Sharin Yofitasari: An Indonesian Motion Designer in Australia

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Sharin Yofitasari in Melbourne. Source: Personal documentation
Sharin Yofitasari in Melbourne. Source: Personal documentation

“Sharin Yofitasari is an Indonesian motion designer who has been spending most of her professional career in Australia. In this article, she shared her adventure from a Bachelor of Design graduate at RMIT to a motion design specialist.”

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“In order to achieve what you really want, you have to block the noise, work hard and believe in yourself.”

I grew up as this shy girl who was told to believe that she was average. I was not as smart as my brothers were. I had to study two times harder in order to get good grades. I am an introvert by nature. However, I was a big dreamer as a kid. Even though my dreams were high, it was hard for me to achieve anything because I believed I was average. But I knew that I wanted to be more than what I was.

I went to Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) in Australia, studying Bachelor of Design (Animation and Interactive Media). My portfolio when I applied was okay – I mostly had drawings and one animation that was rather bad. However, I eventually got a conditional offer from RMIT – but I had to take a 6 month foundation course before starting the actual study. At that time, I was not surprised – I thought I was not good anyway. As soon as I started my first day, I knew there was a lot I needed to improve. I was not confident in speaking English and I was a shy person in general. It was hard to make friends at the start, especially having barely any Indonesians in the course.

RMIT University, Melbourne Australia. Source: Shaun Low on Unsplash
RMIT University, Melbourne Australia. Source: Shaun Low on Unsplash

I think the fact that there were not many Indonesians in my course kind of pushed me even more to get out of my comfort zone. Slowly but surely, I made friends with my fellow uni mates – not only from Australia but also from other countries. It was an interesting experience for me to be exposed to different cultural backgrounds and identities.

We studied from the basic of animation & storytelling to more specific subjects like 2D, 3D, motion graphics and interactive media. Initially, I wanted to focus on 3D animation. Therefore, when we got to the point where we could pick subjects, I chose 3D animation and motion graphics. That’s when I realised that I was more drawn to motion graphics.

After I graduated, I tried to get as much experience as I could. I applied to be an intern with this then-music website Vulture Magazine, to do video editing and animation. It was such a great experience because I gained valuable experiences to edit videos that are music industry related, as well as met some of the musicians (Glass Animals, Milky Chance, and many more). I made a good relationship with my then-mentor, Michelle Pitiris, who happens to be one of Australia’s leading music photographers. Through the relationship with her, I got so many music related gigs.

Mallrat's Rockstar music video by Sharin Yofitasari. Source: Mallrat
Mallrat’s Rockstar music video by Sharin Yofitasari. Source: Mallrat

After the internship over, I actually had to go back home because my student visa expired. But I knew I wanted to go back to Melbourne. I fell in love hard with the city – like many do after living or studying here. This was the point when I started to struggle so much.

The only way for me to go back was by applying for Work and Holiday Visa. For some reasons at that time, it was extremely difficult to get one. I had to go back and forth to the immigration office, bombard the officers on the progress of the visa. Meanwhile, I kept applying for jobs in Melbourne. I used to send emails to more than 10 studios. Many would reply back, but most of them could not grant me a full time job because of my situation. Months passed, there was no progress.

Sharin, her relatives, and Happy Sad Man director Genevieve Bailey, posing in front of Happy Sad Man poster. Source: Personal documentation
Sharin, her relatives, and Happy Sad Man director Genevieve Bailey, posing in front of Happy Sad Man poster. Source: Personal documentation

Some people did not believe that I could go back, let alone get a full time job in Melbourne. I had someone told me that it was impossible for me to get the visa – simply because their friends failed to get it. My parents were probably unsure if I could do it either. I had no visa, no job offers. It was quite understandable why people just shrugged my efforts off. However, being underestimated like that eventually made me wanted to try even more.

One day, I got a reply from this studio. The next thing you know, they offered me a full time job as a Junior Motion Designer. It was with an architectural viz company FloodSlicer. After months of hard work and struggles, I got offered a job. The timing was perfect too, because not long after that, I was granted my Work and Holiday Visa. This was all happened in seven months. Throughout seven months I pushed myself, ignored the judgments, and held on to the thought that I can do this. I left Jakarta and started my new life. This was when I became financially independent from my parents.

Sharin Yofitasari mentioned in Happy Sad Man's film credits. Source: Happy Sad Man
Sharin Yofitasari mentioned in Happy Sad Man’s film credits. Source: Happy Sad Man

After 6 months working at FloodSlicer, my boss decided to sponsor me which allowed myself for applying the Employer Sponsored Visa (457). Then, three years later, after a long journey, I was granted my Permanent Residency. Remember when someone told me I could not even get a Work and Holiday Visa?

The working experience at FloodSlicer enabled myself to grow so much as a creative individual, and as a person in general. At one point, my senior left the company and I was the only Motion Designer. It was a new experience for me to be doing the motion design for the company myself. It was tough but I actually learned a lot from it.

Whilst working with FloodSlicer, I did some freelance jobs too. I would work after hours and on the weekends. They were just small projects for extra money and to grow my networks and skills. I would go through creative jobs website and look for “animator wanted” post. I would also email people and asked if they want an animation content. It was exhausting but it was rewarding. I decided to leave FloodSlicer after 4 years because I felt like it was time for me to move on. Also, I have always wanted to work for myself, in other words, freelancing.

Montaigne's EuroVision performance with animated visuals. Source: SBS
Montaigne’s EuroVision performance with animated visuals. Source: SBS

And now here I am, working for myself. The life of a freelancer is not as glamorous as I thought it would be. This is because you need to take care of a lot of things: you manage your own time and finance, find your own clients, sometimes you have to come up with concepts and also do the technical work. Nevertheless, it is actually very fulfilling. So far, I have been working for Dan Murphy’s, Stomping Ground Beer & Movember, local artist Mallrat for her animated music video, many other lyric videos, Montaigne for her EuroVision performance visuals, and many more.

Screenshot of Dan Murphy's Cellar Release Film. Source: Dan Murphy's
Screenshot of Dan Murphy’s Cellar Release Film. Source: Dan Murphy’s

Most of my jobs came from word of mouth. This is why networking and keeping good relationships with people are important. You can start with your uni mates or you can go to creative meetups/events. Introduce yourself and your work by emailing studios. Showreel or portfolio is extremely important for an artist/designer. Personality is also important. Clients like to work not just with a talented person, but also with good personality.

There is a lot to learn, and I am still learning a lot myself as well. However, it’s baby steps. We have to start somewhere and do it bit by bit to get there. Most importantly, we need believe in ourselves and keep pushing through, but do not forget to take care of our mental health as well. I am forever thankful to the people that have helped me along the way. Also, when someone doubts you – use that negative energy for inspiration and show them how awesome you can be. 

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Editor: Yogi Saputra Mahmud

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