In the Artist’s Words:
The idea for this image began to coalesce around the contrast between the shape of an individual and the shape of a society, a sentiment expressed in the story itself. I wanted to use the visual language of colonial portraiture as a way to talk about the effects of slavery and empire; the clothing and pose are based on two well-known portraits of Daendels, yet his face is erased. In variants of this image, the faces of Javanese labourers on the Great Post Road and other workers are present in the background, staring at the viewer. All the drawings and textures in this illustration were created traditionally with pencil or gel printing and assembled in Photoshop.
Charis is a book and map illustrator based in Malaysia on the sunny and stormy equator. She makes richly-layered covers and maps that convey stories and cultures, and has worked on stories by Fonda Lee, Hannah Whitten, Kacen Callender, Andrea Stewart, Judy I. Lin, M. L. Wang, and Hanna Alkaf. Charis combines her training in biochemistry, community arts, and sociology to approach varied subjects and fantasy worlds. She also edits and curates non-fiction comics and illustrations for Southeast Asian nonprofits and publishers. Find her work at charisloke.com and @charisloke on IG and Twitter.