Tag Archives: art

Julian Juwadi: Chasing away boredom


Sara Veal

Julian Juwadi can’t bear boredom, which is why he founded his own company. Association of Division (AOD) allows him to constantly explore new territory.

“What is AOD? Sometimes it’s clothes, sometimes it’s exhibitions… it’s only a space, and a creative studio,” the 25-year-old says.

Julian has avoided boredom all his life. After growing up in Bogor, he changed schools several times, whenever possible.

“Like in kindergarten, three times. In elementary school, it was twice… every time my parents offered me a chance to change, I accepted… I made a lot of friends!”

In 2003, Julian moved to Sydney to study business at university, on the advice of his mother, a successful and independent businesswoman. Although he “needs to know everything”, he found the degree tedious, but completed it anyway, playing guitar in a hardcore band in his spare time.

After university, he decided to apply his business skills to selling T-shirts a friend designed, which he funded with his “lunch money”.

“I didn’t know anything about fashion. I wanted to keep learning, explore something I didn’t know.”

The “rock-and-roll”, youth-orientated T-shirts, which he branded “Notorious”, were well received.

“I made A$1,400 a day. I went to each house with a bag and offered them products,” he says.

Although Julian loved Sydney, he returned to Indonesia in 2008, as “your home country is always a better fit” and he prefers communicating in Indonesian.

Building on his budding fashion empire, he added two more youth brands, Proud Parents for women, and Bizarre, which is unisex.

Opening a traditional retail store crossed his mind, but the restless entrepreneur felt that would be “monotonous”, so he came up with AOD, which would be a “pop-up” clothes store several times a year and a creative space the rest of the time, freeing him to implement whatever ideas struck his fancy.

Since AOD’s soft launch in 2008, the space has seen five fashion collections, and hosted several art and music events to support the local community, all of which have been met with enthusiasm.

These events included last year’s “We’re All Millionaires” exhibition, curated by C&C Projects in 2009 – offering contemporary artworks for Rp 1 million each while poking fun at the term “millionaire” and the elitism of art ownership.

In November 2009, again with C&C Projects, AOD hosted a playful exhibition for legendary Indonesian artist Teguh Ostenrik.

Most recently, throughout February, the space was transformed into AOD Records, a temporary record store that gave music fans the chance to sample 40 up-and-coming artists across genres, and buy associated merchandise. Free gigs were scheduled every Saturday from popular bands like Naif, SORE and Funny Little Dream.

“People came everyday. It was very tiring. I was kind of glad when it was over. But it was worth it. People said *wow’, it was really great for the bands,” Julian says.

“The customers tried other music, out of their comfort zones. We see that as a success.”

Julian supports the local community because it puts pressure on him to deliver and builds the AOD brand.

“We made a loss of AOD records, but that’s OK, because it’s good for the brand, it brought new people to AOD.”

Currently, AOD are working on a fashion-music collaboration, in which Naif and SORE will respectively act as brand ambassadors for the new collections of Bizarre and Notorious, with a small album launch at the AOD space.

Julian admits he roped Naif in through unorthodox methods.

“We sneaked backstage *at their concert* and gave them our clothes and they liked it!”

To further promote the new fashion collections, including Proud Parents, AOD is making short videos in with visual artists Joey Christian and Heru W. Atmaja, who have produced videos for Dewi Sandra. The two-to-four-minute films will be posted on YouTube and displayed at the upcoming Brightspot Market, between March 11-14 at Pacific Place.

After this project, another “We’re All Millionaires” exhibition is the works, as is an art-fashion collaboration with an artist he met at December’s Brightspot.

With all these plans bubbling away, one wonders if Julian ever gets a chance to relax.

“To save money, I bought all the console games, and play them in my room… if I have a holiday I’d spend a lot of money going everywhere,” he says.

Still even playing games is a form of work.

“I never work in a studio. If I’m in the office, that means I’m browsing, not working. If I’m in my room playing games, I’m working. I play a football game that I don’t really need to concentrate on, my mind is on other things, and if I come up with an idea, I just run to the studio.”

Julian says his fear of boredom and “hard-to-please” attitude has helped AOD, even if it often proves time-consuming, describing how he spent three weeks searching for the right fabric for a jacket in the new collection.

“I’m not good at making something, but I’m good at making things more interesting, because I’m easily bored,” he says, explaining how he works with his designers on concepts.

“Like clothes, if I don’t wear it I’m not going to sell it. If I come to an art show, what kind of art do I want to see?”

Friends, four of whom work at AOD, have also been invaluable.

“They’re the most creative people, so they help me to improve the concepts,” he says.

Julian notes he hasn’t always gotten it right, as in the case of a jacket priced at Rp 1.9 million, which didn’t sell.

“It’s probably because of buying power. *Jakartans* cannot experiment because if they spend money on something they don’t know, they might regret it.”

The company learned from its mistakes, these days items cost between Rp 150,000 and Rp 500,000. But Julian would prefer to make mistakes than play it safe.

“We’re still young, we make mistakes. I don’t want regrets when I’m 60 that I didn’t do something.”

AOD is set for expansion, with the upcoming collection being sold in Bandung and Bali, as well as overseas on-demand.

“We are accepting orders for this collection until June, only from the overseas market,” he says, adding to help generate international interest, he sent clothes to a London-based fashion blogger.

Julian will continue exploring the unknown, maybe dabbling with technology by holding a robot competition, and venturing into food and jewelry.

“AOD is like a platform for me. I can always do something different, so I can probably do it for the rest of my life.”



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Karim Charlebois-Zariffa: The Invisible Artist


Sara Veal

Karim Charlebois-Zariffa creates the kind of magic you see all the time but never really thought about.

Commercials where buildings explode with paint, music videos where rock stars appear to be floating in thin air or film title sequences where plasticine figures morph into live action people and back again.

This is motion design, sometimes known as “the invisible art” – on average, twelve minutes of every hour of broadcast television is the work of a motion designer, taking the form of commercials, title sequences, trailers and special effects.

“Often people think motion design is a new field of graphic design but in fact it has been around for many years, in different forms,” Charlebois-Zariffa said, citing the 1950s and 1960s work of Scottish experimental filmmaker Norman Maclaren, Czech surrealist artist Jan Svankmajer and American graphic designer Saul Bass, who created the film title sequences to several Alfred Hitchcock films.

“For me, motion design is a mix of everything. It’s mainly graphic design and movement. It’s using a variety of techniques to get to what you want to say. What I find most interesting is finding a new technique of animation every time. it’s always a challenge.”

Recently, Charlebois-Zariffa came to Jakarta to present a talk, “International Motion Graphic”, one of the highlights of the “Plaza Desain 2009: *Kinesis'” graphic design event organized by Bina Nusantara University, which took place between July 7-12.

The 25-year-old was born in Quebec City, and is currently based in nearby Montreal, which he says is “a great city to be a designer”.

Artistic from an early age, Charlebois-Zariffa joined the local graffiti scene, and from there learned about graphic design, which he studied at CEGEP level, a Quebecois qualification between high school and university.

His first professional foray was as a fashion designer, starting a company, Colourblind, which offered shoes, hats, t-shirts and skirts. However, he eventually decided he needed to find something that offered more opportunity for innovation.

He soon found what he was looking for after doing Photoshop work for an animator who was making a music video clip involving motion design.

“I had no idea at that time about motion design. So I saw him work and I was curious and interested. I asked him to show me what motion design was and how it worked. I became hooked.”

As there were no specific motion design courses on offer, Charlebois-Zariffa largely taught himself, and soon received many assignments, which kick-started his career.

Most of his jobs have been making title sequences for soap operas and documentary series. These include title sequences for science show Le Code Chasteney and Montreal in 12 Places, which highlighted spots around the city such as a street market and horse race track. The latter, which required a year of intensive work to create a minute of animation for each of the twelve places, netted his team “pretty much every motion design award there was to win in Montreal”.

He also aligns 3D objects, such as pills and colouring pencils, for magazine spreads. At one point these were so in demand he began to feel typecast and so ended his run with a print book, which showcased on everything he owned, all aligned in his apartment.

“Nothing was hidden. Everything I owned was shown, without any shame or whatever. If I had something I wanted to hide, my rules were that I had to show that.”

Most recently he has been making title sequences for feature films, like French-Canadian De pere en flic (2009), which he prefers, as they can be longer and have a larger budget and more time.

Charlebois-Zariffa always strives to “do what a camera couldn’t do”, which involves combining a range of techniques from stop-motion, live-action and 3D animation. The end result appears effortless, but requires endless hours of meticulous work and planning, from methodically positioning glass strings to creating 24 frames of stop-motion animation for one second of animation. He says he is driven not by patience, but by passion.

“If I’m doing a stop motion that takes me months, it’s because I love it.”

Charlebois-Zariffa says what made him fall in love with graphic design was the work of “rockstar” graphic designer Stefan Sagmeister, who has designed album covers for the Rolling Stones and Aerosmith.

Last year, he did a week-long workshop with Sagmeister, and eventually plucked up the courage to offer himself as an intern. A few months later, Sagmeister invited him to join him during his sabbatical year, which he takes every seven years.

So for the past five months, Charlebois-Zariffa has been in Bali with Sagmeister, who asked him to extend his stay, as an employee.

Along with a small team of graphic designers from all over the world, as well as Balinese artisans, Sagmeister and Charlebois-Zariffa are working on a top-secret, experimental project.

Charlebois-Zariffa says Bali feels like home right now, remarking on its natural beauty and inspiring craft culture.

Although he looks forward to returning to Montreal within a month, he knows he will come back to Bali, particularly because of his ongoing collaboration with Sagmeister and the facility of working with Balinese artists.

“We could never find these kinds of talents in New York and if we could, they’d be too expensive. Balinese are very happy people and very willing to try out new stuff.”

Although he is still passionate about motion design and the constant, creative challenges it offers, Charlebois-Zariffa does not see himself focusing on it indefinitely.

“I really like sculpting right now, and art in general. I love everything about designing art, so I hope I can move on. Right now I’m moving more into video clip direction.”

“I’m never going to be a lawyer or accountant, but for sure, in the same field or tree, I like to touch all the branches.”

Visit www.karimzariffa.com for more information.

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Pioneering animation fusion with ‘Wanga-Manga’


Sara Veal

During the 1920s, a young man created Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, a cartoon character that quickly became a success for Universal Studios.

But when he asked the producer, Mintz, for more money, the producer insisted upon a 20 percent budget cut, reminding the young man that the studio owned the character. The young man disassociated himself from Oswald and moved on.

He was, of course, Walt Disney, and his next project was Mickey Mouse. Today, both Disney and Mickey are famous the world over, synonymous with animation and imagination.

Oswald will always be Mickey’s shadow, but for animator James Speck, he remains an inspiration.

“The irony is that [Mintz] did Disney an enormous favor. Yes, Mickey Mouse resulted from losing Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, but the bigger lesson was that Disney never ever again trusted his business partners,” Speck says.

“He realized that they were all short-term thinkers, and that they underestimated his talents. Had Mintz given Disney what he wanted, Disney would have been tied to Mintz, a producer whose films are basically obscure.”

Speck has learned from Disney’s experience. Since he first became interested in animation at age 15, he has continued to hone his craft, always endeavoring to remain in creative control and own the rights to his own creations.

His projects include Hollywood films, international television productions, commercials, fine art exhibits and live motion capture performances.

Born in Michigan, but calling Arizona home, Speck first came to Jakarta in 1992, when a Montreal-based company, Softimage, sent him to ASEAN to develop their 3D software. He moved to Singapore shortly afterward, where he has remained.

There, he founded Cowboy Water Design in 1994, a company that aims to “continually push the boundaries of computer animation and exceed client expectations”.

His company’s unusual name and idiosyncratic logo (the rear view of a naked child in a large cowboy hat, peeing) were inspired by Speck’s earliest childhood memory.

“When you name something it should be really personal and it should have meaning for you,” he says. “My youngest memory was in South Bend, Indiana, four years old, in front of a mirror, going ‘Drink cowboy water’. It stuck in my head … It’s timeless, it’ll never go out of fashion. That little boy in the hat is me.”

Last Thursday, Speck was in Jakarta to present a talk on “Technology vs Creativity”, one of the highlights of the “Plaza Desain 2009: ‘Kinesis’” graphic design event organized by Bina Nusantara University, which took place from July 7 to 12.

Speck might not have found his Mickey Mouse yet, but he already has a host of creations under his belt, ranging from a perky blue-haired television host to a urinating chihuahua.

At the talk, Speck declared a new art movement, “Wanga-Manga” or “Wanga”, a fusion of Western art and Japanese manga.

Lili, a real-time virtual character that debuted in 1998, is arguably his most famous creation to date, as well his first realized example of Wanga, a figure displaying manga-style facial features and a Western-style body.

The Lili Show, on the MTV Asia Network channel, involved Lili interviewing pop stars such as Madonna, Bono and Coco Lee.

In 2000, The Lili Show won the Asian Television Award for Most Innovative Program. It remains one of the most highly rated Asian MTV shows of all time, attracting an audience of 1.2 billion at its peak. Lili, along with sidekick Bibi, appeared in Time magazine and on the CNN network and performed live at the MTV European Music awards. Both Lili and Bibi continue to represent a fashion line and appear at live music events.

“It was so far beyond what I could imagine success-wise: thousands of screaming fans in Taiwan for this character,” Speck says.

“That show opened up a lot of doors for me, but that was it. I thought, now the money’s just going to come rolling in … but then nothing… I own the rights to this character and have done a few things with it, but mainly, I’ve moved on.”

In 2004, Speck created Quu and Tee, a pair of Wanga-style characters designed to represent Animax Asia, a 24-hour Japanese anime channel.

Adding to his live motion performance work, in 2007 Speck developed five real-time virtual characters for the Woolworth’s Corporation in Australia, which over a period of five days performed live for an audience of 40,000 people at the convention center in Melbourne.

“Grown businessmen were suddenly talking and laughing and having a really good time, because of the crazy cartoon characters.”

In 2008, he created canine mascot Randy for Singaporean IPTV channel “Razor TV” (www.razor.tv). The chihuahua’s most notable feature is his frequent urination.

“Why put a cartoon dog in a live set? Why put a cartoon dog in anything?” Speck says. “Because people love to be entertained. People like talking to cartoon dogs.”

Speck introduced two Woolworth characters — a laddish household cleaner and imperious washing powder box — and Randy to the seminar attendees, demonstrating real-time lip-synching technology.

The characters are controlled by a computer keyboard, a mouse and a microphone. Their rate was between 57 and 60 frames per second, which approaches Pixar or movie quality. Speck also included secondary motion, which enhances lifelike performances.

The seminar attendees responded to the characters, performed by Speck, with laughter and smiles, a response that Speck is used to, but never gets tired of. “People behave so interestingly when they talk to a cartoon character.”

His latest project is Tra the Tiger, a ukulele-playing, Wanga-style Sumatran tiger that dances with musical durians. He hopes to collaborate with the WWF and use Tra to promote environmentalism internationally in a fun, accessible way, through television, merchandising and licensing.

“Tra the Tiger will be a spokesperson for all animals and all different types of tigers. He’ll be talking and dancing and singing, with the ukulele,” he says.

“I don’t think there’s any other tiger that plays the ukulele. I’ll be the first one.”

While his other characters have usually been voiced by professional actors, Speck plans to voice Tra himself.

“I want to make him a tiger with a real attitude, like, ‘Dude, get your hands off my skin’.”

Speck hopes that Tra will eventually be able to interview high-profile conservationists such as Jane Goodall.

He plans to target palm oil plantations and large-scale companies such as Tiger Beer and Tiger Airlines for funding, as part of their CSR (corporate social responsibility) programs.

He hopes to convey through Tra that it is not a simple case of megacorporations being the bad guys and ruining the environment, and that these are issues that should be on everyone’s conscience.

“None of us are innocent. Palm oil is used in shampoo and foods … I probably used a product today, maybe it was in my soap,” he says.

“I found that Exxon Mobil spends US$10 million a year to save the tiger.”

Inspired by his treks around jungles in Sumatra, Speck decided to focus on saving the tiger, because he observed that their presence was linked to the condition of the environment.

“If you go and try to save a bird or snake or whatever, there’s no point if there’s no tiger. If you’ve got a tiger in a forest, that [place] is in really good shape. If there’s no tiger, everything goes downhill.”

He intends to remain in Asia, which he feels currently offers far more opportunities than the US, but hopes to leave Singapore soon, possibly for Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

“Singapore may fund this project, but after that it’s going to be game over. They have their own animators now, I trained a lot of them … It’s time to wake up and do something different,” he says.

“I want long-term, I want sustainability… I hope I can retire with Tra the Tiger.”

James Speck can be contacted at cowboy@singnet.com.sg. Tra the Tiger is available to add as a friend on Facebook (search “Tra Tiger”).


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Art auction raises $3,440 to help local arts community


Sara Veal

An art auction in Phnom Penh raised $3,440 that will be used to fund an exhibition organized by Visual Arts Open (VOA) in December.

Paintings, sketches, collages and photographs – all 55 items contributed free by Khmer and foreign artists to the fundraiser – all went under the auctioneer’s gavel at a packed Java Express on July 24.

“It was more than we expected,” said Sopheap Pich, co-curator of VAO. “We were wondering where we’d store what we couldn’t sell, and there’s nothing left!”

The highest successful bids were for Vann Nath’s “Landscape”, which went for $300, Linda Saphan and Pich’s “Lightness” ($230) and a series of collages by Douglas Baulos, Matt Posey and Chris Lawson, which attracted between $150 and 160.

A few lucky bidders managed to bag bargains for as little as $10.

Over the course of three hours, the auction met and exceeded the $3,400 that organizers hoped to raise for the December exhibition.

All proceeds went directly to VAO, with no commissions for the contributors or organisers.

VAO is part of Saklapel, an initiative aimed at building a community among Cambodian artists, as well as provide them with support and information.

Saphan and Pich, both professional artists who are Khmer-Canadian and Khmer-American, respectively, founded Saklapel three years ago.

VAO currently works with 20 artists, all expected to contribute new pieces to the December exhibition. Besides Saphan and Pich, the other 18 artists are Khmers living in Cambodia, but there are future plans to expand and include Khmers living abroad and non-Khmers living in Cambodia.

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