A few months ago, Sandy Solihin, a freelance illustrator and artist, was announced as the winner of the ModCon 2017 competition with his entry Crocoppuccino Party, which won by more than 6,500 votes via the Australian Embassy’s Instagram.

Crocoppuccino Party is a playful piece which combines Australia’s unique wildlife with its coffee culture. Sandy shares his insights into the creative process and motivation for creating the piece below.

Tell us about your background as an artist. Why do you create?

Ever since I was a little kid, I was always mesmerized by children books, especially picture books. I couldn’t sit still until my parents bought me one. I spent days reading those books and got carried away in the world of imagination. Those books ignited my creative side which poured out through pencil and paper. It was amazing. Since then, I’ve decided to become an illustrator and enrolled in art school. Unfortunately, in my hometown Bandung, there was no illustration major. I decided to major in graphic design instead. Luckily, my training as a graphic designer has honed my skills as an illustrator as well, so I can continue making beautiful artworks that resonate with audiences on an emotional level. This is my main purpose in creating artwork: to put smiles on people’s faces.

Where are you from, and how does this place influence your art?

I was born, raised and live in Bandung. Growing up in tropical country with a rich biodiversity enriched my knowledge and artistic references from nature. This sprouted my interest in the animal world and I decided to learn more about their behaviour and their respective physiology. Fortunately, this brought me to work for National Geographic Indonesia as a scientific illustrator and opened up possibilities to explore this country even further.

What were the main influences for Crocoppuccino Party?

As an illustrator who has an interest in the animal world, Australia’s biodiversity has never failed to amaze me. More than 80% of Australian plants and animal are unique to Australia and are found nowhere else.

Australia’s passion for coffee has reached Indonesia as well. Both well-crafted coffee which offers a new level of coffee experience and Aussie-influenced coffee houses have spread across my hometown and into Indonesia’s big cities. As a coffee lover this promises me excellent cappucinno every time I need a caffeine fix.

Last but not least, the most memorable experience I had when visiting Australia was its lively and upbeat but laid-back environment. Aussie sure know how to have fun. Each of these three Aussie things remains close to my heart, and inspired me with this artwork.

What do you hope to convey to viewers?

I think the most pleasing thing would be if my artwork inspires other people, from children to adults, to make them love their own biodiversity and culture, and help make them create more art with a positive impact on the world.

How do you think creative exchanges such as ModCon can enhance the bilateral relationship?

I think the relationship between our countries is magnificent. Creative and artistic exchange and collaboration are a perfect approach to further strengthen this relationship and bridge whatever tensions that might exist.

Any future goals?

I want to immerse myself in the many cultures of the world, exploring their value, unique artistic approach and most importantly the people, in a hope to further expand my knowledge and references as an artist. This would train me to make a meaningful art that reach a broader audience. In the future I want to expand into animation as well. I wish I can contribute in the animation industry as a concept artist.

Be sure to follow Sandy on Instagram and find out more about ModCon on the Pop Con Asia website.