She comes from Indonesia, Chinese-descendant, lives in Melbourne, and everything began from Japanese comics: now she’s one of the most appealing illustrators in Australia, with a long list of clients, collaborations and exhibitions in her cv.


“I draw what I feel and what’s in my subconscious, sometimes without realizing my actual state of mind”.


If you see infinite cascading hair, sweet girls and mushrooms, be sure: it’s Eveline Tarunadjaja.

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Let’s start from your biography. From Indonesia to Australia, when did you move to Melbourne?

I moved to Australia in 1998 when I was 15 years old. There was political turmoil in the Indonesian government around 1997 that caused huge riots in different places around the country. You hear stories about violence, rape, and murders happening in different places. Even though it didn’t happen in my hometown, it was especially unsafe for Chinese-descendant Indonesians because of the racial and social prejudice. Things settled down a year later, just the occasional rallies here and there, but my parents thought it will be better for me to move with my sister, who was about to go to university in Melbourne.


Why do you draw?

Because I don’t know what else to do, I suppose it just comes naturally. I’ve been drawing since I was little. I used to copy Japanese comics or draw characters while making up stories in my head.


Has anything changed in your way of drawing, and therefore in your resulting works, since you started?

I found myself adding more details to my work – I think it’s because I started using technical pens instead of felt-tip. The lines are much more consistent and thinner which changes the way I draw each textures and patterns.


A comparison between previous and later? What do you see?
'Droplets', 2004/05 and 'Paper crown', 2010

‘Droplets’, 2004/05 and ‘Paper crown’, 2010

I’m choosing these ones that are similar in terms of subject matter, idea, content and composition, just to exaggerate how they’re technically different.

In terms of ideas, I haven’t really change much. Maybe I do much more planning in the newer work. The lines are visibly ‘tidier’, I think and, rather than play with colour, I draw each textures in more lines now.


Who are the girls that stand in your drawings?

Some of them are skinnier and longer haired versions of me. Some are just characters that I’ve read or made up in my mind.

Your themes, hair and mushrooms, and girls, of course: do they have a particular meaning?

In a way. With the hair, for some reasons, it becomes like a security blanket for me, like how girls are attached to their hair so much, I get attached to my drawn hair, instead of my real hair. But most things are usually just things that fascinate me because they have their own characteristics. Subconsciously I try to relate with those characteristics and connect them with the girls, and the narratives, in each artwork.


Would you mind choose and talk about your works?


I tend to be really subtle in terms of meaning and I’m really bad when I try to explain the idea behind my works. I like when people tell me what it means to them and somehow it turns into a different idea entirely. The way I explain things is pretty stupid, like “I just want to know what it feels like to have a mushroom head.” (Portobello, 2010) or “This girl just had too much mushrooms” (Psilocybe Jellies, 2010) or “I cried so much last night, my eyes look like a goldfish” (Cry Baby, 2010). I guess it’s because I draw what I feel and what’s in my subconscious, sometimes without realizing my actual state of mind.

Pencil or computer?

Pencil. The idea of marking something permanent without guidelines kinda scares me… hehe.

You often talk about cinema and series, they’re an important source of inspiration, isn’t it? Cult movies and directors?

I love films. They inspired me so much, especially ones with amazing cinematography. On top of my head, my all time favourites: anything by Wes Anderson, The city of lost children and Delicatessen by Jean Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro, In the mood for love and Chungking Express by Wong Kar Wai, A woman is a woman by Godard and Hana and Alice Shunji Iwai. I also love Coen brothers, David Lynch and Quentin Tarantino. There are too many…

And the whole Mad Men series, it inspired my 2011 calendar illustrations.

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You made illustrations for fashion brands, such as Anna Sui, Hurley and Billabong: how much are you interested in fashion?

I like drawing patterns and I love dressing up, maybe not necessarily in coutures or designer brands. I love styling too, I do a bit of it for photography projects with friends.

Have you got reference artists – illustrators or others?

I like this Russian artist, Vania Zouravliov and Japanese artist, Takato Yamamoto. I always love what James Jean does. For reference I tend to look at old art deco and art nouveau prints, artists such as Aubrey Beardsley, Klimt and Schiele.

Another illustrator.

Sean Morris


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Did you make collaborations with other artists?

I did some collaboration works with Sean Morris, Andrea Innocent, Catherine Campbell and Brooke Bobridge when we had our Maybe We’ve Met Before group show together two years ago.

You’ve been involved with such a lot and different projects: I mean, book covers and jackets, t-shirts, sculptures, site-specific illustrations, lomography camera, packaging… On what are you working right now?

I’m doing the basic research, preparation and experiments for my next solo show at No Vacancy Gallery, Melbourne on November 11th, and in production stage with the t-shirt label that my friend and I started, our first round of t-shirts will hopefully be ready to launch at the end of the year with Sean Morris (WA), Kubota Fumikazu (VIC), Maricor Maricar (NSW) and myself.

How is your relationship with contemporary art?

It’s complicated.

A writer.

Haruki Murakami





Of what are you prouder of yourself?

To be able to last this far!

If you’d have to pack your life to move away, just with your most beloved stuffs, which of your drawings would you carry with you?

None, I can always draw new ones or I might take the one that my mum feels attached to, which is Fungus.

What do you do when you’re not drawing?

Everything else.

Three adjectives to describe yourself.

Straightforward, nonchalant, easygoing.

A city to describe yourself.

I haven’t been to enough.

A movie to laugh.

Mean Girls.

A movie to cry.

My Girl when Macaulay Culkin’s character died.

A song.

Family Tree by Belle and Sebastian.

A concert.

Stereolab, Melbourne in 2002. That was my first concert ever and I met some of my good friends the first time then.

The happiest day in your life.

Most days.

The mistake you would be proud to repeat.

I don’t remember.

A secret wish.

To travel everywhere.



For further information about the exhibition Threads by Eveline Tarunadjaja at No Vacancy Gallery, Opening Nov. 11.

To follow Eveline Tarunadjaja,


Interviewed on May 13th 2011, original version in English.