Atreyu Moniaga’s design
Nobody expected the young man whose childhood was plagued by breathing problems to grow up to become an illustrator. “I found it hard to inhale when I was crying as a child and only my family members could help me,” Atreyu Moniaga said.
So his mother bought him many books and toys to make him stay indoors while at home.
Atreyu was fond of children’s magazine Bobo, which acquainted him with illustrations.
“I remember drawing by copying Bobo family characters, making changes and finally coloring them,” he said.
As he grew older, Atreyu began to draw Bobo characters without tracing them, instead transforming the figures in surrealist ways.
Later, manga played a major role in his creative process while childhood tales rooted in magic, like the stories of Hans Christian Andersen, the Brothers Grimm and Lewis Caroll, also influenced his illustrations.
“As a teenager, manga indeed greatly influenced me,” he said, adding his impression of fairy tales made him choose manga stories about the fairy world.
“It seems I’ve been inseparable from the realm of fairies,” Atreyu said laughing.
Atre, as he is commonly called, studied visual communication design at the Jakarta Arts Institute (IKJ) despite his father’s disapproval of art as a non- lucrative career path.
“I was supported by my mother and several family members,” he said. Finally, his father yielded although he had no way of hiding his disapproval.
While studying, Atre handled quite a number of projects, like illustrations for independent designer stores and café graphic designs, through collaboration with fellow students or lecturers. The projects provided him with experience in exploring his creativity as well as his capability of negotiating ideas with various parties.
FUEL FOR CREATIVITY
The young man of Manado descent does not deny that his industrial clients don’t understand aesthetics very much, nor are they aware of the costs required for creative works.
He tried to find a midway solution to implement his creativity for commercial purposes. “The results varied. Some were convinced while others just quit without communicating further,” he said.
“IKJ lecturers emphasized concepts in their initial instructions. We’ve had fairly good technical skills that can be improved through practice, but making our minds accustomed to the formation of mature concepts takes some time, involving sensitivity and trend observations,” he said.
“We were taught to be able to gain inspiration from trends, which serve as a kind of fuel for our creativity,” he said. “In this way, the works created will run parallel to current developments without losing personal identity, which is very favorable for commercial project handling.” Atre’s persistent efforts to continue to learn and his good time management enabled him to undertake projects and assignments properly without being overly exhausted. “Certainly I had to stay awake as deadlines approached. But I’ve always strived to finish projects on time,” said the photography lover. This time management prompted several lecturers to invite him to join their projects. Satisfied with his creations, they promoted Atre’s work to various circles. One of the projects that set off his career came with his collaboration with fashion designer Hengki Kawilarang. In this project, referred to him by his lecturers, Atre designed merchandise for Hengki’s show at Indonesian Fashion Week in 2013. He was also asked by Sebastian Gunawan to design embroidery motifs for Melange des Sens collections in 2014. Atre’s whimsical style and his love of fairy creatures seemed compatible with Sebastian’s concept. “Since then, projects have been coming from the fashion world,” said the Esmod and Nylon illustration winner. His recent project was to celebrate a department store’s anniversary with illustrations of fresh flowers bearing the theme of fairies.
EXPANDING THE HORIZON
Earning a place in the highclass fashion world has not made Atre complacent. He still wishes to produce something relevant and accessible to younger generations. To acheive this, he collaborated with Jakarta Vintage to create illustrations that adorn the furniture it offers.
Atre also puts his illustrations on scarves and tote bags, which are marketed via Instagram and other market places. He handles collaboration projects that include label-making for cold brewed coffee produced by abcd_dropout, a community of coffee makers in Jakarta.
Apart from his exhibition and project activities, Atre also teaches graphic design at Bunda Mulia University (UBM), where he has discovered talented youths now united under the name of Atreyu Moniaga Project.
“We plan illustrations or photo displays so that their skills will be honed,” he said.
Atre often hears from his students that their parents don’t understand why they chose to study art, but he has shown that persistence can eventually bear fruit.
With his growing fame in the fashion and design spheres, Atre’s father is thawing out.
“My father is getting more lenient now,” he revealed.
In fact, Atre’s dad used to be fond of painting but he had to work in other fields as art was considered unprofitable.
“I think this fear still haunted him when I chose art for a living,” said Atre, who has proven to his dad that art can be a reliable source of income.