Meet Our Identity Illustrator: Nadya Noor
Every month, CreativeMornings works with an artist in our community to create an illustration for our global monthly themes. Our monthly themes help spark new conversations and ideas at our events. Speakers around the world are invited to share a story around the theme and what it means to them.
Our global theme for March is Identity. This month our featured illustrator is Nadya Noor.
Given that these illustrations are at events all around the world, it’s only right that we get to know the illustrator.
Meet Nadya Noor
Nadya Noor is Jakarta-based graphic designer and editorial illustrator. A self-described “visual hunter,” Nadya specializes in illustrations, comics, as well as art merchandise.
How did you get into illustration work and in what ways has your work evolved over time?
I was an interior architect student and visual arts always surrounded me. In my college days, I was really inspired by watercolor and its effects. I learned it independently in the corner of the library, watching YouTube tutorials, and reading about watercolor theory. I wanted to know everything about this liquid, colorful art medium.
I found myself immersed in watercolors instead of taking my 3D classes — ended up getting an ‘A’ in basic visual arts while I didn’t do well in my architecture design class.
Seeing this pattern in my life, I started taking graphic design more seriously. After I graduated, I applied to a news outlet as a graphic designer and illustrator, working for the organization’s infographic department. Looking back, I don’t regret it. The knowledge I gained through architecture still really helps me when I’m working on and designing my visual artwork.
What were some of your biggest creative influences in your early days?
The biggest influences, even until now, are my experiences attending art markets and pop culture-related events. They always make me feel like I’m sparkling! I’m inspired by the work of local artists. I also love prints, fabric patterns, and just people. Nature and fashion also inform my art too.
What’s the creative scene like in your city or region and how has it impacted you?
Jakarta is such a big place for communities and I used this privilege for living out my life as an artist. In the visual artist community, we often connect with each other to share our skills, events, exhibitions, and things that can fulfill our needs.
Joining these communities turned out to be very helpful to me, especially in building my career path. I’ve learned that connection and linking through community is key to solving a lot of our struggles. We collaborate, give feedback, learn new tips and tricks, and it’s just fun overall because we all become friends.
Every weekend, there are events for us to catch up on while making art together. A bonus here is that my own personal feelings benefitted too since I found love through the community!
Your editorial style of work really paints colorful stories with bold statements. How did you incorporate these elements in your interpretation of this month’s theme?
For the theme illustration, I expressed the concept of identity as layers. We humans identify each other through elements that “stick” to our bodies — race, clothes, hair, and other factors. We also judge each other upon factors that makes us individuals such as our skills or professions.
It’s through these many layers that you know who you are and can truly be yourself. To visualize the layers, I made the piece to look like a Risograph print, so that the various colors were laid on top of each other. I filled the spaces with smaller elements that surrounded the center of it — people with different identities. I wanted it to look like fluid movement was moving through the artwork.
What elements or experiences of would you say impacted your own current identity?
I used to just think of myself as an ordinary person with an ordinary style of drawing, and an ordinary life. My parents had always said the opposite — they were proud of me for standing out amongst my peers. I assumed that it was because I was their daughter. Later on in my life, I learned that friends also thought highly of me and my art.
From that moment on, I cleared my old ideas of how I used to think of myself. I realized that every individual is truly different, even if we don’t always realize it. From your body shape to your lifestyle, each person has their own unique identity. Coming into my own identity as simply Nadya Noor, proudly, has been the most impactful experience.
What’s something that you recently learned or was inspired by that’s influencing your work or life?
Within art, I feel like I’ve learned everything I’ve wanted, but haven’t quite mastered them. My ability to create linocuts, fabric printing, and comic drawings make me a “jack of all trades.”
I think actually the thing I’m learning most about is how to manage my time well… but I feel that this is going to be a life-long lesson.
Do you have any specific projects or efforts you want to focus on this year? What’s one thing you’d like to do more of?
Yes! There’s one thing I want to do this year. I want to make merchandise under my own brand name.
In 2019, I created an exhibition booth showcasing Indonesian local artists, a collaboration project with On Off Festival 2019 event in Jakarta. It turned out everybody who visited my art, loved my works and asked for its merchandise (totebag, shirt, scarf, etc.).
After that, I made an Instagram poll about it to check if there was still interest. The results were so positively overwhelming that it made me cry. A hundred percent of my followers said that they would definitely buy merchandise if I made some.
It feels like the right time to make it. Currently, I’m in the process of researching the right kind of fabric and materials I want to use.
Tell us something about yourself that we can’t find online.
My friends and people around me have often told me that I look like a hamster. I embrace it and often describe myself as a hamster online. Of course, mostly, I’m an artist… but you already knew that.