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Drawing her Dreams Come True
Updated 2017-10-17
Kathrin hopes that her experience will be able to help the students, “…the only way to do great work is to love what you do”.

The One Academy is known for its Masters Train Masters teaching philosophy that constantly encourages external mentorships by experts in their respective fields. Kathrin Honesta had attended many of the talks by professionals when she was still studying here. But this time, she is one of them, being invited to deliver a sharing to her juniors, making it a surreal experience for her.

Kathrin is an illustrator and graphic designer based in Jakarta, Indonesia. After graduating in 2014, she was hired by Leo Burnett, one of the top advertising agencies in Kuala Lumpur, due to her impressive portfolio The Undaunted Dandelion, an illustrative story book about her own journey, which she developed under the guidance of Debbie Chin, Deputy Head of Advertising & Graphic Design.

Initially, graphic design was her first choice of study because she has always wanted to pursue art for a career. Despite having the natural talent to draw, she did not want illustration to be her main focus. Only throughout her college years did she realise that most of her works have strong illustration elements that reminded her where her real passion lies.

At the agency, she was able to explore and refine her skills in design. Kathrin remembered the first brand she was placed under, the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, where she provided designs for T-shirts, posters and promotional collaterals for the Masjid Jamek LRT Station.

“Working in an ad agency was a very interesting experience, as I’ve met a lot of cool and talented people. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the experience,” Kathrin said.

Besides agency works that are rife with limitations and client requirements, she felt it crucial to have side projects of her own that will allow her to explore her feelings, moments and inspirations after office hours.

After staying for a year and a half in Leo Burnett, she finally realised that advertising was not for her and decided to pursue her own dreams. As an independent freelancer, Kathrin works from publishing companies, advertising agencies and design studios in the comfort of her own home while also creating her own personal works and commissions.

Samsung, Prudential, Naga DDB and Human After All Studio are some of her clients. Many of her other portfolio include book publishing companies Penguin Random House, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Scholastic Asia and Holiday House Books. Their prevalence explains her infatuation with creating picture books.

“I enjoy working with writers and making picture books for children because I get to create characters and I really enjoy translating narration to illustrations,” Kathrin said, with an upcoming picture book in progress.

As someone who has been there and done that, she advised students to find time for personal works because without them, Kathrin’s chances of publishing children books would have been much slimmer. “You have to show your future clients what you can do in order for them to hire you.”

She felt lucky that back in her agency days, she met copywriter Ong Kay Jen who is now her long-time partner who shares the same value, vision and passion for picture books. Following the positive response of their first book ‘The Shadow & The Star’, they aim to create a new story every year.

This project eventually led her to ‘#Stop Nursery Crimes’, an awareness campaign highlighting the issues of pedophilia and sexual abuse. In collaboration with Naga DDB and P.S. The Children, Kathrin’s picture book-styled illustrations were used and the campaign did well during Kancil Awards 2017.

What she does now is very different compared to the things she learnt in graphic design, but she realises that the basic principles of design such as typography and layout were extremely helpful for her work.

Besides freelancing, Kathrin also exhibits her work to put her name out there. This year, along with other wildly talented Indonesian illustrators, she put her work out at Unknown Asia Art Exchange Osaka 2017 and Creative Expo Taiwan.

When asked about how she coped with working independently, she said that it wasn’t that hard to assimilate to that lifestyle as studying in The One Academy has prepared her for the overwhelming work load and schedule planning.

[The One Academy of Communication Design was established in 1991 with the aim of promoting the region as the world’s center of creative reference. Strategically located in the thriving creative hub of Bandar Sunway, Selangor, with a branch in Georgetown, Penang, The One Academy is today a top notch leading international institute in art, design and creative multimedia, renowned with graduates who steer successful careers in creative capitals worldwide. The courses offered are Multimedia Design with Digital Media and Interactive Design, Digital Animation with Game Development, Film Visual Effects, Illustration, Movie & Game Art, Advertising & Graphic Design, Interior Design, Paris Fashion Design & Pattern Making and Fine Arts.]

Kathrin Honesta and her picture book The Shadow & The Star at The One Academy Bandar Sunway.

Kathrin did a book signing session for her picture book The Shadow & The Star briefly after her sharing session My Journey After Graduation.