Jonathan Chanutomo is an illustrator from Indonesia whose art ranges from deeply religious iconography to creepy cartoons that defy all labels. He was recently commissioned to paint the ceiling of St. Yakobus Church, in his native Surabaya.
Here he talks with us about the road he has taken as an artist and the importance of being persistent and driven by passion.
"When people find out that I'm the painter of the St. Yakobus Church ceiling, almost all of them said: 'Jo, you are very talented!' And I'm happy for that and will say 'thank you' and sometimes, 'praise the Lord.'
"The thing is the word 'talent' to me sounds like a gift that I have been granted, and it is there just to be taken, without any effort from me.
"My abilities in art, as I see them, are a product of Passion and Persistence, instead of just talent. Drawing and doodling were my hobby since I was in kindergarten. I drew everything from traditional legends like White Snake Legend to Sailor Moon. Slowly but surely, this passion led me to begin understanding color and composition.
"When my father bought me a book about painting in the Renaissance, I knew then that I wanted to work as an illustrator, and I never stopped practicing during Science class, even when I had to attend remedial classes because my marks were so bad.
"Once in a religious meeting, the spiritual director tried her best to make me accept that 'All my talent came from God', after I said how grateful I was to be able to complete the ceiling of the church.
"But my drawing skills are not something I take for granted, and to credit everything to God, from my point of view, would be to take from the fact that I spent 76 days on that project. I said 'praise the Lord', because I believe that He is who lets all things happen, but as an artist, I have a right to recognition.
"I think that, in life, believing in this thing called 'talent' will block your mind and abilities. Of course people have different abilities, but as long as you have passion and the drive to learn something and the persistence to practice it every day, everyone can improve.
"If you give up on a certain skill you were trying to learn, it doesn't mean you are not talented. It means you found out that that skill is not worth enough to be explored or pursued. It's just not your passion, and why should you be persistent on things you are not passionate for?"
All images: @jonathanchanutomo
If you would like to see your art featured in CulturaColectiva+, click here to send a 400-word article and reach our millions of followers.
For more content, click on these links:
Hitler's Cursed Painting That Nobody Wants To Buy
How Italian Police Outsmarted Thieves And Tricked Them Into Stealing A Fake Bruegel
5 Things You Can Do Right Now To Become A Better Writer