Budi Satria Kwan is a very popular graphic artist from Indonesia whose prints must have caught your attention. Even if you don’t know him by name you already are a fan of his great works, I assure you. He is heavily featured on great t-shirt sites and communities like Threadless, Society6, Lafraise, Design by Humans and many more. He was nice enough to sit for an interview and answered in a very honest, professional and direct way. We hope you will enjoy it because we sure did. We highly appreciate the time he took to offer us an insight into his artwork. Here goes:
Oana: Thank you so much for agreeing to do this for our readers. They are quite familiar with your work, not to mention the popularity that you’re enjoying in the t-shirt and graphic design community. But first thing’s first – Tell our readers a little about yourself: where are you from, where do you reside and what is your main profession?
Budi Satria Kwan: I am a freelance graphic maker, I was born in Indonesia. I move between Singapore/Indonesia for work purpose.
O: Why did you decide to become an illustrator?
BSK: It just happened naturally, I’ve always loved drawing ever since I was a kid. However, I started working professionally about 6 years ago.
O: Which was your first professional design and who did you do it for?
BSK: It was a two folds brochure design for a budget hostel in Makassar, Indonesia.
O: How do you approach a project? Do you work 100% digital or is there paper involved?
BSK: First I always find out if the client already has an image in mind, or if they already have an idea of what they want. Also to find out what approach they prefer and all the technical details. Sketching the idea is what comes next. Depending on the budget, I will come up with one or several possible design options. When I am given green light for the sketch, I finalize it. Usually I work 100% digital.
O: How would you describe your style?
BSK: It continuously evolves. In general, it is colorful and atmospheric or simple and meaningful.
O: What do you think makes your style of illustration distinctive?
BSK: Each artist is unique. The line stroke, the color choice, the subject matter is distinct. However, in order to know it, you have to be familiar with the artist’s works.
O: What’s one source of inspiration that never failed you?
O: Have you experienced any bad cases of designer’s block? How did you surpass it?
BSK: Yes, usually I wallow in doom until I find something that sparks my inspiration. Watching TV or browsing through graphic design books usually helps.
O: What was the hardest job you’ve ever got?
BSK: It was designing a postcard for the national art council. The timeline is short, and there are a lot of revisions, especially with the writing, sponsors’ logos and technical details.
O: Have you ever turned down a project? If yes, why?
BSK: I turned down projects mostly because of unsuitable budget (the offer is too low of course) or because of unclear direction (the potential clients do not have a clear idea of what they want).
O: Is there anything that you’ve never quite been able to depict?
BSK: Nothing that I can think of right now.
O: Do you think much of your success is the result of luck or is it solely the product of hard work, research and study?
BSK: I always think I am quite a lucky person, so it is 51-49, with 51 for luck.
O: As far as your work is concerned, which would you say is your favorite design and why?
BSK: It is simple, universal, it carries positive message. It is also dedicated to my late father.
O: How much of popular culture do you absorb in your works? Can you give us some examples?
BSK: Lately I am staying away from pop culture. I think I am not that good with pop culture. Two latest pop culture inspired designs I did:
O: What are you working on right now?
BSK: A t-shirt design for a charity-based t-shirt website. Theme: water.
O: Since you are a seasoned designer, what would you say are some of the most important lessons you have learned concerning designing?
BSK: Design is something that you need to love. It will be a wreck the day you think of it as a burden (like when you have to do numerous revisions or when you have to design boring stuff), so keep a positive mind. Also the trend is constantly changing, thus the approach to the design much constantly evolves too.
O: Any advice for young designers on how to get their work out there and promote it?
BSK: First you need an online personal website. Joining a competition is another way. Also post your work on heavy traffic websites like design blogs. However it never falls to make a promise of promotion in exchange for free/underpaid designs.
O: Artists you admire?
BSK: Sam Weber, Van Gogh, Gauguin.
O: Any passions other than designing?
O: Thank you so much, I personally am a big fan of yours and really appreciate you doing this.