A shy girl walked into the place where the 2bU staff was busy with another fashion shoot, and it was Rian Gonzales.
With a sheepish smile and a wave, she jokingly asked if she was really being featured, as we led her to where she could be prepped up. Like her nickname, Rainbow, she has a way of brightening up a room with her humor and simplicity. “Mom will treat the entire barangay pancit once this feature comes out,” she joked.
It has only been a year since she graduated from the University of Santo Tomas (UST) with a degree in Advertising Arts, but Gonzales is already enjoying what she does, earning a name for herself doing what she loves: creating art.
She described her artworks as whimsical: “I just like splashing vibrant colors on everything I work on. I love capturing the innocent yet alluring nature of women in my drawings.” Just like rainbows on paper.
Like a lot of artists, Gonzales started watching cartoons and anime when she was just a child. “I would just wonder for hours how these drawings were brought to life on the big screen,” she said. She also admitted that she’s into fairy tales and Disney. “They make up a big part of my art influence.”
She joined her high school’s magazine, The Theresian of St. Theresa’s College in Quezon City, then later, a student org called “illUST” at UST. And it was in college that her friends
nicknamed her “Rianbow” because of her use of color in paintings. “Rendering artworks in full color makes me feel at ease. It expresses what I am.”
The little things
Gonzales finds inspiration in the little things, she said. Whenever she feels burned out but has to finish work, she stops. “I don’t stay for long behind closed doors. I eat out with my family, watch a movie with friends, and just surround myself with lots of positivity.”
Because of her distinct style of artwork, Gonzales has gained a legion of fans. “I still can’t quite wrap my head around the idea that there are people all over the world who actually follow my art,” she said. “It’s pretty insane. Knowing that people support my craft is fuel enough for me to do better, to push my limits.”
Her happy works opened a lot of doors for her, including commissioned projects. Gonzales admitted it’s nice to hear praise, but she can easily point out what she could have done to improve the artwork. “‘You are only as good as your last work,’ as the saying goes—I make it a point to do my best in every piece I work on.”
Open-mindedness and coffee
Pure determination, perseverance and lots of open-mindedness are the values she learned from being a budding artist. Gonzales said that there are many better artists out there, and they didn’t get to that level with a snap of a finger. It took countless sleepless nights, hundreds of cups of coffee, and tons of revisions and rejections.
“They just make me want to go back to the drawing board and focus on making art. You’ve got to go out there, dream big and make your own opportunities.”
She also added that there are more things she wants to learn and improve on. “I would like to draw more men for a change,” she quipped, since most of her subjects are women. “I like sketching from real life and reference photos from time to time to improve my knowledge of anatomy,” she added. And she dreams of being able to work for Disney and make her own comic book one day.
Gonzales ended our chat by listing her five artist essentials—Prang watercolor, white acrylic paint, watercolor paper, Internet and lots of chocolate. “Okay, wait, scrap all of that, just tons and tons of chocolate would do the trick for me.”
Photography Toff Tiozon
Styling Luis Carlo San Juan
Makeup Justine del Rosario
Hairstyle Mark Familara for L’Oreal Professionnel
Shot on location at Mandarin Oriental Manila, Makati City