Sunday, 10 January 2016

Illustrators Arise: Renata Owen

Hey there, art fanatics! How you feeling today? Hope you're well 'cause I've got some great news: it's time for another edition of Illustrators Arise! Woohoo! In case you're unfamiliar with it, it is where I introduce my favourite illustrators from all over the world every month through an interview so you guys can read along and get to know them too. This year I'd like to interview all Indonesian illustrators and it's only fitting that we start with an incredibly talented young artist who has done so much early in her career. Give it up for Renata Owen! I first found her at PopCon ASIA then later on at KACF last year, and her work has captivated me since. She now lives in Surabaya—soon to be married—and spends her spare time watching fashion shows and browsing Pinterest.

Hello, Renata! Let’s start with when you first started drawing and why you keep at it?
Hello Bivi! I remember I first started drawing (and addicted to it) when I was around 5-6 years old. My grandpa came from his vacation and brought me a lot of mechanic pencils. I was so addicted because of the pencils! :D
It went on as a hobby. I drew at school, doodled on my textbook, redrawing images from comic book in holiday, join drawing extracurricular at school, etc. I just love doing it. Who knows then drawing could be my profession until now!

I see you studied Visual Communication Design at Universitas Ciputra. What did you think of the experience? How different do you think would your life have been if you hadn’t taken that major?
I chose that major because it was the closest major to what I love to do. I learned a lot of design thinking and concept. I think that influence how I do my illustrations. If I didn't take that major, maybe I had no idea at all about the creative industry. I had to observe all the information by myself, and of course I didn't get the chance to meet my best friends there :D

What materials do you usually use?
I usually use pencil and paper for sketching, and color the sketch digitally in Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop for some editing. Sometimes I like to just practice my "creating-sense" with mixed media art (pencil, lace, ribbon, flower petals, pearls, etc.)

Let’s get the obvious out of the way: your illustrations are laden with decorative elements and intricate motifs. Where from do you usually draw inspirations for them? How did you develop this style?
I don't know if I have a certain visual style, I just like to draw what I like to see. I like to see beautiful things with detailed ornaments, intricate shapes, that don't really exist in our everyday life, or even in our era. We seldom see flowers, girls in pretty dresses and hair pieces, beautiful birds, butterflies and other flying creatures. It's like pouring the world of my own into artworks. If I have to categorise my visual style to some era-influence, it would be something in between art nouveau and psychedelic. However, it is just a visual style which can be developed and changed, nobody ever knows.

Aside from your signature digital illustrations, I see you sometimes accommodate real life objects into your work. What inspired you to do this and what have you learned from this method so far?
Actually that's a practice to me. I do mixed media art to practice my sense of art. I found different sensation working on traditional mixed media, compared with drawing digitally. It's like a therapy to the soul too :)

You’ve worked with a lot of fashion designers! How did this start and what do you think of the experience? Would you ever launch your own brand?
I always wanted to work in fashion industry (of course, I am a girl) and lucky, people also think that my illustrations fit that industry. My first collaboration with fashion designer was in 2014, I was introduced by a friend. I think it's a great chance to learn fitting myself with the industry since I didn't take any fashion-related course before. I take every collaboration as a new opportunity to learn and to achieve something bigger in the future. I still don't know whether I would have my own brand. For now I still want to explore more in illustration. I might want to illustrate for another industry too (maybe music, film, who knows!).

“The Nonsense Tail” is such a visually intricate book with beautiful content. Is book illustration one of the things you’re passionate about? Would you be interested to write/publish another one?
Thank you! Yes, publishing a book is like giving birth to a child! It takes long time in the making, hard to produce, but it feels so good once it came out. Yes, my new book will come up this year in local bookstore. It's a junior novel, a collaboration with Clara Ng as the author, called Dru and Tale of The Five Kingdoms.

You have accomplished so much at such a young age! Is there something you want to do but haven’t done yet?
Trust me, I haven't done that much. There are still a lot of things I haven't tried. A lot of kids that do so much better than me out there, I want to feel useful to the society, but I still haven't figured out how.

What does the future look like for Renata Owen?
I would see myself as a better artist, I want to be an international artist, as well as being a good wife and mother to my future family (haha cliché!). Hopefully I can find my own way to help people.

What kind of advice would you give all the newbie illustrators out there (including myself)?
Keep practicing, keep creating art, keep posting your art on social media or online portfolio website. Never stop doing what you like.

A little note from me

There is certainly a sophisticated, almost psychedelic feel to Renata's illustrations. Her intricate motifs seem to take us to a dream world, where everything is subject for interpretation and deciphering. Her use of soft, pastel colours creates a sharp contrast with her complex works of imagery and lines. But her illustrations offer a certain relaxing effect. It is very clear that she has an apt for high fashion and modern art, judging by the way her works are more than meets the eye. What I find most desirable from her designs is the use of natural movement, resembling that of the art nouveau characteristics. Her colour palette for every piece also mirrors her talent very well. The way she draws human beings, too, is interesting, breaking them down into forms and giving them less significance, letting the viewer perceive them in various ways.

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