Congrats to Budi Satria Kwan for being named designer of the year! Over his Threadless career, Budi has been printed a whopping 70 times, not including 13 designs that were sold in The Gap! His Threadless designs have been purchased in 141 different countries totalling 268,490 items sold. Budi travelled all the way from Indonesia to Chicago so we could meet him in person at the Threadless Family Reunion this year. Turns out, he’s a super cool dude. Get to know Budi a little better.


The stenciling style is pretty evident in your earlier works- is this something you try to incorporate into your style nowadays?

Actually I do not specialize in doing stencil style. I like to try new approaches to illustration and stencil illustration like the ones used in street art. Street art is something that fascinates me. Stencil illustration is attached with certain value, so it brings the illustration to a new level.

What’s the art scene like in Indonesia? Have you ever seen someone wearing one of your designs?

Art and design are not something widely valued by people in Indonesia, in my opinion. I think the same applies to most developing countries. Art and design aren’t always seen as something that can be engaging. In Indonesia, people have the tendency to think of really traditional works when they think of art. For example, paintings of paddy fields, local markets, and other themes that have been done for hundreds of years. However, engagement photography is big here. In fact, most of the graphic design graduates or non-graduates I know ended up as engagement photographers! It seems that people are obliged to have engagement photos before the real wedding and the money is there. There is one photograph that I will never forget: A couple in wedding attire in the middle of a paddy field with the guy playing violin. It is really out of place, cheesy, and from what I understand neither of the couple knew how to play violin (or had ever been to a paddy field I believe). Every time I remember it, it never fails to make me smile! Back to the question: No, I never saw anyone wear my design here in Indonesia.

You took these stencils and started your own t-shirt line with your brother called Concrete Rocket. It started off with three designs and has since blown up to over 25 designs and even jackets. What’s been the most difficult part of starting your own business?

The most difficult part, other than doubting myself in every step, is finding a reliable local printer. I started back when I lived in Singapore. After weeks, I still could not find a good and affordable printer in Singapore so I resorted to outsourcing from Indonesia. I got scammed twice before I finally managed to find the right one. It was disheartening to have so much trouble even before the business started. Other issues came up after, but I guess these issues are all part of the things that will happen when running a store.

Did you enjoy your trip to Chicago for the Family Reunion?

Of course! Everything was so different. I found that buildings were bigger, the roads were bigger, and, in general, things were bigger. The Chicago Art Institute was surprisingly big. However, what left the biggest impression on me was to see Threadless, the company which I only knew from online and to meet like minded people.

How did it feel to win Designer of the Year?

I feel embiggened.

Check out Budi’s MADE shop to pick up some of his designs!