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Jitet Kustana Interview

Multiple International award winner well known Indonesian cartoonist

Jitet Kustana, A Multiple International award winner Well known Indonesian cartoonist. This is an exclusive interview with Toons Mag.

Today we are with Jitet Kustana, he is a multiple awards winner cartoonist and one of the well-known cartoonists from Indonesia. This is an exclusive interview of him taken by Arifur Rahman from Toons Mag.
Arifur Rahman: Jitet Kustana, Welcome to Toons Mag, and I would like to ask you to tell us your story. 🙂 How was the beginning? 
Jitet Kustana: My name is Jitet Kustana. I was born in Semarang, Indonesia on January 4th, 1967. I live in Ngaliyan, Semarang, Indonesia. Jitet Koestana is my artistic name. And my real name is Kustono.
My name at birth was Kustono. I replaced it with Kustana because of letter A, something more open. Also, like me shouting freedom. Jitet is actually a name, given by friends to insult me when I was 9 years old. Because I have a surgical wound on the buttocks. Then the friends insulted me with Jitet, so that I would cry. Time passed and I was getting used to the Jitet sentence. Until I enjoyed the insult. and make it a name. Then, be a name known to people as Jitet Kustana until now.
I was born into a poor family. I am the first of five children. Three brothers and two sisters.
My father’s name is Tumijan. My father used to work as a clothing dealer. My mother’s name is Juminah. My mother used to work at odd jobs.
Every day the mother sells cold fruit but also sews clothes. I believe, it is done because it helps the father to fulfill the family’s needs.
Mother and father are the people I respect and admire. Because all my sweat and tears will not be able to repay their kindness.
In 1982, I dropped out, of the second grade at a secondary engineering school [STM].
In 1983, I went to Jakarta and worked as a laborer, to dry knitted sweatshirts. At a knit factory named Viva.
One year later I had to stop working because this factory caught fire. I returned to Semarang again. Approximately 1985, my father bought me a small shop. At this shop, I worked as a seller of used books and used magazines.
It’s where my real school was. I can read any book I like. I can read comics whatever I like. I can enjoy Asterix and Obelix comics written by René Goscinny and illustrated by Albert Uderzo. I can enjoy the comic strip Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz. And also I can enjoy the Guillermo Mordillo cartoon strip.

While waiting for customers, I have plenty of time to read and draw anything, including cartoons. Because drawing is indeed my hobby. Until one day I met Slamet Bajuri at my shop. He is a cartoonist. I learned how to draw cartoons, which paper to use, what ink. Then Slamet Bajuri introduced me to the Semarang cartoon community, known as SECAC [Semarang Cartoon Club].
In the Semarang cartoon community, I met a senior cartoonists. I met Yehana SR, Darminto M. Sudarmo, Gunawan Pranyoto, Koesnan Hoesie, Prie GS. Eddy PR and another cartoonist. I showed them my cartoon and they said it was good.
In 1987, my first cartoon was published by the local newspaper Suara Merdeka. My cartoon tells the story of someone who is absorbed in reading predictions but is not aware that his feet are stepping into a cliff. I learned a lot here.
It’s no longer technically making a good cartoon. But also information about the international cartoon contest.

At that time, Yehana SR was the chairman of the Semarang cartoon community, SECAC.
Yehana SR had a small craft industry. I was offered a job there. At the same time, I switched professions again. Become a freelance cartoonist and become a handicraft worker. The used book shop goes to my younger brother.

From morning to evening, I make crafts. That night, I racked my brain to draw a cartoon. Then I sent cartoons in newspapers, magazines and news weekly. Some were published and got an honorarium. But more was not published. The provision of honorarium at that time was sent via postal money orders. It was happy at that time when cartoons were published in the newspaper. Because there is a waiting process for postal money orders. Besides sending to newspapers and magazines. I also started sending for national and international cartoon contests. The honorarium of cartoons published in newspapers, many of which I bought stamps. for the cost of sending work to international cartoon contests.

The cartoon for my first contest, I sent to the Candalaga Manca Negara international cartoon contest, which was held in Semarang-Indonesia in 1987 or 1988.
My cartoon tells the story of, by cooking his hand, a poor mother wants to feed her starving child.
However, the cartoon was not accepted and blocked black. I understand. Because Indonesia at that time was under the Soeharto regime. Very strict on the idea of ​​cartoons and caricatures. Also with criticism.
In 1990, I stopped at a craft worker. Because I work in the morning newspaper Kartika. But it still follows international cartoon contests in various countries.
Days keep changing. Happy and sad in life must continue to be lived. And life must be filled with gratitude.
I worked as a cartoonist and caricature as well as an illustrator in the Kartika morning newspaper, then moved in Humor magazine, moved again in Raket magazine, moved again on Senior newsweekly, and finally worked in Kompas morning newspaper. under the direction of the great Indonesian cartoonist GM Sudarta.
1987 – 1989, as a freelance cartoonist.
1990-1991, as a cartoonist, caricature and illustrator in the daily morning newspaper Kartika.
1991-1994, as a cartoonist, caricature and illustrator in Humor magazine.
1994-1998, as a cartoonist and caricature and illustrator in Raket magazine.
1998-1999, as a freelance cartoonist.
1999-2005, as a cartoonist and caricature and illustrator in the Senior weekly.
2005-2016, as a cartoonist, caricature and illustrator in Kompas morning newspaper.
2016-Now, as a freelance cartoonist.

Arifur Rahman: What was the first cartoon that gave you recognition?
Jitet Kustana: In 1987, my first cartoon was published by the local newspaper Suara Merdeka. My cartoon tells the story of someone who was absorbed in reading predictions, but it is not aware that the feet are stepping into a cliff.
In 1990, I became the winner of a cartoon contest at the national level
Grand prize: bola weekly national cartoon contest (Indonesia)
Also in 1990, I became the winner of a cartoon contest at the International level
Special award: International Nasreddin Hodja cartoon contest (Turkey)
In 1991, prize-silver ii plaquette: world cartoon gallery Skopje (Macedonia)
In 1991, third prize: Okhotsk International cartoon contest (Hokkaido, Japan).
So, I became convinced. That cartoons are my way of life.

Arifur Rahman: When did you decide that you want to become a cartoonist and why?
Jitet Kustana: When the media wants to load my work. When my work was chosen as the winner in the contest. My belief became very strong in deciding to become a cartoonist because cartoons are also a profession.

Arifur Rahman: Which genres of cartoons you like to draw?
Jitet Kustana: All kinds of cartoons, I like. Funny cartoons, cartoon strip, cartoon comics, cartoon editorials, caricatures.
For me, a good cartoon is a cartoon that gives enlightenment. Also provides benefits for the life of the world

Arifur Rahman: According to you, what are some of the main qualities that a cartoonist should possess?
Jitet Kustana: In my opinion, there are five important points that I must do to make good quality work:
1. Make a good and honest cartoon
The typical cartoon, in my opinion, is that cartoons are done continuously and consistently. Because, the style of drawing, color, and ideas that are worked on continuously and consistently will be easy to remember. Although there is no name for me in the cartoon, people will be able to guess, that it is the work of Jitet Kustana.
Good ideas are also very important. Because a good cartoon is a good cartoon image and has a good idea. Not just beautiful but also smart. So it is cartoon work.
As Charles-Joseph Prins de Ligne {Prince, author and general from Belgium who was born in 1735-1814 said: Better to have imagination than the memory.
Honest work is also very important. Cartoon works will be better if also it’s done by heart. With good drawing techniques, good ideas, and honestly, in my opinion, will produce good cartoon work.

Better to have imagination than the memory.

– Charles-Joseph

2. Reading, seeing, hearing and feeling
By reading we can distinguish between good and bad, wrong and right, fair and unjust. . . In short, by reading I became aware of the problem map. And of course, it will be a reference to my cartoon work. I have to side with the good. I must remind you that which is not good. I have to parody which must be parodied. Of course, I do it with cartoons.

3. Pray
According to the United States Statistics Agency, the total population of the world in January 2018 reached 7.53 billion. Of these, the majority are children aged 0-4 years, reaching 662 million or around 8.7% of the total population, followed by ages 5-9 years and 10-14 years. 23 Apr 2018.
I don’t know, how many cartoonists in the world.
I am only one of the inhabitants on earth. I really believe in the Greatest, Most Compassionate, Just, Wise. . . namely God. Nobody knows what will happen tomorrow. The final decision is only in God’s hands. Fortune is divided equally for all living things on earth. Also, a winner in a cartoon contest or lose a cartoon contest.
For me, winning or losing in a cartoon contest is very happy. Because I can study there.
It all made me aware of my weaknesses, my shortcomings, and my mistakes. By praying I feel not alone and happy.

4. Charity
I really believe in natural law. also, the law of cause and effect.
If we damage the environment, we will feel the impact. If we plant a mango tree, the fruit is definitely a mango. If we plant goodness, surely the fruit is good. Believe me, if we give, we certainly accept.

5. Thankful
By not comparing there will be gratitude. Not being arrogant when winning a cartoon contest. And not sad when losing in a cartoon contest. Because, in my opinion, both of them are from two sides of the same currency. Being grateful for what I have makes me very happy.
Make a good and honest cartoon. Reading, seeing, hearing and feeling. Pray. Charity. And Thankful.
These five elements are able to lead me to live until now. because of the five elements, in my opinion, are related to each other.

Arifur Rahman: Did you face obstacles in your early days of career? If yes, then what sort of?
Jitet Kustana: The cartoons that I made, are not always included in the media. Many are rejected. Also the cartoon I sent to the cartoon competition. Lots of losers. But losing and winning gave me a lesson to live my life.

Arifur Rahman: Tell some unique advantage of this profession of a cartoonist?
Jitet Kustana: The cartoonist is a very unique profession that is also flexible. He can make comics, can make illustrations, can make gag cartoons, can make caricatures, can make animations. . .
For me, cartoons benefit me and for life in the world. Because drawing cartoons is my way of expressing myself. For positive and good purposes. The cartoon is a very effective visual language for greeting messages. Also universal language.
Environmental damage continues. Environmental pollution is getting worse. War continues to occur in various countries. Injustice. Impact of war on children. The impact of all that for future generations.
The cartoon serves to remind those problems. So that all the problems become minimal. Also, guard this earth against damage. For future generations.

Arifur Rahman: How were your school days? Did you ever feel that time for a once that you would choose this?
Jitet Kustana: During my school days, I really preferred to draw. Compared to other subjects. Just drawing. I never felt that a cartoonist would become my profession.

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Arifur Rahman: Why should anyone choose this as a Profession?
Jitet Kustana: Because of a belief, confidence led me to make good cartoon images.
Plants called cartoon images. I already planted it. I have to take care of it. I must diligently take care of him. I have to give him a good fertilizer. Everything will process, grow and bear fruit.
Cartoon works, which we believe to be good, if done continuously and consistently will become distinctive works.
Emotions and moods often give color to my cartoon. Happy and sad will bring a different color. And I just realized, after the cartoon image was finished I made it.
I only carried out my role as a cartoonist well. Until now. But, other people judge.
Jiddu Krishnamurti. A philosopher from India. Born: 1895-1986 said:
Strength does not come from victory. It is your struggle that gives birth to strength. When you face difficulties and don’t give up, that’s a strength. And to win a race with other people, it only takes a little time. But to defeat yourself, it takes a lifetime.

Arifur Rahman: Did you ever felt racism and ethnic discrimination in this field?
Jitet Kustana: I myself do not like racism. Because we are all brothers. In Indonesia, the possibility of racism is very minimal.
Because there are rules so as not to violate SARA (Tribe, Race, Religion, and Inter-group). Anyone must not violate that rule.
Of course, for peace and living in harmony together.
Alhamdulillah. In Indonesia, there is also the motto of Bhinneka Tunggal Ika ( Unity in Diversity )
In my opinion, is peace is good.

Arifur Rahman: Do you think political cartoon or caricature should be regardless of depicting any biases?
Jitet Kustana: So true. Caricaturists must defend the truth. The wrong one must be criticized.

Arifur Rahman: Can the cartoonist profession bring enough financial stability along with fame?
Jitet Kustana: Drawing cartoons is one thing. Finance that is enough together with fame is another thing.
In my opinion, the financial stability that is quite together with fame, automatically follows what I do.

Arifur Rahman: What is the biggest achievement you think that you earned in your career?
Jitet Kustana: I have already told you at the beginning of the question.
From being a laborer at the Viva factory, then becoming a used bookseller, then becoming a craftsman of softener while being a freelance cartoonist, until finally, I worked in the Kompas morning newspaper.
It’s like walking just like that many years. I am very grateful because I can do it well.
Up to a great event for me.
European Cartoon Center (ECC) Belgium, invited me to a cartoon exhibition there. It is also a jury of international cartoon competitions.
Wow! Thank you very much, God.
Thank you very much Rudy Gheysens., President of the European Cartoon Center (ECC).
Thank you very much, Saskia Gheysens.
Thank you very much Fernad Vogls.
I am very happy and grateful.
What’s more, if I have to look back. I can’t describe it all. I just go through all that with love. The word Jalaluddin Rumi is true. A Sufi poet born in Balkh (now Samarkand)
“Love transforms rudeness into gentleness, turns unstained people into steadfast opinions, turns cowards into bravery, turns to suffer into happiness, and love brings changes for day and night.”

Arifur Rahman: From your point of view, what are the social liabilities of a cartoonist?
Jitet Kustana: A good cartoonist must participate in guarding the earth against extinction and damage. For the survival of future generations. War still occurs in various countries. Lots of victims, including children.
Many children are orphaned because their parents were victims of war. Many children are malnourished and die of hunger due to war.
From the effects of the war, there were many people who became refugees. And many died on the way. Including children. . .
Kerusakan hutan, Polusi terus berhamburan dan makin banyak, Sampah plastik yang tak bisa terurai, Laut yang banyak sampah . . .
Forest damage, pollution continues to scatter and more and more, Plastic waste that cannot be decomposed, The sea is a lot of garbage.
As a result, humans became victims and many rare animals became extinct . . .
Cartoonists aren’t enough to just shed tears. The cartoonist must swing a pencil to give a warning.

Arifur Rahman: Who is your favorite cartoonist?
Jitet Kustana: Approximately 1985, my father bought me a small shop. At this shop, I worked as a seller of used books and used magazines.
It’s where my real school was. I can read any book I like. I can read comics whatever I like. I can enjoy Asterix and Obelix comics written by René Goscinny and illustrated by Albert Uderzo. I can enjoy the comic strip Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz. And also I can enjoy the Guillermo Mordillo cartoon strip.
When I started my career as a freelance cartoonist, I was inspired by the cartoon characters made by Guillermo Mordillo. Which is identical to round.
Guillermo Mordillo is one of my favorite cartoonists. But, God is a great cartoonist.
Because of human activity, there are many fun events on this earth. also satirical, also tragic, Also spiritual . . .
The wrong can change to be right, the right one can change right.

Arifur Rahman: Did you ever get threatened or bullied because of your job?
Jitet Kustana: Alhamdulillah, not yet.

Arifur Rahman: The difference that you want to see in the cartoons after 10 years from now on?
Jitet Kustana: Technology is increasingly advanced. In the past, cartoonists drew manually, now they can be helped by computers. work becomes easier and faster. Teknologi also influences the development of ideas.
In my opinion, the challenges in cartoon art for the future are very interesting, very fast and very competitive. Because technology allows it all. Information will run very fast because of technological assistance. Cartoon ideas are increasingly emerging because of technology.
Cartoon images will have a high art value because they are supported by technology.
And I have to live it. Just as at the beginning I chose to become a cartoonist.

Arifur Rahman: Do you still enjoy your work like the way you used to in some years ago?
Jitet Kustana: The cartoonist profession is like my second wife. I will still love it until I grow old and die. And will continue to produce new cartoon works.

Arifur Rahman: Difference between old and new generations cartoons?
Jitet Kustana: Lots of great old-generation cartoons. In terms of ideas and drawing techniques. Many new generation cartoons have also emerged. which is also great in terms of ideas and drawing techniques.
I am just one puzzle {of a} piece. Other cartoonists also carry one puzzle. All cartoonists throughout the world also carry one puzzle for one cartoon. If the puzzles are collected and assembled, I think, similar to God’s voice in the form of a cartoon.
That’s the beauty. Each cartoonist brings his own role. Which cannot be replaced by another cartoonist?
“Each of us has EXCELLENCE and LUCK. Let’s complement each other and be perfect to achieve perfect happiness, happiness together.”
Said KH Mustofa Bisri (Gus Mus), a caretaker of Raudlatut Thalibin Islamic Boarding School, Leteh, Rembang, Central Java, Indonesia.

Arifur Rahman: Any suggestions that you would like to share with our new cartoonist?
Jitet Kustana: If you believe that what you are doing is good, and for good, then do it. Believe me, the ones you make will process and will produce good results. The past gives me inspiration and motivation. And I have to provide inspiration and motivation for future generations. Especially my mother and father. They are the ones who motivate. Working without prayer is communist, praying without work is a beggar. I will guide your bike until you can maintain balance. After that, it’s up to you. Giving is one of my rituals. Anything, not only material. Because after giving, I feel happy.

Arifur Rahman: Thanks for your time, from Toons Mag we wish you good luck and success, we and to see more wonderful cartoons from you. 

Cartoons are copyrighted by @jitet-kustana

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Written by Arifur Rahman

Cartoonist, Animator, Illustrator, Online Activist and Publisher of Toons Mag. www.ArifurRahman.com

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