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Naela Ali

Naela Ali

Meet illustrator and writer from Jakarta, Naela Ali

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Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am an illustrator and a writer. I spend most of my days, drawing, writing, reading, playing with my cat, making products, and selling them at Asobi where I sell my illustrated goods. I do them all alone, with a little help from my husband, a freelance Interior Designer. I don’t socialize much, mostly staying home all the time. I’m an awkward person to talk to, cause I can’t interact well with people. I love spending my night time watching movies and I like to be surrounded by books.

 

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

I was born and raised in Jakarta. The first thing that came to mind when I talk about Jakarta (and all the people who live or visit here) is the traffic. But when I thought about it, Jakarta is more than that. Every part of it has a different atmosphere. From South Jakarta to North Jakarta, they have their character. Jakarta is so colorful, literally. Everywhere you go, your eyes will meet all these colorful banners and buildings. So many people all around Indonesia came to Jakarta, so it’s natural that Jakarta has so many colors. Many cultures, foods, all kinds of people live here and bring their color to Jakarta. Living here is exciting and tiring at the same time.

 

Jakarta is so colorful, literally. Everywhere you go, your eyes will meet all these colorful banners and buildings. So many people all around Indonesia came to Jakarta, so it’s natural that Jakarta has so many colors. Many cultures, foods, all kinds of people live here and bring their color to Jakarta. Living here is exciting and tiring at the same time.

 

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

Living in Jakarta, a whole lot of patience is needed. Jakarta equals traffic. Everywhere you go it’s traffic everywhere. Pack of cars and motorcycles always filled the road. That’s why I rarely go out. Cause, it will take at least an hour to go somewhere. And I’m an easily panicked person, I can never get used to how people ride their vehicle in here, especially motorcycles. It’s always shock therapy. I mean, you could see people riding a motorcycle while holding their babies. And that kind of stuff. It’s too stressful for me. Though I hate traffic jams, sometimes it also inspires me. I could spend hours on the road while waiting for the traffic. It gives me time to think, and an idea could just come out of nowhere.

 

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

Colorful, Exciting, Tiring

 

How did you start your career in art?

I loved drawing and writing since I was a little kid and always knew that I wanted to do something in the field. It was a hard choice for me, to choose drawing or writing. But, why choose if you could them both, right? And I took a major in Visual Communication Design. I always wanted to make something that people can wear or use with my illustrations in it. So since my college days, I started selling my works in a form of a t-shirt. And after I graduated in 2014, I made my own brand named Asobi, where I made illustrated goods like t-shirt, tote bags, postcards, handmade knick-knacks, etc. And I also self-published books and zines. On 2016, a big publisher approached me, they wanted to publish my one of my self-published book, Stories for Rainy Days. And since then I have focused on making books. Now I have written and illustrated 10 books. And some of them are translated into other languages.

 

I loved drawing and writing since I was a little kid and always knew that I wanted to do something in the field. It was a hard choice for me, to choose drawing or writing. But, why choose if you could them both, right?

 

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

Thankfully, yes. My parents have been my number one supporters. They took me to a painting class when I was a kid and always bought me painting materials. My father always said that “No matter what you choose, you need to be responsible and consistent.” So as long as I do it passionately and with responsibility, they support me. And now I am married, my husband always supports me. Maybe because he’s in the creative field too, he understands me. Even when I was busy with a deadline, he helps with the housework and vice versa.

 

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

I want to keep making books until I die! And I also want to make books that could inspire all the children in the world!

 

I want to keep making books until I die! And I also want to make books that could inspire all the children in the world!

 

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

Murakami Haruki! I’ve been a huge fan of his works since I was in my early college days. I always wanted to make cover art for him. I got the opportunity to design his Indonesian version of Killing Commendatore (soon to be launched by the end of May 2021). Though I’m not working directly with him, it still made me happy. I hope one day I could work directly with him!

 

What are the biggest challenges you face in working as a creative?

I sometimes doubt myself too much. When it comes to commission works, I tend to think too much. Like, “Is it good enough?” “Will they love it?” and all that kind of thoughts. So, when I think too much, I get this creative block, and it kind of stressful. :”)

 

All the women in my family, they work. My mom and my sister are both work while raising children on their own. So, the women around me are all strong and inspiring.

 

How would you describe the women around you?

All the women in my family, they work. My mom and my sister are both work while raising children on their own. So, the women around me are all strong and inspiring.

 

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

I am not sure, though. But if I had to pick a woman, (but not in a creative field). I think I would choose my mom. I always look up to her. Because she’s so strong. She works in the medical field, so she works day and night. While raising four children and made a healthy breakfast for us. I mean, she’s so strong. I wanted to be like her.

 

Be brave to be whatever you want to be! Show your true self. Do something that makes you happy. Also, keep practicing!

 

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

Be brave to be whatever you want to be! Show your true self. Do something that makes you happy. Also, keep practicing!

 


What type of music do you like to listen to?

From indie rock to classical music

 

What’s your favorite local food spot?

Menteng area, so many delicious local food.

 

YuoNing Chien asks: Where do you want to live in the future?

Rural area in Japan.

 

Danski Tang asks: Do you want to see the colors birds can see?

Yes, that’s would be interesting! And also, I want to see the colors that cats can see too.

 

What question would you like us to ask the next artist?

What’s the first thing that popped into your head when you woke up this morning?

 

 

Photos courtesy of Naela Ali

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