Raksasa Print Studio is a silk screening studio based in Malaysia. Founded by two women named Jane Stephanny and Julienne Tan, the Raksasa Print Studio offers a number of products and services such as:
• Silkscreen print classes for young adults, old adults, adults of intermediate age, and everyone in between!
• Open studio space for aspiring and experienced artists!
• Hand-printed shirts, tote bags and other textile items, featuring our own unique designs!
• Limited edition art prints and other illustrations, straight from the owners’ own hands/paws!
• Collaborations with other local and international artists!
Raksasa Print Studio prints their designs on eco-friendly materials, use eco-friendly chemicals, and use organic materials where possible. Moreover, twice per year the studio hosts an art show, for which artists are encouraged to submit illustrations fitting that show’s specific theme. All selected entries are silkscreen-printed at the studio and exhibited as part of the show.
Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with Jane and Julienne about this experiences working in the arts:
Q: What influenced you to become illustrators?
Jane Stephanny (JS): At no point in my life did I have an epiphany that I wanted to be an illustrator. I just knew I wanted to draw, I always did.
Julienne Tan (JT): Same here. I just enjoyed drawing; it was the only activity that kept me interested for more than–
JS: An hour…
JT: Yeah! I actually joined art school to do computer animation, but I didn’t really like always having to work on a computer and to rely on modern technology. I really just wanted to go back to basics, to draw, as I enjoyed that the most.
JS: I actually studied fine arts for over three years, thinking it would give me the freedom to draw and think of whatever I wanted, but eventually realised that it was just too much freedom.
JT: Yeah, I need direction too. Some sort of framework in which to work is a good thing.
JS: Also, society conspired against me and smashed my original dreams of becoming an astronaut. Being an illustrator was the next best thing.
Q: Growing up, what artists and illustrators inspired you?
JS: I’ve always loved Cézanne.
JT: For me, it was Picasso. That’s when my parents realised that my artistic sensibilities weren’t exactly in line with theirs, and were probably never going to be.
JS: Cézanne’s passion and dedication were incredible. I also really admire that he made a conscious decision to become an artist, as an adult. It wasn’t some sort of magical pre-destined path that he was on from the day he was born, that kind of story. He just decided he wanted to be an artist and worked very hard to be good at it.
Q: You recently started your own company. Can you please tell me a bit more about it?
JS: Towards the end of our student careers in New York, we realised that we really wanted to do something on our own, to take what we had learnt and apply it to forge our own paths.
JT: Essentially, we’re illustrators, but also printmakers. We wanted to always have access to printmaking facilities, so we thought ‘why not set up our own silkscreen printing studio?’ That’s how the idea for Raksasa Print Studio was born.
JS: We had been spoilt by having access to the School of Visual Arts printmaking shop during our student years, and after spending a great many hours learning the ins and outs of how a good print studio operates, we figured we could probably do something like that too, in Malaysia. A pretty big step from being art students, really, but hey, we’re risk-takers.
Q: Why did you choose to open your studio in Malaysia?
JT: Our families live in South East Asia. I’m half-Cambodian, and Jane’s Indonesian.
JS: Yeah, being closer to our families was a big part of it.
JT: So that left a few options: Singapore, Indonesia, Cambodia, Malaysia. We decided Malaysia probably had the best balance between having a printmaking culture, but not having a saturated market for silkscreen printing. We’re actually pretty unique here in Malaysia with having a silkscreen printing studio where classes are taught, and where artists can come and make use of the facilities.
JS: Being able to share what we had learnt in the US with the local community was a big part of it, and providing local artists with a means to make their own prints by using our open studio space.
JT: We love the NY vibe of making art with other artists. We wanted to bring that kind of artistic community to Malaysia; not that it didn’t exist here before we came here, of course, but our studio is a good place for artists’ from diverse backgrounds to bond and collaborate.
Q: Can you please tell me a little more about the Biannual Show and the kinds of submissions are you seeking?
JS: While we’re all about working with local talent, we also wanted to create a platform to work with artists from all over the world, and to showcase art from all corners of the globe – including Malaysia. So we decided to host a print show twice per year, for which we rely on illustrators to send us their awesome creations, which we then print in our studio.
JT: We’ve got these hella big white walls in our studio space that are just begging to be covered in artwork (when they’re not covered in paint splatters). So the space really works well as an art gallery too.
JS: Every time we do one of these shows, we pick a new theme. We want there to be a theme so that there’s an element of cohesion to the works, but at the same time we want to give the artists full freedom with how they interpret the theme. For this upcoming show, we chose Mad Science as the theme, and we’re pretty excited to see what people will come up with.
JT: Yeah, we can’t wait for some of the crazy and freaky submissions that are bound to come in.
JS: While we give a lot of freedom with regards to the subject matter, we do have some restrictions regarding the size and number of layers. We’re going for two layers only this time, with a limited colour palette. That will give the whole show even more of a cohesive look.
JT: Everyone is welcome to submit works, and everyone is welcome to submit more than one work. Of course, we will have to be selective with which works we end up printing and displaying, but we’re looking for a wide range of styles, so everyone should give it a shot!
JS: Further details are on our website. One other important point to mention is that the majority of the proceeds for any sales will go to the artists themselves.
JT: MAD SCIENCE! Woo!
Q: So far, which of your projects has been your favorite and why?
JT: Probably our Grand Opening Show.
JS: Yeah. I mean, it would have to be; even though it was bloody hard work.
JT: It was the first of our Biannual Shows, and the opening night of the show was also the official opening of our studio. We made a lot of new friends that night, and quite a few of them are still regular visitors 4 months later.
JS: The theme was Giants. Raksasa is Indonesian/Malaysian for giant, or monster. We received some really cool submissions from artists, both people we knew from our time in the US and other countries, and other artists who had found us randomly. It was really cool to see the end result, though a bit stressful as well.
JT: We were kind of ambitious with the size of the artworks and the number of layers. We didn’t get much sleep the night before. But it all worked out in the end.
JS: See? Risk-takers.
Q: What is your “dream project”?
JS: Something that involves travel to awesome destinations.
JT: We like to travel.
JS: So if we can get an excuse to travel somewhere cool to work on a project, then we definitely wouldn’t turn it down.
JT: Yeah, like teaching art to a remote community in some sort of paradise somewhere.
JS: Or painting a mural in an exotic location. Let us know if you know of any projects like that.
JT: We travel light. We can leave tomorrow.
JS: We’re teaching a class tomorrow.
JT: Oh yeah.
Q: To date, what has been the most rewarding part of being an artist?
JT: Teaching the students who have never done silkscreen before. It’s very satisfying to see someone pick up a new skill and then applying it to make their own stuff with a lot of enthusiasm, after having taught them.
JS: Sharing our own experiences with others is definitely cool. Being an artist can be quite a solitary experience at times, but Raksasa is giving us a lot of opportunities to work with others and share some of the things we learnt over the years.
Q: What advice would you give someone who is aspiring to be an artist?
JS: Don’t be afraid.
JT: Don’t be afraid of your mistakes. Super cliché, but true.
JS: Jules and I made a lot of mistakes along the way.
JT: But we learnt from them. You’ve just got to go with the flow.
JS: And don’t give up. You can’t give up.
JT: …but we’ve given up so many times though.
JS: Those were mistakes. We made the mistake to give up.
JT: But it’s okay to make mistakes.
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For more information visit:
Raksasa Website: http://raksasaprint.com
Raksasa Facebook: https://facebook.com/raksasaprint
Raksasa Instagram: https://instagram.com/raksasaprint/
Raksasa Twitter: https://twitter.com/raksasaprint
Jane’s artist website: http://www.janestephanny.com/
Julienne’s artist website: http://www.juliennetan.com/