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Michelle Sherrina

Michelle Sherrina

Meet illustrator from Jakarta, Michelle Sherrina

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Hello! I’m Michelle, and my internet name is Sherchle. I’m a freelance illustrator who also does a bit of simple animation and merchandise-making. When creating artworks, I enjoy creating light, fun stuff, although I do also explore more serious themes from time to time, like the feelings people had at 2 AM, or what goes on inside the heart of someone who just witnessed their sushi roll falling apart. The latter is sadly, a true story.

In my spare time, you can find me either thinking about food, hanging out with animals, or wondering what’s Rilakkuma’s true form.

 

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

I’ve lived in Jakarta my whole life. It’s the capital city of Indonesia, so it’s perhaps the busiest city around here! Living here is like being a grain of rice in a mixed lamb briyani dish; a small existing thing among various other ingredients and a bustling process. Not to mention it’s lunchtime at the briyani restaurant, plus, imagine Gordon Ramsay yelling. Yes, it can get chaotic and tiring, but I guess when you’ve lived in it for so long, you kinda get used to it. So, I’m good, it’s home.

 

Living here is like being a grain of rice in a mixed lamb briyani dish; a small existing thing among various other ingredients and a bustling process.

 

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

The best thing is all the options available; the activities, food, things you can spend your money on, structures you can take a picture of. You can find lots of interesting corners if you know where to look. The food here is absolutely superb, and since Jakarta is a melting pot for culture, the option for food is so diverse that you won’t run out of new food to try for a pretty long time! (If you’re adventurous enough that is~) There are also lots of creatives and personalities living here, so it’s always refreshing to meet and have a conversation with them whenever I decided to go social. Oh, my friends and family also live here, so it’s +500 points for Jakarta.

The worst part is probably the transportation; Jakarta and traffic jams are currently inseparable. I felt reeaaaallly glad when we finally have the Metro Train on the central part of the city. Hope the public transport continues to improve!

 

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

Challenging. Dynamic. Enjoyable.

 

How did you start your career in art?

When I was young, there was a phase when I actually wanted to be a detective. Totally irrelevant. Growing up, I didn’t really think about doing creative work as a career, it was kind of like the step that made sense since I’ve been “The One Who Can Draw” throughout my school years. So, I majored in Graphic Design.

After graduation, I worked as a Teaching Assistant in my uni, then progressed from being an Illustrator in a creative agency to being an Associate Creative Director in that same agency.

Within the 4.5 years of working in the agency, I also developed a merchandise brand under my internet name as a side hustle; which started off very casually in a university bazaar. I even thought of it as a hobby project, just selling stuff for the fun of it. From that one bazaar, due to the positive responses, I joined more bazaars, started accepting online orders, set up a shop on a local online market platform and supplied offline stockists. In the last two years of my agency life, I was really living a double-job situation where I would go home at around 8 pm and then I’d either pack orders or produce new stuff. It was quite something.

Last September, I resigned from my agency to try and focus on freelancing and developing my own brand, as well as to try and make up some family time that I skipped a lot due to having a full-time job.

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

Yes! And I’m really glad for it since working in creative or art has that “whatcha gonna eat? paintings?” stigma. I do hear some concerns from my family, especially now that I’m working from home. I think, to them I seem unemployed sometimes when I’m actually working on commissions & merch production. It’s a matter of communication, I guess.

 

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

Is it a bit much to say that I’m going for a sticker empire? hahah. I do have that ideal ambition in my head.

A more toned-down ambition would be to collaborate with more well-known brands, increase the distribution of my merchs, design merchs for my favorite musicians (and restaurants!), develop more kinds of products and teach worth-while workshops! I’m pretty sure the list will add up as time goes.

 

Is it a bit much to say that I’m going for a sticker empire?

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

NIGO, Joji, Rich Brian, Keiko Sootome, and Nimura Daisuke!

 

How would you describe the women around you?

I’d say I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by strong women who hustle. From my fellow creative lady friends, I learned to keep pushing myself forward, while remembering to take good care of myself. From my mother, I learned about persistence and to have an independent spirit. Independent in a way that I should have a can-do attitude, and not being too dependent on someone else to live. From my grandma, I learned to listen and be stealthy, because she’s basically a ninja.

 

I’d say I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by strong women who hustle.

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

When I was growing up, I didn’t really know any local female creatives who worked as artists / illustrators / designers, since that part of the creative field was rarely highlighted in the local mass media. It wasn’t until I graduated from University that I started to discover local female creatives. Looking back, it’s kind of bizarre how late I was in discovering them! I guess it paints a picture of how un-attractive the creative field was some 10-20 years ago around here.

Nowadays, I’m glad that the creative workers are more appreciated, and thanks to the internet, it is easier to find these fellow female creatives.

 

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

I’m grateful that so far, I haven’t had any work-related unfair treatments just because I’m a female. I feel that currently, the industry is open enough in giving female creatives chances to thrive, which is a good environment to be.

 

If you’re aiming for freelance life, you’re gonna be both the artist and the business person, so, don’t forget to learn the business side of it

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

One of my biggest struggles is being social enough to sustain a freelance life hahah. For a field that has quite a number of introverts, I didn’t think it would be this social! So! I would like to advice those who struggle with small talks or mingling, in general, to work on that soft skill. Learn to be more communicative, go to social events, show up, read a communication-related book or two. Practice does make perfect; it goes for both your drawing skills and your social muscles.

If you’re aiming for freelance life, you’re gonna be both the artist and the business person, so, don’t forget to learn the business side of it; setting up terms & conditions, sending proper e-mails, making project timelines, befriending spreadsheets, knowing the market rate, marketing, licensing, etc. It’s gonna be a lot of reading and not much excitement, but I assure you, these things are very, very helpful.

Last but ain’t least, keep working on your craft, but remember to be patient with the process (and yourself!). Sometimes things we hope to happen don’t happen as fast as we expected them to, but as long as we do our part, they’ll happen eventually.

 

 

Photos courtesy of Michelle Sherrina.

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