Atreyu Mo­ni­aga’s de­sign

Atreyu Mo­ni­aga

The Jakarta Post - JPlus - - Between the Lines - WORDS JU­LIANA HARSIANTI

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.


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.


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.

Back­yard Won­der­land

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