In Conversation: DARBOTZ on JAKARTA

by Andrea Juanillo

"There are too many shapes and colours in the streets, I want to make my work bold...where it catches your eye."

If you have visited or lived in Jakarta, chances are, you have seen or encountered Darbotz somewhere on the city's walls. He paints his iconic 'Cumi' or monster squid character in monochrome often with bold striking features. and he'll often collaborate with other Indonesian artists - the crew from Garduhouse, artists such as TUTS and many more. Darbotz is a true pioneer of Indonesian street art and graffiti. You could even argue he's at the forefront of Asian street art and graffiti and to this day he remains prolific, renowned and very happy to remain anonymous.

DARBOTZ on tour in Hong Kong, 2012(ish!)

Without a doubt, Darbotz keeps busy. He's a got a 9-5, he's got a family and does does a lot of commercial collaborations. He's worked with us on our Graffiti Asia book, we've featured him in many STICKERBOMB books over the years and he's always painting.

It has been 10 years since we all worked together on Graffiti Asia. How has graffiti culture changed over the last few years?

It was crazy, I didn't realize it's already 10 years! Things have changed. New generations can easily find new information in a snap of their fingers. We used to do pieces on the street, now kids are more into bombing -especially here in Jakarta. We also used to paint freely, now they will erase our stuff. I think graffiti is still in the grey area (here), but it has gained more recognition, especially in the commercial and art world.

You don't reveal your name and face in public and prefer anonymity, is that something that you always wanted when you started?

I think that's what everybody wants...but we don't really need to do that here. There's no graffiti cops. I just want to have fun by being known for my work not my face.

Jakarta, 2009 featuring MASE Crew

Why so much black and white and how does your work change from street to canvas to commission?

I want to stand out from the rest. There’s too many shapes and colours in the street. Black and white is bold and eye catching. And it doesn’t change that much. And it's just on the street where I use spray paints. When it comes to canvasses - acrylics. Most of my commissions these days are generally canvas or site-specific murals with a few custom items.

Resin sculpture for Artbasel hongkong 2015 in Mizuma Gallery called "King of Jakarta"

What is the most difficult part of being an independent artist?

Everything is hard, you have got to have a lot of luck hahaha! For me, to keep my art going without any compromise is simple - I need to work. I work as a designer in the creative industries. And then by doing what I always love, painting. I always manage my time to go out there and paint. I think that's part of keeping your existence. Then always look to evolve, be open to other things, always adapting and be different from the rest.

Darbotz favourite commission work in Artotel Thamrin

We'll be catching again with Darbotz and more peeps across the Indonesian art scene soon in more of our 'In Conversation' blog posts and videos. And makes sure to check out Darbotz's Instagram, for more of his work. If you need to commission him or you need some creative video, motion graphics / animation / shooting or editing please email us here or schedule a conversation with us.