Indonesian Illustrator and Typographer, Gadotak, speaks about his journey and being inspired by the Baugasm TED Talk.


Indonesian Illustrator and Typographer, Gadotak, speaks about his journey and being inspired by the Baugasm TED Talk.


"The meaning of Gadotak is ‘Tidak Punya Otak’ in Indonesia, which means 'No Brainer'."

Tell a bit about yourself.

My name is Hazral Aswad, known as Gadotak on social media. I am from and based in the beautiful city of Medan, Indonesia, where I freelance as a graphic designer for a living. 

Tell us a bit about how the name ‘Gadotak’ came along. We understand there is a story behind it.

The meaning of Gadotak is 'tidak punya otak' in Indonesian,  which is "no brainer'. But in my hometown of Medan, we say "ga ada otak" instead of "tidak punya otak". My friends and I use it as a slang for when a friend is being a little nosy & curious! I get that word a lot because I was that friend. The words "ga ada otak" became "gadotak" because that's how we pronounce it in my hometown.  

How did your success journey on Instagram start?

Initially, my page was personal and I rarely shared my designs or thought about how important it would be. 

My journey started back in August last year, when I attended watched a TedTalk by Baugasm. He is an amazing poster designer with a unique sense of style. He told his story about how he used Instagram to post one image per day, which allowed him to land established clients like Adobe and the Olympics. 

This sparked a sudden drive in me to follow his advice, and challenge myself to create one design a day for a year. Later that day, posted my first design on my page and continued to do so until today. 

This allowed me to get some major leverage as I was able to reach a wider audience who appreciated my work, and eventually land me the global clients I have today.

black and white typography illustration

How did you get into Graphic Design?

I majored in Economics and never went to a design school. I am self-taught and learned what I know today through online tutorials. I guess this interest stems from the fact that I have been into handcrafting and DIY's all my life. 

I would say that I discovered my talents in Designing when I was in college. My girlfriend at that time was an architectural and landscape photographer, and wanted her work to be watermarked. I was lucky to have a friend named Yoshua, who studied arts and was already into graphic design. He taught me how to use Photoshop, and the rest was history! 

Tell us a bit about your experience with first commission work.

My first commission was caricature work – I would illustrate people's faces into cartoon characters. This was incredibly fun for me since I began my work by meeting interesting people and gaining a network. I then began to study the fundamentals of designs and Adobe Illustrator, through which I started Typography and other illustrations. 

What inspired you to get into this style of Graphic Design?

I am a huge fan of video games, visual arts, Chinese & Japanese typography and even have a fascination for ancient Greek & Egyptian history. I try to blend all these elements to create my own visual identity. 

What does your typical day look like?

My day is just your ordinary, simple day. I wake up in the morning, make my coffee, and start sketching whatever comes to mind to train my creativity. I then begin to work on my client projects – if there aren't any during the time, I work on personal projects and handle the handcrafting business I run with my friend. I find time to meet my friends at night. Nothing special, I just like to keep busy 😊

What work are you very proud of?

I would have to say it was my first experimental typography work of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean words and lettering. I had just watched a Korean movie about politics, and found some interesting graphics on a political campaign scene. 

The typography translates to "It's Okay", which is the word I keep telling myself to get going. 

it's okay black and white typography
It's Okay by Gadotak

What is your design process for Instagram or Freelancing?

I always creating art as and when an idea enters my mind.  There is so much inspiration around me constantly that I just absorb and reflect. I first create a rough draft of how I want my design to look, and then go from there. 

You speak of so much inspiration surrounding you – can you give us a few ideas as to where you get them from?

Website like Abduzeedoo, Behance, Dribbble and Deviantart is a dreamland for any form of designer or illustrator. It is where I find all my inspirations from amazing artists worldwide and I come across something new every day.

I am a follower of many Instagram pages like @poster.jam, @typespire, @digital_archive and much more. Lastly, Asian games & movies!

As a designer, what is the most challenging thing for you?

As I'm sure many freelance designers can relate, starting was very challenging at the time when there was minimal income. It was demotivating at the least and made me come close to quitting as a designer and starting a job with my degree in Economics. 

So coming back to the Korean movie I mentioned earlier – the catchy graphics made me realize that it is very similar to the style I like to illustrate, and the things I could do. I opened my laptop immediately, and never stopped since then. 

For a designer starting their own Instagram profile, do you have any suggestions?

Just start, there will never be a right moment to do so. I would also advise to never limit yourself to peer & social pressures, and to stay true to what your style & interest is. 

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