In today’s work environment, where constant hustling and perceived productivity are seen as a mark of success, finding moments of respite and relaxation is crucial for maintaining good mental health. Recognizing this need, the Indonesian community, Sketsa Pulang Kerja (SPK), which translates to the Afterwork Sketch Club, aims to be a sanctuary for professionals to unwind through the therapeutic act of sketching and drawing. By providing a space for after-work creativity, SPK not only promotes mental well-being but also fosters a sense of community and camaraderie among its members, reflecting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals of Good Health and Well-Being. 

Photograph from a Sketsa Pulang Kerja (SPK) session, held in Bandung, Indonesia on Feb. 2024. Image courtesy of @sketsapulangkerja/Instagram.

Founded in November 2016 on the simple premise of allowing individuals to express themselves creatively after a long day at work, SPK has quickly gained popularity among professionals from diverse backgrounds. Nurses, accountants, preachers, and artists come together under SPK, united by their shared desire to relieve stress and find solace in art. This inclusive nature is what sets SPK apart from other sketching or drawing clubs. They welcome anyone seeking an outlet for their creativity and a break from the pressures of daily life, even if they are not professional artists. 

Hence, the movement has skyrocketed in popularity, with almost 18,000 followers on Instagram, they can host weekly sessions in ten different major cities and districts in Indonesia, including Jakarta, Bandung, Yogyakarta and Surabaya.

Some of the sketches and drawings were made during a Sketsa Pulang Kerja (SPK) session, held in Solo, Indonesia on Feb. 2024. Image courtesy of @sketsapulangkerja/Instagram.

The community gatherings of SPK serve as a therapeutic oasis where members can freely unleash their artistic impulses without fear of judgment or critique. Whether doodling in sketchbooks or experimenting with different mediums, the emphasis of each SPK session is not on creating masterpieces but on enjoying the process of creation itself. 

"Because our goal is to relieve stress, the sessions are purposefully made light and very casual. Without burden, the drawings [made] do not have to be good, nor do they even have to be finished," shared Resha Purnamasari, a member of SPK Surabaya, in an interview with Komunita.

The success of SPK also lies in its ability to provide a space for self-expression and emotional release. Through drawing and sketching without a particular goal, members can constructively channel their thoughts and emotions, alleviating stress and anxiety in the community. Moreover, SPK also fosters a community, which encourages members to share their stories and experiences while drawing and sketching further fostering empathy and understanding among peers. 

Photograph from a Sketsa Pulang Kerja (SPK) session, held in South Tangerang, Indonesia on Jan. 2024. Image courtesy of @sketsapulangkerja/Instagram.

Beyond its therapeutic benefits, SPK also serves as a platform for artistic growth and exploration. Members have the opportunity to learn from one another, exchanging tips, techniques, and insights into the world of drawing and illustration. Art workshops are also organized regularly, allowing members to expand their skills and knowledge in a supportive and collaborative environment.

Cannibalized, one of the pieces exhibited in Work in Progress, an exhibition of SPK pieces. Image courtesy of Darahkubiru

SPK’s impact extends beyond the confines of its weekly gatherings, as evidenced by its 2023 exhibition. Partnering with the National Gallery of Indonesia, Indonesia’s prime public-owned contemporary art museum, SPK has showcased select works of its community members to a wider audience in an exhibition titled Work in Progress. 

The exhibition does not only showcase final artworks but also provides insights into individual creative processes, emphasizing the journey of artistic discovery and growth, all while highlighting the power of art as a tool for social engagement and expression. 

Exhibition view of Work in Progress, an exhibition of SPK pieces. Image courtesy of Darahkubiru.

As SPK continues to grow and expand its reach, its mission remains steadfast: to champion mental health and well-being through the transformative power of art. By fostering a supportive and inclusive community, SPK offers a beacon of hope and inspiration to professionals seeking refuge from the stresses of modern life. In a world where self-care and mental wellness seem like a luxury, initiatives like SPK remind people of the healing potential of creativity and community.

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