Sanchia Hamidjaja

Lost / Found 2011

Sanchia is an illustrator from Jakarta, Indonesia.  She is known for her detailed comic style drawings and is one of the leading illustrators in the buzzing Jakarta art scene.  We speak to her about the scene in Jakarta and what motivates her to create art.

I am from Jakarta born and raised. I'm working independently although I am friends with most of Jakarta' s street artists / illustrators.

Jakarta is the ultimate melting pot. Everything and everyone from everywhere ends up here. The great thing about living in a melting pot is it allows me to explore and work in a variety of creative disciplines from the advertising industry, design to animation production. It's a big enough city to produce all kinds of different talents and exposes us to so many international subcultural influences. Although it is difficult to maintain a relationship with the art communities because of the traffic and distance, especially now that i have a family of my own.

My work is unique because its handmade. I use brush and indian ink / acrylic mostly on paper and walls, I have very limited room for errors (especially on paper). Because of my deep influence in comic art, my work embodies a lot of narratives, using mainly dystopian themes, as it describes best about life in Jakarta, the repetitive routine, the city's overcrowded population and the density of its infrastructures. In contrast to its themes, using small brushes and delicate inks lets me express a sense of beauty in the midst of all that chaos.

My parents used to collect art in the 90s, I grew up going to galleries and museums as a kid. My mother was a shop window decorator so I went with her to work all the time. I guess that must have triggered my interest in art.

I studied Communication Design in Melbourne, Australia from 2000-2004, the year when street art was really booming, about the time when Banksy, Space Invaders, etc started appearing all over Melbourne. At the end of 2004 I went home to Jakarta and brought back a whole new style, found a bunch of friends that were into it and slowly created a scene. I started making characters and paste 'em ups all over town. Then the scene got so popular that we started getting attention to work with local street wear brands to huge brands like Nike Sportswear, since then I've never stopped working. Being a mother to my 3 month old daughter, and being able to keep doing what I love to support the life of another human being is probably the most amazing thing ever.

I spent 2 years making a comic strip about my dogs called the Yin & Yang dogs. That project resulted in me painting a large 2 x 4 meter diptych. This painting is called "Lost/Found" and it was about my lost dog. The painting was made to be so complex and crowded, it developed to a kind of "Where's Wally" game to find the hidden dog. I literally got lost in the process. I spent 3 months painting it and now it's sitting somewhere at an art collector's home, lost.

I try to draw every single day, when I come to like a drawing I keep repeating it over and over like a chant but on paper. Usually that becomes a solid project and hopefully continues to become an exhibition.

Explore more of Sanchia's work at