The witty black hen, the tale of dog and monkey, ghosts and wandering souls keep “haunting” Monez. The stories of them, which he heard from his parents and neighborhood back in the 80s and 90s, still alive on his “fableous” mind. He transforms them all into a new visual form, his authentic art: the colorful monsters of Monez.
Animals and mythical creatures that live in Balinese fables and folktales become his primary inspiration for creating illustrations. From his grandfather, who painted wayang on glass, Monez was first acquainted with drawing techniques. He was deeply impressed by the power of visual narrative. From a library, owned by a local school where his father worked as administrative staff, he borrowed as many books as he wanted. He devoured The Adventures of Tintin, The Famous Five, Goosebumps, and various books that expanded his visual references.
Monez formulates his childhood memories, the elements of Bali’s tradition, and knowledge he gained from education, 8 years of working in a garment company, the internet, and other explorations to develop his illustration style. As a result, he creates unique monsters characters that appear as fun and playful with their vibrant colors inspired by pop art. He called his style “Fablelous,” derived from the words fable and fabulous.
The image of his monsters contrasts with the ghost stories or mythical creatures in Bali, which are mostly known to be scary visually and narratively. “The ghost world might be exciting and wonderful too!” he said. For him, monster is also a metaphor of zest for life. Everyone has “it” inside themselves as something that spurs one’s enthusiasm. It is “the monster” within Monez’s mind that encourage him to have the audacity to pursue his career. To be an illustrator was not a dream job in his community; moreover, the industry is not well-established in Bali. He started everything out from scratch. This spirit is manifested in the logo of his brand: a red monster with no hands and feet. “We don’t need to be perfect to start, but we need to do the very best we can, ” he said.
As a result of hardwork and dedication, his art has been recognized and exhibited in Asia, Africa, Europe, Australia, and the United States. Monez has collaborated with Apple, O’NEILL, Starbucks, Walt Disney Indonesia, Grab, Havaianas, Bali Zoo, and other big companies. He was commissioned by Affinity Designer and Procreate, a prominent illustration application. His art appeared on various social-environmental campaigns and children’s books collaborated with American and Australian authors. When you are in Bali, you can also find his murals in several restaurants and hotels.
Besides that, Monez also has a personal project called MONSTERO, a clothing brand established in 2009. MONSTERO’s apparels use his monsters characters as the brand identity. Until recently, he still works on this dream project. In the future, he wants his monsters to come to life as 3D toys and other forms. “Bali has a myriad of talented people. I hope I could collaborate with more of them not only to enhance this project but also to create a better creative industry in Bali.” He acknowledges that Bali has cultural assets, but more managerial and marketing skills are needed as well, so we can present it properly to a wider market in today’s digital world.
Monez or Ida Bagus Ratu Antoni Putra was born in Tabanan, 28 April 1981. Monez is his nickname and the name of his illustration brand. He studied Bachelor and Master of Art at the Indonesian Institute of Arts (ISI) Denpasar. He has worked for 14 years as an illustrator, graphic designer, and pattern designer. One of the milestones in his career is when he led a Live Art session at the Apple Store in Singapore.