Budi Satria Kwan Interview

Budi Satria Kwan, also known as radiomode on the internet, is one of the most prolific and popular t-shirt artists in the world. That is not to say that he is solely a t-shirt artist but the Shirt List is a t-shirt website so that is what we like to focus on.

He has had a ton of t-shirt printed at Threadless, Design by Humans, Uneetee, LaFraise, Shirt.Woot! and more! He even has his own t-shirt store called Concrete Rocket. If you have ever searched for t-shirts on the internet you have probably seen his work. Everybody in my house has a Budi Satria Kwan t-shirt.

Well, get yourself comfortable and read the interview with Budi Satria Kwan on the Shirt List.


Usually, the first question I ask is about the artist’s username. But as you are from Indonesia where the naming system is quite different from the west, could you tell us a little bit about your name, Budi Satria Kwan, and what it means?
You are the first to ask me this. There is no direct translation, so I will try to describe it. Budi means moral value or wisdom. Satria means to have the quality of a noble person. Kwan is my family name. I guess my parents have high hopes for me.

Radiomode is one of the coolest usernames I have seen. How did you choose it?
I love tuning to radio. I love hearing people chatting endlessly about unimportant stuff (or important, but mostly the unimportant one) while doing work. So for me working mode = radio mode.

Bare Necessity T-Shirt
Bare Necessity T-Shirt by Budi Satria Kwan at Threadless

How many of the 17,000 islands of Indonesia have you visited?
There are 17,000 of them? Well, I travel to some of the big ones like Java, Bali, Lombok and some tiny islands in the middle of the sea for vacation. In conclusion, I am proud to have visited 5 out of the 17,000.

What do you usually do in your free time? What are your other interests apart from art and design?
Learning to improve my piano playing, watching a lot of horror movies and cycling.


What other design work do you do?
Recently I am going back working on offline works. Back to paper and paint.

Photoshop or Illustrator?
Used to be Illustrator, but now Photoshop.

In the world of black and whiteRo-bossNotedBehold!

[Budi’s work on Shirt.Woot! – no longer for sale.]

Apart from software what is your favorite medium?

Stencil and spray, graphite

What do you enjoy most about being an artist?
To come up with fresh, new ideas for each new designs. To be able to live out of my passion.

Where do you usually get your inspiration?
Internet, the largest library on earth

Budi Satria Kwan Design Process
A part of the process of A Vehicle Built for Dreams

Could you describe your typical design process from concept to completion?

  • Come up with several ideas. Let it sit.
  • Sorting out ideas according to how innovative and how viable they are. I think it is important to plan ahead rather than wasting time to chase the ideas that will not work
  • Sketch the idea – only if the client requests it. Most of the time I skip this part.
  • Complete the design in Illustrator and/or Photoshop


Do you remember your first t-shirt contest win? If so, what was it and how did you feel?
It was a Threadless contest. I was so happy of course! Later I found that the design file I had in my computer was not in the right format. Having no technical background in design software, I just jumped right ahead drawing in Photoshop with no care of resolution or size. This was the time I learned about the dpi, what hi-res file really means and what a vector file is. For this win, I redrew things from zero and also learned a lot of new things.

Budi’s first win at Threadless: you may need to request a reprint!

Of the t-shirts that you designed, which is your favorite?
Peace and Love.

Peace and Love T-Shirt
Peace and Love T-Shirt by Budi Satria Kwan was also in the Select Series

It is so effective and I got a lot of great feedback for it. The history behind it is an added point.

Do you wear the t-shirts that you have designed?
I do of course

Have you seen somebody wearing one of your tees in the real world?
Yes, I even saw a pirated version worn by someone on the street.


You now have your own online store called Concrete Rocket. I believe you started this with your brother. Is he an artist too?
No – He can’t even draw a straight even line with a ruler. Somehow he is very proud of this fact.


Are all Concrete Rocket t-shirts designed by Budi Satria Kwan?
Yes they are

Jackets at Concrete Rocket T-Shirt
The jackets at Concrete Rocket are pretty slick.

I noticed that you have branched out from t-shirts with a pair of jackets. What can we expect from Concrete Rocket in the future?
Concrete Rocket started because I wanted to experience the trade side of selling graphic t-shirts. I can say with the right design and right target market, you can actually nail it. I am thinking of converting Concrete Rocket to my personal store, rather than a brand-like name. The plan is to put art print and original art there too.


Do you have any role models?
My dad

You travel between Singapore and Indonesia a lot. Which other countries have you been to?
Malaysia, Thailand, and China

Where would you like to visit?
Tibet, Norway, Finland, New Zealand and the rest of the world


Which tee designer(s) do you admire the most?
These tee designers have been constantly making amazing work:

Who would you like to see featured on the Shirt List next?
Andy Gonsalves


What design trends have made you go WTF?
The puke, horror, goo stuff that was popular one/two years ago

Any advice for other designers/artists?
I don’t think I am in the position to give advice


Favorite zombie movie?
28 days later

What is your favorite horror movie or series?
The latest one is the Walking Dead. The 1st season blew me away, but the 2nd season sucked really really bad. I hope something better happens in the 3rd season. For movies, there are a lot, I can’t pick one. One that sticks in my mind till now is “Audition” by Miike.

Website: Budi Satria Kwan
Twitter: @budikwan

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