First Product Advertisements and Advertising Agencies
The entrance of private investors in the plantation industry also started the growth of other new products. The nonelectrical lamp was one of the modern when advertising agencies emerged. These agencies were categorized in three groups of sizes (large, medium, and small) and ownership. The Dutch people owned mostly the large ones. N.V Algemeen Reclame Bureau Excelsior made some ads for Wilmelmina Hotel, Homann Hotel and Peugeot Motor, while the Chinese and natives owned the medium and smaller agencies such as N.V. Tjong Hok Long, Liem Kim Hok, Biro Lauw Tjin, Bureau voor Indische Agenture & Reclames and Algemeen Advertentie.

N.V. Tjong Hok Long was the first ad agency founded in 1901 by the Chinese. In the beginning they created many ads for comic books which were also printed by the agency. Later, they created ads for other products such as batiks, soaps, cigarettes, and medicines. The ads they produced were mostly handwritten and very plain.

In 1905, Aneta, a news agency was founded. The agency had its own advertising department and was very advanced not only in facilities but also in the manpower that came from Europe. Some of its creative people were F. Van Bemmel, Is. Van Mens and Cor van Deutekom who did advertisements for big clients such as Bataafche Petroleum in Surabaya, General Motors and Koninklijke Pakevaart Maatschappij in Batavia.



Pre-Japanese Occupation
The world economic depression in 1929-1930 had a big influence on the advertising industry in the Dutch Indies. Many foreign companies had to stop their campaigns and big agencies lost a lot of money. But many smaller agencies still survived because most of their clients came from small industries like cigarettes, soaps and powders.

The situation got better in the years 1930-1942. Industries were back in shape. Many products were imported from Europe and US like Ford cars, Philips radios, and several other brands from watches, milk to health products. Many advertising agencies were keen again. Some of them even started to apply a ‘new method’ to their ads which is now called product/brand positioning. Success Advertising, for example, positioned its client, Philips, as a brand for economical products. And so was the Listerine ad, which positioned itself as the toothpaste to cure any dental problems. The ad used a Caucasian male model, smiling widely, showing his healthy, clean, white teeth.

Until 1940, manufactured products dominated the Dutch Indies market. Most of them were everyday products or home appliances imported from Europe, Japan and US.

Sales Promotional Advertisements
Based on some products produced by European, Chinese or natives, it was shown, that there had been some attempts to make product segmentations according to the target audiences. This was shown in the type of people appeared in each advertisement. For example Fuchs & Rens Ltd which imported Chrysler, employed Success Advertising to make its ad. The agency knew very well that the Europeans who were living in the Dutch Indies were the target market for this automotive product. And they had already known Chrysler’s reputation. As a result, the ad was very efficient in communicating the message. The copy was ‘Chrysler, the best automotive for a long trip’ along with an image of the product.

Other ads for European imported products such as watches and radios also appeared very simple and clean. They mostly used illustrations to attract the audience. For example a Tawiza watch ad showed two kinds of watches, round and square, complete with the hours, minutes and seconds. Another ad with similar looks was an ad for a Philips radio showing an illustration of the radio box.

The simplicity of Chrysler, Tawiza and Philips ads were far different than other European products made for the natives like Bier Itam Serimpi, a beer product produced by Archipel Brouwerij in Jakarta. European people in the Dutch Indies were the only ones who basically consumed this product. But starting from the early 20th century, it was also enjoyed by the natives. The ad for this beer was very long and descriptive using an illustration of twelve serimpi female dancers.



The introduction of new methods and techniques in Indonesian advertising had made many smaller-scale agencies grow bigger. Most of them acquired new knowledge that was brought from European countries who were more advanced in the field.

Japanese Occupation
In March 1942, the Japanese arrived in the Dutch Indies and took over the whole archipelago. This invasion had frozen the business and economic activities in the region which had been basically managed by the Dutch Indies Government. Instead of economy development, the Japanese policy concentrated more on building facilities for defense. Not only physically but also mentally. Commercial ads were shifted into politic propaganda to support the regime. Such ads appeared in daily newspapers Asia Raya and Djawa Shimbun, saying that Japan is the older brother of Indonesia and will protect all of Asia from western colonialism. These ads were released by the Japanese Department of Communication in Indonesia.


When the Japanese came and conquered the Dutch, many natives perceived it as the moment to gain back their dignity as Asian people. The Japanese, who called itself ‘older brother’ were believed as heroes for the Indonesians and was very well accepted by the people. The Japanese, who were also advanced in art and culture, were expected to help the local artists develop Indonesian art.


In April 1942, at the request from Lt. General Imamura, Indonesian and Japanese artists were gathered to introduce themselves. A year later, ‘Keimin Bunka Shidoso,’ an art center was founded in Jakarta by the Japanese government. The objective of this organization was to have a place to teach local artists and to develop Indonesian art.

Behind it all, the Japanese had its own agenda. They actually needed human resources, which were artists, for making their propaganda materials such as posters and billboards. The instructors came from Japan, and they taught the local artists the technique of drawing, coloring and layout. But the themes were always about the greatness of the Japanese kingdom, and how it could lead Indonesian people to a better life.

One of the Japanese instructors was Saseo Ono (1906-1954). Ono, who was a painter, came to Indonesia as a soldier. He arrived in Banten, West Java in March, 1942.

During his stay, Ono painted many walls on people’s houses he found in Banten. The themes of his paintings were of course Japanese propaganda with slogans saying ‘Asia for Asia,’ ‘Nippon and Indonesia are best friends,’and ‘Asia in unity.’ In 1944 a book containing of his sketches was published by Djawa Shimbun newspaper.

When Keimin Bunka Shidoso was founded in Jakarta, Ono became one of the figures who made the concept and mission of the organization’s activities. His thinking and art techniques had influenced and opened the way of thinking in Indonesian painters and artists at that time, like Affandi, S. Sudjojono, Henk Ngatung, Otto Djaya, Dullah, and Hendra Gunawan.

Early Independence
In August 1945, the Japanese surrendered to the Allies. The Indonesians who were lead by Soekarno, used the opportunity to gain its independence. In August 17, 1945 Soekarno announced the brief, succinct, and unilateral ‘Proklamasi;’ the Declaration of Independence. He then became the first President of the Republic of Indonesia.

The Japanese occupation left the Indonesian economy greatly damaged. As a new nation, the country had no money or infrastructures at all. Business was slow, and there were still not many commercial ads produced during this period of time. But some artists who received art education from the Japanese and others who did not, continue their activities by producing posters and caricatures because they wanted to burn the spirit of nationalism to the Indonesian people against colonialism. Their activity was fully supported by Soekarno, who himself was an artist and architect as well.

The situation became better in the 1950s. Although the Indonesian economy was still struggling, some industries had started to run again. Advertising agencies started to open again in Jakarta (21 agencies), Bandung (7 agencies), and outside Java (20 agencies). Many Dutch people also came back to the region and took over their businesses, which they had to leave when the Japanese took over. One of them was NV Borsumij (Borneo Sumatra Handels Maatschappij), a distribution company who had branches in Asia, Australia, Middle East, Europe and the US. Other companies such as Good Year tire and Philips electronic made several ads.

In terms of visual language, the influence of ‘Hollandsch denken en Hollandsch inzicht’ (thinking and perceiving as a Dutch) was still dominating. For example, the ads for restaurants or hotels always used an illustration depicting an Indonesian waiter in a white suit, peci (traditional hat), and a napkin hanging on one of his shoulders, taking orders from a sitting Dutch man. Other examples were the appearances of Disney’s characters like Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Cinderella, and Snow White in ads.

The use of logos also started in this era. Some big companies started to use logotypes to identify their products. The popularity of it brought new business to the advertising agencies. They not only provided a service to design the logos according to the productÕs images, but also to register them to the authority. But the copyright law had not been truly applied. Similarities in logo designs often occurred.

In terms of printing technique, there were not many colored print-ads during this period. The technology of the printing machine was far behind compared to Europe. Instead of photography, illustration dominated the look of the layout.

Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB)
The first Indonesian art school was founded in Bandung in 1947 as part of the Faculty of Technical Sciences. The school was founded by the Dutch colonial government to train Indonesian students as art teachers.

The fact that the school had evolved as a branch of a colonial Dutch technical institute gave the Indonesian students the opportunity to get in touch with international trends in art. They learnt in Dutch and Indonesian, and they had to read from Dutch books. The professors, who came from The Netherlands, followed the Dutch system of academic training. Ries Mulder and Simon Admiraal were two of them. The latter became the first director.

In 1961, a confrontation between the Dutch and Indonesians in West Papua had forced many Dutch people to migrate out of Indonesia, including those professors who taught at ITB. Many Indonesian artists like Srihadi, Ahmad Sadali, Soemardja, Mochtar Apin, and Sudjoko, Suyadi who received art education in the West, replaced their positions.

Until early 1960s, the school only had 4 studios in the Fine Art Department which still exists today; painting, sculpture, graphic art and ceramics.

The New Order
In March 11, 1966, a major political change happened in Indonesia. Soekarno, the first President of the country, was forced by the military to step down, and Soeharto became the nation’s second president.

Under Soeharto’s order which was more liberal compared to Soekarno’s, the nation started to develop its economy. With many efforts to stabilize the political situation, the government also invited foreign investors to invest in Indonesia. Infrastructures and buildings started to develop. Banks and hotels were opened. In short, business began to flourish.

In 1967, a local advertising agency, Inter-Visa Ltd., was founded. It became the pioneer of modern advertising in Indonesia. It created many campaigns on social marketing and public service advertising. Two years later, several other advertising agencies were founded. One of them was Benson SH Ltd., which was affiliated with the New York based Ogilvy & Mather. Later the company changed its name to Ogilvy Indonesia.

The growth of the economy created high demands in the advertising and graphic design world to support the industry. In 1967, a graphic art studio had been established for students at the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) to introduce graphic design and art technique assignments, which include book covers, posters, and packaging design. An assistant professor who gave such assignments to students was A.D. Pirous, who was also a professor in calligraphic art. But the demand for more graphic artists/designers was not fulfilled yet.

In that year, Pirous was sent by ITB to the United States. ITB received US$ 60,000 from John Rockefeller III. He was given US$ 10,000 to study at Rochester Institute of Technology, in Rochester, NY. There, he was not intended to take any degrees. Instead he was assigned to learn every single subject from undergraduate to graduate programs related to the graphic design field. In 1971, Pirous came back to Indonesia. And two years later the graphic art studio in ITB was divided into 2 studios; graphic art and graphic design.

In the beginning, graphic design education in ITB put more focus on the artistic aspect. It was a reflection of the graphic art domination as the nature of the school. Drawing was an important subject, while typography and semiotics were also taught. Later on, graphic design not only functioned as an artistic expression, but also as a way of communicating messages. So, the foundation of its education was put back to problem solving. Creative thinking became the most important process to create an effective design. The students used some references from European magazines such as Grafik magazine from Switzerland and others from Germany.

Meanwhile there were several other design schools that opened during the same time as ITB; The Indonesian Institute of Art (ISI) in Yogyakarta. Years later it was followed by Jakarta Institute of Art (IKJ), and the Faculty of Art and Design at the University of Trisakti in Jakarta.

Posters done by Prijanto S, during his study at ITB in the 70s

First Graphic Design Exhibition
On June 16, 1980, three graphic designers (Didit Chris Purnomo, Gauri Nasution, and Hanny Kardinata) created the first Indonesian graphic design exhibition in Erasmus Huis, Jakarta. Some graphic design exhibitions had been held before, but they were only European designs. The exhibition showed a complete range of works from logos to posters, brochures to packaging and was perceived as the first occasion for Indonesian graphic designers to introduce the profession to the public.

Indonesian Graphic Designer Society
On September 24, 1980, the Indonesian Graphic Design Society (IPGI) was formed and opened with an exhibition held in Jakarta. The background of its formation was that the graphic design condition in Indonesia was far behind compared to other countries in South East Asia. Another concern was the un-familiarity of Indonesian people to the graphic design profession. Its mission was to preserve and extend the heritage of Indonesian visual language through graphic design and to gain recognition from the international world. During its period, the organization held several exhibitions, showing works of some Indonesian graphic designers, and also works of other designers from abroad.

IPGI was renamed after Indonesian Graphic Design Association (ADGI) on May 7, 1994. The new organization also chose its new chairman. Since then, the organization has never really functioned as a graphic design organization. There has not been any activities up until the writing of this thesis (2003 –red.).

Graphic Design Indonesia Today
Indonesia started to face a new era afterSoeharto’s resignation in May of 1998. The progression of computer and communication technology has put the country’s advertising and graphic design at a different stage. With some new policies released by the new government supporting the freedom of speech and expression – something that was forbidden during Soeharto’s regime – the communication industry flourished rapidly. Hundreds of new magazines were published, including Cakram magazine – the only advertising magazine that sometimes includes graphic design as its topic. And in less than four years, 7 private TV stations came on air making a total of 13 TV stations and securing the growth of advertising agencies in big cities.

Today, the number of advertising agencies in Indonesia has reached more than one hundred. Most of them are based in Jakarta, and owned by Indonesians. However, the number of graphic design firms that are only doing non-advertising projects are still very few. Three of them are Makki & Makki Strategic Communications – an expertise in branding and packaging, Afterhours, and LeBoYe. The latter is famously known for its Indonesian graphic design style. But competition hardly exists between them. In fact, it comes from other graphic design firms in the first-world countries, which are entrusted to do projects for many giant local companies. Some of them are Saatchi & Saatchi, a Londonbased advertising agency who made the corporate identity for Garuda Indonesia Airways – the country’s airline company, and Landor who made several corporate identities for Bank Danamon, Bank International Indonesia and Astra International Corporation. Regardless of huge design fees that they must spend, it seems that hiring foreign design firms will continue because it can elevate the company’s image.

The number of graphic design schools in this new period also has added at least about another ten. Some are Pelita Harapan University, Bina Nusantara University, Interstudy in Jakarta, and also Petra University in Surabaya. But still, for those who have more money, they would rather get training abroad for the consideration that it offers better education in design. Favorite schools are in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, New York City, London, Sydney, Perth and Melbourne.

Despite of all the progression above, until today the appreciation and recognition of graphic design is considered low compared to other Southeast Asian countries. Besides big scale advertising agencies and graphic design companies, society still cannot understand the difference between a graphic designer from an art director or an illustrator.

Source: In Search of a Style, p. 33-49.

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In the 1900s, the use of illustration became popular, and still is today. The style of illustration was very realistic, and the use of colors today are still limited to black and white. As a reference, the style appeared in Europe during the same period of time had a similar look. The style is called Arts & Crafts. In terms of conceptual thinking, style appearing from this era consisted of text which explained the object. One example was an ad for piano products, W. Naessans & Co., which uses an illustration of a grand piano placed next to informational text written in serif typeface. Another example was the Chrysler ad, which used an illustration of its product placed above the text explaining the product’s features. In general they were very product-minded.

According to Merriam Webster’s dictionary, the description of the word ‘traditional’ is an inherited, established, or customary pattern of thought, action, or behavior. In this thesis, the word ‘traditional’ is interpreted as the cultural heritages of the local people, the Indonesian people in general without looking into any particular ethnic groups. Based on the description above, in general, styles found in Indonesian graphic design can be categorized into three different groups. They are traditional style, semi-traditional style, and non-traditional style.

The first one is a style which contains the traditional values of Indonesian people and cultures, depicted on visual forms. The elements are embodied from things found in every day life of the Indonesian people since a long time ago. The dominant characteristic from this category are the use of illustration as its main element in the layout and every day’s things for the themes. The overall look of the layout is very dense and far from clean.

The use of this style is found on packaging and logo designs for utilitarian products, like textiles, teas, cigarettes, jamu (traditional herbal medicine), soybean sauce and chilly sauce. These products are often sold in traditional markets in rural areas of Java. Its characteristic is that it always uses illustration and text for the logo, and the illustration literally illustrates the name of the brand as real/detailed as possible. It happens possibly because of the audiences – who live in rural areas and do not get enough education – are mostly illiterate.

Sometimes the names of the brands do not have any relationship with the product at all. For example, there are logos for tea products Teh Cap Sintren (Cap Sintren Tea) uses a female Javanese dancer wearing traditional Javanese clothes as its logo, and Teh Cap Pendawa Lima (Pendawa Lima Tea) uses the illustration of ‘Pendawa Lima’ – the names of five warriors from the wayang story, ‘Bharatayudha.’ Other examples are labels for textile products, like Tekstil Tjap Rapat Binatang (Animal Meeting Textile) uses an image of eleven kinds of animals gathered at one big table, and Tenun Tjap Petik Lada (Peppercorn Picking Textile) uses an image of a woman picking peppercorns in a field.

This kind of logo started to appear in the beginning of 1900 in home industry products. Usually, the logos are made by the business’ owners or local painters. This style uses colors which are predominantly primary, like red, yellow, green, blue, and black.

Source: Source: In Search of a Style, p. 66-68

Pelengkap pustaka:

Tinjauan Desain Kemasan – Sejarah Jamu
Tinjauan Desain Kemasan – Sejarah Teh
Tinjauan Desain Kemasan – Kemasan Teh Tong Tji
Etnisitas vs. Modernitas dalam Desain Grafis

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Yogya exhibition showcases graphic art

Graphic art in Indonesia has often been used to spread propaganda and ideologies.

According to curator Aminudin TH Siregar, a climax in the use of graphic art as a tool for propaganda was experienced during the first anniversary of Indonesia’s independence, in August 1946.

But until the present day, graphics as both a genre of art and tool for propaganda or pseudo-propaganda, can be found in works by the socialist art movement Taring Padi. See: Posters (2000-2009).

For many people, graphic arts are automatically connected to illustrations — therefore something that cannot really be enjoyed on its own. Graphics are stigmatized, at least in Indonesia, for not being true or real art; the situation is different in Europe where graphic arts flourished under big names like Albrecht Duerer, Escher and Kaethe Kollwitz.

But even in Europe, one has to admit that graphic arts have always stood in the shadow of other art genres, like painting.

Source: Yogya exhibition showcases graphic art (The Jakarta Post, May 3, 2009)


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