Introducing Local Artist: Dewi Tobing

Dewi Tobing
Dewi Tobing founder of Obie (Image: Supplied by Obie)

On a wet Saturday afternoon, I ventured out to see what was happening at the much publicised Catalyst Arts Market Pop Up at the Graha Purna Wira building; most commonly known as a wedding reception venue in the Dharmawangsa precinct.

What I encountered was a lively hall filled with the artistic achievements of some of Indonesia’s brightest and most talented emerging artists.

Standing behind a sea of wooden dolls with long necks, small eyes and disproportionate bodies was visual artist Dewi Tobing; a smiley 20 something year old who I soon learned likes to be called ‘Obie’, and whose distinctive work in monochrome stood out amongst the crowd.

After handpicking 3 Obie wooden dolls to take home and two small box framed illustrations representing the daily lives of humans, I was seriously inspired by Dewi’s work and curious to learn more.

I’m confident you are going to enjoy taking a peek into Dewi’s artistic world today as much as I have.
Dewi is a delight as well as one talented lady!

  *Kenalkan – Dewi Tobing

Please tell us a little about your background – Where were you born and where did you study?
I was born in Samarinda, East Kalimantan in 1993. I studied in Samarinda from primary to high school and then in 2011 I moved away to Surabaya for college. I completed a 4 year course and majored in visual communication design at Petra Christian University.

Biduk Biduk Travel book Dewi produced as a part of her University thesis project
Biduk Biduk Travel book Dewi produced as a part of her University thesis project. Biduk-Biduk is the name of an area in Berau, East Kalimantan. The purpose of this project was to help tourists who didn’t know anything about Biduk-Biduk and who were interested in visiting there. (Image: Supplied by Obie)


Biduk Biduk travel book
Biduk Biduk travel book (Image: Supplied by Obie)


Biduk Biduk travel book
Biduk Biduk travel book (Image: Supplied by Obie)

What did you want to be when you were a child?
I wanted to be a successful person (a doctor) and have much money to buy my own home and barbie dolls haha ! so childish right ? haha!

Have you always been interested in art and design?
Exactly yes! I have always enjoyed art from an early age. I can remember spending most of my childhood just drawing (mountains, plants, houses, and humans) and colouring. After getting into college then I realised that design is very interesting. We were taught about composition, colour, fonts, shapes, patterns, and much more. This love of art and design made me want to explore more.

Dependence from the human habit series
Dependence from the human habit series (Image: Supplied by Obie)

Have you always enjoyed drawing?
50 : 50 between enjoying and not enjoying. Sometimes it can be frustrating to think about the concept that I must draw especially when I’m not in a good mood, then my artworks can be a disaster.

Does this talent run in your family?
I can say yes, some of my family members are good drawers, but not my parents haha.

When did you realise you wanted to draw, design and be creative for a living?
I never realised before, it came so suddenly lol.

Dreamer from the human habit series (Image: supplied by Obie)

When did you begin working with ink and watercolours?
I’ve been using watercolours and ink since I was in school, but I didn’t explore it more than that. In recent years I learned about using watercolours and started to feel comfortable to use that as my medium.

Why do you like working with ink and watercolours?
I like to work with ink because it’s easy to use. Before that, I was very bad at using watercolour. My work always became worse because I didn’t know about the technique. Day by day I spent my time to learn about using water colour and now I’ve decided to use watercolours as my medium.

gossip human habit series
Gossip from the human habit series (Image: supplied by Obie)

How did you choose the name Obie?
Obie is from my name Tobing.Dewi. I wanted to make it short tOBIng.dEwi = OBIE. Now my friends call me by name obie and also my family -.- haha

When was Obie established?
Obie is a new brand and established in 2015

How do you describe the Obie style? Why monochrome and abstract shading?
Obie style : minimalist, black and white, grid, simple, abstract shading. I use monochrome and abstract shading because it’s my character that I recently discovered just a year ago. I feel comfortable using monochrome colours and it’s easier to express what I imagine.

egoism human habit series
Egoism from the human habit series (Image: Supplied by Obie)

We love your wooden unique dolls with long necks, small eyes and disproportionate bodies. Can you tell us more about these dolls? How are they made? And Where?
Ahhh thank you! The dolls are from my imagination and now they have been turned into real dolls. My wooden dolls are a 3D shape of my artworks with long necks, small eyes and disproportionate bodies.

First, I searched for a carpenter who could make a doll. After I found a carpenter, the next step was sketching a shape, determining size and the type of wood. 100 wooden dolls takes about 3 weeks to make. The last step is coloring and finishing which happens in Bandung.

Obie doll collection
Obie doll collection (Image: Supplied by Obie)


Obie dolls before colouring and finishing (Image: Supplied by Obie)


Obie Doll
Obie Doll in the signature Obie monochrome colour scheme (Image: Supplied by Obie)

What are the main Obie products?
Wooden dolls, art prints, scalves, framed arts, pins and keychains

Who is the Obie shopper?
Everyone from children to the elderly, male and female

What are your 3 favourite Obie pieces?
Wooden dolls, key chain, art prints

Any new projects you are working on at the moment?
Yups, there are some projects with magazines, fashion designers and a pastry business

Plaza Indo anniversary 01-3
Plaza Indonesia Anniversary (Image: Supplied by Obie)
02-3 Plaza Indo Anniversary
Plaza Indonesia Anniversary (Image: Supplied by Obie)

Any Exhibitions coming up?
At this time there isn’t an exhibition coming up, but the market called “popcon” in Surabaya on 4-5 June and in Jakarta in August

3 resources that you turn to regularly for creative inspiration?
1. The first thing is my daily life. See, feel, imagine and then drawing
2. Some creative people in social media. One of my favourite artists is SUNTUR. You guys should check his account on instagram
3. New people I’ve met

Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
See myself? On the top haha!

3 words to describe your Jakarta? Your Surabaya?
Jakarta : Traffic, Interesting, Hectic
Surabaya : History, Language (it’s so hard to hear and say), Street food

Favourite place to eat in Surabaya and Jakarta?
At a Warung, street food, food courts and sometimes at a cafe

Every visitor to Indonesia must Eat? Visit? Experience?
All of them, but travel is a must, because Indonesia has many beautiful places to visit.

Tea or Coffee? And where?
I prefer tea than coffee because automatically I have a stomach ache when I drink coffee.I really love drinking tea at home byself because the atmosphere at home is more relaxing than at cafe. But when I go hangout with friends, I’d rather choose a cafe.

I don’t leave the house without?
Tablet, handphone, wallet, and drawing pen

How can our readers buy Obie?
Through our contact details below and also line @JKE6967Q or phone number +62 8133 6589 624 Contact details
Web : Obie
Instagram : @obie_id
Email :

Kenalkan* Let me introduce
Words: Liz  Photography: and a journey bespoke





    • ajourneybespoke says

      Hi Louise, I had a feeling you might! Obie has a beautiful website you might like to check out too.

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