Portraits have existed in visual art for the longest time. Portraits capture the best sides and angles of human beings. It focuses on visuals—the muse putting their best foot forward when it comes to looking good. Portraits are prepared for, deliberate and scripted, which is why I did not choose it as the centralizing theme to unify my portfolio.
Candid images on the other hand, focus on the moment. They say that one’s genuine expressions are best taken when they are off guard. People do not show hesitation in expressing their feelings when no one is spectating, and when no cameras are in sight (or at least, when they do not suspect the presence of a camera nearby). Images that capture its subject at the heat of the moment manage to not only get their facial expression—which oftentimes becomes subject to humor and mockery— but also the raw, uninhibited emotion that precipitates it. The emotion could be as intense as that of fervor, fury, or lividness; it could be as tender as vulnerability, love, and awe, or it could be as plain and empty as numbness or boredom. These are all very few of the many emotions that one could feel, that could be immortalized by means of a photo or an illustration; the point is, a candid image captures them.
I create and illustrate because I aspire to immortalize such moments and feelings—normally for myself, and for others as well. While my main medium is digital illustration, and though that contrasts the idea of capturing the moment itself contrary to that of photography, I create so that I could make the immortalization of such events and emotions accessible and relatable by many. Considering that my illustrations of people do not necessarily resemble or copy completely the faces of specific people, I am able to, in one way or another, make my intended audiences see themselves in my illustrations, thus prompting them to interpret or remember their memories that fit in closely with the narrative that my drawings portray. Especially in times like these when nostalgia hits hard, I want my illustrations to somehow bring myself and my audiences back to times that they can only return to in their memory. Though I may not have the ability to really bend the laws of time, I would like my creations to create the illusion of it—by reminding people of memories they would rather remember. Aside from the good, I also try, and am trying, to show people the necessary. Similarly, I want to remind people of what they should be seeing, rather than what they choose to see.
I’ve been illustrating since I was a young child, and I would like to think that the messages I’ve incorporated in my work have evolved through time. From illustrations that only meant to visualize the events that transpired throughout my day, I was able to learn how to create illustrations that I aspire to relate to many instead of just myself. Through this workshop, I want to further learn how to use my craft to not only be seen by others, but to speak to them as well—remind them of the good emotions they’ve felt at their best days, as well as help them acknowledge the frustration that they have towards the things and matters that merit such emotions.
In the two days that I have participated in AHAW 11, I was enlightened about the ways to which I may bring into fruition the main purpose and reason behind why I create and illustrate. With the guidance of my mentors, I was reminded that art truly is a limitless medium, and there are endless ways to communicate messages, sentiments, memories and emotions. In the same way, truly, artists never stop growing and developing; they evolve with their craft. May it be my twenty-year-old self at present, or my idealized version of myself twenty years into the future, I was reminded through this workshop to allow myself to make mistakes, and ultimately, to navigate my way through them in ways innovative and creative. I was able to receive encouraging words from both my mentors and my fellows which have helped me develop my confidence, which I normally deem lacking. At the same time, maintaining the balance between things, I was given advice on which points of my work and my abilities still need strengthening, in order to hit my audiences at the right places where it should. Typically worrying about boxing myself in a single art style, or maybe even never truly figuring what that style specifically entailed, I was encouraged to open myself to experimentation and variety. I was opened to new ways of thinking; fresh perspectives and directions to aim my art towards.
Joining AHAW 11 truly was a fruitful experience for me. The interactions, praise, advice and encouragement that I have received, and more importantly, witnessed in practice among the fellows and mentors have only reinforced and proven to me that art really should, and really does, come from a place of love, genuineness, and passion.