Interview with Ardhira Putra, nostalgic pop aesthetic illustrator and animator
My name is Ardhira Putra; I am an Indonesian illustrator and animator based in Singapore. My work is inspired by the nostalgic pop aesthetic of the 80s and 90s; it is a happy memory of the past when I was a child.
For several years, I have been creating illustrations and animations for the world music scene. From Mataharibisu (Indonesia), Macross 82-99 (Mexico), Nice guys record (France), and recently I created a graphics for the merchandise, LP design and also the animation loop for the Englewood track Crystal Dolphin (United States). The song was already famous, having been used on millions of TikToks over the past year, but the official video takes it to a new level.
Most of my inspiration comes from the past. I was born in 1988. At that time, my parents listened to Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” album a lot in the morning. In fact, it’s a funk and disco genre, so the foundation for loving urban pop was already established by my parents. In Indonesia in the 80s and 90s, Japanese cartoons were everywhere on TV shows. My childhood was filled with pop references from those years. When I was in high school I loved watching MTV music channels on TV. I’m in love with all MTV idents; it was the first time I was familiar with animated graphics.
My style is like stepping back in time with a combination of 80s and 90s graphics and poppy color palettes, with nostalgic references to boomboxes and cassettes. I have a lot of inspiration, and most of it comes from vintage and Asian pop ads. I can take inspiration from a poster, album cover, billboard, TV commercial, my favorite Japanese cartoon as a kid, and vintage video games like Sega Saturn or Nintendo 64. I used to make a simple comic book or a simple board game and show it to my friends. It was an exciting and joyful moment from the past that I want to share with others through my art now, and I’m happy that some people relate to my work as well because they also lived in that time. Some people have said that my work is kind of nostalgic, but also has a sense of the future.
I only draw or animate the visuals that really matter to me. My work is like a time machine to me, and it’s good for my sanity and has always been nice to do. For me, creating art is really about personal experience and honesty. I have always believed that creating art must be a delicious hobby, you must always love to do it. Every act based on love is always enjoyable, and it’s a bonus if viewers and collaborators are enjoying what you are doing as well.
I never expect anything from the public who sees my work. But lately there is an appreciation from the audience that lived in a different time than mine. Of course, there is a vintage-era audience that is familiar with the objects in my illustration or animation, like retro cars or bright colors, but lately the younger generation wants to hear my journey. These make me think that nostalgia can be shared with everyone.
In my experience, certain techniques are essential in my work. When I was in college, I learned that observation is crucial because it helps you immerse yourself in the subject to give your work the right feeling. I draw, draw, always write what I find interesting in my journal, from movies that I have watched, from podcasts that I have listened to or just drawing ordinary objects in everyday life. The other thing I always do is practice 3D software and learn illustration techniques. I am currently using Adobe Illustrator and also cinema 4d. I learned shortcuts and methods that help me create my style and keep pace with demand.
Ardhira will exhibit her work online and talk about the process, techniques, shortcuts and methods that help her create her work.
The exhibition is free and open to everyone and will go live on June 2 at 10 a.m., and a live concert with Ardhira will begin at 11 a.m.
Access the exhibition and live concert on June 2 by visiting online-exhibitions.hca.ac.uk