Devin Sutanujaya // Painter & Illustrator

Devin Sutanujaya
Painter & Illustrator

Jakarta, Indonesia

Introduce yourself; Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a painter and illustrator who’s deeply fascinated with the concept of what it means to be human. Most of my works serve as a reflection of my interest and personal exploration toward the human condition and the wonder and mystery of life.

What made you interested in art and when did you realize that you wanted to make a career out of your work?
I’ve always been interested in art and have the longing to create something beautiful as far as I can remember. I initially took a study in graphic design and worked for years as a web designer. Along the way, though, I took an interest in art history and started learning and exploring many art movements and many artists from different eras. Despite of how I loved my work, there’s always a nagging feeling that I couldn’t seem to shake off – I wanted to create something grand that comes from deep within me, stories that I had to tell through my art at any cost.

I decided to leave my job and went back to school to pursue the study in fine art. I have to say that the 3 years I spent there was such a turning point for me; being exposed to many dedicated and talented artists, I felt for the first time that I was in my element, one of those moments when everything felt so right.

One of my most memorable moments was the time when I felt uncertain about my career choice after graduation, and by chance I came across a documentary by Werner Herzog called ‘The Cave of Forgotten Dreams’ about the Chauvet Cave in southern France, which contains the oldest human-painted images yet discovered. I was so mesmerized and inspired to learn that there were people who would create a work of art despite the fact that it had no survival value, art for art’s sake if I may say. It is as if they had no choice but to answer to the sacred call. I felt like I could relate with them in so many levels and realized that making art was what I had been wanting all along.

Do you think studying graphic design has helped you with your illustrations?
I believe so – during my graphic design study I spent a lot of time honing my knowledge and sense on the basic aspects of design such as composition, color dynamic; and later on, a human-centered design when I delved into web design. Learning to create an aesthetic that’s not only pleasant to the eyes but also able to communicate ideas or stories definitely has a massive influence on my paintings and illustrations.

Where do you get your inspiration for your work?
When it comes to inspiration, I’m always open for life and whatever happens around me to reveal themselves. I used to have the tendency to over think over it, but more often than not I ended up being stuck with the ideas and would have difficulties to execute them. Sometimes I feel like finding inspiration is like a game of hide and seek, there’s always something wonderful and magnificent waiting to be found if only we’re willing to slow down and know where to look.

I find most inspirations in the little things that most people may deem insignificant - something like a great line from poetry, books, and articles that I happen to read at the time, or it can be something that someone said to me.  I am easily fascinated and love to ponder on words and ideas, and they eventually snowball into a solid concept for my works.

What is your creative process like?
I usually start by having a very vague idea of how I want the idea to manifest; at this early phase, I can almost visualize the end result in my mind though it looks very hazy and a bit abstract. Then I will normally spend sometimes for research on the subject matter; the time frame would vary depending on the complexity of the work.

I almost never make a composition sketch or planning ahead before I start working on my final piece. To be honest, I’m not sure if this is a good practice when creating a painting but I definitely get a thrill from being spontaneous and surprising myself with the end-result.

The final result is often times slightly different from what I originally have in mind, but that’s what I personally find interesting - I mean the whole process is like exploring a mysterious landscape you barely know, sure you’ll find yourself in a situation where you have to overcome challenges but you got to have a little faith that eventually you’ll arrive at your destination.  In the end, I consider a painting to be done when I feel like there is nothing more that I can add to it.

More than Begin but Less than Forget, Where Spirits Born from the Not Happened Yet

More than Begin but Less than Forget, Where Spirits Born from the Not Happened Yet

Out of all of your artwork, which one was the most challenging and why?
Each artwork definitely has their own challenge, but up to now I feel like my large scale drawing called ‘More than Begin but Less than Forget, Where Spirits Born from the Not Happened yet “ is the most challenging to make, mainly because of the sheer amount of details and planning that goes into it. It took me about a month to draw and to refine the details before I finally colored it digitally.

Where can people follow you and your work? 
My personal website is : . Feel free to follow my Instagram account at @devinsutanujaya to keep up with the latest updates about my work.

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