Rudy Ao | Illustrator & Architect

Rudy Ao is an illustrator and architect focusing on comics. With a unique style he employs different mediums to create comic art for international clients. He also works with Urban Sketchers Bali encouraging the next generation of illustrators. Catch Rudy at our next Seri Seniman event on Thursday at Rumah Sanur.

When did you first start as an illustrator?
My base is as an architect, I started illustrating that and then comics became my work after I moved to Bali in 2005.

At first comics were just as a hobby for fun, not for the money because after I came to Bali, I missed comics. I used to like the social media site and app before Facebook called Deviantart.

On Deviantart I really loved people doing the art comics, that was when I was doing art for architecture. In 2010, I started doing illustration for professional comic illustrations.

What do you love drawing?
I love drawing monsters really; Frankenstein Conan the Barbarian, it’s really for me wow.

In junior school I was always drawing monsters any kind of monsters – Dracula, Frankenstein or something.

When did you first start reading comics?
I really love comics. When I was ten or maybe five years old I started reading comics because my brother did and he influenced me.

I also love the characters and drawing, as a kid the cartoons, animation at the that time was great.

Do you have a favourite comic book character?
Yes of course, Superman, Batman, it’s standard but they are the characters from my childhood. Spiderman, Marvel, Disney I also like. I always love watching TV and comics then drawing, always watching and drawing.

Also when I was a kid, Indonesian comics were really good, not like now, we don’t have many Indonesian comics anymore. Right now though they are starting to exist again.

In my childhood I was drawing Indonesian characters or US comics. Manga did not exist at that time in the 70s and 80s, it only started in the 90s.

What were some of the Indonesian comic books that you read growing up?
I read Godam, Gundala, Si buta dari goa hantu and Mandala. I really loved that time. After the Manga came, Indonesian comics were gone.

What is your illustration style?
I don’t draw Manga style now, more US style. I prefer the US style because I’m doing with that but if someone asks me to draw the Manga style, I can do it because I am not a comic artist but an illustrator. And illustrators can do any style people want, I draw for what people want and ask me.

Any famous illustrators who have influenced you?
Yes of course, Alex Ross, Frank Frazetta.

What type do illustrations do you do?
I mainly just do the cover only or posters and pin-ups. The interior of the comics I have not been doing because it was too much for me, laying out the graphics.

Before I had a comic group in Bali, Tantra Comic. I created the characters and my friends did the interior.

What type of materials and mediums do you use?
For the first time, I’m started doing illustrations with pencils.

For architect drawings, before the 3D image software came, it was all traditional painting with pencil markers with watercolour.

Right now I am just doing digital and oil painting. Why? Because for me the medium is really fast, of course the digital is really fast. Then why I’m using the oil for me, it’s good, it’s fast and good money because the price I sell the oil paintings for is more expensive than the digital, watercolour or pencil.  So that’s why I choose to work with oil medium right now.

How do you work with oils, are they hard to use?
I think for the first time, yes because you must wait for it to dry but right now I know how to create with oil painting more faster. I know how to do more. Somebody told me about oil painting, it’s so slow, drying, so long to take but for me, it’s ok, it’s fast for me.

How has your practice or work changed over the years?
I think right now the influence from other artists is really good because I’m always googling and seeing people and art made with watercolours, digital paintings. That makes me move faster and change my style.

The practice for me is something that you don’t just do for two or three hours, like you always take a breath and breathe. Maybe it’s weird but for me drawing is not a practice it’s a need, an extension, a way of life.

What’s your dream for illustration?
The issue now for the illustrators is it is rare for them to be a comic artist. I want people in the next generation to know that illustration is good for life, for making money. So I think that young people must know that profession is good, the illustrator for comics.

Do you accept commissions and how does that work?
People come to me to commission and order what they want – Batman, Superman.

Like when a movie such as The Avengers is released, people come to and commission me to do a piece on what they want about the movie. So the movies make me money of course because the impact is going my way. Any superhero movie I really just wait for the moment and usually someone messages me about it.

What are some of your current projects?
I’m doing a project for an English publisher and an image comic for someone in the US. Actually I am illustrating the cover and the interior, I have just started doing the interior. The publisher wants me and insisted I try to do it. It’s really hard but it is just five pages and it is good for me to try, the project will continue.

And the project in the US it’s a card game. And also I am working on a print o a character to be sold at Comicon along with other artworks for Comicon.

When you get a commission or need to illustrate something do you have to wait for inspiration or do you sit down and create it?
Usually the client just comes to me with the idea, with the concept, something maybe superman lit up the plan or the tank or something. I just make a sketch first and see whether they love it or not, it only takes two days the idea.

Why do you think hubs like Rumah Sanur are important?
Yeah Rumah Sanur is a place that I wanted from a long time ago. Actually in Bandung I have a place something like this in 2000, but more smaller the name is Trimatra a long time ago.

It was a hub for everything; tradition, music, art, something like Rumah Sanur because places like this make people talk and link to each other, that’s really important.

I used to really often come here, drawing but now not so much because I am at home with my wife and boy. You know I’m an illustrator and freelancer, I can do it everywhere in my home.

Discover designers, artists, musicians & creatives with Rumah Sanur’s Meet the Makers