Illustrator M Wildan Cahya Syarief: ‘I love to do a hybrid between vector and raster’

Affinity user M Wildan Cahya Syarief talks to us about his life as a freelance illustrator, juggling client time zones and how his creative style and process has developed over the years.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your creative background.

Hello, my name is Muhammad Wildan Cahya Syarief, you can call me Wildan. I’m a full-time freelance illustrator from Madiun, Indonesia. I graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Visual Communication Design, but I mainly focus on illustration. I have six years of experience working as an Art Director at one of the Animation Studios based in Surabaya, Indonesia. I worked there from 2012 to the end of 2018, before I finally decided to resign to become a freelancer at the beginning of 2019.

I contract for a local studio here in Indonesia for my monthly income, mainly focusing on illustrations, but I do all the work 100% remotely at home. I’ve been working for them for about a year now, but I can’t share any artwork because it’s covered by a Non-Disclosure Agreement.

What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a freelancer? And how have you overcome them?

One of the biggest challenges as a freelancer for me is time management and also the different time-zone issues with the client overseas.

So, I have to make a regular work schedule so that everything can run smoothly. I schedule in which projects to work on first based on the deadline date, arrange some time to make some personal portfolio work to post on social media and I also spare some time to spend with my family.

I also get some projects from abroad but the time-zones are very different. For example, sometimes when it’s morning or afternoon where my clients are, where I am it is about time to go to sleep. So to fix this, I tell the client about this time-zone issue at the beginning of the project, provide progress periodically before I go to sleep, and then ask them to describe and give me very detailed feedback, so after I get up in the morning, I can immediately work on the revisions they’ve already provided.

How would you describe your style? Has it changed much since you first started out?

If you notice my illustration style, especially for characters, is all faceless. Why? Because I just want to focus more on the activities happening in the scene. So I’ll be telling a story about the situation/activities, just based on how the character acts, without showing any expression at all. It’s quite a challenge to describe the situation even though the characters are faceless, but you can still catch the story behind it. It’s also quite a popular style nowadays.

I love to do a hybrid between vector and raster style, rather than just flat illustration. Vector is used for the base shape and object, then using raster brings more depth and value, and also adds some texture to make it more interesting. I also often use more vibrant colours than soft colours and some gradients and highlights to add more depth. I have changed my style a bit, from a curvy line to a more geometric one.

What appeals to you most about vector-based illustration?

Hmm, the main reason is maybe that vector doesn’t lose

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