Last week we attended the launch of Singapore’s first Tulisan store, Tulisan by Plus 62 at Mandarin Gallery. Featuring gorgeous prints, original drawings, limited edition bags (no more than 100 produced!), and unique homewares, the shop is a whimsical reflection of the force behind Tulisan, Indonesian artist, illustrator, graphic designer and mama of two, Melissa Sunjaya. We sat down to chat with her about her inspiration, balancing work with home life, and the importance of creating a product that’s handmade and sustainable. By the way mamas, if you’re looking for fun kids’ decor, a cool bag for yourself, or an unusual souvenir from Southeast Asia for friends back home, we have definitely found your place!
What inspired you to launch Tulisan?
Tulisan means ‘handwriting’ in Indonesian. Tulisan is voiced as the artist-illustrated editions of the New East Indies. Every single Tulisan product is distinguished to be a genuine art piece, constructed by hand with the finest artisanal craftsmanship, in small batches, using globally certified materials.
Tulisan was created to cater to the independent women with an open mindset. This includes any woman from any background and walks of life. Every Tulisan creation is dedicated to those who appreciate artwork, especially one that is handmade with its own defined characteristics.
You have some amazing stories to go along with your beautiful artwork, what do you envision first, the stories, or the pictures?
I start by choosing a state of mind or emotions, any subject or character undergoing a certain emotion. I then explore the idea on the context of time, place, and issue. I keep a notebook with me at all times, scribbling the details of the people encountered, the way they strut their walk, the way they uplift their chin, to event the music or eating habits which would be incorporated as the additional flare to the story. From understanding what I want to portray from research and brainstorming ideas, I explore the objects of my story through illustrations. As a base I do various techniques of illustration – pointillism, cross-hatching, and vignette – and then explore the desired brush or patterns.
What inspired your interest in printmaking? How do you get such rich and vibrant colours?
The first textile print work I did was a project commissioned by Uniqlo in Japan, for Bluelounge Design, a multi-disciplinary design studio I founded in 1999 in Los Angeles. The project brief was to create a series of textile motifs and t-shirt designs for their summer collection. The research I did for this project introduced me to the wonders of many vintage motifs from California. The work then led me to pursue illustration and textile design as a passion. When I came back to Indonesia in 2006, I looked into the different print fabrication methods, in particularly hand-painted and silk-screened batik. It was staggering to see how labor intensive these artisanal processes were. It made me want to create handmade printed products with an original twist.
Each colour requires a different screen and is layered onto the canvas one at a time. Depending on the palette, several screens can be made to create a single pattern.
Are there any exclusive prints or pieces that we can expect to see in Singapore?
Yes. Plume and Wonder is the latest Fall/Winter Collection by Tulisan that we have also introduced in our Tulisan store. The prominent influence of the Fall/Winter collection is based on the crossing line between the subversive conscious of our dreams and our projected reality. The textile designs are based on a few original pen and ink drawings that are then arranged manually into motifs. Art Nouveau inspired, Plume is an illustration of a barn owl and Wonder is an illustration of a catfish.
Plume and Wonder is a derivative from the ANIMA series, which was based on a research by renowned psychologist Carl Jung and his theory of Anima, being a realization of one’s opposite gender which identifies our truest self and finding our source of creativity. The tote from that collection we introduced is our special “By MS with Love” with collection through the Principia Tote as well as the original editions: Theory Bag and Hobo Tote.
Are you a mother? If so, how old are your children and what are their names?
I am a mother of two. My daughters’ names are Miya (10) and Clio (7).
How do you balance work and motherhood?
I work mostly at my studio at home and the kids also have a creative corner to do their activities at home while I am working. I have a very strong bond with my daughters, I breastfed them for two years, so they are very close with me and have a very good understanding of what I do as a mother who also works. I think it its important to let them see from a younger age of the work and passion I put into the things I do.
Having a home studio gives me the time so spend my remaining hours with the kids before and after they return from school. I am also lucky, though, that my own mother is like their own mother — she helps me greatly in taking care of the kids when I get swamped with what I do.
Thanks Melissa! Mamas, be sure to check Tulisan out online, or visit them at their new shop on Orchard Road!
Tulisan by Plus 62, Mandarin Gallery #04-28, 333A Orchard Road, Singapore 238897, Tel: (+65) 6235 3768