Our Four Amazing Achievements of 2017

Looking Back at Our Journey of Growth This Past Year

In March 2016, Naomi Saddhadhika and myself legalized a small, two-person company to handle design clients and apply for grants to do our own comics initiative. We made two mascots — both of whom you should be familiar with right now if you’ve been following the company — and named them Bunny and Nao, a play after our own names. We called the artistic, non-client, develop-what-we-want arm of the company “NaoBun Project”, after a scribble on Naomi’s notebook — a label that she came up with in two seconds to put on a to-do list.

Hey back to you, pixely Bunny and Nao!

I like to tell this origin story. Looking back at it, you can really see how much of this has been organic, and beautiful. We didn’t sit in a boardroom, deliberating philosophically on a name and making a rigorous five-year business plan for eight hours.

We just had a vision. We went for it. And 2017 gave us…

01. A Twelve-fold Growth!

2017 was a year of growth: New artists, new collaborators, new employees. From two people in the beginning of the year, we went to over twenty at its closing.

NaoBun Project in June — an old photo with a little over half the members, and an ex-member still in the picture. We haven’t done gatherings since!

Our official members are called the “NaoBun Buddies”, and the current official count for this is twenty four, including four management members, four consultants, two employees, and plenty of writers and artists, often with overlapping roles. This also includes one photographic storyteller and one professional musician, emphasizing our community as a space for creative multimedia experiments.

Of course, this is not counting the many, many external collaborators, organization partners, and associate artists who work with us on a per-project basis but opt out of our management and acceleration program. There are also a few people who are on queue to potentially become official members but are still waiting for official roles, projects, and investments to come on board.

Left to right: Ai Goto of The Japan Foundation has been there from the conception of NaoBun Project. Maria Ines Almeida is an associate writer of children’s books from Portugal that we are very happy to be working with. Rina Limsico is our newest member and a very talented writer of thriller fantasies.

But what we are really proud of is the diversity behind the scenes of our titles. Talking about progressive values can only go so far without a truly diverse team composition, and Naomi and I couldn’t be happier that NaoBun Project has grown to become an inclusive, minority-driven space with various cultural, religious, and ethnic backgrounds. From collaborators in Europe, partners in Japan, to an official member in Australia, we are going strong.

02. A Comic Series, and a YouTube Show!

Naturally, not many people know about NaoBun Project yet; 2017 has been focused on internal growth, after all: Creating a solid team with the best possible culture for creativity and a working creator management system was what it’s all about.

But that doesn’t mean we didn’t release titles! Not counting the whole Sofia: Secret Fashion Files debacle (which is currently being redrawn by our wonderful new artist Aisah PL), we had one major comic title release this year: Primate Peril on CIAYO Comics.

Neo and the Fearless Forest Friends by Nin Dianda.

Created in collaboration with TRI Upcycle and illustrated by the wonderful dianda primalita, Primate Peril tells the story of Neo as he tries to make peace with the Future Monkeys bent on destroying the human race. The first season of the series ran for sixteen episodes from August to December, and will soon be translated into English. Talks are also in progress for having a print version on recycled paper, and we are having our fingers crossed!

We also released another series! Not comics this time, but a YouTube show. CharaTalks is a fun lecture series discussing the cultural aspects of the character industry, written and hosted by myself and Jasmine H. Surkatty. Co-produced with The Japan Foundation, Jakarta, the series so far has three episodes released, out of a planned twelve that will be rolled out slowly as the next year unfolds.

Be sure to check out the trailer above! If that looks like your cup of tea, do visit our channel below, hit that subscribe button, and share our videos to your friends. We are very new in YouTube so these things matter so, so much!

Both titles were launched in August, at an event with the wonderful Japan Foundation, Jakarta. Photos!

Jasmine and myself hosted Nin Dianda’s presentation of Primate Peril in a CharaTalks Live event. Photos by Adhytia Putra.

03. Going Strong with Animation!

Aside from personal founding investments, and investments by partner organizations and producer members, NaoBun Project on a large part is funded by its parent company, RSDF, that handles client projects. In 2016, we kind of tackled all sorts of things: Graphic design, illustrations, bits of assets here and there, and so on.

2017 — again, in a completely organic turn of events — made us realize what we are best at: Developing a unique style of animation that explains concepts in engaging manner. From chalkboard animations, frame-by-frame line animations, stop motion animations, craft animations, to retro looks.

Top left: Charisma on Command. Top right: Eva Sri Rahayu/Clover Publishing. Center two: Innovation i2i. Bottom two: Glossary of Broken Dreams/Johannes Grenzfurthner.

(NOTE: Click on the thumbnails above for their respective related videos! Not all are available at the moment but I will update the links when the are!)

It’s been such an exciting journey to be able to explore and develop all these artistic styles with our artists. Here is hoping we’ll get to do lots more of this in 2018!

04. MuseumsQuartier Residency!

And, finally, the very fact that I’m typing this right now in a flat in MuseumsQuartier, mere hours away from my first New Year’s Eve celebration in Europe, is a wonderful achievement in and of itself. I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the massive increase in productivity and artistic inspiration since I joined NaoBun Project, and I am forever thankful for that.

Me standing in front of the monochrom office at MuseumsQuartier Wien. Photo by Johannes Grenzfurthner.

This residency is me, Bonni Rambatan, as an artist, and the things I produce here will not necessarily directly correlate with the company — artistically speaking, we need spaces to explore our wildest thoughts and creativity without all the market concerns that an agency undoubtedly has as a business entity, and that is what this residency has blessed me with.

Nonetheless, I do see this as an achievement also for NaoBun Project. It has now opened up more opportunities for international collaborations, and there will undoubtedly be lessons and and data I take from here that will be beneficial for the company.

Oh, and not to mention a first ever workshop in Europe, thanks to an invitation from Vienna Nerd Institute!

Since it was close to Christmas, only four people attended: one filmmaker, one media artist, one performance artist, and one indie comic artist. The workshop turned into an intimate art sharing session!

I have three weeks left at this residency, and both research and production is going strong for a new short piece I will be presenting in two weeks. I will keep you updated!

A Big Thank You.

And finally: Thank you. We could not have done this without you.

Yes, you: You reading this means you know a thing or two about NaoBun Project, and following it in whatever way you’ve been following it. Or maybe this is the first time you’ve heard of NaoBun Project, and discovering it. Thank you nonetheless — we hope you stay.

When a past year has been so amazing, there is doubtlessly much to celebrate. But there is also that tinge of worry whether we will be able to pull off all our plans for 2018.

If 2017 was a year of internal growth, 2018 is set to be our year of releases. We will need all your help and support for it. And this is where you count.

Thank you so much for supporting NaoBun Project so far, and I hope you’ll continue to support it. We love you.

(In fact, we’ve made a little game for you. Check out this Instagram post to play, and we’ll draw you something cool for free!)

Our little game. Go play on our Instagram @naobunproject!
We were two, and now we are two dozen. But we will always be that warm little circle of friends with a vision: To be the bastion of accessible, open-minded thinking for children and young adults through the most engaging stories you’ll ever read.

The NaoBun Project is a Jakarta-based comic book studio, storytelling consultancy, and artists development initiative focused on social transformation. If you’re interested in collaborating with them, or just saying hello, shoot an e-mail over to hello@naobunproject.id.

Follow their exploits here on this Medium blog or sign up for their mailing list below, or on their website at http://naobunproject.id/. Don’t forget to 👏 this article if you think more people should read it!

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