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Ira Carella

Ira Carella

Meet art director and illustrator from Bandung and Jakarta, Ira Carella.


Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Hi! I’m an art director of Thinking Room, a design company based in Jakarta, Indonesia. I joined the team as a full-time graphic designer in 2017. Since February 2020, I left Jakarta to work remotely from my hometown, Bandung. I go to Jakarta almost every week to do client meetings, so now I’m like living in between these two cities. During my spare time, I also work as a freelance illustrator. If you try to search me on Instagram, you may find that most of my illustration works are the ones I made as customized gifts. Yes, I run a small business selling illustration-based gifts named Carellaira since 2016.


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

I was born and grew up in Bandung and officially started my professional career three years ago in Jakarta. I love both these cities. Bandung, my hometown is a small city not far from Jakarta. Surrounded by mountains, it is said that Bandung was an ancient crater. I find that Bandung is a perfect city to live in. The weather is lovable all year, whether it’s sunny or raining. The city is small, but you can find almost anything here, thanks to its close proximity to the capital city of Indonesia, Jakarta. Despite my love for Bandung, I feel that deep inside I’ve always been a big-city girl. I love the fast-paced and busy vibe of Jakarta. In terms of career, I’m quite ambitious so I like the challenges I found in this metropolitan city.


Everybody knows everybody and we’re not afraid to promote each other.

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

The best thing about Bandung is, of course, its weather. Besides, I found that Bandung is a closed community with a high sense of collaboration. When you’re working in the creative industry here, I feel that my fellow creatives are very supportive of each other. Everybody knows everybody and we’re not afraid to promote each other. The part I dislike is that sometimes it’s too laid back. That’s why I like the competitive and challenging part of Jakarta. Jakarta is more heterogeneous and open-minded in this industry. The worst thing about it is the traffic and pollution.


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

Exciting, Challenging, Addictive


How did you start your career in art?

My interest in art started when I was in pre-school. My mom used to make fun activities at home using colored-paper, scissors, glue, and drawing paper. She would make some shapes on colored-paper for me to cut and paste it into a drawing. Considering my interest in art, my parents enrolled me in a local children’s art course not far from my house, called Rumah Seni Adhi Cita. I spent my whole elementary school learning art skills there. At that time, they were like no other children’s art course. The students were engaged in many experimental techniques and mediums, while others mainly focused on colorful crayon drawing. Sometimes, we’re even using vegetables, tiles fragments, bamboo sticks, and many other unconventional tools. My experience in Rumah Seni Adhi Cita is the one that encouraged me to pursue a career in art when I was in high school. I don’t know the term “design” at that time, and I thought visual communication design (DKV) is “de café”, something related to café or restaurant! It’s embarrassing. I was also interested in becoming a doctor because I love biology and it looks cool. But then, I realized that the most enjoyable time for me is when I’m making artworks. And I also realized that my favorite part in biology class is when I asked to draw something, lol. I always tried to make it look like an illustration from a biology encyclopedia and I liked to decorate my notebooks with a lot of colors and typographic styles. So, I decided to continue my studies at the Faculty of Art and Design at the Bandung Institute of Technology. I was majoring in graphic design and got my master’s degree in design from the same university. During my study, I started to do freelance illustration and graphic design jobs. Until it’s time for me to graduate and start working professionally. I joined as an intern at Thinking Room in 2014, got back to school to finish my studies and came back in 2017 after my graduation to work as a full-time graphic designer. On the other side, Carellaira began from a watercolor illustration gift I made for my boyfriend on our first anniversary. I posted it on Instagram and some of my friends got interested to have one as well. Started from my friends, the circle got bigger thanks to social media. I have a relatively broad-range of design style, but quite a specific illustration style. My design approach tends to be more research-based while my illustration approach is much more intuitive. Somehow, I enjoy working within these two dynamics.


My design approach tends to be more research-based while my illustration approach is much more intuitive. Somehow, I enjoy working within these two dynamics.


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

Yes, my parents and my fiancee are my biggest supporters. I’m the first and still the one and only designer in my family. As the first one who dipping feet into this industry, I found that my family is very supportive. They never doubt me, instead, they are the ones who still believe in me even when others don’t. My parents taught me that it’s okay to fail sometimes, but I have to make sure that I always give the best in everything I do. When it comes to the times I feel exhausted, my fiancee always reminds me of my goals and tells me to take a break but never giving up.


What are some goals and ambitions you have for your future work?

I’ve always been a people person. I like working with people, including my clients. That’s why I want to make an impact to my environment by building a creative ecosystem where people can grow together. I want to keep on learning and improving myself so I can share it with future generations.


I want to keep on learning and improving myself so I can share it with future generations.


If you could collaborate with any person in the world who would it be?

Wes Anderson, Alessandro Michele


How would you describe the women around you?

Strong and intelligent. My mom and the women in my team are the first ones who come up to mind. My mom is a full-time working mother, and she never complains about her schedule. I’m also blessed to have bright women as my colleagues. I saw them as a bunch of cool girls who have their own superpower.


Strong and intelligent.


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

Honestly, no. I don’t know many local female creatives when I was growing up. This is what motivates me to keep pursuing a great career in the creative industry. I hope that what I do can inspire younger women creatives.


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

I think the most challenging aspect is time. Working in the creative industry can consume a lot of time. It’s gonna be quite challenging when you decide to have a family. There’s still this stigma in Asian families that women have a responsibility in raising kids and taking care of the family. I can feel that some people around me are starting to doubt that I will still be able to pursue a higher achievement after I get married. But I saw a lot of women did a great job of raising a family and achieving their career, including my mom. So I guess I should also be fine.

Always believe in yourself, don’t stop learning and remember what brings you here in the first place


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

Always believe in yourself, don’t stop learning and remember what brings you here in the first place. These are the things that keep me going so far. Working in this industry can make you feel bored, stuck, or lost sometimes. It is important to remember why do you want to do this and what is your goal. For me, it is not fame or money that comes in the first place, but how my work affects other people. It makes my heart sings when my works bring happiness and positivity to other people. I always believe that great works will be appreciated no matter what, and the rest will follow. Just be patient and keep doing what you love.



Photos courtesy of Ira Carella.