A self-taught illustrator, Jakarta-born Olivia Ariferiani is currently based in Kuala Lumpur as an art director at TBWA. She has had the honour of having one of her illustrations featured in this year’s GIF Fest in Singapore.

She draws inspiration from her time working with musical artists of all sorts and through their stories, she brings her own sense of surrealism into every piece she creates with hints of whimsical elements.

Cocktail Sandwich

Q: Why did you aspire to pursue a career in the creative arts industry?
A: When I was a kid, I grew up with a lot of books. Most of them are children storybooks and comics. I learned to draw by copying the scenes from those comics and tried to make up my own story. Since then, I’ve always been yearning to be some kind of creative. When you think about it, being able to create something for a living is kind of amazing. I was first introduced to the creative industry through graphic design, then advertising.

While working in an agency is exciting, it can get really frustrating as well at times. There’s a part of me that feels like something is missing. I want to be able to create something for myself, so I ended up doing illustration in my spare time. It began as a hobby that then turned into an obsession. Now I share my time working as an illustrator and art director at the same time.


Q: As an Indonesian currently working in Malaysia, how does the creative arts industry in Indonesia differ from the one here in Malaysia?
A: To be honest, I think I’m a pretty bad Indonesian. I don’t really know much about my own country, so I’m not sure if I’ll be able to do a proper comparison. Personally, I feel that both countries are very similar in a way. Both sides love to play with humour in their advertising and art. However, Malaysia has this ‘festive ads tradition’, and it’s something that I didn’t see much in Indonesia.

Recently, I have noticed that contemporary art, especially illustration, is becoming really popular in Indonesia. I’ve seen a few established brands do collaborations with a lot of artists. I think it’ll be interesting to see if the same trend will happen here as well.


Q: You’ve worked as an art director with well-established agencies like TBWA and Havas Adwork. How does this position differ from being just a graphic designer? Do you get to have more say in what goes into a project?
A: Sometimes I’m not quite sure as well. I feel like the workload is quite similar, and I think everyone always has a say. It always helps to get different views from different people.

Q: What is the appeal of typography to you?
A: Typography will always have a special place in my heart. Before illustration, I used to play with typography a lot. It’s really cool how we can express different messages just by how we design the words. Occasionally, I still try to add typography elements into my illustration.


Q: What do you do to stay motivated when faced with a creative block?
A: Actually, I get bored very easily, so I get this problem often. When it happens, the best cure for me is to go on Instagram and check out the people that I look up to. Looking at their amazing works always excite me to start creating again.

Q: What does your work routine look like and how do you manage the pressures of meeting deadlines?
A: I’m more of a ‘checklist’ type of person, so I try to give myself milestones throughout a project. That way, I can keep myself in check and it feels less stressful. Of course, sometimes things happen and they don’t always go according to plan. During those times, I feel like it’s best to enjoy the rush and just roll with it.




Good things are meant to be shared. 😉 To see more of Olivia’s work, check out the links below!
Website: Olivia Ariferiani
Behance: Olivia Ariferiani
Instagram: Olivia Ariferiani
Pinterest: Olivia Ariferiani