Making A City Immortal Through Sketches

There is nothing that cannot be made immortal. Every event, or place, has its own way to be engraved in our memory, but unfortunately human memory is short; we can only record something in our memory, but then the memory may vanish. Therefore, people create artworks, with the purpose to immortalize every interesting detail in life. Portraits, pieces of writing, brush strokes of paint on canvas are only a few of the means to make an object immortal. Similarly, a sketch is also one of them. This is the same basic reason for the founding of Urban Sketcher Surabaya (USS), a community which consists of sketchers from the Hero City of Surabaya, East Java, Indonesia. Founded by LK Bing since May 2013, at the moment USS already has six members.


This year, USS plans to give an opportunity for anyone to join them. The offer begins by opening a drawing or sketching workshop. This, according to LK Bing who is a sketcher and the founder of USS, also functions as a friendly oasis for those who wish to learn further about the world of sketching as an Art. “We see that actually there are a lot of people who want to learn about sketching, especially among college or university students. We thought it was a pity that there were no appropriate bodies existing here yet for them to study sketching seriously,” explained Bing.

In addition to that, this man who was born on June 10th 1972 also told us that USS was also open not only for people who wished to join them, but also for those who only wished to share something or to get together. “We never limit this community only to people who aspire to become like us. We welcome professional sketchers, sketch lovers, and those who only wish to get together or to chat over a meal. We welcome them all alike with open arms.”


Despite the fact that this community has a relatively short history, it already shows a promising prospect. When our Editorial Team visited them, we saw one of the members working on a commissioned sketch. “This is a commission from Intiland,” said Denny, the sketcher. “They asked us to sketch their whole property.”


Basically, Urban Sketcher Surabaya is a group of sketchers who focus themselves on preserving urban architectural works in the form of artistic sketches. LK Bing explained that at present USS tend to sketch places or buildings having high historical values, including buildings regarded as cultural heritage. Almost all buildings of cultural heritage in Surabaya have been represented in various artistic sketches by USS members.


“Even so, we never feel bored sketching those historical buildings over and over again. Of course we do it by implementing different perspectives and techniques,” said Bing.


Furthermore, Bing said that his objective in founding this Urban Sketcher Surabaya community is to stimulate the creative ability of sketchers in Surabaya, so that in the future they may have a place at the international platform. “We wish to show the international art circles, that Surabaya sketchers exist. We exist and we create sketches. I am optimistic that in the future the works of Surabaya sketchers will manage to reach the international community,” Bing explained.

In addition to offering a conventional drawing class, LK Bing also hopes to provide free lessons for those who wish to study the art of sketching seriously but unable to do so due to their economic condition. He told us that it was a part of his social responsibility to society.


With that in mind, Bing plans to collaborate with a number of business companies who are willing to become patrons of such free programs. “We can contact several business companies requesting them to cover the expenses necessary to buy the tools and materials for the participants to use for free,” he said.

Although the lessons are free, it does not mean that the participants will be provided with cheap materials. Bing asserted that he would maintain the professional standard, and that he hoped this could be continuous, so that in the future there would be young sketchers with great potentials as professionals.

“Through this program, I wish to give them a kind of place and opportunity for them to produce artworks on the road to becoming professionals. I do not expect anything in return,” Bing affirmed.


This bespectacled man also shared with us a story about how one day he met someone who came from the faraway town of Sidoardjo only to see a sketching exhibition in Surabaya, on a bicycle. The moment Bing learned about it, he immediately felt greatly touched, knowing of the man’s spirit. He said further that he truly hoped one day he could invite such persons to hold a group exhibition together so that they might gain more self-confidence in creating artworks.

However, Bing admitted that to realize this dream would not be easy. Beside the problem of funds, beginners often feel reluctant and unsure to use expensive materials for their sketches. This may pose as a hindrance for a sketcher’s growth to become a professional. “Usually they fear their work won’t be good, even though the sketching paper itself is already the costly types. They do not understand yet, that those materials were designed in such a way that we may achieve maximum results. This idea must be continuously ingrained in them,” he stated.


For that aspiration, in teaching how to sketch Bing always tries to create enough room for discussion by explaining in detail from the very start, about the applications of various media, and what medium would be best used for what material. This is to give ample freedom for the sketchers in creating their own work. “I want them to have their own philosophy, to understand completely the character of each material and each medium being used. That way, they will have the opportunity to improvise, and who knows one day they may find a new material or a new technique unthinkable or non-existent before,” he added.

Surabaya, 8 April 2014
Translated into English from “Mengabadikan Kota Lewat Sketsa” in June 2014