Illustrator and skater Arswandaru Cayho has always embodied a stern DIY mentality. Having grown up watching his artist father paint and create art, Arswandaru became a sponge, absorbing inspiration from his upbringing and local paradise-like environment in Indonesia and applying it to his own creative endeavors from a young age.
Blending reminiscent skate and surf culture icons - grim reapers, skulls, six-wheeled skateboards, palm trees, psychedelic writing - with his underlying DIY punk attitude, the now Bali-based illustrator and designer gives chill beach bum imagery a bad ass makeover. Drawing influence from a range of regarded illustrators, like Robert Crumb, Jim Phillips, Jay Howell, and Neckface, Arswandaru renders his sometimes crude, and more often witty line-based drawings on everything from skate decks, shirts, and music posters. We had the opportunity to talk with Arswandaru about growing up in Indo, how skateboarding facilitated his interest in art, and the music he makes when he's not drawing.
Introduce yourself. What do you do? What would we find in your backpack on a surf trip?
My name is Arswandaru, 26 years old and I am a full-time illustrator. You’ll find a couple tees, boardies, a towel, wax, sunnies , sunblock, keys, hat, cigarettes, a lighter, cold water, some snacks, a pencil, markers, and probably a book or just some blank papers in my backpack.
Give us the rundown on Bali. Tell us about your hometown. How does your environment influence your work?
Actually, I’m not originally from Bali, I moved here a year ago or so. I was born in Surakarta (Central Java), and was raised in several other cities like Yogyakarta and Jakarta (the capital of Indonesia). Every city has different vibes to do art. The people, the streets, the scenes, the language, etc. I live in a tropical country which is surrounded by oceans. It's pretty much summer all year here, so to speak. You can always find beautiful beaches to surf or just to chill at, every island has its own natural treasures. Indonesia is a surfer's paradise. This tropical and coastal sphere influences me a lot, including my skateboarding and music.
Can you talk about your introduction to art? When and how did you start creating, and drawing stuff?
I’ve been drawing since I was a little kid. My father was an artist and painter, so I guess it stimulated me to make art somehow. I grew up skateboarding and then started a punk rock band with my skate mates back then when I was in high school (my mates were in college). I was mostly involved in all of this DIY stuff - making custom graphics on skateboards, silkscreening weird stuff on blank tees, making random skate-comics, hand-drawing posters for our own gigs, basically just fun things to do. From the very beginning, skateboard graphics always blew my mind, and I would always think like, "Damn I want to do something like that. I want do my draw my own graphic and then skate on it. I want be a skate-artist." I remember my first deck was an Ali Boulala Flip board with a skull and two crossed guitars, so gnarly. I guess that was the spark, to create and draw stuff - discovering skateboarding.
Your artwork exists with tons of references and imagery surrounding the ocean, surfing, and skating. How have surfing, skating, and art influenced one another in your life and work?
I’m more into skateboarding actually, I just started to surf like a year or two ago. Skateboarding, surfing, and art are automatically related to one another. It’s just flowing, I mean, from the very basic movements and aesthetics of each of them. If you skate, surf, or do art, besides the physical stuff, you need to use your imagination and creativity in the process while having some fun and being happy.
What are some your biggest visual influences? Where do your ideas for illustrations come from most?
I admire so many great artists from past to present, including Egon Schiele, Oskar Kokoscha, Robert Crumb, Charles Burns, Jim Phillips, Wes Humpston, Neckface, Jay Howell, David Shrigley, and so many more. Mostly I get ideas from skate graphics, comic books, graphic novels, cartoons, vintage tattoo flashes, and posters.
A lot your illustrations include text, usually just a couple of words - “One Too Many” “Beep Beep Coming Through” “Concrete Wave"- how important is the text to each piece?
I used to work part-time at a comic company when I was in college, and I also made my own ‘underground comic’ with a friend. I guess, the text my pieces stems from the habit of making comics all my life. I often include text with my illustrations. I like the composition between the illustration and text, it’s more graphic for me, sometimes it gives a more blatant message. But if I see that the illustration already speaks for itself, I’ll leave it as it is without text.
What have you found yourself doodling the most recently?
6-wheel skateboards (but I actually just draw 3 wheels).
You’re also in a band, tell us about the music you play. Does the music and your illustrations influence each other at all, or are they connected at all?
I’m in two bands at the moment, two different genres. One band is made up of my college friends, and we play psych-stoner-70s rock with has a cult and witchery theme, and sabbath worship. The second one is just us having fun, and experimenting with goofy riffs and more of a surf rock vibe. Sometimes I feel some connection between my illustration work and the music I play, but not always. I did some illustrations for bands and record labels as well. In that case, I kinda need to twist things a little bit, or put more details, but not too much. Adding detail to these graphics gives it a different touch from my other work that is more surf and skate related. I want to explore more and try a little bit of everything.
What are you currently reading and what music are you listening to?
I’m currently reading On the Move : A Life by Oliver Sacks. Basically, I listen to any good music, last 5 songs shuffled on my playlist was King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard – "The River," Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – "Red Right Hand," The Growlers – "I’ll be Around," Tom Waits – "God’s Away on Business."
Describe your idea of the "perfect day”?
Wake up in the morning, have chicken soup for breakfast, going skating in the park with my neighbor next door, doing a couple kickflips, learning something new, have “babi guling” (suckling pork) for lunch, a quick shower, a nap, go to the beach, surf a little bit, learn something new, another shower, play guitar, draw stuff and do some work, dinner with my girlfriend, watch a movie, and go to sleep.