Author’s note: The subject wishes to use only their first name and their chosen pronouns are they/them.
To witness how the arts can strengthen people’s lives, let me share with you the story of an artist that has sprung up from the fields of Gen Z. This is the story of Sam.
Sam is a digital artist who sometimes practices traditional art. It all started when they were around 9 years old. “I didn’t take professional art classes but I did learn how to draw with my dad. There was a ‘How to draw anime’ book that I had, and also Youtube videos on how to draw this and that, which I watched with my dad.”
Sam said that drawing gets them to express their ideas along with the characters and stories and whatnot.
As a student, Sam started to improve relations with the craft while implementing it to their daily schedule. “I’m also focused on academics,” Sam said. “Sometimes, instead of doing school work I would just make art.”
Sam believes that their work could be categorized into the art style of “semirealism,” an art form that “seeks to combine realistic and stylized depictions of a living being or scene.”
They detail how a work is usually composed. “I would always think of it in my head first and I go straight into sketching the figure itself. The face, the entire head, the eyes, the nose, and the mouth. And then I draw the background right after.
“I’d say that most of my characters often start out as little jokes. But eventually as it goes on, as I make their story and character arcs and whatnot. They’re either a better or worse version of myself.”
Gen Z view
Sam grew up not in the environment of our cultural discipline. “Back then I was ashamed of being Filipino. I didn’t like the artworks, nor did I like the stories that were shown to me. Most of the stories seemed to just be copies of popular media, especially from foreign productions,” they said.
“In terms of the artworks, I didn’t like that they were contemporary illustrations. But now that I’m more well versed on the topic, I understand that abstract and contemporary forms of art are not necessarily bad.”
Do understand, Sam added, that this is in no way to offend local artists, but merely their opinion.
Sam observed the change that accompanies an artist’s mindset as the time passes by. “Before I used to think, ‘Oh it’s abstract so it’s bad.’ But no, there is a meaning to it. It’s just that it’s been devalued over the years and it’s been misused.”
Sam admits that they do very much stray away from having any Filipino elements in their art. “Though I don’t see how I can really stray away from it because, technically, since I am Filipino, isn’t it already Filipino by nature? I don’t really mind, I just feel very indifferent about it.”
As a youth, Sam shared some sentiments from their own experience. “I don’t think traditional is less preferable than digital. Digital is okay because it is less cluttered, but it feels different from doing traditional—the feeling when you paint on a canvas with a paintbrush or the feeling of simply sketching with a pencil. In digital art you don’t feel those same things in terms of texture.“
Traditional and digital artwork should be valued equally, Sam said. They explain that in terms of the method and result, it’s the artwork you are criticizing, not the media it was made in.
When asked about the certain benefits of creating artworks, Sam responded that mental health isn’t the first example that comes to mind. Instead, they added, “I often draw to conceptualize, but sometimes whenever I am stressed I want to draw. And it helps me calm down. I like feeling proud after finishing it.”
Though they are still an artist trying to find their path, Sam shared a few reflections. “I’ll always have a lot to learn. I don’t think I can master it all. All I can do is learn. Realistically, I don’t think I’ll ever be satisfied with my art.”
There are many struggles that are present in a personal setting. But Sam pointed out another struggle: the social response. “When you are an artist or a creative person, you will be told that you have to get a more stable job to be able to survive. It might sound harsh but it is just being realistic. I can understand their perspective …”
Despite all of these, there are still reasons they create art. “I think creating is what motivates it. Just being able to look at something and be proud of it … I don’t want to die without having made something. I want to be able to make something and be like the people that I admire.“ —CONTRIBUTED