YOU THINK HAWAII IS MADE UP OF A LOT OF ISLANDS? Think again Gilligan. Indonesia is the fourth most populous country in the world, comprised of over 17,000 islands! On one of those islands resides Bambang Edison Soekanto, an artist who still considers himself “just a beginner”. Like how Antonio Stradivari was a beginner at making fiddles.
Early success hasn’t gone to Bambang’s head; he’s still humble and unselfish. His ardent desire is to spread the enjoyment of the art and to be a part of raising the standards of lion making, honing his craft as time passes.
“I don’t mind if someone copies my creations. If someone can improve my work, just let me know and surely I’ll be challenged to perfect it further. In other words, together we’d be raising the standards of lion making. Even if I’m not able to contribute to uplifting our art, I’ll still be satisfied to see the ever-improving works of artists who are better
There aren’t many people who like to make specially-
decorated lions, for it’s a difficult and time-consuming job. Most people I meet suggest that I make common lions,
recruit workers, change over to assembly line production, concentrate on small heads intended as toys or souvenirs, use cheaper materials and employ aggressive marketing tactics in terms of following the popular demand.
I say, ‘Let me see in a few years,’ as I don’t want to say ‘no’ to their faces. I really don’t want to compete with other local lion head makers, as I don’t want to be trapped in the ‘business’ aspect of lion making. I decided long ago that I had to prove to myself that I could make beautiful lion heads. It was a personal decision—not a business decision. I’ll try to find my own market to cover my financial needs. If the community gives their support, I can further develop my work. Even if the people don’t like my work and don’t buy lions from me, I will still make lions for personal gratification and for display if one day I have my own shop or small restaurant.”
Couldn’t have said that better ourselves. He’s our kind of guy. Congratulations Bambang, and thanks for making positive contributions to the art! Now if only you can sell just one lion for every island in Indonesia… just ONE!