Several English-Indonesia dictionaries would translate ‘merchandise’ as ‘goods’ or ‘commodity’. Its most basic form is this: almost every city or country has their own merchandise, also known as souvenir, or gifts. It sounded cheap in contrast to the positioning of art in Indonesia where artworks are undeniably still considered noble, especially when they come in their most popular forms: paintings and sculptures.

Even when our artists use images widely popularized by the media, their work is still considered distanced from the community. To question which comes first between (1) artworks are noble; or (2) art is distanced from the public – is akin to asking the ‘egg or chicken?’ question, not to mention it will be a boring topic to discuss.

Merchandise artist is not a new phenomenon. Back then Andy Warhol took  merchandise in the format of consumers goods and transformed them into artworks, expensive and distanced from its own public; a situation now reversed by Damien Hirst who made a commodity of himself (and his works) to consumers wider than that of the art market. Through The Other Criteria, the company who published his work, and several of his friends, he produced postcards, toys, book covers and several other merchandises all bearing his work, e.g., his Away from the Flock postcard.

Aside from artists involved in The Other Criteria, like Ashley Bickerton, David Bailey, Banksy, Barnbrook etc, one intensely works on blurring the distance between high and low art, like Takashi Murakami. Unlike Warhol who took fragments of popular life and applied art (e.g., Campbell Soup) and processed it to become art pieces displayed in elite galleries to a very limited public, Murakami processed popular images as his work and had it mass merchandised at the same time by Kaikai Kiki Company Ltd. He collaborated with Kanye West (a popular hip-hop singer) and got Louis Vuitton to produce bags and several other items using patterns he designed.

So far I have discovered three tendencies in the making of artists’ merchandise. The first and also the most popular is the merchandising of the artists’ visual icon, e.g., the drawings of Eko Nugroho (Daging Tumbuh or DGTMB), Wedhar Riyadi (Evily Candy Machine), Uji Handoko Eko Saputro (Lonely), Riono Tanggul Nusantara (Tatsoy) and Hendra Harsono (Cynical Love Monster). This first category is also the fastest and is easily adopted by the industry as we live in an era where capitalism rules. Many brands nowadays were specifically made to accommodate such products, like RVCA and The Other Project.

There are also brands initiated and funded by the artist. Eko Nugroho and DGTMB, for instance, and several other names mentioned above, are part of the 0274 Artist Series –a brand initiated and funded by clothing store owners: Whatever, Brain and Nothink. Jumaldi Alfi and his blackboard series merchandise, although self-produced, is also part of this first leaning. With remarkable sensitivity he not only transferred   his work into just any merchandise. The spirit of his works; of personal memories of childhood, of school and of the past are transformed into forms that are no less personal, like bedsheets and pillow cases.

The second tendency are artists who made their own merchandise with memorabilia awareness. Take for instance Indiguerillas through Happy Victim. Like Takashi Murakami and Kaikai Company Ltd, this couple, Santi Ariestyowanti and Dyatmiko Bawono poured their playful souls into a variety of consumers products like t-shirt, jackets, and toys. So are Yuli Prayitno and S. Teddy D; although they don’t make their own brand, Yuli Prayitno’s door handles could be produced as ordered, so does S. Teddy D.’s cleavers.

The third tendency refers to artists who collect/archive their work processes into merchandise format; this is not deliberately done, but happened due to the need to make a model/sample/mock-up prior to the making of the artwork; just like what an architect or a graphic designer would do. This is a common phenomenon for artists, e.g., a painter would first sketch on paper, a sculptor would make a miniature of his piece as a model, a videographer would collect manuscript, etc. In the sphere of street art, blackbook exhibitions are commonly done. It is said that the blackbooks of artists that were part of a graffiti project funded by Montana spray paint were sold at about the same price as the project’s.

Although included in this category, Samsul Arifin did more; aware that his works will not be his forever, he documented his work and his processes not only through photos and sketches, but also through freezing his objects with resin.

merchandise|project invites artists to make their own merchandise. The ones involved in this project are those with strong visual identities whose works are easily recognizable in a glance.





0274 ARTIST SERIES is a lifestyle brand offering you Yogyakarta-artists’ works in the form of merchandises. It is the intent of 0274 ARTIST SERIES to represent the subculture spirit of Yogyakarta, the capital city of arts in Indonesia; some even say that it is the Southeast Asia’s Mecca of visual arts. Each merchandise is individually numbered like printed graphic artworks. 11/100 means that the product is the 11th print out of 100 items. 0274 ARTIST SERIES supports local artists by producing sellable merchandises in order to widen the public awareness on local contemporary art scene. Powered by Brain, Nothink and Whatever, 0274 ARTIST SERIES creates a platform which accommodates whatever genre and isms of art in the form that people can easily access.

LONELY by Uji Handoko Eko Saputro. Born in 1983, he is one of today’s celebrated emerging artists producing works that are marked with strong and assertive lines. Though contradictive, his distinctive fashion style, amusing expressions and attitude are definitely the basic elements of his lowbrow-yet-pastel-colored visual works. He’s also the vocalist of Punkasila, a punk band with attitude. Whenever he’s on stage as an MC, his nickname is Hengky Strawberry.

EVILY CANDY MACHINE by Wedhar Riyadi. Born in 1980, he is the rising star in contemporary art scene who, unlike those in his generation, is a rather calm and organized person. His works are powerfully inspired by comics and presented in the world-wide popular dark-underground style. The brand EVILY CANDY MACHINE is taken form his one-man-band project in which he experimented blending ambience compositions and soundscape components.

TATSOY by Riono Tanggul Nusantara. Born in 1984, he is the first being caught-in-act for doing graffiti on a train. Yes, the man’s got a long history in today’s local street art scenes. Painting as a background doesn’t stop him from producing strongly communicative yet also highly skilled craftmanship. In the mean time, he has been busy with the sudden popularity of his band, Sangkakala, a rockabilly band which brings tiger-motif-clothes back in style.

CYNICALLOVEMONSTER by Hendra Harsono. Born in 1983, he is not only known as a visual artist but also as a graphic designer. His work clearly shows (that) he thinks and acts design-wise; that is why one can enjoy his works without having to raise his/her eyebrows. His works are dominated with today’s comics, cartoons and today’s popular culture known as lowbrow. The style may not be new but his works are always intriguing and refreshing.

LOVEHATELOVE by Rolly Bandhriyo. Born in 1984, he might be Yogyakarta’s most known person judging by the count of his name. He’s been spreading LOVEHATELOVE all over the city walls since 2003. The rawness of his graffitis, along with the consistency of street art making, represents the power of local sub-culture influenced by urbanism. today, the city streets are fully signed by his name and works. He believes that he’s communicating with others through public spaces.

ELI by Iwan Effendi. Born in 1979, he’s the last artist known with the 80’s-90’s issue: (trying to) proving the fact that graduating from an art school is irrelevant to being a good artist. He often collaborates with other art disciplines. his visual artworks tend to form in surrealistic imagery. Yet, he’s also a children’s book designer and the artistic director of the Papermoon Puppet Theatre. He chooses biking as both his hobby and sport.

FIGHT FOR RICE is a collaboration project between DGTMB (Eko Nugroho) and EVILY CANDY MACHINE (Wedhar Riyadi) that presents unique things. Fight For Rice has a monthly program called Versus. It’s a chance for other young artists or creative communities to present their merchandises at Fight For Rice Store. This project aims to discover fresh ideas and set as a strategic join promotion to reach wider market. So far, groups that joined this project are: Kerja Keras Kultur (comic community), Kamengski (visual art and design community), White Shoes and the Couple Company (band) and Airport Radio (band).

Born in Yogyakarta, 1977, Eko Nugroho is one of the most exciting young stars in contemporary Indonesian art. Since his first solo Bercerobong at Cemeti Art House, in 2002, his career has spanned a large number of exhibitions locally as well as abroad. He considers his comic-inspired works as a storytelling journey to audiences at different sites. Often working with thick dark outlines, Nugroho’s graphic technique and imagery reflect Indonesia’s media-rich and politically charged environment. His part man-part machine characters are often accompanied by bizarre, ironic and often times provocative statements in thought balloons or speech bubbles saying, for instance, “please shoot me from the back.” 

Born in Yogyakarta, 1980, Wedhar Riyadi is one of the promising artists from his generation in Indonesian Art Scene. He uses a different base to communicate his message. His works can be defined more as Lowbrow. Riyadi’s comic image has been easily connected to a new trend of dark-underground comics that is very popular for young artists around the world. With a huge reference from music and other pop-art products, Riyadi recreates the visual form and puts a brand of local contexts and stories into his artwork. He tends to tell a personal story of his life and relates his idols, his hobbies, his peers, and sometimes, tries to be critical of their consuming habits.

HAPPY VICTIM is a line of merchandise produced by INDIEGUERILLAS. Founded in 1999, Indieguerillas is a duet of artist/graphic designers from Yogyakarta-Indonesia. They are the couple Santi Ariestyowanti and Dyatmiko ‘Miko’ Bawono. The former has the Visual Communication Design background and the latter Interior Design. Both are alumni of The Faculty of Art of the Indonesian Institute of the Arts (ISI) Yogyakarta. In addition to their being known for their interest in folklores, Indieguerillas are also recognized for their proficiency at visual effects and inter-media experimentation in their works.

BAYU WIDODO is a Yogyakarta-based artist who produces line drawings, paintings, woodcut and stencils that feature strong political references and judgments. He considers print, as a medium, a direct and relevant way of communicating issues; a flexible and non-static form. As a member of the Taring Padi Collective, his works centers on ideas of urbanization and it’s effect on humanity and tends to reflect the effect of ‘lifestyles’ within urban environments. Under the premise of ‘think global, act local’, he seeks to examine the effect of human’s basic need of housing.

Born in Ponorogo, East Java, in 1981, HENDRA ‘BLANKON’ PRIYADHANI has an alter ego known as Baron Capulet Araruna –also his stage name in his band, Sangkakala. The band, which he founded with four other “bandits” from college, is an audio rock fashion-oriented. The world of Baron Capulet Araruna is different with Blankon’s. The images of the Baron are rowdy, wild, tough, Don Juan and all-that of a rock star character. Those images emerge in the form of fashion –clothings, make up, shoes and all attributes– supporting his on-stage attitude. The Baron character was the sum of influences which Blankon received since he was a boy through his idols, such as their shoes, costumes, styles and their vocal characters. Here, in this project, Hendra “Blankon” Priyadhani and Baron Capulet Araruna work together to build Capulet Bar, for showing their attractions into visual art format. It is a space of collaboration for those two names.

Born in Silakarang, Gianyar, Bali, on 1977, to a family of wood carvers, sculptors and painters, I MADE ASWINO AJI considers drawing and painting as a part of daily life –even before he started school. Though so, Aji completed his bachelor at Indonesian Arts Institute (ISI) Yogyakarta. He makes paintings, photography, object and installation pieces using figures, portraits and architecture to depict themes of ostracization, isolation, and loneliness; a vocal point of the modern life. The life where individuals see others as competition; and technological advances might lead to successes and also setback. New opportunities are like doors leading down to unknown paths. Such cornered-feeling insecurity, combined with a shine of faith that ‘there is hope’, is the basis of his works.

Born in Lintau, West Sumatra, in 1973, JUMALDI ALFI is a proficient artistic producer in the matter of technique as well as contemplative discourse. He tries to be analytical by observing phenomena from a certain distance. His works reflect his wide range of interest, from Buddhism to Greek mythology to music. He uses his painting as a personal therapy that accommodates and control various issue troubling his mind. With such a mindset he began choosing certain themes and approaches to develop in series of paintings, combining expressionism, raw-art, and sometimes realism too. Alfi makes his paintings autobiographical notes and at once fields of experiments to keep exploring and testing various possibilities of painting -more as ideas than just the products of imagining on canvas.

Born in Padang, in 1970, S. TEDDY D. graduated from the Fine Arts Department of Indonesian Arts Institute (ISI) Yogyakarta. He was artist in residence in Aachen, Germany, and was selected for best five of Phillip Morris Awards 2001 (Indonesia). His works, be they drawings, paintings and installations, always shows formal as well as technical simplicity, yet never entrapped in given limited techniques, media and themes. The simple techniques and forms of his works convey from personal issue through socio-political criticism full of humor. He’s never afraid of taking risks and making art with many possibilities.

Born in Malang, in 1979, SAMSUL ARIFIN is the creator of Goni, a character made of rice-sack cloth. Goni’s narrative image ‘started appearing’ since his final project in Indonesian Arts Institute (ISI) Yogyakarta. Goni is inspired by Samsul’s contemplation upon something basic to everyone: education and the essence of self. Through the figure of Goni and his ‘adventures’ with the stationery objects, Samsul attempts to make a statement of what the young people of his generation, particularly coming from the working class, feels restlessly about the lack of qualities and access to education and strife to maximize what they have, however simple it might be. Strings of works from the whole series of the Goni and stationary metaphors have been made to join several collective exhibitions, both local and international.

Born in Klaten, in 1976, SRI MARYANTO is a Yogyakarta-based printmaking artist. Though he actually majored in painting during his study at Indonesian Arts Institute (ISI) Yogyakarta, he shifted his major to printmaking in 2002. He preferred hardboard cut as his main medium of work, and considers working with paper as opposed to canvas, which allow him to counter official historical narratives by experimenting with a material that is much more personal and flexible. He founded ORABER, a lining of artist merchandise that produces t-shirts, bags and clocks, with the ambition to promote artworks, making artworks interesting to a more general public.

YULI PRAYITNO. Born in Bandung 1974, the Indonesian Arts Institute (ISI) Yogyakarta’s graduate rejects the notion that sculpture, in order to be seen, must be gigantic. Simplicity and perfection are the main keywords in viewing Yuli Prayitno’s objects. To him, his works are how he communicates to the public in visual language; it’s a way of thinking. His finished works always become conversation pieces: they are startlingly simple sculptures. His objects are made with various interesting combinations between conventional and contemporary forms. Variety, freshness and new surprises seen in Yuli Prayitno’s works ensures us that sculpture has stepped in to a new path leading to a new world –a new dimension of sculpture.

merchandise|project is a part of ART|JOG|10
Taman Budaya Yogyakarta
16-29 Juli 2010

Click here to see the show.

About Grace Samboh

Believes in unicorn, conviviality and the struggle towards collective subjectivities—even temporarily.
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