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Karina Tan

Karina Tan

Meet illustrator from Jakarta, Karina Tan.

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

As a kid, I was always drawn to anything related to the creative field. My mom was a florist, my dad was in architecture/interior design, and my sister is also a designer. I guess art & design was running in my blood? haha. Aside from that I’m also an animal-lover & hope to open my own shelter one day! I was born into a hard-working family that taught me to always earn what I want, never to be satisfied with myself, & aim to always do better. I got diagnosed with a chronic illness called Rheumatoid Arthritis (an auto-immune disease which attacks the joints of my body) when I was 17. It has taught me how to learn to live with pain & not let it control me, not let it limit me to living my life to the fullest & reaching my goals!

 

I got diagnosed with a chronic illness called Rheumatoid Arthritis when I was 17. It has taught me how to learn to live with pain & not let it control me, not let it limit me to living my life to the fullest & reaching my goals!

 

Describe the city you’re living in and what it’s like to live there.

I live in Jakarta, it’s the capital city of Indonesia. A lot of people from all around Indonesia moved here to study/work so there’s a lot of diversity in culture, race, & religion in my city. I guess that’s the main reason It takes a lot amount of time to get anywhere & any place seems so far because of the heavy traffic. Lots of people here are also getting more open-minded so it’s a great place to grow.

 

What is the best and worst thing about living in your city?

The worst thing is the city is getting over-crowded so it gets harder to get from one place to another cause of the long queing & traffic. But the best thing is there are a lot of opportunities to take on and the results are endless!

 

Give us 3 words that describe what it’s like to be a creative in your city.

Undermined, Under-appreciated, Challenging.

 

The journey was long & hard, my sickness didn’t help either. But none of it felt like work cause I loved everything I was doing & discovering things I never knew I could do.

 

How did you start your career in art?

My sister is 2 years older than me & by the time I was in high school, she went to college to study Visual Communication Design. I always insisted on helping her with her projects cause it was all so fun & fascinating to me! I guess that’s when I truly fell in love with art & design and decided to take the same path at Tarumanagara University. College was full of sleepless nights & endless assignments. The journey was long & hard, my sickness didn’t help either. But none of it felt like work cause I loved everything I was doing & discovering things I never knew I could do. After college, I went to work in a couple of different places but none of them felt right so I never stayed for more than 3 months. Didn’t land me any freelance jobs either. But suddenly it all took a turn around a year after I graduated. I started posting my newest work on Behance & everything got better! Got a lot of job offers in great companies, opportunities to work on projects I could’ve only imagined handling before. I’m still baffled by how far I’ve come and yet there’s still a long journey ahead.

 

Were the people around you supportive of your decision on working as a creative?

I grew up with a very strong mom figure, & when I say strong, she knows what she wants for her kids & always determined to have it her way. She was totally against my decision to pursue arts & design and persisted that I should’ve taken a major in Architecture instead. But being a child of her, I guess me myself was a stubborn kid! We fought but long story short I managed to study what I love most <3

 

What are some goals and ambitions you have for your future work?
Ultimately, my goal is to open up my own graphic design house someday, I wish to have a team full of great people with a diverse set of skills & styles of our own so we can grow & learn from each other while we do what we do best. And I really hope to create designs that have a purpose & can really help make a change someday.
I really hope to create designs that have a purpose & can really help make a change someday.
If you could collaborate with any person in the world who would it be?
Nicoletta Ceccoli. I absolutely adore her work, her imagination is out of this world & really want to know what’s going on in that head of hers that she can create such amazing work!

 

How would you describe the women around you?
They are very strong-willed, hard-working, and stubborn when it comes to doing what they can to achieve what they want in life. My mom always demanded me to be the best, to be better. I guess that’s how I got to where I am now! The urge to make my mom & family proud, to prove that I am not a burden, to be someone that I can say I’m proud to be.

 

Were there any local female creatives that you looked up to when you were growing up?

Ayang Cempaka & Diela Maharani were a big part of where I got my muse when I first started getting into arts & design. I was fascinated by how they can still create harmony with a lot of colours & how they just express their imagination through their art!

 

Are there any challenging aspects of being a female in your industry?

In my country design is almost always seen as something not important, easy to do, & very under-appreciated. We are often under-paid & not appreciated for the work we’re doing, a lot of clients often ask for even lower price although the price given was already low. It’s hard enough being a creative in my country, it’s even harder when you’re a female if you want to work in big companies. Men are often trusted more to do the job done & paid higher than women. But nowadays, I feel that stigma getting better! I think more women are daring to stand up & get recognized more for their work rather than being underestimated because of their gender and I feel social media has got a lot to do with that. More women are empowering other women to be the best version of themselves! I guess being a designer, you have to know your worth & stick to what you think you are worth. There’s ALWAYS going to be another designer who’s gonna be cheaper than you, but there’s no designer who can do what you do the way you do it.

 

It’s hard enough being a creative in my country, it’s even harder when you’re a female if you want to work in big companies.

 

Do you have any advice to young women who are aspiring to work in your field?

Be sure of yourself & what you want. Be confident in your work & believe that you can do it. Work HARD, dream BIG, set your goals & follow your heart. Stop comparing yourself to others, your path will open itself to you when the time is right so never give up! Treat your college assignments as real-life projects with real clients, really try to do your best in solving their creative problems. Your college assignments will be the first projects of your portfolio to work in the real world so don’t overlook it. Post your work, try to get people’s thoughts & advice on how to make things better cause that’s how you’re gonna go far.

 

 

Photos courtesy of Karina Tan.

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