Pursuing Passion with Purpose
By Shanuka Kadupitiyage
Ceylon Today Features
It’s not easy to be a creator, especially in Sri Lanka as it is today. However, that hasn’t stopped a number of daring individuals, passionate about their art and craft in all ways possible, with little or no recognition for their hard work.
Renuka Dissanayaka, also known online as Cra3ture is one such example. Currently a student at the University of Moratuwa, Cra3ture is a man of many talents, and has been making a lot of ripples within
Sri Lanka’s creative community. Ceylon Today reached out to Cra3ture wanting to learn more about him and share his story.
Growing up a young boy in Badulla, it didn’t take long for Renuka to start drawing and pursuing creative passions. This passion to tell compelling stories only intensified as he grew older, discovering new mediums of storytelling such as anime and manga, which heavily influenced Renuka in his stories and art.
As he matured, and became more proficient in his craft, Cra3ture started to become noticed by fellow artists. “As my art got better, people started reaching out to me for commissions and to even draw the comic panels for scripts that they have written, which is still what I do as a job,” he explained.
Discovering a community
“Growing up in Badulla, I was never aware that there was a creator-community here, and it wasn’t until I got into University and became part of the Colombo art scene that I realised that there were a number of creators living in Sri Lanka, coming up with a number of great stories.”
This exposure led Renuka to encounter none other than Achinthya Amarakoon from Papadamn, one of the biggest names within the Sri Lankan creative community.
“I had been creating comics of my own during this time, although I can’t really say much about the quality of them as I was still learning how to tell stories using the medium,” he narrated. “But it was only after having the opportunity to speak with Achinthya that I decided to give a shot at creating my own story.”
“Originally, my story was meant to be a book. I started writing the entire premise and story during the time between the completion of my O Levels and throughout my A Level years,” Renuka recounted.
“The initial premise was a result of me thinking about Religion and how people sometimes want something to believe in. But as time passed and my writing as well as storytelling skills improved, the story evolved through the years.”
After years of developing a fully-fleshed out fictional world for Cra3ture’s story, which took him a couple of years, which included an entirely unique world, culture and history, the first chapter of his narrative took form in the comic that is titled, Purpose.
“Actually, Purpose was only supposed to be the name of the first chapter, not the actual story,” Renuka revealed. “But people started using the chapter’s title as the actual story’s title and so here we are.”
“When developing the world for what was to become Purpose, I wanted to create a fictional world that is far bigger than the story in comparison,” he continued. “I mainly just created the world, and decided to tell a portion of it as a story with characters in it.”
This concept bled into the development of Cra3ture’s characters in Purpose as well.
“A lot of stories I’ve read told stories of people who are special, and I wanted to tell a story of a person who is trying to keep up with a special person,” he explained.
Renuka admitted that when he posted Purpose, the first chapter, he was testing the waters so to speak. Although Facebook is not the most optimal outlet to release a comic, he shared that he initially released Purpose on the platform to gauge if there was a positive reaction for his story, which there was, much to his excitement.
Encouraged to carry on, Cra3ture aims to continue the story in Webtoon format, after doing further improvements in the art and overall flow of the story.
A future for creatives
Renuka agrees that creators struggle to make a full-time career from their talent and passion in the current circumstances as they are, “but in Colombo, there is potential. There are a number of people whom I know that make a regular earning through their creative career. But I think we need to start looking beyond the borders of Sri Lanka,” he opined, sharing his experiences working with a number of international companies that hired him for his art and animation work.
“If you’re able to broaden your horizon, you’d find an ever growing creative industry that is always in the lookout to get work done, and you can definitely be able to find work regardless of your skill level. If we are able to do that, it is quite sustainable to make a living as a creator.”
Times are changing
Although opportunities are slim for creatives in Sri Lanka, Renuka observes that the winds have changed, and the creator economy within our borders is starting to rise, growing at an increasingly rapid pace as the younger generation steps into the workforce.
“A lot of credit has to be given to the existing community of creators in the country for keeping the creative industry in the country alive, especially during the tough times,” he expressed.
“I also think it has to do with the fact that the younger generation have a deeper respect for creators and the hard work that goes behind creating art. I think that the young, current generation have a strong desire to support the creative community, which I’m grateful for as well.”
Besides creating and posting comics, Renuka pursues a number of other creative passions in parallel to his education such as his own YouTube channel, which he is already in the process of reviving with a lot of new content after being on hiatus for a period of time.
Don’t ever give up
“If you want to become an artist, creative or storyteller in Sri Lanka or anywhere, all I have to say is please do not give up. I didn’t start with any innate talent for art. All I had was a love for art which pushed me to keep practicing. I have hundreds of sketchbooks I filled out as I practiced, and I kept on practicing and continue to do so even today,” he shared.
“There might be people who are improving faster than you, but please don’t let that discourage you. Keep practicing constantly and doing what you love. There was a saying that I read once, it said that the goal in life should be to locate your passions and monetise them, and I think that holds true for everyone who is living a happy and fulfilling life, because it’s through doing the things that we love that we find meaning in life.”