Seeing Mundane Things through Marshella Jastine's Eyes

Fashion styling, artistic direction, photography, installations, to product design—various forms of visual art across mediums have been explored by Marshella Jastine, a multi-talented creative director whose works and track record are no strangers in the world of fashion, design, and art. Marshella Jastine's artistic direction has birthed brand identities, products, and editorial pages that have captured the attention of many. Alongside her team at MJ Office, which she established, Marshella Jastine breaks the boundaries of design and visual exploration in realizing her creations.

To Grafis Masa Kini, Marshella Jastine admitted that she has been interested in exploring various fields since she was young. "You could say, I wanted to do a lot of things," Marshella said, starting the conversation. The creative world has been Marshella's playground since she was in elementary school—evident from the accessories business she ran while still wearing a white-red uniform. While in high school, instead of being bothered by house renovation processes, Marshella was intrigued to meet the architect. Having an interest in many things used to be a concern for Marshella. "I once thought, 'Oh, I like so many things, how can I focus?'" Marshella recounted. In college, Marshella chose a major that aligned with her interest in the creative world: Fashion Media and Industry. After obtaining her bachelor's degree and returning to Indonesia, Marshella worked as a Digital Editor at Dew Magazine, a renowned lifestyle, fashion, and creative world magazine. "While working at Dew Magazine, I met Fbudi (Felicia Budi), a fashion designer who became my first professional workplace in the fashion world. There I handled almost everything: marketing, styling, creative work. That's where I started to get to know the Indonesian creative industry," Marshella revealed. Reflecting on her career journey flowing like water, Marshella admitted that she isn't the ambitious type in her creative work. "I'm more organic. If there's an opportunity that I feel is good for me and I'm capable of, I'll take it. Sometimes even today, I can't believe I've reached this point."

Marshella Jastine's work began with fashion styling for various brands or publications. Gradually, Marshella ventured into branding, graphics, interior design, and architecture. "During college, I enjoyed graphics and often got asked by friends to create their branding. Turns out, it's fun!" Marshella said. In interior design and architecture, Marshella was initially asked to create a concept for a store. "Since I didn't have a background in interior or architecture education, I just drew with a pencil and handed it over to the contractor," Marshella recalled. All the creative practices Marshella undertook began as experiments that she then pursued seriously. "Until eventually, I could have an office and hire architects, and interior designers, so that the concept could be worked on from start to finish. All of this can be said because of timing, luck, hard work, and the joy of work," she added.

Like her career journey, Marshella Jastine's creative process is highly dynamic and versatile. Simple and everyday things can inspire Marshella in her creative endeavors. "For example, when I'm in the car, on the road, or even on vacation, I can be inspired by simple things, like when I see a bucket on the road tied in a particular way, I think, 'Wow, it's cute to make something like that!' Mainly, I'm inspired by the mundane life," Marshella said. In her daily life, Marshella holds the value of living consciously because she realizes that everything around her can fuel her creative process. "For instance, I notice, 'Why do I keep seeing butterflies today? Why do I notice certain textures today?' All these coincidences influence my creative process," she explained. With this process, Marshella acknowledges that she primarily works with feelings. Balancing with logic was something new that Marshella learned when she had to manage her business alone without any partner's assistance. As an artist, Marshella also believes that works created with feeling are more satisfying. According to Marshella, this creative process full of spontaneity and emotions is a suitable working pattern for her. When working on various projects, Marshella usually takes note of interesting things she encounters throughout the day so that when she's on the field, she already knows what she wants to do. "Most of the time, I already know what I want to do. It's all because I follow my feelings from the beginning. Then, I explore the materials to be used. The more I go somewhere, the more I research, the more I see industry developments, the more interested I become in trying out various materials and mediums."


In the creative world, visual identity is often something designers and visual artists pay attention to. With versatile works and cross-medium practices, Marshella Jastine has never attempted to create a persona or visual identity. "Everyone says, 'This work is so MJ (Marshella Jastine)!' I can't explain how. I've never tried to create a persona," Marshella revealed. For Marshella, identity has become a part of every human being, which then, for every artist, can be translated through their work. "If we're honest with ourselves and in our work, the identity will naturally flow because our choices and ideas in our work are our identity," she explained. Personal growth also influences the forms of Marshella's works, eventually giving rise to a natural visual identity. "I feel like the persona forms naturally. If asked why I chose this or that form, I also don't know. Usually, everything comes from everyday life and my own story, like when I'm heartbroken or happy. So, what is MJ? Well, no one can explain." With the flexibility of this visual identity, Marshella feels more liberated in exploring forms and mediums when working on client briefs. For Marshella, as a creative worker, she must act like a doctor who responds to clients' "complaints" in designing their branding. Marshella's idealism as an artist will be adjusted to the client's needs. "When working on projects for clients, I always talk to them first. I want to know what they want. Communication is the key. I never worked on projects with the desire to change the client 180 degrees," Marshella said. Every collaboration project, whether a passion project or for a client, becomes an opportunity for Marshella to learn to listen and give opinions.

Speaking of collaborations, Marshella enjoyed all the collaboration processes with renowned brands, both locally and internationally, most of which originate from the fashion world. One collaboration that left a lasting impression on Marshella's life was Kojo x Marshella Jastine. "In that project, I could create my own clothes. Until then, I had worked on other people's fashion products and had never made my own. Thanks to the collaboration with Kojo, I gained the experience of making my own clothes," Marshella shared. Another interesting collaboration for Marshella was Just Things for Footurama. "During the pandemic, along with Footurama, I produced furniture under the name Just Things, using my own name 'Jastine.' It was exciting because I made furniture based on feelings," she revealed. This collaboration allowed Marshella to learn from her surroundings and give the objects emotions by modifying them into various forms, such as lamps made from pudding molds and cups personified with feelings. Initially, Marshella worked on these collaborations alone until the desire to share the workload emerged, prompting her to build her own team. Working with a team certainly poses its own challenges, but Marshella believes that in this creative industry, every person must be able to work with and build relationships with others. "With a team, not only are we assisted, but we also learn from them. I believe that we should strive to build good relationships with others in this industry as much as possible. What we plant, well, that's what grows."

A decade of working in this rapidly growing industry has not been easy for Marshella, especially with the gender imbalance. Marshella has experienced a winding path as a young female creative director leading the field. "I started working at a young age, around 20 or 21 years old. Being looked down upon happened often. As a woman, I'm often not taken seriously. When working on serious projects, meeting seniors, company executives, I am challenged to hold my ground and not falter, to believe in myself," Marshella expressed. The tears and wounds that Marshella has endured have become her strength to this day. "I believe if you've never fallen, you wouldn't know what it's like to stand again." According to Marshella, failure is normal, especially in the creative industry. At the beginning of her career, Marshella felt the need to prove herself, but now and in the future, Marshella just wants to continue doing what she loves and enjoy every journey because, for her, the process is just as important as the result. With her achievements in the creative industry, Marshella has also learned to remain humble but not demeaning. This awareness drives Marshella to explore many more things in the future and provide a safe space for many others in the creative industry.

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.