August 21, 2016

The journey to Batik - introducing Joko Supriyono

This week I picked up my visa and it looks like my list of things to prepare is getting shorter. My time before leaving is also getting shorter fast and I feel there were so many more things I could have prepare, but I need to keep space in my plans (also the ones in my head) for change, the unexpected and what ever comes on my path. 
A way of working and thinking unknown here, but practiced in perfection where I'm going, so I guess it will work out fine.
For this post I'm happy to introduce a person I'm really really really looking forward to meet. He is married to one of the sweetest, coolest, dearest, most beautiful person I know and he is a talented painter and tattoo-artist. Looking forward sharing with him thoughts about how the artworld and tattoo-scene gets inspired by Batik and how he uses it in his own art. Also I hope to return with a freshly inked piece by him that will be part of my second 'Journey to Batik'. 
Without further ado, let me introduce: Joko Supriyono!

A photo posted by Jekektatto (@jekekyoungjava) on

When did you start making art and tattoos?

Started with tattooing when I was still in school. I was 15 when I made my first drawings on the chairs at my high school. I was already interested in the visual aspects of tattoo's before that, but my family situation made me become a tattoo-artist. 
My first exhibition as an artist was when I was 17 at the Gallery of University Purworjo. I studied art at the Akseri high school for Art and started with the ISI (Art Academy) in Yogyakarta. I couldn't finish it, because I had to take care of my family after both my parents died.

Painting by Joko Supriyono

What inspires you?

I started to paint and draw when I was a child. Figures are important in my work. For my tattoo's I always exploring deep into my mind. I use what I see there. In the world of painting I am not only thinking about freedom. I do like to put into my paintings everything I feel and do: my hiding, happiness, sadness, laughing, everything of life. What I see in myself, I use as an inspiration. It's like looking in the mirror, it makes me learn about myself, about honesty.
One thing I have in mind everyday are airplanes. They bring me lighter thoughts. (I love to Joko's favorite Batik motif is Megamengdun, clouds and airplanes, a perfect combination!)

Painting by Joko

Drawing by Joko

What is your favorite Batik pattern? Why do you wear Batik?

Batik Megamengdung from Cirebon. I like it very much, I'm a big fan of this art-work. For me the 'Megamendung' pattern is like a big cloud heavy above our heads. Since I was little this ornament was many time on my mind, because life in Indonesia can be hard and it made me think of the/my sweat of labor. 
Wearing Batik makes me happy! When I wear Batik it feels good in my brain I feel light. The composition, the lining brings structure. I like contemporary and classic Batik with a combination of colors; especially turquoise, red, black, brown, yellow and gold.

Batik Megamendung

Blouses with Batik Megamendung motif

Batik Megamengdung is next to the 'Parang' motif one of the most recognizable and maybe well-known Batik patterns of Java. When I first saw this pattern, I was really surprised that it was a classic motif. I saw a man at a Pasar Malam and ask him about his modern Batik blouse. He laughed and said it was a traditional pattern rom Cirebon. The big, bright coloured, abstract clouds covering the textile looked like nothing I seen before. 
Of course the cloud shape itself I seen many times, in many cultures and art forms. In Tibetan sand carpets, Mongolian cabinets, Chinese silk and porcelain.The motif is linked to Taoism and the Islamic Sufi in which clouds symbolize the ability to make a comprehensive picture of the world (a birds-eye view), be free and are transcendental.
Cirebon's port Muara Jati brought in many cultures and religions among which were also people from China. 
Believed is that the very modern looking pattern was introduced in the 16th century when Sunan Gunungjati (1448–1568) married Queen Ong Tien of China. Sunan Gunungjati, who spread the Islamic religion in the Cirebon region, founded the Sultanate of Banten, as well as the Sultanate of Cirebon. It is popular in Indonesia to link the origin of a pattern to royalty, so it is no surprise that it is the same with Batik Megamengdung. 
'Megamengdung' literally means mega cloudy. Big clouds filled with rain bring water for the crops and therefor symbolize fertility and the sprouting of life. 
A beautiful symbol that can be interpreted in many ways and I think, is very fitting for a city in which a harbor was so important. Like clouds from the sea bringing the wanted rain, ships brought goods, knowledge and inspiring cultures.

Drawing inspired by Batik by Joko Supriyono

Joko Supriyono with his work

Read & see more: 

More about Joko's tattoo's on Jekekyoungjava on Instagram

More about Batik Megamendung on Wikipedia and on

More about my second 'Journey to Batik' in the previous posts 'Buy a Batik', 'Rasa Nembah', 'The journey to Batik', 'The journey to Batik - Introducing Krisna Murti' and 'The journey to Batik - Introducing Batik Fractal'

August 9, 2016

The journey to Batik - Introducing Batik Fractal

Batik Abimanyu, Pilang Village on Java*
Batiks made for Batik Fractal 

In a few weeks I will be back on Java enjoying the Indonesian culture and exploring the Batik world. With the question "How does Batik inspires and how do you preserve the Art of Batik?", I will travel around meeting different artists, Batik makers, entrepreneurs, researchers and of course Batik wearers. I try to capture the Batik world as it is practiced today and see how this art-form will continue, evolve and is kept alive by different people in all sorts of ways. One of the people I will meet during my second 'Journey to Batik' is Muhamad Lukman, Chief Design Officer of Batik Fractal. So a post to introduce Lukman and his Batik Fractal.

Willow blouse, Batik Fractal pattern made with cap. When I wear this blouse, people think it is African textile. Funny when I explain it is Modern Batik from Java, such surprised faces

Nancy Margried, front-woman of Batik Fractal, send in the third published Batik Statement for my blog, so I have been following Batik Fractal for some years now. Batik Fractal is a company that uses computer software to make Batik designs. This interesting combination of something so handmade and analog with something so modern and digital, made me fascinated from the beginning. 

When I was on Java in 2009, I discovered that the Batik designers were the ones in charge at most Batik workshops. The Batik makers were just following the patterns drawn on the cloth, which made them just workers and not creators. The money made by selling the Batiks went for the biggest part to the designers, while the makers were paid, if lucky by the hour, or per finished cloth. In the the end who didn't make the Batiks get paid the best. 
A lot like the Art world where who shows it earns, who makes it doesn't. The Batik designers didn't spend hours applying the wax with care and dedication to the cloth, they only executed the fun part. Only a few places I visited had Batik makers that were also the designers. On these locations you could see that the Batiks were being made with more joy. The makers were proud of their product and I know this as an artist myself, working as just a worker or creating your own thing is a huge difference.
Because not everyone is gifted with the ability to draw a design, the software Batik Fractal offers, a solution. It allows everyone to create a design. This makes makers stronger on the Batik market and more independent. 

Batik Fractal also promotes handmade Batik Tulis. At first their designs were mostly made using Batik Cap. I think partly because it is easier to create a repeating pattern. They make from these Batik fabrics useful and fashionable items like blouses, laptop sleeves and business-card holders. Some of these products are made with left-overs from the industrie, so re-use is also a part of Batik Fractal.
I ordered some clothing a year and a half ago. I was very happy with the Willow blouse, but very disappointed in the blouse I ordered for my love. The sleeves and collar were the only parts where Batik fabric was used, and it was printed!! A company that supports & wants to secure the future of Batik should stay away from printed fabrics with Batik motifs!
However shortly after that, Batik Fractal begin experimenting with natural dyes and made a line of products like scarfs with these natural dyed Batiks. Now they are busy with a new project #MADEWITHJBATIK in which Batik Tulis is being made using their jBatik software. So a good time to visit this inspiring company! 

Infinity Batik hanging to dry at Batik Kalinggo **

Infinity Batik with wax still on the cloth at Batik Kalinggo **

In the last months, I have been sharing thoughts back and forth with Muhamad Lukman, Chief Design Officer of Batik Fractal. I'm looking forward meeting him and learning more about the Batik Fractal software. But until then, a little interview:

Why is Batik important for you? 
And how do you see the future of Batik, the future of the technique Batik Tulis and the philosophy; the language of the cloth, the meaning of the patterns/motifs and colours?

I think the importance of Batik lies in several aspect: in Heritage, Art, Economy and in a Scientific/ Technology aspect.
I believe that in the future Batik will have its own voice in the world. Nowadays you can see Batik on several catwalks, but this is not enough for me. In my opinion the world only sees parts and pieces of Batik. They see it as a nice textile, or just as a tradition. I see a future where people will recognize Batik instantly and will have a connection with the tradition.

I think in the future people will recognize Batik in a more complete way. How it touches the tradition & economy, how the patterns are made, how we see it in science and technology.
Because the process  is so laborious, I would like people to know more, be interested, acknowledge this process and value it more.
For myself, I would like Batik to be promoted more prominently by our government. The future younger generations are getting interested in making Bati and want to be part of this. We need a thrive in economic aspect.
I also see a more sustainable future for Batik. In both economics as in waste management there is much to be improved.
I also see a future where technology could support us in terms of designing and preserving Batik.

Is Batik Fractal focussed on a specific Batik motif right now for a new collection or project? 

Batik Fractal is not focusing on specific motif right now. However, we have collected several Batik patterns that are part of the jBatik library. jBatik is desktop application that uses parametric systems to generate various batik patterns or any other patterns. The classical patterns form the base for us to develop various new patterns.
jBatik uses fractal theory, a branch of mathematic that deals with iterations, to create patterns.
Users can draw traditional Batik patterns and then create various new patterns by changing its parameters.
jBatik is being used to empower over a thousand traditional batik artisans in Indonesia. They can create various new patterns from their traditional ones.

#madewithjbatik is a special section (on our website) where we put the independently designed and produced batik fabrics by the batik artisans all across the country. These artisans are using jBatik Software to design the Batik and they produced it traditionally with handmade process (canting and stamp). With #madewithjbatik section, we provide them an online platform to display and commercialize their products through our website. These featured artisans have successfully utilizing technology on their traditional art.***

Working with jBatik

Training in jBatik

Do you consider what Batik Fractal is doing as Art or more as development? 

For us, it is both. Batik Fractal is the next step of development in Batik making. Using technology to create new designs and storing them. It is also an art, since this new way of thinking, using technology to generate patterns, can create a distinct new way of creating Batiks.
Our aim is to be sustainable and fair with our artisan friends. We give transparent pricing for the collaboration and we explain to our costumer about our vendors and partners for Batik Fractal.
We are also working in collaboration with institutions such as schools and universities for jBatik trainings. And of course we are still designing our products.

What is your favorite Batik design?

For Batik design, I guess every traditional Batik designs is my favorite. It gives inspiration and can generate various new patterns.

Muhamad Lukman wearing Batik, made with jBatik from Batik artisans from Batik Kalinggo

* More about Batik Abimanyu on
** More about Batik Kalinggo on
*** Visit for all #madewithjbatik products

August 3, 2016

Iconic Ironic Batik Statement

Just returned from a great work-week in Brighton (UK) and now back to preparing for my journey to Batik. I'm excited and afraid all at once. Looking forward seeing & meeting all the wonderful people there and being surrounded by beautiful Batiks. Here I surround myself too with beautiful Batiks and with wonderful people, who I'm going to miss a lot when I'm traveling on Java. 
My unofficial mother-in-law surprised me a month ago with this Batik Statement. She had the fabric for some years already and inspired by me :), she decided to make a cover for her iron board from it. This lovely statement was captured by Koen de Wit