We recently got chatty with Caravan Studio’s Richard Suwono and Budi Whepter, two Indonesian art deities we respect and admire so much. We talked art, inspirations and African comics. Here’s the rundown. largest VFX / Art studios in the world Caravan, fortunately they have also created some amazing art for us as well (Budi Whteper did the June XII, while Richard Suwono did Ojuju).
Tell us about the inspiration that drove you into art (how did it start) and also about your career so far, projects you’ve worked on and so on.
RS: I’ve loved to draw since I was little, and have pursued this passion into college and even just recently started an internship at Caravan Studio. It’s one of the best moments in my life, just seeing what I can accomplish by following the path I started on as a kid.
At Caravan Studio, I’ve worked on so many projects which I never thought I could do before but turns out I can, because I’ve loved these projects since I was little (Yu Gi Oh, King Of Fighter, etc). The projects I’ve worked on so far include YGO TCG, Hellfire, DnD, Game of Thrones and others. There are so many other projects which are so entertaining and challenging.
BW: I’ve always liked to draw, ever since I was a child but never thought of becoming an illustrator. I actually aimed to become a doctor when I was in high school and took the national test for that too. I didn’t pass, unfortunately, because the test is inhumanly difficult I guess. I then chose Visual and Communication Design (VCD) as my college major because it was the only art related major; there’s almost no art major in Indonesia by the way so VCD was the closest thing I could get.
The course didn’t meet my expectations either because it’s more focused on advertising and branding, I didn’t even know what a pen tablet or Photoshop was. The only thing that came to my mind about illustrators back then was someone who did portraits or caricature for a living. It seemed like there was no future being an illustrator. I met Richard in the second year and he introduced me to deviantArt and pen tablets. This helped me discover this thing called digital painting which looked super cool, even though I still didn’t know how to create one.
In the third year of my college life, I was assigned to do an internship and Richard introduced me to Caravan Studios where we both got accepted. Interning at Caravan was really a turning point for me because stepping into the studio the first time left me frustrated and overwhelmed because of all the artists with insane skills. That discouraged me and I couldn’t do my job properly. I was homesick too. But I realized one day, right after the internship that I had to be there among those awesome people to do what they did because that’s where my goal lies. I practiced a lot and applied for a full-time position there after graduation and I got accepted.
Who inspires you to push the boundaries like you do in illustration?
BW: Brad Rigney; just see his gallery either on ArtStation or DeviantArt and you’ll know what I mean.
RS: There are so many artists that inspire me a lot. Basically, I sometimes love to explore images from the internet. Then I want to try it, and to figure out how other artists can make their artwork so beautiful. Street Fighter artists have influenced me a lot because I’ve loved Street Fighter even until now. I don’t restrict myself to only one style. As long there is some beautiful artwork I love to try, I would try it.
What are the biggest challenges you have faced as an illustrator?
RS: The biggest challenge I’ve faced as an illustrator is how will people know you? I mean how will people see you as an illustrator. You must be careful and put your portfolio in a gallery too. This is because people will ask about what you have shown in your gallery as well.
BW: There was one time that I had to do a Legend of Cryptid art (and you know that they demand very detailed artwork). I had to paint for a month for a single image only and the feedback came back and forth like almost 12 times. I got so frustrated, but there’s no other way than just paint it one by one.
What have been your most memorable projects and why?
RS: The most memorable project is KOF Card; besides, I love fighting games. Actually, there was some test for the project, and I asked if I could try out too. I used my best Fighting Game experience and created good artwork that captured the characters’ personalities as well as their signature special moves. They chose my style as the best suited to their game. It made me so happy that I could give my best from what I love to them. I’m also happy that I pursued this project that I like and it turned out great.
Have you created any characters of your own?
BW: No. I haven’t thought about it because I’m more interested in developing my skills right now.
RS: Yes absolutely! Her name is Nekona. She is a very active girl who loves food so much. Nekona herself actually is a character I created from high school. I love my original character so much. It sometimes resembles me also. That’s why I know what I want to do for the artwork because I can play with Nekona’s interest, which is food or culinary. That’s why I still love the character much, even up till now. Also, when I draw her, I can play around with so many styles, storytelling artworks. Because of that, I can practice so many styles and themes with a character I love. You can find Nekona on her Facebook page here.
Your advice to young illustrators out there?
RS: My advice to all illustrators is: keep pursuing your dream and don’t be shy of your own work! Because without your old artwork, there isn’t your latest artwork. I still love to learn, even now. Sometimes when we see manga style, we probably assume it’s easy and simple. But after trying it, you will find there is more interesting stuff to it. The same goes for either realism or cartoony style. That’s why you shouldn’t be afraid to do what you like as long you know what you do and pursue it because we must learn something from it.
BW: Have a good attitude. Always try to learn new things. Don’t forget to socialize and exercise. Know when to stop especially when you start having less time for yourself and your family. Take a break and go on a vacation. Stay away from porn. Be patient – it takes time to build your skills and achieve success.
What do you think about the comic industry here in Africa?
RS: I actually just found out about it so I still don’t know much. It’s all new for me but so long as we want to build the industry from what we love, we can build it to be bigger and bigger! That’s why we must pursue it and also do it with passion. Because when we do it with passion and heart, people can see it from our artworks.
Kindly share with us your thoughts on this title.
BW: Judging from the picture shown, I think it has a lot of potential. I see there are lots of titles and the community seems very supportive and productive in a good surrounding. I’m sure there’s plenty room to grow and lot’s of things to be refined but it’s all good.
RS: From what I see, you guys are awesome! Because you can give other people in Africa the spirit to create more amazing artworks and also to unearth many talented artists. So by doing the comic industry in Africa, It’s something amazing for all comics fans to know there are comic artists and a comic industry in Africa. I wish you all the best from the guys in Indonesia!