In conversation with Vania Prananto

Updated: Mar 31, 2020

Writing by Ayra Matondang and Darcy Miller


Vania Prananto is a versatile artist. The Jakarta-born-and-bred 17-year-old, who calls herself a "part-time art enthusiast", dabbles in a variety of genres, from clean, modern digital illustrations, to organic physical structures, to grainy, authentic photography overlaid with messages and doodles. But Prananto is not a "jack of all trades, master of none" as the saying goes; she produces truly beautiful, and thought-provoking works in every genre she puts her hand to. We talked to Vania, who goes by @wherearethegraphics on Instagram, about her art and what fuels the fire of her ambition; see the full interview, republished below.

The Bigger Picture: To all readers and viewers who are unfamiliar of your work, can you introduce what medium, ideas, concepts and aesthetics that you gravitate towards to?

Vania Prananto/WHEREARETHEGRAPHICS: I am Vania Prananto, a seventeen but soon-to-be eighteen year old aspiring ‘artist’. To be honest with you, I don’t really think I deserve to be called as an artist, so I’m considering myself as a part-time art enthusiast. Most of my works are digital illustrations, collages and photography. I also use several other mediums such as acrylic and oil paints. However, I don’t really do traditional paintings that much, well, because I’m not really good at it. Through my works, I usually highlight social issues such as women’s right or merely externalising my feelings. In all seriousness, I suck at expressing my feelings to people but I tend to be very vulnerable and honest when it comes to creating. Essentially, my art is my outlet in expressing everything that is going on in my head. The aesthetic of each work is dependent to the respective concept. I am yet to discover my personal style, but there is a reoccurring coherent style I gravitate to, which is a play with different kinds of textures (e.g. grain, pencil brushes). Along with textures, I often pair my works with a narrative to put the idea into words.

"I suck at expressing my feelings to people but I tend to be very vulnerable and honest when it comes to creating."

TBP: When you create your digital art, how does the process generally unfold?

VP: Generally, people start out by formulating drafts before proceeding on the final work. That’s not me. I am not that much of an organised person, I create spontaneously with no guidelines and restrictions. On another circumstance for a legitimate project, I do draw out drafts and choose which one calls out to me.

"I create spontaneously, with no guidelines and restrictions"

Inspirations come at me at the most random times. I start by deciding on an idea or concept and choosing a (intended) messy or structured style. Once I start, I just keep going where my imagination takes me. In a nutshell, I don’t really structure my process and just go with the flow. As a finishing touch, I usually played around with the stylize functions in Photoshop to see which effects can be applied. Since I’m my biggest critique and a perfectionist, if I’m ever unsatisfied with my work, I’ll [tend to] start over.

TBP: What softwares do you regularly used; and what makes them comfortable to be used for you to rely on them?

VP: I switch in between Photoshop and Illustrator as softwares I regularly use for digital illustration and collages. However, I am more familiar with Photoshop since it’s the first software I taught myself. Photoshop is my go-to software since I modified its shortcuts and preferences to my own liking. For Illustrator, I usually use it to draw because it’s not pixelized and I transferred the drawing into Photoshop to get the textures. Regardless, I use both softwares to create my works. On another note when I get an urge to create and only have my phone, I use Adobe Draw to do quick doodles.

For photography, I mainly use Photoshop to edit. Occasionally, I use the apps on my phone. Superimpose is the mobile app that I use, it has similar functions (although simpler) with Photoshop. To get textures or film effect, RNI films and NOMO is the go-to app for me.

TBP: In the future, what kind of art styles or/and concepts do you want to further explore?

VP: It’s my goal to be more familiar with traditional art styles such as the realistic Renaissance artworks and surrealism. With that familiarity, I am interested in combining it with a modern and contemporary touch. Additionally, I am a huge fan of Japanese graphic art style. I’m looking forward to deepen my focus on it and integrate it into my works. Concepts that I want to explore ranges from feminism, masculinity, climate change, self-image and many others. I would like to experiment with as much as possible kind of art styles to develop and discover my own artistic style and what makes my artworks my own. Aside from art styles and concepts, I want to branch out into learning video graphics. Currently, I’m able to create short video graphics using Photoshop. Yet, I’m hoping I would be able to learn After Effects.

TBP: What drives you to create?

VP: During my early stages of creating art, I did it for myself. As I’ve mentioned before, art is an outlet for my feelings, ideas and thoughts. Now, I create for both me and my audience. I want people to be able to relate with what I’m creating. I want people to reflect on global issues through my works. I want to visualize what people can’t express. I want to inspire people. I want to move them. Those aspirations are what drives me to create.

TBP: As you're doing art in your own personal time and you do not get paid and commisioned to do so; have you ever felt that your effort is futile and you're not fulfilling your purpose to create these pieces?

VP: All my works are done with no single thought of being paid or commissioned. I do it to fulfill my aspirations and as an expression of my ideas. The purpose of creating is to create. I’ve always create when I’m feeling inspired and stop when I don’t feel the urge to. Forcing myself will just lead to a waste of time since I won’t be satisfied. Every piece means something dear to me and I won’t make a work that does not speak to me personally.

TBP: How do you want your work to impact others?

VP: Like how music could be a comfort during a crisis. That’s how I want my work to impact others. I want my work to be a visual voice of people’s feelings and thoughts. My work should be versatile so it could be interpreted differently by different audiences.

TBP: How do you see yourself in 10 years, would this be a path that you want to pursue profesionally?

VP: In all honesty, I don’t think I would pursue graphic design professionally in the future. I am however, interested in combining art with other professions such as entrepreneurship. For now, I am classifying art as a hobby of mine and not a passion. In the next 10 years, I see myself still relying art as a creative outlet and something that I could count on whenever. I really do hope that I would not distance myself in creating artworks despite my lack of confidence and insecurities regarding my ability.

TBP: Lastly, what would you say for others forging paths similar to yours?

As an Asian, I am raised in a household where pursuing an art related career is looked down upon. There is this stereotype that you won’t survive financially by being an artist or how careers in art is not as appreciated as those in lets say, the medical field. (Disclaimer: I know that this does not apply to everyone). But believe me, if that is your passion, you should definitely go for it. Never let your insecurities and doubts regarding your ability get into your head. Do it for the people, do it for yourself. Art can be far from those typical classical art that society labels as the ‘acceptable’ type of art. Art has no rules, it exist in every single thing. You can experiment, explore, and go anywhere with it. Go for it. Go you artists!!

We would like to deeply thank Vania for participating in this interview - to see more of her artwork, follow her on Instagram @wherearethegraphics.