Jakarta, 26 October 2014
Bouncing back has never been so sweet.
For those who know me from my earlier country-style graphics and my website Amretasgraphics, you might remember my ups and downs running the site, my joy every weekend and after office-hours drawing graphics for your country-style websites (long before blogs were “in”), and my constant trial-and-errors with sharing and selling the graphics online. Thank you for hanging in there with me.
For those who know me from my professional life, well, some of you might have discovered in some points that I ‘hang out’ a lot with my computer even after office hours.
And for those who know me as the daughter of my father – a contemporary painter who has dedicated much of his life to fine art – this might not come as a surprise.
Somehow I looked back, and thought how it was something I never expected to happen in my childhood, where I witnessed my parents’ everyday struggle for life. My father lived in those times where there were not many options for artists to make a living from their art. It looked normal at that time that I would never, ever, want to go into art.
“Did you want to have a hard life like your parents?” No no no. “You should be an engineer, a doctor, an economist”
Looking back again, I see now that my spirit guides – whoever they are – had never given up. Being an exchange student for a year in France, I was given a host family who did every sort of art in the weekends. It was my host mom, Monique, who ‘forced’ me into drawing that one weekend in the garden and told me “you should draw more!” My response: “Non, maman, I can’t draw”
Half year in France I was sent to vacation-stay with another host family in Nice, in the South of France. There I got another host mom who I think had made my spirit guides jump up and down from extreme excitement. Maryse took me to St Paul de Vence, Fondation Maeght, and I had, beyond everything I could think of, that strange but very strong ‘home’ feeling of being surrounded by the artwork of Miro, Matisse, and Picasso. All those paintings I had seen in the books on my father’s desk back home in Yogyakarta.
The next thing I could remember, when I was home again in Indonesia after that one year in France, I told my father about that experience and he was only silent but he had those tears in his eyes.
I still didn’t think art was my world.
So I moved to Jakarta, went to study French at the university, played the violin with the university orchestra and later continued to a secretarial school. At my first job as a secretary, I was taught Corel Draw by the in-house graphic designer for work purpose – he didn’t have any idea what he had brought me!
In 1999, already at my second job, my then boss told me he saw I could make a good web designer (again, a motivation for work purpose, but he didn’t have any idea what the impact would be!). I started to experiment with creating websites, using Geocities at that time, and my first personal website was all about violin.
When I couldn’t find any graphics to illustrate the content of my website, I started to experiment with drawing programs: Microsoft Paint and Photo Editor.
And that’s how it all began…
1 August 2000, Amreta’s Graphic Corner was up on the web world, on geocities.
27 October 2001, I purchased the domain www.amretasgraphics.com
2003 – started packaging my graphics and selling them online, using an online payment service called Emetrix. PayPal was not available for Indonesia at that time, so everything was done manually, much of experiment here and there.
2004 – my father passed away. Leaving behind some of his artwork
2005 – server crashed. Lost database.
Then, around 2011 – I thought I didn’t know anymore where I should go with my graphics. I took up a lot of various challenges at my professional job, and I had a fantastic time. A high dose of great happenings. It’s a job I’m so passionate about. So what’s the problem? This went on for a few years, though I still published some blog posts from time to time. But no direction, really.
New year 2013 – the spirit guides took another action :)
Some of you might know my story about me going to Bali in new year 2013 to find stories about my late father, who lived as a young artist in Bali in the 50s and early 60s. It was a wake up call for me to go back to art – the same strange wonderful feeling – or even stronger – as that feeling I had in France when I was 17. And during these times, I had almost given up my art life.
I concentrated on my research about my late father almost the whole year of 2013, visited his grave and started a website in January 2014, ten years after his death. Soon after my return to Jakarta, in February I was ‘introduced’ to Adobe Illustrator – and I couldn’t stop. As if armed with all the stories, findings and spirit I absorbed during my research about Dad, I found a new energy, and a new style.
And this time, I uploaded the new graphics to my personal Facebook account.
And there came the surprise. Many of my personal friends and even extended family members were suprised. And to my surprise, a lot of them gave huge interest and had ideas what to do with my new artwork. My former coworkers turned out to be postcard collectors, mug collectors, and my cousins wanted t-shirts with my drawings screen-printed on. I enlisted my own mother, who quickly found suppliers to do the work in my hometown. I thought we had successfully started a tiny if not small business.
Until I fell into that trap again – when I thought I was very busy at work and no room for personal art life. Very bad trap. Now I know it, and I can tell you!
I was very busy at work, and when not busy, I was constantly sick. My blog and website were still up but no updates, and my last blog post was published a few months back.
Once again, I really didn’t know what to do. Energetically I was stuck.
Until that one fateful lunch break in early October last year. I was there sitting at my desk, feeling unwell, and had only 35 minutes. So I just took a marker and a scrap paper, started moving my hand and made a drawing.
1 p.m. drawing was done. I felt much better. I snapped the drawing with my phone and posted on Instagram, reposted on Facebook.
A few days and a lot more drawings later, my headache was totally gone, no more bloated stomach, and I slept well at night. A total luxury. I just found my own prescription!
Later I learned that creative energy is the same as life force, when it is repressed, the body becomes sick. And so I believe that making art heals. I will keep drawing in this energy.
Time to bounce back. And this time, I’ve learned something important, and it’s going to be a sweet bounce-back.
Thank you for hanging in there with me! xx