Like many, artist Martcellia Liunic uses her creative practice to portray her emotions, and tell stories. Based in Jakarta, the illustrator, designer and creative director’s work features “colourful, playful, sometimes abstract raw shapes and animals with girl characters.” Illustration, in particular, is a medium which has always been “personal and therapeutic” for Martcellia – it’s one she adopted after watching her grandpa draw as a child – and so she pours her thoughts and feelings into every piece. “It feels like someone lighting up the bulb in my head or something,” she tells It’s Nice That.
Martcellia’s practice is wide-spanning, including paintings and digital illustrations but she also runs a clothing brand called Liunic on Things, which she founded in 2015. “The idea was pretty simple: I liked to see my illustrations on different mediums,” she explains. “Seeing them as wearable fashion items really excites me.” The brand was (and continues to be) so successful that in 2016, Martcellia quit her day job as an art director and has been working full time as an illustrator since.
While Liunic on Things occupies much of what she does (and is well worth checking out, we’ve got our eyes on several items), painting is in fact of one Martcellia’s favourite processes. She describes what draws her to the medium: “You have this image in your head and you’re working towards that, it’s like making dreams come true, one drawing at a time. It gives me butterflies. Especially when it turns out exactly as I imagined it in my head.”
When working on a new piece, Martcellia will first check her sketchbook which is full of scribbles and sketches. She works sporadically, focussing on several ideas at once or nothing at all, a cycle which is constantly on repeat. “It’s like my brain is taking a break to recharge,” she explains, “but as a creative, of course, I tend to feel bad if I’m not being productive during those phases.” To combat this, Martcellia switches between media often, “to warm up and be in the zone again.”
No matter what the medium however, Martcellia’s work is undeniably joyful. Her images are packed full of playful shapes, characters and colours, several of which appear as recurring motifs – like a flower with big eyes and a cat’s nose, and a star with a lion’s features. While it’s something she is constantly looking to evolve, Marcellia explains how her style has always revolved around “cute aesthetics and a full use of space. I like [my works] to be bold and full-on eye candy.”
A recent series of Martcellia’s was completed in gouache and produced in response to a trip to Amsterdam. “I’ve always been drawn to psychedelia,” she says, adding that in this series “the concept is re-imagining mundane situations and objects and filling them with bursts of colour and pattern. I think that these works show the right combination of cute and trippy for me.” It’s a series which is representative of Martcellia’s wider practice, in which nearly everything she touches turn something ordinary and bland into something vibrant and cheerful.
Martcellia’s currently working towards exhibiting this new series and hopes to have a solo show at some point in the future. She also has plans to take her studies abroad, and had been eyeing up Canada or somewhere she can “explore the outdoors more and breathe fresher air,” before certain events forced her to spend a little more time indoors than usual. For now, then, she’ll just have to keep fuelling her creative outlets from the safety of her own home, relying on the therapeutic aspects of illustration as she always has.
About the Author
Ruby joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in September 2017 after graduating from the Graphic Communication Design course at Central Saint Martins. In April 2018, she became a staff writer and in August 2019, she was made associate editor.