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Irene Saputra

Irene Saputra

Meet Indonesian embroidery artist, Irene Saputra.

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am a middle child and I don’t have middle child syndrome. I think my childhood is not as happy as the stories in children’s storybooks or in family movies but I do feel happy and blessed to have the journey and the family I have, they shaped me.

I find it easy to be happy. I love seeing my plants grow, watching tv series while working, enjoying my lunch with the perfect combination of iced tea and a good movie, cooking when I have more time (since I’m a newbie in cooking, so basically I need a lot of spare time when doing this). I can be excited all day when my Spotify Discovery Weekly shares good music, I easily fall in love with typography, I daydream a lot, and I love to spend the weekends with my partner, Kevin.

Oh, and I’m not such a social person. I’d rather hang out at home and do stuff I like experimenting on something than socializing out. Sometimes being in a crowd people makes me nervous but, if needed, I tend to force myself to do that 😀

 

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

After getting married, I lived with my partner in Tangerang Selatan (South Tangerang). Living costs in the suburbs of Jakarta are quite affordable for us than living in the city (Jakarta). The traffic on Saturdays is sometimes similar to Jakarta, crowded! But on the other days, it’s quite stress-free.

 

I think my childhood is not as happy as the stories in children’s storybooks or in family movies but I do feel happy and blessed to have the journey and the family I have, they shaped me.

 

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

I like being here in Tangerang Selatan because I can commute by train to my parent’s house or somewhere in the city (Jakarta). I also enjoy moments during Saturday mornings when I go to the market to buy traditional snacks and eat breakfast there. One of my favorites is a small shop selling East Java kinds of food (I was born in Surabaya, East Java btw), so comfy! But for entertainment reasons, I prefer hangouts around Jakarta. Seems I got lots of inspiration just to sit and feel the atmosphere of a small cafe with nice architecture, seeing strangers with their kind of fashion statements, local shops with lots of soul-full things, exhibitions or just strolling around the city and discussing it with my partner.

Ok, the worst is…

A person or a group of people with their own “beliefs”, their own agenda, or ideology who wants to ruin the peaceful diversity here. I’m not saying I’m a nationalist junkie, or pro-government, or whatever but I’m just a normal citizen who wants to live peacefully in this crowded and tough city.

 

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

enjoyable, lots of inspiration (from the city and the people itself), ups and downs :’)

 

How did you start your career in art?

I never thought that I would declare myself as a visual artist.

I mark this visual art journey starting from 2005 -after graduation- as a graphic designer, I worked for a graphic house, graphic design magazine, and then moved to an advertising agency. In 2011, while I worked at an advertising agency, I often liked to draw. At that time I needed to ‘throw’ all my feelings and thoughts in random sketches. The pace and tension of working in a company here is quite crazy (maybe the same as advertising agencies out there) and I needed to keep myself sane with that kind of activity even though it was at 3 in the morning after I get back from the office. I needed to draw before I sleep, that’s the ritual (haha).

My first professional project as an illustrator was becoming a contributor to Elle Magazine Indonesia. I still remember feeling nervous and excited at the same time but I need to stay calm and cool, haha. Time goes by and I got new opportunities to illustrate more, from editorial illustrations, book covers, packaging, event’s promos, to group exhibitions.

The journey continued and it lead me to a different path. I often used pencil, watercolor and digital to create my works, until I found leftover threads and hoop -I guess it was my mother’s stuff- and I was curious to try embroidery technique for my drawings. The result was magical and it forced me to do it again and again and again. So, for the last 4 years until now, I’m focusing on embroidery stuff.

 

I often used pencil, watercolor and digital to create my works, until I found leftover threads and hoop -I guess it was my mother’s stuff- and I was curious to try embroidery technique for my drawings. The result was magical and it forced me to do it again and again and again.

 

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

My family always supports what I choose in life. Even though they disagree, they still give me the freedom to choose and make the decision. Although I knew they might be sad behind my back, they’re always my number one supporter.

Funny story, my grandma wasn’t familiar with these kinds of ‘creative’ terms. I come from an Asian family and at that time, none of our relatives studied art. So when I told her that I will take Design Communication Visual as my major of study, she was surprised and yelled at me about why I am studying Design Communication ‘Sexual’ :’D

 

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

I still dream about exhibiting my works on a larger scale, maybe in the form of a solo exhibition or a group exhibition outside of Indonesia. OR- having a small shop with jasmine tea fragrance near my studio would be great to put in my goals’ list. Meanwhile, I’ll just keep practicing and experimenting and just follow the journey itself rather than force myself to run faster to make my goals happen.

 

I’ll just keep practicing and experimenting and just follow the journey itself rather than force myself to run faster to make my goals happen.

 

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

The first person that comes to mind right now is Minju Kim! Saw her on Next in Fashion and love with her artworks, style, and attitude, such a talented and humble person.

But if I can choose another one, maybe CocoRosie. The first time I bumped into this sister duo was around 2008 when I watched Prada’s short animation Trembled Blossoms, in collaboration with James Jean as the concept artist and CocoRosie made the music. I was surprised by the sound, so experimental but still soft and romantic for me. My kinda song that makes me daydream more.

 

How would you describe the women around you?

I am truly blessed to be raised in a family with strong and thoughtful women- my mother, grandmother, and my mother-in-law. From them, I learned that every woman should have their own beliefs, thoughts, softness, and their own ‘playground’ to stay productive as a mother, wife, maker, and social person. They’re all loving women, put family as their number one priority, creative in their own way, and they are never easy to give up.

And in the community, I found lots of inspiring women, from strangers who became my friends. So many talented ladies from many fields of industries that I adore and respect. Their spirits make me feel stronger and inspired.

 

Their spirits make me feel stronger and inspired.

 

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

When I was a child, the only female role model for me is my mother. We lived separately for almost 10 years at that time and this long-distance mother-daughter relationship makes our rare meeting become like superstar idol and her fan meet up, everything she did impress me :’D

My mother was an ordinary employee back then until she learns to sew and make her own clothing brand. I guess I’ve got lots of influences until

right now from what my mother has done so far.

 

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

In terms of professional aspects/ business chances, I guess there’s no burden. Most of the time users see the portfolio rather than gender identity. But from my point of view, becoming working females (in every industry) quite challenging when they are expecting to have a baby/pregnant. We need to take a break a little bit and focus on the baby’s development rather than our ‘self-development’. The body’s changes and hormones quite control the mood and affect productivity. It’s a different game but I guess every mama has their own story and their own way to control/process this transition and I believe it will lead to another journey -whatever it is.

 

Be honest with yourself, be humble, don’t look for the result and love the process.

 

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

Be honest with yourself, be humble, don’t look for the result and love the process. Learn a lot and practice, practice, practice and practice.

 

 

Photos courtesy of Irene Saputra.

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