'Ello 'ello 'ello 'ello, creative 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! 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 Indonesia's best illustrators and the series continues with Ikhwan Waliyudin a.k.a. Aftergani, a young and melancholic illustrator with an Adidas addiction. It was first through his collaboration with Stephanie Priscilla did I find Aftergani's work. I instantly fell in love with his work and adore how raw and emotional it feels—without it being too sentimental/sappy. Aftergani now lives in Jakarta, where he's still continuing his studies and spends his free time with his pet or raiding art supply stores.
Hi, Ikhwan! Would you tell me how you started drawing and why you went on to become an illustrator?
I love drawing since I was a kid because I really liked anime and video games. I often turned anything interesting into illustrations, until I decided to go deep into illustration and start learning from some drawing instruction books so that I could create the artwork that I desire. And why I went on to become an illustrator is maybe I just stream down and work hard on the things I love.
You are currently studying Visual Communication Design at Sekolah Tinggi Desain InterStudi, aren’t you? What are you learning there, aside from design, and would you recommend this major/school to anyone else?
Yep! So many things I learn there. Aside the academic subjects from the lecturers, the street art environment there also influence my art taste.
What kind of materials do you usually use?
As for the tools, i use Wacom Cintiq for digital artworks and gouache, acrylic, brush pen, pencil, drawing pen that i often use for manual artworks.
Your works tend to be surrealistic, mixing various elements into one illustration. Where do you usually draw inspiration from?
I just love exploring and analyze an object as basic elements for my illustration and it’s helped me to communicate the profound message in my artwork. Inspiration really comes from anywhere, like the environment, neighbourhood, friends, family, internet and some unforgettable moments from the past.
Architecture appears quite often in your illustrations as well. What intrigues you about this field? Did you ever think to become an architect before?
Well, at the beginning, the environment just inspired me. A bunch of buildings and skyscrapers—they just look amazing, so I started learning to draw perspectives from a book titled Perspective Drawing Handbook by Joseph D’Amelio. From that book, I started to make some sketches for my illustration objects. Architect? Haha not at all. I mean, they’re great, they create amazing buildings and I just love to draw it from my point of view.
The colour palette that you tend to use gives your illustrations a certain signature look. How did you come about these colours? Did you try things out?
The colour palette I use is a result from exploration from some SEGA Genesis video games as my references, like Street Fighter from Capcom, and also from one of a New Yorker artist named Sachin Teng. He was a great artist whose work takes effect on my works.
You are part of Tomodachi Studio with Kemasacil, right? Would you tell me the story behind how you ended up joining this studio?
I first joined Tomodachi Studio when Basith and Kemas invited me to meet up at one coffee shop in Jakarta. They were interested to make a project called Tomodachi Studio. It is a studio which engages in illustration, design and animation. Accidentally we have so many similar interests, background and vision, so I joined them.
What is your one dream illustration job?
I really love Adidas Originals. It’d be a pleasure to have a chance to work with them. I want to be able to collaborate with Adidas Superstar, or maybe make a poster for Adidas Y3.
If a novice illustrator comes to you for advice, what would you say?
“Go deep into the things you like, don’t be lazy to start and don’t expect what you get from what you are doing but wish that what you are doing could inspired people.”
A little note from me
When I first saw Aftergani's work, I almost couldn't believe that it was done by an Indonesian illustrator. It just looks so different from most Indonesian illustrators' works I know. There's a certain street and rock'n'roll feel to his illustrations that makes them look almost American—probably the influence from Adidas and Sachin Teng. His muted and faded colour palette really brings out the raw emotion of his pieces, which is perfectly paired with the metaphorical use of all the objects within his work. The use of outrageous perspectives also gives a whole other look to his art, making it feel a little surreal—especially with the various objects mixed together in unexpected ways. I absolutely love that he takes inspiration from music quite a lot, and it's very apparent in his works. The '90s rock atmosphere in his work also renders me nostalgic most of the time. His works often remind me of something like The Breakfast Club—oh wait, that's the '80s, though.