Sunday, June 16, 2024
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Brunei Town

A passion for art

Rizal Faisal

Art evolves with time and its purposes have changed along with the generation, such as to influence change. However, it mainly aims to please and educate.

Many people pick up art as a hobby and more often than not, it turns into a main venture. This is also the case for a local woman Joanita, who is a digital illustrator and a sentimental artist at heart.

‘Jellybeandreams’ is her full time venture, taking on commissions and illustrative work for corporate clients. One of her biggest canvases has been the oceanic-themed walls of the children’s ward and floor installations of the oncology wards at Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha (RIPAS) Hospital.

In the last two years, she launched four new products that have garnered international interest: Baby’s Blessed Milestones; Beautiful Brunei – a memory/matching game; Moons & Masjids; and a Wildlife edition in 2022. Baby’s Blessed Milestones and Moons & Masjids are now sold in Singapore, Dubai, Oman, Australia and just recently, Kinokuniya in Malaysia.

Baby’s Blessed Milestones was also selected by Darussalam Enterprise (DARe) in 2022 for Brunei’s pavilion at the World Expo in Dubai.

Joanita in Kinokuniya, Kuala Lumpur where Milestone cards and Moons & Masjids are stocked. PHOTOS: JOANITA
Joanita’s mural in Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha Hospital
FROM LEFT: Baby’s Blessed Milestones was selected by DARe for Brunei’s pavilion at the World Expo in Dubai; and Moons & Masjids

When asked how she discovered her passion for art, Joanita said, “I was that child who was always armed with a paintbrush. In my higher education, graphic design and animation were modules I particularly enjoyed. I went on to pursue an MA in International Politics but after the birth of my daughter I decided to take a little break from the corporate life which led to the unexpected path of starting ‘Jellybeandreams’.

“I was first inspired to create whimsical nursery prints to decorate my daughter’s room. Commissions started rolling in and soon the range of products grew from collections for children to wedding pieces, corporate commissions, licensing of my artwork and most recently venturing into products like milestone cards and matching games.

“Beautiful Brunei and Wildlife matching games were inspired by my children who were looking for a game that represented their own country and environment. The illustrations feature uniquely ‘Bruneian’ things – from the national Simpor flower, food, animals, local sceneries, traditional games like Congkak and landmarks like Kampong Ayer.

“Moons & Masjids follows the same gameplay, based on the five pillars of Islam,” she elaborated.

Joanita said while they are stocked locally in selected shops, most of her portfolio and creative works can be found on Instagram.

When asked about her most rewarding project, she said, “In 2019, I was asked by the Children’s Cancer Foundation (YASKA) to brighten up the corridors leading to their therapy rooms. This is where art is really magical – in its power to turn clinical, empty spaces into warm and inviting areas for children.

“I did a creative take on simple themes like snakes and ladders, mazes and hopscotch so children could engage in a positive way with the space. One of the designs shows a girl in a cape and this was inspired by the super hero children that walk through those doors.”

Joanita highlighted that it is not easy being a one-woman show. “The week gets pretty full! From responding to clients, working through commissions, framing of artwork, photographing and styling, stocking at shops, linking with stores and scheduling time to think about new product ideas.”

Asked about her future plans, Joanita revealed that for 2023, she will be embarking on a journey towards expanding her product range to include puzzles and a children’s storybook.

“There is so much talent in Brunei! Globally, the landscape is changing in terms of job opportunities,” said Joanita, urging youth to take up the challenge.

She gave words of encouragement to the youths, saying, “Nurture new skills; don’t be afraid to try out your ideas. Build up a portfolio. The world is a big space and we need more Bruneian talent to fill it with.”