Car­a­van Stu­dio

With an abun­dance of tal­ented in-house artists and its own pub­lish­ing di­vi­sion, Car­a­van Stu­dio is a true art pow­er­house…

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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).

Packed port­fo­lio

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.

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