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Picture perfect: Meet illustrator Jonathon

This article appears in: Alumni stories, Communications and Design, Creative and Performing Arts
Alumni awards finalist, illustrator Jonathon Saunders

Creativity and education are empowering Jonathon to draw conclusions about his future. He pictures ongoing success, and based on his current achievements, he won’t be wrong.

Jonathon is a Darwin-based Indigenous illustrator with talent at his fingertips. As a 2D animator and writer he combines his passion for the arts with striking messages of morality, identity and heroism, all set against an Australian backdrop.

Since completing his visual arts degree, Jonathon has achieved some amazing things. With several accolades already attached to his name, his fusion of comic books and activist artwork is certainly turning heads.

Art for advocacy

As a proud member of the Woppaburra people of Keppel Island in Queensland, Jonathon is an advocate for Indigenous arts and culture in the Northern Territory and beyond. His art and professional roles support, inspire and contribute to Indigenous communities in a culturally meaningful way.

Jonathon’s studies through CDU have contributed to this significantly.

“I've been artistically driven since I was young and always knew that I wanted to make a career working as either an artist or doing illustration,” he says.

“Learning the fundamentals of arts in an academic setting felt like the proper path to take and CDU’s course content was perfect.”

Drawing a crowd

Illustrator and animator Jonathon Saunders

Since graduating Jonathon has been treading a path to success.

His work has been featured in exhibitions nationally and internationally, and with funding from Screen Australia, he produced an animated TV series Zero-Point featuring an Indigenous hero from Darwin.

The mini-series won several awards including Best Animation from The Capricornia Film Awards and the Best Sound Design and Official Selection from Animation on Vegas Movie Awards.

"CDU provided the foundation for me to develop my style and build on my initial idea to create Zero-Point," he says.

Having lecturers who were practising artists themselves gave me a greater understanding of the art world and their guidance was invaluable.

The perfect combination

Combining passion with education has opened up a world of opportunities and experiences for Jonathon.

He’s participated in the British Council Accelerate Program designed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples working in the creative industries and currently works at Arnhem, Northern and Kimberley Artists (ANKA) Aboriginal Corporation.

“ANKA is the peak support and advocacy body for Aboriginal artists and Aboriginal-owned community art centres across Northern Australia,” says Jonathon.

“As Resource and Development Support Officer, my work is focused on supporting Indigenous art centres and artists through leadership.”

The completed picture

Knowing what he knows now, Jonathon's advice for his younger self rings true for anyone considering starting or returning to university. 

I’d tell my younger self not to wait to follow your passion.

"If you know what you want, get in and do it. I only wish I did it sooner.”

Jonathon has received the Special Commendation Indigenous Alumnus Award at the CDU Alumni Awards.

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