2BU gathered young artists Christian San Jose (aka “CSJ”), Valerie Chua, Inna Victoria Feanne Hontiveros Mauricio (aka “Feanne”), and Rob Cham, to let their art speak for them. On a lazy afternoon in Space Encounters, they answer some typical slumbook questions.
Christian San Jose, 21
Education: Computer Science undergrad at University of Santo Tomas
Occupation: Creative director at Create.ph (Philippines) and executive creative director at HSThree Inc. (Los Angeles)
Claim to fame: Art director at Team Manila Graphic Design Studio (2007) before turning freelance. Client collaborations include Adobe, Cobra Starship, Paramore, and Quiksilver. Won the $10,000 Design By Humans competition (2009). Founded web design studio Create.ph (2011) with clients including NBA All-Star Kobe Bryant, Baseball MVP Albert Pujols, Ayala Malls, and KFC Philippines
Signature style: “My illustration pieces lean towards maximalism—very loud and colorful. It’s juxtaposed by my designs, where I try to do clean and minimalist work.”
Medium: “Mostly digital—Adobe Illustrator for illustrations and art, Adobe Photoshop for design.”
Illustration started as a hobby in high school, just playing around Photoshop and learning on my own. I built my portfolio and applied at my first job at Team Manila. After a year, I left for the US and focused on freelance illustration.
I don’t plan my pieces ahead of time; it is usually just something random. Inspiration come from things I see everywhere. I create things as I go, based on my thoughts at that particular moment.
I don’t have initial sketches on paper or drafts with tablets, just straight to the computer. Usually, creative juices start flowing after midnight, because there are no more distractions—everybody is asleep and I have no excuses to procrastinate.
On his influences
For my illustrations, there’s Joshua Smith, Jared Nickerson, 123 Klan. For design, there’s Frank Chimero, Allan Peters, Jon Contino.
On his accomplishments
I had the chance to contribute during the “Ondoy” tragedy in 2009. Adobe approached me for a commission for their CS5 (Creative Suite) set of products, where they gave me freedom to create an illustration based on any theme. I based my artwork, “Rise Together,” on the camaraderie that happened after the typhoon struck—regardless of age or social standing, everyone was helping. The proceeds for the artwork were donated to the Philippine Red Cross. It’s a personal achievement, I felt like I could affect and help other people through my passion and art.
On the local art scene
The industry is getting bigger and better, more young aspiring artists are coming in, doing their own thing and taking art and design courses in college. There certainly has been more interest in our field, and there’s progress with better programs in universities, and events, like Manila Design Week, that cater to people in the industry. Hopefully, these will all lead to our country being recognized for art and design.
Valerie Chua, 20something
Alternative name: Green-tea from DeviantArt.com
Education: BA Humanities grad, UA& P
Occupation: Freelance illustrator
Claim to fame: Award-winning illustrations have been on exhibits and publications both locally and internationally. Has a line of illustrated postcards and stationery on Etsy.com.
Signature style: “My work falls under figurative illustrative art. The themes range from mature to innocent and childlike, sometimes just purely decorative.”
Medium: “Traditional mediums like watercolor, gouache and acrylic. Sometimes, I scan my works and turn them into digital collage or composite works—different traditional pieces stuck together digitally to create a cohesive work.”
I drew a bit when I was little. I took Humanities in UA&P because it’s closer to art. All those classes in literature kept my imagination running. I started drawing in sophomore year, and the Student Affairs office were incredibly supportive and sponsored my first solo exhibit. I guess a positive audience plays a big role in my being an artist.
On ideas and inspirations
I get most of my ideas from literature or song, even just a line or sentence out of an entire poem or book. I get a lot of ideas from nature and clothing, as well.
On influences and future projects
I looked up to Dave McKean a lot. Seeing his works opened me up to a lot of possibilities with traditional medium being merged with digital technologies. I look up to a lot of contemporary Asian illustrators like Kana Ohtsuki, Chun EunSil and Rain, Kidchan.
I’m attracted to the fluidity of East Asian art, especially the use of water-based medium and ornamentation. I look up to James Jean, Kenichi Hoshine, David Downton, and Amy Sol, and a lot of contemporary illustrators from the US.
I’m happy when people come up to me and say my works have inspired them to get into art. This is a great deal for me because I like to reach out to as many people as possible, and it shows that I’m heading in a good direction. I was able to get this far without formal training. I almost thought that I won’t make it. I’m still worried if I’ll continue to make it.
Aside from an exhibit, I want to get a degree in art someday. There’s so much more to learn.
On the local art scene
The Internet holds a massive collection of art and people, very conducive for creative cross-pollination. It’s easier to market yourself, hold collaborations, talks, and gather artists and clients.
There are groups like CoLab Manila or Dr. Sketchy’s Philippines, trying to make the arts more accessible and communal.
I don’t believe in elitism, especially when it comes to honing your creative skill. Many in our generation are doing what they can to foster a better creative culture, and I hope people will continue to contribute and pull each other up. I’m excited to see how it will turn out.