Well, hello there, artsy folks! How are you doing? Hope you're well 'cause I've got some great news: it's time for another edition of Illustrators Arise! Woohoo! I'm sorry it was absent last month, but now it's back. In case you're unfamiliar with it, Illustrators Arise 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 has been all about showcasing Indonesian's best illustrators and the series continues with a lady who creates eerie and strange illustrations with a bit of horror and grotesque element implemented into her works. Please welcome, Wickana Laksmi Dewi! The first time I saw her works was when I went to Catalyst Art Market and visited her booth. Her macabre and horror illustrations caught my eyes right away, especially with her smooth and clean pencil technique. The big head and eyes signify her works as being both cute and creepy. A fan of Junji Ito, Wickana describes herself as a simple girl with a complicated mind.
Hello, Wickana! Shall we start from the beginning: when did you first start drawing and what made you stick with it?What I can say for certain is that since I was very little, I've already started drawing, but then began drawing even more frequently after I got to know Japanese comic books, such as Sailor Moon, Doraemon, etc. And what makes me keep drawing until now is because I really enjoy the drawing process. I'm also the type of person who has difficulty expressing how I feel through words, so I choose to use the visual media more often.
Did you study art/design? If yes, what did you get from it aside from art-related stuff? If not, why not?I studied at the Fine Arts and Design Faculty at ITB, taking the Visual Communication Design major, so everything I learnt at the time was actually more for graphic design, as opposed to fine art. Maybe aside from design theories and techniques, there were plenty other knowledge that I gained from the experience. One of them being psychology, because I believe art can be used as a medium to connect and communicate between human beings. How can art touch people emotionally? So, indirectly, we can also had to learn about the human mind and soul.
What kind of materials do you usually use?The materials that I use vary greatly, sometimes traditional and sometimes digital. But the material that I love the most is pencil. I very much enjoy the shading process of a drawing and prefer to draw black and white because I think it's much more dramatic and mysterious. Hee hee.
Your art is so unique with the twisted touch as well as gory theme yet adorable illustration to it. What attracts you to this theme?I do actually love everything horror, sometimes inspired by movies, comic books or folktales. I think creepy things can leave an emotional impression longer and cause a sensation which can keep intriguing a person. And I do love visualising my works metaphorically or symbolically, so it leaves a scary impression on people.
For a few years now you've been selling some of your characters as paper dolls that the buyers can assemble themselves. What inspired you to make these?When I was preparing for the Art Market event in Jakarta, I was browsing to find inspirations—for example on Pinterest. Then I found a jointed paper doll whose joints can be moved and was instantly interested to create my version of a paper doll. It just so happens that I also love designing characters. In the end I made paper dolls with their own background stories. Up until now, there are a total of 3 characters of paper dolls that I've made.
Aside from paper, you have also tried your hand on wood boards and sculpting. Was there any obstacles you found particularly challenging? What did you learn from the experience?The obstacles in using new media is, of course, the patience in facing all sorts of trials and errors, because I learn everything myself from the internet. Although it looks easy but, apparently, in practice, well, it really drains your energy. Even now I'm still keep on finding out and learning all kinds of techniques to create a new artwork.
You've been involved in several group exhibitions with other Indonesian illustrators before. How did these usually come to be? Would you ever be interested in holding a solo exhibition?Usually I get an offer to participate in group exhibitions from my friends, who are also artists, or from connection who I met through social media or art events. Of course I am very interested and very much willing to hold a solo exhibition, maybe the time and chance have yet to arrive. Just wish me luck. Hee hee.
Your works have been sold at events abroad as well. How do you think is this experience different from when you sell your works in Indonesia?I don't think there is any significant difference, it's the same.
What does the future look like from Wickana Laksmi Dewi?Never think about it, what matters is 'the now.'
If an amateur/newbie illustrator comes to you for advice, what would you tell him/her?Find as much inspiration as you can, keep on creating and find your own style!
A little note from me
Gory and horror are the things that comes to mind when I first look at Wickana's artwork. Even when nothing scary in particular seems to be on the paper, it really gives off a creepy impression that will surely leave the faint-hearted with nightmares. Wickana uses her materials well with a technique that accomplishes this deep impression on the viewers' minds. Her use of black and white and the way she shades her characters really gives off a spooky vibe, which may or may not come alive once you turn your head away. The huge, prominent eyes as well as the victorian-themed clothes and accessories also remind me of those porcelain dolls, which often appear in horror films as being possessed by a violent ghost. Sometimes the element of surrealism is enough to send chills down my spine, as it is portrayed in such an eerie way that nags at the back of the mind. Her works are like a puzzle, ready to be solved and it captures not only the eyes of the viewer, but also the mind.