ANIMA: Voyage Through the Collaborative Mind
Since last December 2013, Melissa Sunjaya and a Swiss Canadian Artist, Sébastien Théraulaz has already been in the works of the Anima limited edition playing cards which explores the crossing between the subversive conscious of our dreams and our projected reality.
From the initial idea to its final execution, Melissa and Sébastien has pushed their limit in uncovering their awareness of what Anima embodies. They have gone through extensive research of analyzing Carl Jung (the founder of analytical psychology) and his theory of Anima, being an realization of one’s opposite gender which identifies our truest self and finding our source of creativity.
I talked with the two artist, Melissa Sunjaya, whose instinctive drawings are already the heartbeat of Tulisan, as well as Sébastien, who has an eclectic interest in comprehending the visual language, to understand the workings behind their artwork.
You both determined a theme Anima in mind. Can you share both of your role in this collaboration?
Sébastien (S): We wanted to collaborate on a project for a long time together. Melissa liked the idea of a series, something where we can really explore and create a sense “family” or “tribe” idea. The card deck was a perfect fit, so she proposed to me to work on it.
We did a brainstorm to find out the “worlds” we wanted to create, and by talking and searching we ended up with the four basic elements, which brought us to the old Alchemy, magic and divination arts. Each animal kingdom has its own symbolism related to it. The alchemists believed in the power of the particules but it also has a deep link to our imagination, the soul and our brain capacities. That was a good path to explore: the elements, the brain, and the soul of a human being.
After choosing the animals we wanted to portray, Melissa started working on the animal faces and I would research about the topic of the world and draw the complete costume and accessories of the animals.
Melissa (MS): In February 2013, I visited a game museum in Vevey (Switzerland) and discovered some historical facts about playing cards: how they were used to write memos or as mind reading game. The vintage cards had beautiful and intricate designs and they were printed on fine woven papers. I wished to relive the luxury of these traditional cards, by creating a set that are filled with fine details and symbolism.
Séb was a perfect match for me to do this artistic duet because as an art professional, he has always placed a lot of meanings and research behind all his work. He could get crazy and intense from time to time, but he has always been very reliable and expedient in his deliverables. His role were as follows: to research on the history and visual references; to set up the attributes of each character through illustrating the costumes; and to create a skeleton of the story. My role were: to set up the production parameters, to draw the different animals and to write the story. It was a simple plan, but the work structure was organized.
How did you get yourself immersed into Carl Jung’s theory on Anima?
S: Searching through these themes, we came across the Anima theory of Carl Jung. Not only did Carl Jung say that we have a self, but he also said that there is a complementary side in every one of us, which is the masculine or feminine side of the being. It is a bit like the Ying and Yang. Once a person finds his Anima (for a man) or Animus (for a woman), he can open a door to his subconscious mind, know what is inside him, and maybe become someone more complete. A full soul which can create and act in free will.
MS: I have always been interested in the study of mind, body, dreams and connectivity.
Anima talks about the unconscious feminine and masculine psychology. Did it help that you both were of opposite gender?
S: It helped to really define the concept and refine it. I think that we have both a strong personality. Our imagination met somewhere between the dream and the reality, but I do not think it is a question of gender but more of a look at the world that we live in.
MS: I would only do this project with Séb as an individual, regardless if he were a female, male or transgender. His research and sensitivity to the subject was what was important for me. He was good in pushing the limits. Since we were living in a different place and culture, this made the project even richer.
What was the challenges of working together?
S: One big challenge was the transatlantic work, me being in Switzerland and Melissa in Indonesia. Jumping from one idea to the next, reading about playing cards, magic andold legends. The challenge for me was to fit into Melissa’s aesthetics, most collaborative project fail because the style is not merged into one. I wanted to blend with her particular vision. At the end as Carl Jung says: once you found your Anima, you become complete. The strength of the result is the addition of our skills.
MS: The best approach for us was not to be egoistic. The rule of engagement was: never to repeat a drawing. So both of us learnt to accept our mistakes and to work with the original sketch with all its imperfections until we find a composition that gives the sketch a respectable stage.
Did this exploration of the subconscious mind made you more aware of your artistic exploration?
S: It made me aware that with a bit of imagination, a lot of passion, anybody can make beautiful things happen. Any subconscious mind wants to be happy, loved, and appreciated. I guess this is why people to art. To feel connected to the world.
MS: What I learned the most from this collaboration was that one should always place great care into the details of the work. We can find a whimsical luxury in such a simple project, if we put our hearts into it.
How far did you personally go to reveal segments of your subconscious self? Were their any important realizations?
S: I reveal segments of my mind in this project, that is a fact, but my job is to draw and the job of the people who like the cards is to read between the lines, there are thousands of interpretations and details. Each of them opens a door to a different world, it is up to the people to explore, as what I did with Melissa on this project.
MS: The most important personal realization for me was that reasons cannot stand by itself in our civilization. Our mind should be supported by a healthy body and sensitive intuition, in order to make a wise decision.
– Tulisan Chronicles Team