Creative polymath Loreng on living in the southeast Asian Mecca of experimental arts, Yogyakarta

The digital and graphic designer delves into the buzzing creative community on the tropical island of Java.

16 September 2020

Imagine living in an enormous room full of weird stuff and weird people creating their own madness and creative beauty. A place where, at the same time, everyone and everything seems chill and humble. Well, according to digital designer Loreng, this is what it’s like to live in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Known as “the Mecca of experimental arts” in southeast Asia, the capital of Java seems like an incredible place to be a creative.

It’s where Loreng resides at present, settling there after graduating with a degree in architecture at the National Institute of Technology in Bandung. There, he began to grasp the interconnecting concepts of design, art and engineering; three pinnacles of his work today. Then, he decided to study film, and that’s where “the whole bloody chaotic and crazy ideas came in.” Operating under the pseudonym of Loreng – which means stripe (like a tiger stripe) in Bahasa Indonesia – he works across a variety of projects which he tells us about. It’s a whirlwind of the past five years condensed into a few sentences.

“From working at Yogyakarta government tourism office as a videographer and photographer, helping Cemeti Art Institute residency programme as an artist assistant, visual jockeying at underground raves, illegally selling my artwork on the sidewalk in front of Art Jogja Fair, to building my own coffee shop before it went bankrupt and the money was stolen by my own friend.” It’s been a hectic few years for Loreng, to say the least. Now, his primary focus is to establish himself as an interdisciplinary and graphic designer, working at the intersection of science and art to create politically aware works.

He tells us of the intention of his work: “I believe that when the chaotic human mind and the internet are combined, it can unleash some weird and unimaginable things that will wreak havoc or even make a temporary peace in this kind of world.” Drawing inspiration from aposematism, where animals “advertise” themselves to appear unappealing or not worth attacking to their predators, Loreng is continually fascinated by the chaotic beauty of mother nature and how it instils every organism with a unique purpose.

GalleryLoreng: Santuari Studio (Copyright © Loreng, 2020)

Adding his own twist onto these ideas, Loreng’s work can result in outputs such as music, graphic design, painting or video. At present, he is working on two ongoing, lifetime projects. The first, an experimental music and design project in collaboration with DJ Sajonas, and the second, an inclusive platform titled Santuari Studio. In the former, Loreng and Sajonas aim to change opinions around dance music in the city with their project, Bast Cultura. Communicating these ideas through music and post-apocalyptic/alternate narratives, the pair embark on a journey of some “weird-looking graphic design as spices.”

Alternatively, with Santuari Studio, Loreng creates a platform or lab of sorts for young artists and designers to thrive in the creative community. It came about from an interest to do something within the realms of fashion, design, lifestyle and the internet. He had seen how difficult it was to market oneself in the current climate and wondered if there was a way to put yourself out there, outside of seeking the help of established galleries, ad agencies or institutions. In order to create more opportunities for himself, he decided to create Santuari Studio as a way to promote his work and those he admired.

“It works like a sanctuary,” he adds, “a sacred safe space to store personal or collaborative artworks with other artists.” He hopes to develop the platform into a two-pronged offline and online output – social media being the online avenue, and pop up exhibitions in Indonesia, the offline. It’s a challenging step ahead for Loreng, especially given the pandemic. On these future plans, he finally goes on to say, “it’s quite challenging living in a developing country where the pandemic continues to spread across the country and the government doesn’t have an effective way to treat it.” It provoked the designer to think about his role as a creative, one of survival in both a personal and collective sense. And he sincerely hopes, that above all, projects like Bast Cultura and Santuari Studio can make a small difference to the local community; inspiring and safeguarding in a chaotic world.

GalleryLoreng (Copyright © Loreng, 2020)


Santuari Studio


Bast Cultura


Bast Cultura

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About the Author

Jyni Ong

Jyni joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in August 2018 after graduating from The Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design degree. In March 2019 she became a staff writer and in June 2021, she was made associate editor. Feel free to drop Jyni a note if you have an exciting story for the site.

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