Lutfi Aufar's Artistic Journey in Discovering His Identity

In the world of illustrations, Lutfi Aufar stands out with his bold lines, vibrant colors, and distinctive texture of the airbrush. Currently working as a designer at ILOVEDUST, a renowned design agency in Brighton and Hove, England, Lutfi's illustrations have become easily recognizable, making him a unique artist. However, his journey in the creative industry, both locally and internationally, was not without its ups and downs. Finding the identity that now defines his work was a process that required time and perseverance.

When Lutfi first entered the creative industry, he experimented with simpler illustration styles compared to his current work. He delved into various references, exploring artistic styles from Pinterest to works of renowned artists found online. Eventually, he stumbled upon the 80s airbrush illustration style, a technique popularized by artists like George Petty, Alberto Vargas, and later embraced by pop artist James Rosenquist. The airbrushing computer program was invented in the early 1980s, which creates a similar effect in a digital format.

Lutfi expressed his fascination with the 80s airbrush style, saying, "I was drawn to the 80s airbrush style because it felt more liberated, dynamic, and expressive."

Lutfi initially tried this style in 2018 using vector-based illustrations. As he delved deeper into the technique and discovered a strong affinity for it, airbrushing became his signature style. According to Lutfi, this style allows him to convey messages through his artwork more effectively. Despite the patience required for the intricate details involved, he enjoys every step of the process, finding meaning in the creation of his works.

Beyond his technical uniqueness, Lutfi Aufar is recognized for his football-themed illustrations. His artwork often features prominent football players such as Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappé, as well as football clubs like Chelsea F.C. and various Premier League teams. Growing up passionate about football, Lutfi saw it as a captivating theme for his visual art. The cheers of football fans in stadiums left a lasting impression on him, becoming a sentiment he aims to capture in his football-themed illustrations.

"I feel inspired by the choreography or banners of supporters I've seen in many football matches. That feeling is what I want to bring to some of my football-themed works," explained Lutfi Aufar.

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Creating football-themed artwork serves as a motivating factor for Lutfi Aufar to remain productive. As an artist, the demand to continually produce art is inevitable, especially in a rapidly evolving and innovative creative industry. Lutfi believes that enjoying the creative process is crucial.

"I believe enjoying the creative process is essential," emphasized Lutfi Aufar.

Like any artist, Lutfi experiences periods of creative block or running out of ideas. To rejuvenate his mind, he turns to activities such as sports, prayer, and spending time with his family. However, Lutfi sees creative blocks as integral to the artistic process, something to be embraced by artists.

Lutfi Aufar's extensive journey in the creative industry began when he interned at FULLFILL Studio as one of his university programs. Lutfi said that he had no idea what it was like to work in a design studio at that time. After successfully obtaining a bachelor's degree and armed with work experience during an internship, Lutfi Aufar finally worked at VISIOUS Studio. In the same place, Lutfi Aufar was first introduced to ILOVEDUST, where he works now.

“I remember on my first day of work, my director at that time showed me the ILOVEDUST Instagram. It's cool, especially since they [have] a lot of football clients. I became motivated by their works and little by little I understood more about the world of design and illustration," said Lutfi.

Lutfi is increasingly active in learning and gaining new knowledge related to design and illustration. He admitted that he got references and ideas from friends at VISIOUS until invitations for freelance projects and exhibitions slowly started coming. At that time, Lutfi also began to learn to build his identity as an artist through these opportunities.

The experience and knowledge that Lutfi had gained while working in various design studios in Indonesia finally brought him to the United Kingdom when he received an offer as a freelance designer at SHOTOPOP, a design and illustration studio. For two weeks, Lutfi experienced working remotely with a foreign studio. Often posting his works on Instagram, including at SHOTOPOP, Lutfi casually follows designers at ILOVEDUST. Unexpectedly, the response Lutfi received was positive that he had the opportunity to interact with designers at the studio.

“We often interact about several things, from design to football. I also started praying, hopefully, Allah will open a way so I can work at ILOVEDUST," said Lutfi.

Lutfi's constant hard work and prayers bore fruit when the Creative Director of ILOVEDUST, Mark Graham, followed Lutfi Aufar's Instagram account and invited him to join the studio. Lutfi also had to go through a series of negotiations because Mark Graham wanted Lutfi to work in England, while Lutfi was reluctant to leave because there were many things to consider. Finally, the decisions of both parties found a middle ground. Lutfi Aufar also got the opportunity to work remotely at ILOVEDUST. Despite the challenge of working remotely with an international agency, Lutfi appreciates the experience. The slightly inverted working hours to accommodate the UK time zone didn't dampen his enthusiasm; instead, he feels fortunate to work and learn in a supportive and appreciative environment.

"In my opinion, playing wild and being effective are the keys. At ILOVEDUST, we're encouraged to play as wildly as possible, explore all potential to produce works that not only meet clients' needs but also inject the ILOVEDUST identity into them," shared Lutfi.

In his work process with ILOVEDUST, Lutfi said that he maintained effectiveness as much as possible by making a rough composition first. This is proof of the initial progress provided to the client. According to Lutfi, this process helped him save time and allowed him and his colleagues to explore other possibilities that could strengthen the work being produced. During his time at ILOVEDUST, Lutfi worked on designs for his dream clients such as Nike, EA Sport, MTV, NBA, and Premier League.

"I felt inferior at the beginning, but I feel grateful because I was finally able to adapt and have colleagues who are supportive and appreciative even though so far we have only interacted online. I am also grateful to have had the opportunity to work on several clients that I have always dreamed of," said Lutfi Aufar.

While actively engaged with a foreign design agency, Lutfi remains connected to the creative industry in Indonesia. He expresses joy in witnessing a flourishing art ecosystem with artists supporting each other. The works of local artists serve as inspiration for Lutfi, motivating him to continue creating.

"I'm delighted to see designers and artists who are close-knit and supportive in Indonesia. They organize events to showcase their works or those of fellow artists. Their works have been my inspiration until now," said Lutfi Aufar.

Lutfi strives to change the perception of "intense competition" in both local and international creative industries. For him, such labels are exhausting for creative professionals, as each designer or artist possesses a unique style that cannot be compared. To Lutfi Aufar, "learning" is a fitting word to describe his journey in the creative industry. His desire to learn continuously propels him forward.

"I try to keep learning from those who have experience in the creative industry, both locally and internationally. Hopefully, in the future, I can share the knowledge gained with those who want to learn and delve into the art of design and creativity, especially in Indonesia," concluded Lutfi Aufar.

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About the Author

Alessandra Langit

Alessandra Langit is a writer with seven years of diverse media experience. She loves exploring the quirks of girlhood through her visual art and reposting Kafka’s diary entries at night.