Grabbing some beers with Aras Darmawan

Although we already arrived safe and sound in San Francisco last friday, we’re still not done talking about New York City. Because last week we also met up with Aras Darmawan to get something to eat and some beers at the Shake Shack!
Aras originally comes from Indonesia but studied in the Netherlands, was an intern at Onesize and later worked at PostPanic before moving all the way here to NYC and freelance for companies like Tronic.
If you’re not familiar with his work,, go check out his portfolio over here!

We had an appointment at a Shake Shack in Manhattan at 7PM. We arrived a bit late (7.30PM) because of a bad metro connection. Nevertheless Aras was waiting for us in the overcrowded Shake Shack. We ordered some food and beers and were forced to sit outside since there was no place in the restaurant itself.

We talked a bit about the city and what we’ve been up to in NYC and the fact that we’re totally going to miss the St. Patrick’s day parade because we’re traveling to San Francisco just one day before the parade!
We asked about his time in the Netherlands and he told us that he didn’t go to an art/film school but just studied communication in Enschede. When he saw the showreel of Onesize he was blown away and applied for an internship. But since he didn’t have any experience his application got denied and he did his internship at some other company that makes commercials to get to know more of the techniques and build some portfolio. He convinced his school that he wanted to do a second internship but this time at Onesize. After they approved he applied again for an internship and got invited for an interview. He decided to make a small presentation for the interview and tried to remake a couple seconds of one of their productions. To really show that he want’s to make productions like they do. When he showed the presentation at Onesize they laughed and told him he had the job, “Can you start tomorrow!?”.
He traveled every day from Enschede to Amsterdam and back, that’s a commute of over 4 hrs a day for an internship,, that takes some real motivation!

We asked Aras what he wants to bring with his productions in this motion business, how does he define his own style? First of all he says his focus is with the story a productions tells. You can experiment with techniques all you want, but it must always say something. That’s also why he’s now more specializing in ‘design’. Here in NYC you can’t do it all, you’re either an animator, an editor, a compositor, a designer or whatever. Although he can do animation projects he tries to do more design. His advice is also: if you already know what you want, go for it and specialize in it. Don’t always try to do it all. When he still worked in Amsterdam he always wondered why there are so many credits on some productions. But now he completely understands, a production will be so much better when specialized people are working on it. If one guy only focusses on animation, he will make that animation way better than if also had to focus on modeling and/or compositing as well. It’s pretty cool to hear how his perspective at the motion business has changed since he started working here in NYC.

Secondary to the fact he’s focussed on the story and design, he also has a certain style in his work. He likes to make things super realistic, but not in a way you think it’s real like in special FX. But impossible realistic things; “you know it’s not real.. but it looks so real.. is it real?” I hope that explains it, but if you look at Aras his portfolio you will definitely know what we’re talking about.

But how do you keep pushing your boundaries as a creative in a city like this? There are so many opinions of agency’s and clients, how can you set your own personal learning goals in this business? Aras believes, just like us and many other creatives, that there is no end in developing yourself and learning new things. But he has a pretty cool method how he has set his ‘learning goals’ so far. When he started his internship at Onesize he really wanted to be able to make productions like them. After he worked with them for a while and got confident he could make productions like they do, he asked Rogier (owner of Onesize) what his biggest inspiration was to start in this business and do what he does so good. He told he was really inspired by the guys of PostPanic where he did his internship. Later Aras applied for a job at PostPanic and got familiar with their skills. The guys from PostPanic were always really inspired by the guys who are working in NYC.. and look where Aras is now!? Yes indeed, NYC!

“Look at the guys who inspired the directors/designers you are inspired by and you will get just as good as they are!” Always keep raising your bar and never be satisfied with being able to do the things you already know.

Thanks Aras for this advice and inspirational talk! It was great to connect with you and we’re keeping an eye out for your upcoming new showreel!

Jordi & Daan