Nani Puspasari is the ‘all-round creative cheerleader’ behind the Melbourne based label Designani. One glance at her website and you can see how her arts practice is driven by a desire to ‘pursue happiness, fun, balance and progress’. Whether it’s her bold but minimal graphic designs, colourful pop art-ish paintings or dreamlike yet quirky handpainted ceramics (including her bacon plate), there’s something for everyone here. I met Nani at a Melbourne market, said hi, got chatting and I’ve been a fan of her work ever since. Enjoy the read – she’s someone you’ll want to follow on every social platform!
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do.
I am an Indonesian artist and designer based in Melbourne, Australia. My work takes on a variety of forms from illustration, graphic design, visual art, textiles, sculpture, ceramic to large scale hand-painted murals.
How did you start your creative practice and why?
I was just starting to study graphic design (17 years old) at university when I met a local artist and befriended with him. Since then, he has continued to invite me to contribute artwork to a lot of group exhibitions in my town. I started posting my artwork online and got enquires for different type of jobs: design and illustration from all around the world. I always love to make things with my hands so in my spare time between study and freelance work I started making stuff and selling it online. I feel really happy knowing there’s people out there willing to buy my products and this inspired me to create better and better creations. I feel so happy and have so much fun when making stuff.
Tell us about your past projects. What has been your most treasured creation?
I love doing murals, there’s a big satisfaction when I see my drawing in large scale. One of the most memorable mural jobs I did was in 2012, my very first mural in Australia for Vietnamese Restaurant. The client approved my dream proposal to paint florals on their huge wall – 8 x 4 metres – half of their ceiling. I did the job for 4 days from 9pm until 3am. The other treasured creation was a series of illustrations I did for two non-profit organisation who fight for the rights of children refugees in Australia. I realised that I want to make more visuals with powerful messages to the audience. I can’t change the world easily but my contribution might able to make other people to care more about humanity.
Tell us the story behind your bacon plate. These are awesome, where did the idea come from?
I had never heard about ‘bacon’ before I moved to Australia by myself 8 years ago. I instantly fell in love with bacon. I now consume it almost every week and I’d call myself a bacon-addict. Unconsciously I kept drawing and making objects of visual bacon for my own satisfaction. I started making small pieces of bacon ceramic artwork last year from a pin to an earring and ended up creating bigger pieces of bacon as a ceramic plate. It gives me a rainbow double happiness when I see real bacon on the top of fake bacon plate in the morning before getting ready to face the real work world. Absolutely, I love to share this kind feeling for everyone who buys the plate 🙂
Where did you grow up and has it influenced what you create?
I grew up in a small island called Kotabaru (meaning : New City) in Borneo, Indonesia with beautiful nature surrounding me. I went to the beach with my family on the weekend and spent so much time in our special garden, full of plants, a big starfruit tree, rose, jasmine and other kind of flowers. I was the type of quirky kid that got bored easily and liked to make things with my hands. I fell sleep easily during class, but was always excited when it came to craft and drawing class. I remember having so many random doodles in each of my notebooks, not to mention that once I got yelled by my kindergarten teacher because I drew things on a school table. My parents have a shop so I always tried to find any kind of activity to do at home until my parents got back home from work. That’s when my imagination went wild and I was not afraid to create something weird. I made my own barbie’s clothes from age 8, drew a map for my cat so she won’t get lost, made a cinema box with my sister and created new game with my brother. Sadly our house burnt down in 1992 when the fire took over almost a quarter of my hometown city centre. My father decided to replace the garden with concrete floor for parking cars. I was really sad because I lost my playground and I started drawing a lot of plants and flowers since then. I also read a lot of children book stories and encyclopaedias and this influenced me to create more narrative visuals rather than only pretty pictures.
Tell us your current project/ art work?
I’m working on few great projects with my fave clients: watercolour illustrations for an upcoming Gelato Ice Cream Restaurant in Indonesia; editorial illustrations for a new campaign by End Immigration Detention of Children; and a wedding invitation design for my friend. I try to keep myself busy with many personal projects: currently I’ve been going to NGV to redraw old paintings. I will sit down and sketch it over there around 5 -15mins. The series is called Adaptation (something produced by adapting). I’m also still working on my daily drawing, The Feminine World, so far I have more than 200 drawings since 2010 and I’m trying to create new editorial illustrations each day.
Who or what was your inspiration?
Everything & everywhere. Nature, places, people, music, poetry, book, online and naps (the best one).
Where do you feel most creative?
Napping, most of my ideas come when I close my eyes, lying down. I will start daydreaming and imaging weird stuff in my head.
Whose work are you digging at the moment?
I admire artists who able to tell stories through their creations: Maira Kalman, Marcel Dzama, David Shrigley, Henry Danger, and always Salvador Dali.
What has been your experience doing markets and selling your own work?
Its up and down. I had few product that failed in the market. I want to create whatever I want but I realise I need some business skills when related with commercial products. I joined a few markets which helped me to observe everything related with this kind of creative business. I was able to talk to different types of customers and share experiences and knowledge with other creative sellers.
What advice would you give to those considering starting a creative business?
The common struggle for freelancers to start a creative business is money since we don’t have stable incomes. Do your research carefully beforehand but don’t be afraid of a challenge. Start with small steps, don’t wait until the perfect time because it’s never gonna be perfect. High expectations are good but always prepare yourself for the failures so you will easily able to find the solution and move on.
What’s the biggest compliment you’ve received from a customer?
When they purchase my product for the second time and tell how they love it. I feel happy when I’m able to put smile on a customer’s face 🙂
How do you use social media in conjunction with your creative practice?
Initially, I didn’t put a lot of attention into what I posted on my social media. I learnt that good branding and consistency is really affective for social media marketing. But I still include more personal love about my creative process rather than just making it all about marketing/ commercial.
Where can we find and follow you online?
Website : www.designani.com
Shop : www.ollanani.etsy.com
Instagram : www.instagram.com/designani
Facebook : www.facebook.com/designani