The Fog Won't Lift: An Interview with Altar of Sorrow

Posted by Stephanie Crumley on

 altar of sorrow dark ink work

Recently, we had the honor of discussing artwork with Indonesian artist Aldi Tirta Pratama, or Altar of Sorrow. He discusses his choice of pseudonym, his increased interest in digital media, and how the hell he has the patience for doing extensive stippling in his work.

altar of sorrow artwork

Please tell us your name and what you do!

Altar of Sorrow: Hello, my full name is Aldi Tirta Pratama, I am a self-taught illustrator, from Cipanas, Puncak, Indonesia. I dove into the world of illustration around 2013. My residence is nestled among tropical forests, located in the mountainous highlands at the foot of the mountain. I am interested in illustrating death, myths, the natural realm, loneliness, and sadness. I would describe my style as black and white drawings characterized by the dot work technique. I also explore different approaches in both ink on paper and digital media.

We are smitten with your pen name. How did you decide to go with Altar of Sorrow?

AoS: Wow, thank you very much! Altar is actually a continuation of my name, Aldi Tirta. That's it, nothing deeper than that. And Sorrow is anxiety from what is happening around me, like a greedy man who exploits the forest and the environment. Personally, it could be my suffering too, haha! Looks like "Multatuli" in another version. (Multatuli is a nickname of my friend's favorite author; Multatuli means people who suffers).

Altar of Sorrow Pen Ink Art

One of our biggest audiences is in Indonesia, where you create. Can you tell us a little bit about the Indonesian dark art scene and why it's thriving?

AoS: Wow, really? I honestly don't know that much about the Indonesian dark art scene. It's pretty unconnected, despite how it might be perceived online. Perhaps it is the social and environmental strife and the resulting feeling or conditions which can be applied into a form of work. I could see that being a factor.

What are five Indonesian artists that we should follow?

Aos: Cygnuslab, Ken Terror, R. Yudha Saputra, Sorrow Grips, MFAXII.

Your stippling game is unfuckwithable. Could you talk more about your creation process?

Aos: The process is pretty tiring actually, but somehow it's like a natural thing. It's strange: I will not sleep for a few days and it's just not a big deal. As far as my process, I always make a copy of the project and set up a playlist first before I start work. For me this process usually depends on mood, feelings, situations and maybe it can damage the job. After the process, little by little to get the best detail possible. And the estimated time to do stippling I can not guess fast or not, because as I say depends on the mood and situation. Here I use media pickup, just pencil, pen, and paper. Right now I'm excited to be exploring creation with digital media.

Altar of Sorrow Dark Death metal Art

What inspires the subject matter of your work?

AoS: Everyone has his own view of the natural realm. In a sense, nature can make all of the negatives of ones life feel a little better. Additionally, I'm inspired by my location: I'm nestled in between tropical forests, it automatically becomes a heavy influence on my illustration subjects. Additionally sometimes concepts also lend a more natural approach to visuals.

I love incorporating imagery that makes me feel sane in this increasingly crazy realm: examples include lush trees that make me feel calm and also make me think more clearly. Everyone craves the ability to balance the increasing anxiety, depression, or an impaired mentality, and some of those subject matters are the cures for me personally to let go of all the negatives to get a point that is important enough for today. The calm helps me live a saner life!

It seems like you do a lot of music-based commissions (shirts and album art). Two questions: 1) what is your favorite piece you've created recently and 2.) what would be your dream band to work with?

AoS: So far I loved the works I have created for Cultus Profano, Amenra, Lycus, and The Clearing Path. I want to someday be able to create or contribute works for bands like Deafheaven, Gatecreeper, Wolves in the Throne Room, Years of No Light, and honestly many, many more.

There is a lot of religious undertones (and overtones) to your work. Can you talk a little more about that? What is the role of religion in your life (specifically Christianity)?

AoS: This question really speaks to the concept process discussed between me and the client. After that, I look for what is the basis of the concept. It's not an incredibly complex, layered meaning of a work: it's mostly guided by the title, which I use as the foundation for creation. For spiritual or religious themes: there is no more meaning than what is depicted. I learn a lot from what I do about the opinion of a particular religion and it is such a unique, personal perspective that I can't do justice expressing here.

Skull art altar of sorrow

When did you know you would be an artist? Did you ever think that you were going to be something else?

AoS: Haha, from the beginning I did not know how to be an artist or anything, but the journey of life had other plans. A process brought me to this realm and I enjoyed it!

We have a lot of new artists who read this page and draw inspiration from more established artists. What sort of advice do you have for those who are trying to create artwork on a fulltime basis?

AoS: Of course, I am still studying until now, which is an important point in my opinion is do not stop learning to be something, recognize yourself more, and do not give up. Because inspiration always comes to people who want to search. 

Dark art Altar of Sorrow

How do you want people who are reading this article to support you? (Buy prints online, repost your work, etc.)

AoS: I really want to continue to work with new with people, and honestly just connecting with new people who can be friends and appreciate my work too, that's always fun and greatly appreciated. Anyone who is reading this, feel free to reach out to me on Instagram or shoot me an email to say hi!

For more of his work, check out Altar of Sorrow on Instagram

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