With an abundance of talented in-house artists and its own publishing division, Caravan Studio is a true art powerhouse…
Caravan Studio – now with 33 full-time artists on the books – started with just a handful. They shared, according to co-founder Chris Lie, one vision: “A comic studio, where fellow talented Indonesian artists can get more opportunities to work on international projects”.
“Afif Numbo was an excellent comic artist with energetic stylistic style,” Chris says introducing his team. “And Crut was one of the country’s best fantasy art digital painters. Hendry Iwanaga was an expert in merging western and eastern influences in his artworks. We started with only four artists and a 30 metre-square office back then, but now we’ve expanded almost ten-fold!”
Hendry explains further the origins: “I first met Chris when he gave a seminar at my college in 1998 and I was exhibiting my final project at the same time,” he says. “From there I knew about Caravan Studio and decided to intern there. I started to work full-time after I finished my internship in January 2009.” Today Hendry’s job is studio manager – and he plays a big part in bringing new talent to the studio, just as Chris recruited him.
Chris himself is a renowned and talented artist, with an MFA in sequential art at the Savannah College of Arts and Design in Georgia, US, providing a fantastic foundation for Caravan. “I was working on various international comics, games and toy design projects,” he says, reeling off such IP as GI Joe: Sigma 6,
We started with only four artists, but now we’ve expanded almost ten-fold!
Transformers vs GI Joe, Dungeons & Dragons: Eberron, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 and The Return to Labyrinth series (the latter being published by TOKYOPOP and making it on to The New York Times’ Manga Best Sellers list).
In its seven years in business, Caravan has gone from strength to strength, with a vast array of clients and top-name brands on its books. You can include character design for Marvel’s Ultimate Alliance 2 video game; toy designs for GI Joe: Sigma 6, Iron Man, Amazing Spider-Man and Transformers; Forgotten Realms World Bible for Wizards of the Coast; illustrations for Star Wars, Hellfire and League of Legends games; and various comics and graphic novels in its repertoire. It’s a portfolio to die for.
“Our favourite recent manga projects were Legend and The Chronicle of Vladimir Tod,” says Hendry. “Both are graphic novel adaptations from best-seller novels. Legend is based on novels by Marie Lu, illustrated by a team of all-female artists at the studio and led by Kaari. While The Chronicle of Vladimir Tod is written by Heather Brewer, illustrated by a team under Julia Laud.”
A standout project in Caravan’s history would have to be the Iron Man Special for Marvel Comics, pencilled by its very own Rahmat Handoko. “It took Rahmat nearly two years to finally break into Marvel Comics,” explains Chris. “But he did it in style.” Rahmat’s pencil art for the special can be seen on the opposite page.
Another high-profile project in the lifetime of the studio is the Juara Nusantara card game, which combines software and printed cards bearing QR codes. “With this project, we finally had the chance to illustrate the whole deck, packaging, promotional materials, and basically everything – but in only six weeks!” says Chris. “We completed hundreds of great-quality cards, just in time for the game to be released at
We had the chance to illustrate the whole deck, packaging, promotional materials – but in only six weeks
Tokyo Game Show 2014. The project really pushed us to the limit in terms of speed, skill and team management.”
managing the team
Chris gives us an insight into how a project works at Caravan – clearly, managing 33 artists across many different projects is no easy feat. “When a project comes in,” he begins, “the project manager will map out the client’s requirements and expectations, devise a timeline plan, pass it to the head of production, and then keep the project in check.
“The head of production will also set up a team of artists to work on the project. In addition, there’s also an art director who closely oversees the quality of the artworks. The project manager is the only one who corresponds with clients directly. That way, the artists are able to concentrate fully on the art.”
As well as working for some of the world’s biggest manga clients, Caravan is ambitious with its own IP. In addition to its own comic (see the piece on re:ON, over on page 53), the studio publishes annual art books – with the first, Cirque, being exclusively distributed by Wacom in five south-east Asian countries, which is bundled with the Intuos 4.
The subsequent three art books – Klovn, Sun and Star – were independently distributed in Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and The Philippines. Chris is justifiably proud of them: “Not only do these books showcase our artists’ versatility, but also give them tremendous international exposure.
“Speed and style diversity are our forté,” he says of Caravan’s overarching appeal. And studio manager Hendry emphasises that even though it has a rising number of employees, Caravan works as one: “Like a family, we help each other to grow and be better artists.”
Like a family, we help each other to grow and be better artists
Dragon Knight by Crut. This artwork was created
as portfolio piece for a Japanese game company.
These mech designs are parts of Colony, an original graphic novel by Afif Numbo.
The Expedition by Crut, created during a Caravan demonstration workshop at @america.
A regular day at the studio. Everybody is busy working and listening to their own music. “It’s always pretty quite, except when there’s free food,” says Chris Lie.
Wrathless Girl by M Faizal Fikri, created as a portfolio piece to study horse anatomy.
Gypsi Woman by Rio Sabda. This image is part of the Ottoman project – a series of artworks set during the Ottoman Empire.
STAR cover by Nicholas Filbert and Rio Sabda. The book consists of art that has a western flavour.
The Shipper by Crut is part of The Protector illustration series, set in a world where humans and creatures live in harmony, co-existing and
protecting each other.
The Keeper by Crut is another piece from The Protector illustration series. Crut’s mastery in drawing animals has been perfected by his regular trips to the zoo.
ReTunes by Angie at Caravan is a visual novel musical game, telling a rivalry story of two musical groups: deVa and Sacred.