he jokes. “I’ve always been passionate about cartoons, but I didn’t ever think I could make money off it. But then I got to thinking, Disney is worth billions, Warner Bros is worth millions. I realised I wanted to take one of the biggest risks of my life.”

Osman is now in the process of expanding his product line to include life-size cardboard cutouts. Courtesy of I'm Cartoonified

Osman spent 30 days researching the technicalities of setting up an e-commerce brand, especially during a pandemic, and its financial viability. His advice to others in a similar position is to follow their dreams – as long as they do their due diligence.

“If you have a dream, sit down with an experienced business person who has done it all before. Pick their brains, ask them about their journey. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”

'The gift of joy'

In the end, all the hard work paid off, says Osman, who is now thinking of slowly expanding the business, from printing his designs on T-shirts and socks to life-size cardboard cutouts. At the moment, he says the bestselling artworks are The Simpsons and superhero creations.

“We grew up watching these cartoons, reading those comic books, and to see ourselves transformed into our cartoon alter egos is a special thing," he says.

"One of my customers recently ordered a portrait of a husband as a superhero because he had lost his job and she wanted to remind him that he will always be her superhero. It is amazing that I could contribute towards that.

"This started out to help my family but now I want to bring as much joy to others as possible.”