I just realized I never posted about this project I worked on late last year. Actually, there have been a few projects I haven’t blogged about, but let’s start with this.
Bobim Papasin, the author of my first illustrated book, Ang Munting Anghel, wrote a short story about Aki, an alupihan (Tagalog word for centipede) and his family. Bobim got me to illustrate two scenes from the story and he entered the manuscript in Singtel’s 2013 Asian Picture Book Awards. Unfortunately, the entry didn’t make it to the finals but coming up with work like this, especially on a tight schedule, is reward enough for me. It’s a story set in the Philippines and it was a treat for me to illustrate scenes that show off our culture (strong family ties) and Filipino food that foreigners deem exotic, but are warm and familiar comfort food to us Filipinos.
Here are some sketches and roughs, along with the final images.
In preparation for overhauling my portfolio, I’ve started adding and removing portfolio pieces to better convey to clients the kind of work I do and the kind of industry I want to get into: art licensing for stationery and paper products, illustrations for the youth market, and illustration for picture books, among others.
Overhauling a portfolio isn’t easy. You can’t add every single job that you do and every now and then, you go through your folio and remove the ones which you feel aren’t representative of your work anymore. I was a graphic designer (well, I still am sometimes) before I decided to transition into being an illustrator so until recently, my portfolio included some of my old design work from my previous full-time jobs. However, I am starting to phase out the design part of my portfolio as those design projects don’t contribute anything to my being an illustrator.
And so I say goodbye to:
MY MOTION GRAPHICS WORK
My very dated (for me) demo reel with my motion graphics work from 2005-2009
I feel nostalgic about throwing this out of my folio. For three years, I was a motion graphics designer for a broadcasting company here in the Philippines, designing and animating graphics for TV. It paid really well and my work was aired daily on nationwide TV and worldwide (wherever The Filipino Channel aired :P). It was an awesome first job from which I learned a lot about myself, “the real world,” professionalism, office politics, and dealing with people from all walks of life and of different temperaments. It was this job, with which I had a okay-hate relationship (I say “okay-hate” because I can’t say I loved/liked the job) that taught me the most important life lesson I’ve learned so far: that if you want something, just go ahead and do it— which is why I resigned from the job to pursue illustration.
Title cards and show openers for various TV shows, 2005-2009
It’s been almost 5 years since I left the motion graphics/broadcasting industry and sometimes I still catch my old motion graphics freelance work on TV (rarely though, as I rarely watch TV). While I didn’t particularly like being a motion graphics designer, I did like some of the work I did, but I haven’t done any motion graphics in the last three years and don’t foresee myself getting back into it, so it’s time to let go.
MY DESIGN WORK
Rich media online ads, 2010-2011
I also spent almost two years working from home and on night shift as a graphic designer for a creative agency in New York with offices in Los Angeles and London. I designed comps for online ads, websites, Facebook apps, and online games, among others. It was a good job with a nice variety of international projects that looked good on a resume, plus it paid well, but it came at a time when my career goals and priorities were shifting to illustration and I eventually had to let it go to pursue a different direction. Also, Night Shift and I were not friends.
SOME OF MY ILLUSTRATION WORK
I also have to let go of some of my older illustration work that are no longer a match with my current style.
Horoscope Girls, 2009
The first two horoscope girls were for an illustration pitch for a local teen magazine back in 2009.
They didn’t get picked up but I liked my work enough to add a few more girls as a personal project. However, as personal projects go, sometimes it takes years to finish them (well, in my case at least). It’s already 2013, 4 years after I started these Horoscope Girls. I still haven’t done or even started on the other Horoscope Girls. And in the amount of time between starting and idling, my style has changed. I draw in a looser, more cartoony style now, and if I were to go back to this project, the rest of the girls in the series won’t look like the girls from 2009.
* * *
Here’s a little story about one of my first paid illustration gigs. It was in 2008, right after I resigned from my first job and trying to make a shift to illustration (which I had no background in). A former co-worker’s friend needed an illustrator for a small business they were putting up for the holiday season so my co-worker referred me. I didn’t have an illustration portfolio yet, not even an illustration style, and the client was clueless about illustration (so was I, in hindsight). It was more of, “Hey, I know someone who’s an illustrator, here’s her number.” So the client contacts me without knowing the kind of illustrations I do. The job was for around 30 illustrations, half of them objects and half of them people in a stylized Jason Brooks/Hed Kandi illustration style that was very popular at that time (trust me, you’ve seen Jason Brooks’ work even if you’re not familiar with his name— you just don’t know it). Of course, Jason Brooks is Jason Brooks and I was young, inexperienced, and with a penchant for drawing cute faces on things, not slick, svelte, and lithe girls dancing in a club. But that didn’t matter to the client and we probably both thought an illustrator can just be given a reference and be made to imitate a style.
Illustrations for stationery, 2008
My best attempt. Hehe. On its own, it was pretty ok, but it’s definitely not Hed Kandi :P That job was difficult, mostly due to the fact that I was forcing out a style that didn’t come naturally to me. Also, the turnaround was tight and the budget was soul-suckingly degrading. Even then, I was mentally kicking myself for having said yes despite the client’s budget (or lack, thereof). I think I was going more for the experience and for something to put in my non-existent illustration portfolio.
Anyway, I’ve learned my lesson since. And while I did like some of the work I did on that project, those illustrations are now being chucked out of my portfolio because if a potential client asks me to draw something in this style again and I stupidly say yes, I will be pulling my hair out of frustration and thinking murderous thoughts as I did during the course of this project :P
* * *
2012 was when I decided to return to freelance illustration and be really serious about it. The past year was for getting my bearings, refining my illustration style and technique, easing back into freelancing. 2013 is for going full-force (I hope). With preparing to send out my first postcard mailer to overhauling my portfolio (still a work-in-progress but it always is), I’m very excited for what 2013 brings, career-wise. I’m especially excited for a 5-week online course I signed up for later this year to learn all about doing more commercial art (I’m a sellout like dut) and breaking into the markets I want to specialize in.
Check out the portfolio section on my site which I’ve turned into a purely illustration portfolio. I’ve been updating it little by little— it’s now divided into topics I tend to draw a lot of, like children, animals, and characters. At a glance, just by looking at the portfolio categories, a potential client gets an overview of the kind of work I do and the audience I’m going for.
I’m in the process of overhauling my portfolio and with it comes doing self-directed, personal illustration pieces to fill in gaps in areas I think my portfolio needs more of (narrative illustration for picture books and editorials).
“I’m sailing to Australia
In a cardboard box
But since I don’t have any sails
I’m using my old socks.
I’ve tied them all together,
So they may catch the breeze
And since I’ve used ten long pairs
I’ll be traveling with ease.”
I first came across M.M. Socks’ poetry when he tweeted me about my work late last year. I had a look on his website. I’m actually not a fan of poetry, for most of those I’ve encountered tend to be dry, boring, self-indulgent, and pretentious. Not so with M.M. Socks’. His poems have a fun, delightful, and quirky quality to them. I read his stories with visuals already forming in my head. Sailing to Australia was especially fun to illustrate as the story was so imaginative— a boy turning a cardboard box into a boat? Using socks for a sail?
I had fun thinking up and adding little details that wasn’t in the story— the hand-drawn controls and dials on the box’s flaps, for example, and the fact that a buoy secured by Scotch tape helps keep the box afloat. Little details and quirks only small children think of. It just so happens I’m a kid myself, just trapped in an adult’s body :P
I still have two more of M.M. Socks’ stories to illustrate, so watch out for that :) In the meantime, you can view more of M.M. Socks’ (Alvaro Salinas Jr) work (he has an e-book coming out this year!) on his website, and stay updated on his work via his Facebook page.
You can also view screenshots of Sailing to Australia’s illustration process here on my Behance gallery.
Ever been so engrossed in whatever you’re doing that you forget time and before you know it, 3, 5, 10 hours have passed?
When I’m working and I get “into the zone,” it’s hard for me to stop. That’s what happened when I got a message from Jen from Muni.PH asking me if I could be part of a visual campaign to raise awareness about the impact of cigarette butts on the environment. http://www.muni.com.ph/cut-the-crap-no-more-butts/
Did you know that cigarette butts are the single most collected item in coastal clean-ups? We may not see them most of the time, but they’re there, buried underneath the sand, and they eventually end up in the ocean where they’re mistaken for food by marine life and birds.
But then, now what? While I have my own little ways of being eco-conscious (minimizing my use of plastic bags, foregoing drinking straws as much as I can when eating out, pocketing my own trash until I can dispose of them properly later), it’s not my advocacy. I choose to reserve my energy and passion about other things. I’m not gung ho on getting people to be as mindful of their trash as I am. I’m more passive-aggressive about it: I give the offending person the stink-eye and maybe roll my eyes and think of how uneducated he/she is.
Then there are people like Jen who, with her baby Muni.PH, raise awareness and encourage people to do more than eye-rolling and mental middle-finger-raising.
The idea was to come up with an illustrated e-poster for Muni.PH‘s #CutTheCrap #NoMoreButts campaign, to raise awareness on cigarette butt litter and its effect on marine life. Now this was something along the lines of what I can do, and what I’m passionate about, which is illustration. It was for a good cause.
Before I even told Jen that yes, I’ll do it, I was already sketching out an idea for a poster. I really was just going for a sketch to present an idea to Jen, but I got so engrossed in what I was doing that the sketch became more and more complicated and started taking on a life of its own. I just kept going because I was liking how the sketch was turning out, and I wanted to see what it would look like.
Surprise, Jen! Yes, I’d be glad to contribute to the campaign, here’s what I have! *shoves poster into Jen’s hands*
Yup, that’s pretty much how it went down. Jen says I ambushed her.
This illustration is not in my usual bright color palette but I went for muted tones to downplay the cute and to emphasize the sad reality of where your improperly-discarded cigarette butts end up.
The illustration includes a dugong (sea cow)…
…and a butanding (whale shark). Both unique sea creatures endemic to the Philippines.
Cigarette butt litter isn’t a Philippines-only problem, though. It’s a problem worldwide.
I’m not going to tell you how much time I spent on this illustration as it’s embarrassing to have people know I can sit down at the computer that long, without going for pee/food/water breaks (but I did stand up to play with/pet/annoy my cat. Hashtag priorities.). Yes, this lifestyle will kill me, just like how your cigarette butts will kill these poor animals if you don’t dispose of them properly.
The final poster
Working on this poster, I was reminded of a time, more than ten years ago, when my friends and I went to a beach somewhere in Batangas, a province south of Manila. We were swimming in the water when a local man on his boat paddled up to us and offered, for a fee, to take us to a part of the beach that had finer sand and nicer, clearer water. When we declined, he shrugged, took out the lit cigarette in his mouth, and threw it in the water. Then he paddled away.
I was pretty appalled at what he had done, as if the ocean was his own personal ashtray. And to think that that was where he lived and made a living. I couldn’t fathom why he would do such a mindless thing. But that’s just it, isn’t it? It’s a mindless act. People act and don’t think of the repercussions of a seemingly small gesture.
At the time of writing, the poster has been shared from the Muni Facebook page205 times and has been viewed at least 22,000 times. That brings awareness about cigarette butt litter to over 22,000 individuals. Even being just AWARE of a problem plants the seed of change that may later translate to positive action and reaction. And I’m glad to have my work as part of this movement— it’s so much better than rolling my eyes and tsk-tsk-ing but not actually doing anything.
Thank you to Jen/Muni.PH for initiating change in this manner, and tapping me (along with other amazing Filipino illustrators) to contribute my visuals to help bring further awareness to the campaign. To know more, check out Muni.PH and their #CutTheCrap #NoMoreButts campaign here.
After a few years of trying to get some illustration experience (having none after coming from a graphic design background), finding my style, figuring out which areas of illustration I want to specialize in, and building up my portfolio, I finally feel like I’m ready to take the next step: sending out a promo postcard mailer to potential clients (companies I want to work with).
This is my quick and lazy concept sketch. I’m almost embarrassed to show you this. I drew this slumped over on a couch, and it shows :P My intent for this introductory postcard is to introduce these three things to new clients: 1) myself, 2) my illustration style, and 3) what I like drawing (to get similar work).
I like drawing children, cats, cupcakes, objects, hand-drawn lettering.
My concept was “do more of what makes you happy.” It’s a phrase I first encountered on Pinterest about a year ago, and it’s made an impression on me since. It’s an idealistic and somewhat indulgent thought I believe in, having done exactly just that a few times by resigning from stable design jobs to do more of what makes me happy (which is illustration).
I didn’t intend to include the actual phrase in the design, just the idea behind it. I set up the illustration to have my cartoon self working in my studio, surrounded by little things that make me happy: drawing, my cats Sushi and Tiger, cake and candy, taking pictures, my work and my computer, arts and crafts, coffee and tea. I had to limit myself to include only things that would make sense in a work (from home) setting, otherwise I would’ve thrown in a giraffe in there or a suitcase and passport (travel makes me happy, too).
Art imitates life: most of these objects are an illustrated version of their real-life counterparts.
I don’t have a red and white striped mug though, or a yellow polka dot teacup. I wish I did.
I compiled all my elements into a 5 x 7-inch portrait layout.
I was pretty happy with the first output (left). But after some thought, I decided to stick to a cream, red, and turquoise color palette (right). I thought that while there was nothing wrong with the all-color version, the second version shows more thought and restraint, color-wise. It also reflected the color scheme of my real-life studio. Potential clients won’t know that, but I have every intention of having this design printed as a poster for my studio walls so it’s nice to have them match :P
The red/turquoise color scheme also matches my business card, which I got printed a few years ago.
I was ready to take my design to print, but decided to play around with the layout a bit more. What if I actually added the words “do more of what makes you happy”?
The Internet is on a quote kick. It’s all about empowerment, feel-good mantras, witty one-liners. These are what get pinned and re-pinned, hearted, favorited, reblogged, liked and shared, and printed and tacked on to bulletin boards and inspiration boards. With that in mind, I decided to include the phrase to give more meaning behind the design of my mailer. By doing so, it became the design’s new focal point, and me-the-illustrator was now secondary. Which is fine because with the new design, it then had a new purpose. I hope that when an art director receives it in the mail, he relates to the message and tacks it up on his bulletin board beside his computer as a daily reminder, instead of filing it away together with the other mailers he receives on a regular basis from other illustrators. That way, my name and URL is constantly in his line of sight. Haha, at least that’s what I hope happens :P
The final design that went to print, with the red/teal/cream color palette:
I also added that word balloon at the bottom. Now it kind of suggests that working with me makes one happy. Hahaha. That was totally intentional ;P
This is the back of the postcard.
Keeping the tone light, casual, and conversational.
There’s space to write a short note on the left, if needed. The pun-ny tree stump stamp (*insert canned laughter here*) didn’t make it to my final print file as you’re supposed to leave that space blank so as not to violate USPS regulations, but it’s a fun element nonetheless.
I just sent my file off to the printer (Overnight Prints– same company that printed my business card above)– hoping to have my postcards out to potential clients by the middle of the year :D I’m excited :D
I’m about to send out my very first postcard mailer to art directors and potential future clients abroad. As a freelance illustrator, self-promotion is important, and one way of catching an art director’s and potential client’s eye is going the old-school route: sending a postcard mailer. It’s essentially a direct mail piece but a pretty, less spammy one! You’re still trying to hard-sell a product (yourself/your work) but you do it in style.
I thought it would be best to show what I like drawing the most to get work related to what I like drawing– children, animals, cupcakes, colorful things, and my hand-drawn letters. I’d want an art director to look at this piece and immediately know: 1) the illustration style I work in, and 2) the market or audience my illustrations aim to capture. I think this communicates that perfectly. However, towards the end of completing this illustration, I changed my mind and decided this won’t work well for an introductory/first promo mailer. It fails to introduce ME, the personality behind the illustration. It will still work as a postcard mailer, but maybe not for my first as I think it makes for a weak first impression. It doesn’t even have a cat in it! #crazycatladyproblems
I’ve already finished a new, stronger design for my mailer and it’s going through the finishing stages before it goes to print, but I’m not letting my work on the alphabet piece go to waste (it was fun to do!). I’ve made it available on my Society6 shop as a print, a canvas bag, iPhone case, cards, and other merchandise.
I'm a freelance illustrator/graphic designer living in Parañaque City, south of Manila, Philippines. I draw and doodle, do crafts, paint, surf the Internet a lot, travel occasionally, blog randomly, and take pictures.