Artist Interview: Nicolas Kristian on Being an Artist in Indonesia and the "Tomb of Love"

From "The Tomb of Love"

From "The Tomb of Love"

Nicolas Kristian – an illustrator from Bandung, Indonesia – is the creator of NeonMob's latest collection, "Tomb of Love." In 100 cards, Nicolas depicts the adventures of a teenage couple, Aylea and Korri, who are separated by magic and united by love.  

I reached out to Nicolas to ask him a few questions about himself and his work.

"A Girl"

"A Girl"

What's it like being an artist/designer in Indonesia? Is there a large artist community where you live? If so, who are some other local like-minded artists that you like or know. If there is not a big artist community where you live, how does it affect your work?

I think the answer would be "KINDA SUCKS." The clients are either too poor, but have good taste or have money, but lack the appreciation. I have a feeling that this doesn't just happen here in my country. But thank God I love drawing and design, so even if the work is slow, the scene is pretty good :)  

There is a big art community here in Bandung, but I'm not part of it. I actually have my own pack of friends who have the same perspective about art and design; my local like-minded artist friends are Severina Renita, Prima R. Bardin, and Kunna Aulia.

When you say that there is a big art scene in Bandung, but you're not a part of it – why not?

I think I just simply don't like the people in that scene. I think I feel more comfortable with my own friends, my own community rather than some big art movement or communities.
I think personally I just wanted to draw something, make art works – lot and lots of them– and that's it. 

From "Tomb of Love"

From "Tomb of Love"

From your style it seems like you read a lot of comics. What comics do you like?

I read a lot of them when I was still in elementary school, but that's it. When I began to draw professionally, I didn't ever read comics, except for "The Worldworm Saga" by Daniel Lieske. It look like a comic to me, but some people say it's a graphic novel... I don't know...

"Book and Stars"

"Book and Stars"

How would you describe your illustration style? 

Mmmmmm... This question is kinda hard to answer. I think I would describe my illustration style as childish and naive with inking technique.  

From "Tomb of Love"

From "Tomb of Love"

I really love the color scheme you use in your collection for NeonMob. Were you influenced by anything or anyone when you were creating the images for this collection?

Thanks, I think it would be Wes Anderson movies – all of them :D  

What other artists are you influenced by the most? 

Right now.... I think it would be Loish, kr0npr1nz, and Tahel Maor.  

From "Tomb of Love"

From "Tomb of Love"

And the two characters in your collection. Are they based on anyone in particular from your life or imagination? Are they reoccurring characters in your work or ones you created just for this collection?  

It's a mix of both real life and imagination. Yes the characters are seen in my previous work before the NeonMob collection, but not quite like this – I put a lot of twists for the story's sake.  

From "Tomb of Love"

From "Tomb of Love"

It looks like you use a combination of Manga Studio Ex and Adobe Photoshop for your process. Do you start with pen and paper, or do you create your illustration completely digital from the beginning?

I use Manga Studio for sketch and inking and Adobe Photoshop for coloring. I went full digital on this NeonMob project, given the time and the quantity that I had to finish. 

What do like about working in digital?

Undo! :D

Is there anything new that you're working on that you're excited about?

I own a small screen printing/silk screening workshop called True, that I run with my girlfriend and one other person, so I've been busy with that. I've been trying to silk screen every drawing that I make. 

I built my screen printing workshop in December 2012. I built it mainly because I own a small clothing line called Storyteller Imagery featuring t-shirts designs by me and my girlfriend. We sell them on our local store or distro (distribution outlet) here in Bandung. I learned everything about screen printing from Youtube and some expert friends. Just last year we opened our screen printing workshop to other clothing brands and the public.

From "Tomb of Love"

From "Tomb of Love"

Your Behance page has a quote from Tyrion Lannister ("Never forget what you are. The rest of the world will not. Wear it like armor, and it can never be used to hurt you."). Why did you choose that quote? Does it say anything about the art you create?

Yes I believe there's a connection between the quotes and my artwork generally... when I first started to make illustrations or drawings, I felt insecure with my work. This quote helped me to get trough that phase.

Interview edited for clarity by Sarah Han