A glimpse of Narya Abhimata works takes you into another world, but meeting him in person is different. He is living exactly in this world where we live with his down to earth personality. He is Abi, a nickname that himself prefers, where Narya Abhimata fits with his creations that blends in futuristic elements with a touch of Indonesia—a separation of the creator and what he creates.

In a house at Kerobokan, we are welcomed by Abi and his two French bulldogs. The black-colored one that jumps instantly to us is George. The one who is guarded behind a white fence with a rather crazy eye is Cashew.

“Yes, like his eyes, he is also crazy…we have to separate the two dogs if there are new guests, or else they both will fight over them,” said Abi with a small laugh.

Abi did not drink coffee, or to be precise, he stopped drinking coffee. We enjoyed a glass of cold water at his house. Behind us, there was a huge television. A sanctuary for him to watch movies from great directors such as Ridley Scott and Guillermo Del Toro. His room is slightly opened with a fence to keep Cashew out.

We began to talk. But a call about work interrupted Abi—he needed to do some revision. Just another day for Abi. We continue to talk. But Cashew somehow managed to escape the fence. No chaos ensued, and Abi put the dog back behind the fence without any hassle. We then continue the conversation.


Are the pictures you make personal? Does it reflect yourself?

I think so. You have to put your personality and personal touches to your work. I realized it’s a strength for an artist to have…must have. Especially the saturation that you can see, for instance in Instagram—everyone can pick up a camera, and everyone can become a photographer. But what differentiates you from others is your own character.

What are you trying to convey or present to the audience through your pictures?

 I love to convey human strength. I like strong figures like superheroes…basically, I am a nerd and like playing games such as Final Fantasy. I like to create characters, a somewhat role-playing method. Let’s say I want to capture an anime-theme photograph, I’ll make notes that give the model personality and even powers.

I have the power of telling a story. I think I am strong in narration, I can create an aspect or personality for my pictures. A perfect example would be my series called Mecha Girls. I am not into cosplay or anything but I also create the costume!

Do you see yourself as a hero or superhero?

Not really. I like heroes, but I never wanted to be a hero because I see myself as someone who is constantly learning—I don’t have any godlike qualities. If you think you’re a superhero, you stop learning.

But you create heroes?

Yeah, I create heroes, haha.


Alright, why do you want to be a photographer? Let’s hear the Abi origin story.

Originally, I went to graphic design school. Because in 2008, that’s what everyone does. I also like to draw, paint, and do some small graphics stuff from the computer—using Microsoft paint, haha. I loved what I got from that. But when I started doing a graphic design job in an advertising agency, I didn’t like it.

I quit after three months, and then I started playing with my camera. I get some small jobs like catalogs and fashion campaigns. After that, I found it interesting and decided to take a fashion photography master’s at the London College of Fashion in 2010…without any photography background except my portfolio.

So, how’s school?

I realize I am not very good at school! I am an average student, and school is more about research and reading books in a library—not practical like what I expected. But for my final assignment, I decided to do something different, creating a film. At that time, I idolized Nick Knight, a photographer that started a fashion film movement in 2010. He can read the future because everything is now video.

I decided to go back home for my film. Creating a modernized version of the Javanese legend Roro Jongrang in Bromo, Jawa Timur. I ask my friend Sim F for help making this short video. After we did an exhibition for the whole class, two film festivals wanted my amateur video to be showcased! I did not expect that.

After that, I started working in Jakarta. Although I did photography, I concentrated on film for the past ten years until clients hired me for my videos. I finally got my first commercial client in 2016. After that, work keeps coming in. Currently, I am concentrating on being a director.

Flash forward to the present day, are your works mostly commercial, or do you create something more conceptual like the Roro Jongrang video?

Honestly, life happens, haha…I rarely do passion projects. I think as an artist you need to do that, doing some personal projects. But I didn’t do much recently. In terms of work, life, and finance, 2022 was a heavy year for me. I just moved to Bali, depending on myself—give my focus to survive. This year, I plan to do more personal stuff…not making any promises though.

I know you left the graphic designer life. But do you apply your design skills to your photography works?

Of course, my work is very graphic. I apply my graphic design skill in my editing. I am not fond of photos as it is, some are satisfied with them, and they actually have great photo results. But me, I am a big fan of anime and sci-fi. My personal belief is I like to make images that are futuristic with fantasy and anime in it. That’s where graphic design comes into my work.


Favorite works you have done so far?

There are some clients that gives me creative freedom. One of them is an HP commercial that features one designer where I can create anything that I want. It’s one of my most complimented works. It’s also important for clients to know that if you put full trust in your artist, you will get magnificent work.

When and why did you decide to move to Bali?

Since high school, I said to myself that someday I will live here. Back then, I travel to Bali about five times a year—partying and drinking in places like Kuta! I fell in love with it.

But there was this fear when I was still living in Jakarta for the past seven years. What will I do there? And then 2021 hits differently. It was the perfect time to move. I feel ready and have the courage to do it. I also think the pandemic makes people think they can work anywhere. Surprisingly, I got more projects when I moved to Bali.


Favorite places in Bali?

One of them is Danau Tamblingan. I drive to that lake area. Buying drinks at some mini-market with a friend or just alone, chill for about two hours. This is one of the things that I like about Bali. I also like to go to Pantai Seseh, walk on the beach with my dogs and look at the sea. Ubud city center is also nice.

How about eating?

ACK! Two fried chickens, rice, and sambal matah. There’s also Sate Mak Syukur, a satay Padang restaurant in Denpasar, and also Warung Maaaaak!

Drinks? Any favorite bars?

Revolver, definitely. Also, I went to this new place called Segno, a speakeasy bar in Canggu. Every time you go to the toilet, they give you a hot towel, which is amazing to me, haha.


Narya Abhimata

written by Rama Indirawan

Photos & Videos courtesy of Narya Abhimata Studio

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