Interview with Meyo Meyoco on Gallery Nucleus’ Spellbinders Exhibit

Nearing the end of March, Gallery Nucleus hosted “Spellbinders,” an exhibition of brand new works by three “spellbinding” artists: Meyo Meyoco, Heikala, and Sibylline. Meyo Meyoco is an Indonesia-based artist whose works are inspired by Japanese culture. You may have seen her pastel pink floral and aquatic artwork on Instagram/Twitter or possibly own some of her pieces. And who can resist? The cute aesthetic coupled with gorgeous color arrangements of food and everyday objects are must-haves. My own wall is brightly decorated with Meyo Meyoco’s acrylic charms and prints. Although Meyo Meyoco was unable to attend the exhibit, she spoke with APA to talk about her pieces, inspirations, and favorite anime.

APA: Please tell us about yourself; how do you describe your art style?

Meyo Meyoco: Lately, I feel like my art style is this mix of pop culture stuff and dreamy, relaxing color palettes. My work has always been influenced by pop culture, particularly Japanese comics and animation, and I feel that it really shows in my style. I also feel that my style is fairly clean and simple; I don’t like using a lot of shading and prefer to use clean, simple, rounded lines. I also like using pinks and greens, which I think is very visible in my style.

APA: How was the Spellbinders event? Were you able to talk with your fans and share insight into some of your pieces?

Meyo Meyoco: Unfortunately, I could not come to the Spellbinders event due to financial reasons, but it was incredible to see my work being exhibited in another country, and particularly at Gallery Nucleus. I found out about Gallery Nucleus when I just finished high school years ago and I always dreamed of visiting the place and buying stuff from there. It’s kind of surreal that my work was exhibited there.

During the process of creating my pieces for the event, I felt particularly free to just draw things that I liked. It felt very liberating. My current reputation really stemmed from social media, so in the past few years I always put a lot of consideration into drawing things that I know my audience would enjoy. I tried to stop doing so for my pieces for the Spellbinders event, which was why it felt like I could paint anything I loved. I hope my fans who visited the event liked the result.

APA: What is the process behind your art?

Meyo Meyoco: My process is fairly straightforward I think. I always start with brainstorming for drawing ideas. When I have an idea I like, I usually already have a very clear idea of what I want the final drawing to look like. I will then make a rough sketch of the idea, proceed to making the line art, and then blocking in colors. After that, I color the line art, add color to the background, and add my watermark to the final artwork.

APA: When did you decide that art would be your career?

Meyo Meyoco: To be honest, I did not decide that art would be my career until my very last year in university. I did not study art in university and art was something I did on the side to have fun and earn money. My heart was definitely not in what I was studying and I juggled studying, art, making merch and zines, and attending conventions for four years. When I finished my studies, it wasn’t really “deciding” as much as continuing what I’ve always been doing during my university years.

APA: Who or what are the influences behind the art style that you have? A lot of your art seems to draw influence on Japanese culture.

Meyo Meyoco: The main influences behind my art style have always been Japanese comics and animation. I started drawing when I was very young because I read Japanese comics, and I watched a ton of Japanese anime until today. I also credit the way I color, which I feel cannot be separated from my style these days, to some of my favorite artists like Maruti Bitamin and Sachin Teng. I used to hate coloring and I had a really bad sense in choosing colors, but their work made me love colors.

APA: What is your favorite anime or manga?

Meyo Meyoco: My favorite anime to date is Natsume Yuujinchou! I’ve been following the series since I was in high school. I highly recommend it for anyone looking for a relaxing series with gorgeous art and music. The story is also one of the best I’ve watched so far.

APA: Are there times where you struggle with art block? How do you overcome it?

Meyo Meyoco: There are a ton of times I struggle with art blocks, particularly these days. Lately I find myself being overly fixated on social media metrics in that unless I am absolutely certain a particular drawing idea will garner a lot of likes, I will not draw it at all. I end up going through endless brainstorming cycles and getting extremely frustrated with myself. In the end I feel guilty for not drawing at all and frustrated at myself for not knowing what to draw.

What I find works to help me overcome it is to try and just stop forcing myself to draw all the time. I used to carry my iPad with me everywhere so I can “work anywhere and anytime” and I’ve been trying to stop that. Another thing that I also like to do is to simply draw things that I know I’m good at drawing. I find that it helps make me feel better about myself.

APA: What advice do you have for aspiring artists?

Meyo Meyoco: My advice for fellow artists, particularly those who use social media a lot, is to tread social media very carefully. While social media can help you gain a following and MAY help you get jobs, it can be detrimental to your mental health very quickly. Find a balance between making things that you like and things that people like. Be VERY, very careful when you start equating social media metrics to your self-worth. Always know when to start distancing yourself from social media.

Meyo Meyoco’s work can be found on her Twitter and Instagram. For those who missed the exhibition, prints and other merchandise are available through Gallery Nucleus’ website.

Kalai Chik

Pop culture writer focusing on animation, music, and games. Los Angeles native, USC alumni, and contributor for Asia Pacific Arts since 2015. Follow me on Twitter, @kalai_chik.

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