We first spoke with Fattah Setiawan back in 2012 when he was chosen as a winner for our poster design contest (you can read the interview here). Now Fattah and his creative partner, Bramanto Setyaki, are back on our radar after enlivening our first 99designs Cafe series with an incredible live chalk-drawing performance featuring their latest winning design.

We sat down with Fattah and Bramanto to discuss their team’s process, the Indonesian influence in their work, and their advice for aspiring designers.

Fattah Setiawan (left) and Bramanto Setyaki (right) alongside their chalk drawing

Name: Fattah Setiawan and Bramanto Setyaki

99designs handle: fattahsetiawanBramanto Setyaki

Location: Indonesia

Tell us about your team and how you all work together.

Fattah: It all began when I worked as a creative assistant at a hospitality management company. Day by day, I was getting overwhelmed and finally decided to hire another designer as my co-worker.

I’d been following 99designs contests until last year, when I started getting busier with direct clients (who were once my clients). Long story short, I made a decision to resign and develop my own brand, Orkha Creative. This is the beginning of our journey, with the portfolio advantages from 99designs, of course.

How did you come across our 99designs Cafe Illustration contest?

Fattah: When I realized that this illustration contest was held for an event in my home country, Indonesia. After reading the brief, I knew that this project was perfect for my co-worker, Bramanto Setyaki. I sent the contest to him, although I already had a solid concept for my own work. In the end, Bram’s entry was eliminated and, surprisingly, mine went through to the finals.

At the last minute of the final round I asked for Bram’s help, because I trusted his skills in hand-lettering and drawing (our studio is the first chalk art service in town). Bram’s work really pleased me. I had positive feedback after submitting it. When the result came out, we won.

99design Cafe Surabaya | Bramanto Setyaki making a chalk drawing of his team’s winning design

99: How do you feel about using traditional Indonesian patterns and symbols in your work?

Fattah: Let’s take my entry for the 99designs Cafe as an example. I used the silhouette of Gunungan, a shadow puppet icon from Javanese culture. In the Gunungan itself, more stunning details are actually available. If I could have included these realistic details, the result would be a lot better.

99: What do you think incorporating these elements will achieve?

Fattah: Indonesia is undoubtedly a rich country, especially in its culture. We have more than 300 ethnicities and each of them has unique visual characters. Ethnic elements from Indonesia aren’t widely known yet in the graphic world. The most famous one is the Batik pattern, but awesome traditional graphic elements from here have existed since long ago.

Some of them are: Ulos fabric pattern from Batak which is more geometrical, decorative tattoo patterns from Dayak Tribe in Borneo, Bali’s sculpture elements from Hindu culture, and many others. Using “Traditional Indonesia” as a theme in design will definitely bear unique and exotic touches.

Including traditional elements in your design can be challenging, since it could be inappropriate for certain graphics. Nonetheless, introducing Indonesian culture to the world through design should be happening. This, I hope, can be accomplished by me or other Indonesian graphic designers.

Bramanto: Our current generation in particular is bombarded by the influence of foreign cultures. Incorporating Indonesian elements into design is one way to ensure that we remain familiar with and passionate about our traditional culture as a precious heritage of our nation.

Poster GKM

Bramanto’s poster design for a campus event incorporates traditional Indonesian patterns

Bramanto, have you created a lot of designs that incorporate elements of Indonesian culture?

Bramanto: Prior to working on the 99designs Cafe project, there was another design project for a campus event that promoted our cultural theme with a pop twist. Through this project I felt challenged to find out more about the variety of basic patterns of each Indonesian traditional culture, sorting and combining a few different patterns while adding that pop feel to make it attractive to our younger generation today.

Apart from that project, there was also a logo design project which required me to incorporate Javanese traditional patterns/symbols. It was for a restaurant called Pangeran Muda, which means “Young Prince,” specializing in fried fish. My logo builds from the letter “P” to form a fish symbol in a traditional Indonesian style.

Logo Pangeran Muda

Bramanto’s logo design for Pangeran Muda

How has being an Indonesian influenced your design work?

Fattah: If we look back in history, Indonesian artists have been known for their patience in producing detail. I try to adopt that work ethos into my own designs. I sweat every small detail to strengthen the whole design.

I’m inspired by the ancient Indonesian people, who built huge and beautiful temples with detailed elements. What keeps popping into my mind is how can we, as a team, produce something with such high complexity? How can that system be built and maintained? And how would we keep the high artistic quality on track, when it is done by different people? I also wonder how to make things more memorable. And much more. I think I live with too many questions and I, alongside my team, will try our best to answer them.


ThatGirl DJ logo by Fattah Setiawan

What do you and your team hope to achieve next?

Fattah: Our short mission is to focus more on establishing our position as a design studio in our town, Malang, East Java. The reason’s simple, we think that people – especially entrepreneurs – are still unaware about the importance and advantages of graphic design. We’d like to devote ourselves to approaching and educating young entrepreneurs and startups.

Our next plan is to make a team and strengthen its members to focus, participate, and be notable 99design contestants.


Fattah’s entry to the Kanye West album redesign community contest

What advice can you give to other aspiring designers?

Fattah: You need to understand your clients’ needs, stay in touch with them, and consider them your bosses. Clients choose the designs they like, but you can choose the contests that you’ll enjoy most. When a client has the privilege to eliminate designer, why can’t we also be choosy about what contests to enter?

Don’t take contests too seriously. That’s how crowdsourcing works. I actually don’t 100% agree with crowdsourcing contests, but when we can have fun by helping other people – like clients – why would you quit? Enjoying this kind of process is our way to develop too.

For those of you who are still chasing the Top Level title, I suggest that you keep competing in 99designs. When a new community contest is announced on the 99designs designer blog, you better take part. Actually, when the community contest is held, most of the 99designs staff set their eyes wide open on it. If they find some good and unique works, they won’t hesitate to move your level up to Top Level. Have so much fun!

Do you think there is a place for traditional cultural elements in modern design work? Share your thoughts in the comments!