Grafis Nusantara’s Keretek Label Archive

Not long after the release of their second volume last June, Grafis Nusantara presents the 3rd volume of their publication filled with archives of keretek [Indonesian hand rolled cigarettes with a blend of tobacco, clove] labels. This new publication was first introduced to the public at the Tokyo Art Book Fair held last November. Rakhmat Jaka from Grafis Nusantara explained that it’s their intention to increase the intensity of book releases along with their proactiveness in joining art book fairs, both those held in the country as well as those held abroad. “We’ve shown a lot of Grafis Nusantara’s archive collection at the art book fairs we routinely attend. As such, we want to intensify our publication production,” he stated.

Their plan to take on keretek labels as a theme came about when Grafis Nusantara participated in the 2022 edition of Indonesian Contemporary Art & Design. For that program, the Grafis Nusantara showcased an installation with keretek as a theme. From there, the idea to develop the theme in the form of a publication was sparked. While the first volume displayed Jaka’s personal archive and the second volume displayed the archives of an external collector, the materials in this volume can be said to have been procured relatively quickly. Volume 3 boasts 300 keretek labels bought from a collector—or seller—through Facebook.


To design this publication, Grafis Nusantara invited SatuCollective to take part. Sulaiman Said from Grafis Nusantara said that SatuCollective’s involvement with this project was a result of their personal closeness with Grafis Nusantara as well as their extensive experience as a design studio. Seto Adi of SatuCollective explained that the design process began by looking for the common thread in the visual style carried by Grafis Nusantara in each volume as well as finding the right way to showcase SatuCollective’s style. Aside from that, the design process also kicked off with studying the archive collection to be displayed, particularly from a design perspective.

Agus Handoko from SatuCollective stated that the design of this publication is aimed towards showcasing the uniqueness of the contents of this volume. The packaging and cover of this publication was designed to mimic cigarettes with gimmicks of movable illustrations of women smoking. Afif Ahmad from SatuCollective added that the design was intended to maintain and present Indonesia’s visual character as well as Grafis Nusantara’s own style. Seto elaborated further that the design bridges the aged visual archive with Grafis Nusantara’s approach which is quite pop and modern.

Following Tokyo Art Book Fair, volume 3 continued its “tour” to Bangkok Art Book Fair and Kuala Lumpur Art Book Fair. Jaka shared that they received positive responses from audiences abroad and they were quite impressed with the form and designs of those keretek labels. With Gadis Kretek fever hitting Kuala Lumpur, public interest there in the keretek label collection of this 3rd volume also rises.

About the Author

Daud Sihombing

Daud Sihombing has been writing professionally for the past 9 years. This fervent alternative publishing enthusiast prefers his quaint little town over the hustle and bustle of the city and doesn't let sleep stop him from watching every single AS Roma match.