Looking at the Bustle of Makassar’s Graphic Design

In an effort to reach graphic design practitioners in Central and Eastern Indonesia as well as to equalize the country's graphic design ecosystem, the Makassar Chapter of the Indonesian Association of Graphic Designers (ADGI) was formed in January 2024 and became the first ADGI chapter established outside Java. The ADGI Makassar Chapter is led by Rahmat Zulfikar as Chairman, Andi Were Rio as Secretary, and Bilyan Putra Sari as Treasurer. "We are focusing on forming the [chapter] first, while strengthening the program and organizational structure requirements because we want to try to first map out what pattern is needed by the Makassar [community]," Rahmat explained, elaborating on the initial steps for the Makassar ADGI Chapter.

According to Rahmat, the idea of establishing the Makassar ADGI Chapter emerged when he was the chosen designer and communicated intensely with ADGI Central Chapter as a judge and mentor in the South Sulawesi branding project in 2019. He said, "The voice regarding [the formation of] the Makassar ADGI Chapter began to revive because He said there had been talk of that before. During the South Sulawesi brand [project], discussions around establishing the chapter grew. At the same time, perhaps the [ADGI] Central Chapter is also talking about moving East.” In May 2023, precisely at the Makassar Design Market (Sardes), the conversation became even more intense when Ritchie Ned Hansel, General Chair of ADGI, was involved as one of the program performers. In August 2023, the technical stages and concrete steps for establishing the Makassar ADGI Chapter will begin to be carried out.

“In August 2023, we were given the green light to establish the Makassar Chapter of ADGI. At the time, the ADGI Central Chapter provided assistance through the Chapter Advisory Council. At that time, Kang Rifqi Anshorullah became our mentor in the formation of the ADGI Makassar Chapter. We tried various inputs and approaches. So in the last few months before the end of the year we routinely held online meetings to solidify the program and discussion on forming a management board," Rahmat explained. "This includes how we would hold the inauguration procession and we finally arrived at the decision on the model for the inauguration involving a public lecture in collaboration with UC Makassar [Ciputra School of Business Makassar]. Some of the suggestions given then provided an interesting picture in forming chapters, especially regarding the communal characteristics of the region. Until finally, we solidified several models and approaches that we will execute in the work program in the early days following the inauguration. We are very grateful to have been given some insights that have opened our perspective in responding to regional and professional organizations."


In Rahmat's view, Makassar has a significant concentration of graphic design practices and designer community movements. “The pulse of graphic design is there. This is what we [ADGI Makassar Chapter] are trying to continue and cover. It’s undeniable, Makassar and Eastern Indonesia want to be involved in forming Indonesia's visual identity," he said. "The hope is that the existence of the Makassar ADGI Chapter can open up space for us [graphic design practitioners in Makassar and Eastern Indonesia] to participate further. He thinks that it is a shame that practitioners in Makassar and surrounding areas have to migrate to Jakarta, Bandung or Yogyakarta to pursue a career in graphic design.

Rahmat, who is also the Creative Director at the studio he founded, Ethnica Design, has many views on the professional practice of graphic designers in Makassar. He saw that design studios there were starting to emerge, although most of them were not yet legal entities. He said that the graphic designer profession in Makassar was also enlivened by the large number of freelance workers. Being far from Jakarta and other big cities in Java does not mean that opportunities are closed. "For example, the projects of state-owned companies [in Jakarta] foster certain MSMEs. Usually the needs are local [in the area]. For example, Bank Indonesia has more or less 500 assisted MSMEs. We're only talking about one instance here," Rahmat tried to explain. "Not to mention the demand for in-house designers in companies and departments as awareness of the need continues to grow."

He also thinks that requests for graphic design services and work come from the activities of young people including culinary businesses, fashion, music, and events that are often held in Makassar and Eastern Indonesia. Rahmat believes that there is a demand and market in Makassar for graphic design services. However, he believes that education needs to be improved, especially in terms of professionalism. He sees that there are still many speculative projects that are making the ecosystem unhealthy. "My concern is this. Many graduates continue to enter industry. But the industry is disappointing. [So] then they move on to another profession and this is the phenomenon if we take a look at Makassar," said Rahmat. "That is one of the urgent reasons why the association [ADGI Makassar Chapter] must be present."

Academically, Rahmat, as a lecturer in the Visual Communication Design (DKV) department at UC Makassar, believes that interest in graphic design studies is quite high in Makassar. There are at least three educational institutions that teach graphic design studies, namely Makassar State University (UNM) which started in 2008, State Creative Media Polytechnic Makassar (Polimedia) beginning in 2011, and finally UC Makassar in 2021. According to him, each educational institution has a different character. With the D3 study program, Polimedia has graduates who are ready to work and go directly into industry. On the other hand, UMN, which has a strong artistic character, apparently has graduates with strong creative abilities. Meanwhile, UC Makassar emphasizes the entrepreneurial spirit.

Rahmat said that students not only come from Makassar, but also other cities in South Sulawesi, such as Toraja and Palopo. In Rahmat's view, UNM as a state campus has a more diverse student body from various regions. “I have a lecturer friend here [UC Makassar]. He was from UNM and then [pursued a] Masters at the Bandung Institute of Technology. He is not from Makassar. He's from Enrekang," Rahmat said. "Graphic design in Makassar is not only accommodated by the Makassar 'city elite'. There's a saying that design is for the consumption of the 'city elite' only. Even though it's not. In terms of the artworks created, it is local people who have strong stories. The storytelling is more mature." According to Rahmat, highlighting and providing space for these talents is also what ADGI Makassar Chapter wants to do.


According to him, the number of applicants to the DKV department continues to increase every year. This will not only have an impact on the number of graduates which will also increase, but also on other sectors, such as printing. “Previously, printers in Makassar only accepted and worked on orders using the materials they had. In fact, if we talk about graphic experiments, the materials can vary. We [practitioners in Makassar] are sometimes jealous of seeing [practitioners] in Yogyakarta, in Bandung, whose experiments with graphic materials are so interesting. Now there is a push and pull because students are starting to demand more. "Finally, printing has started to improve [its services]," explained Rahmat.

Interest in graphic design also comes from students majoring in Communication Sciences. Several large campuses in Makassar, such as Hasanuddin University, Indonesian Muslim University and Alauddin Makassar State Islamic University have Student Autonomous Bodies with a focus on graphic design. According to Rahmat, the graduates or cadres are quite active in the Makassar graphic design industry. In general, Rahmat believes that the interest and closeness of the people in Makassar and Sulawesi in general has been present for a long time. In his perspective, the civilization and culture there are very closely related to the visual aspect. “Sulawesi people have a tendency towards the visual. The second largest karst in the world after China is in Sulawesi. [So is] the oldest painting in the world. From there alone we have such a range of visual history. We haven’t even gotten to the craft aspect yet, from weaving and woodworking, such as making Pinisi boats," he explained.

On the other hand, he also believes that modernity also plays a role in distributing a lot of information, including the discipline of graphic design. According to Rahmat, quite a few young people are interested and then enroll in the DKV major after seeing TikTok. He believes that social media has helped introduce graphic design to young people, especially those in the regions beyond Java. Finally, these young people have found their interest and discovered that there was a study program that taught this interest. The presence of the association, the activeness of the actors, and young talents will help grow and fertilize graphic design in Makassar in particular and Central and Eastern Indonesia in general.

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.