Updating my portfolio

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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Illustrations for stationery, 2008

 
My best attempt. Hehe. On its own, it was pretty ok, but it’s definitely not Hed Kandi 😛 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 😛

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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.

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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.

Also check out my Behance gallery which I’ve recently started using again 🙂

Calaguas, an unspoiled beach destination for the Boracay-weary

wedgiesand

 
I’m a contributing writer for lifestyle and travel website When In Manila and I wrote this piece on a remote, undeveloped beach in a province in the Philippines. Sharing this with my readers (all three of them)— despite the “third-worldliness” of this country, I love living in the Philippines and places like Calaguas being within reach is just one of the reasons why.

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When in Manila, ask any urban-dweller about the best beach in the country and you are guaranteed a popular answer: Boracay. And why not? Boracay’s blindingly white powder-fine sand and its clear, azure waters have spoilt us Filipinos. The Philippines’ top tourist destination has set the bar for beach-goers who cannot help but compare other beaches they visit with that of Boracay’s sand quality and the clarity of the water.

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This is not Boracay.

 
However, Boracay’s popularity comes at a price. With throngs of tourists flocking to the beach, it has been called “Manila with sand,” capturing the essence of what Boracay is like during peak seasons where the beach is so crowded that running into someone you know from Manila is a regular occurrence. With the influx of more and more foreign tourists due to the Kalibo airport now an international gateway, and the degradation of the beach due to unsustainable tourism practices, people have started looking for alternatives. Fortunately, with over 7,000 islands to choose from in the Philippines, there are plenty, and you don’t even have to fly from Manila to get to some of them.

These are the easy and obvious choices: drive down south of Manila for the beaches in Batangas, a destination known for scuba-diving. A little further south of Batangas and a boat ride away is White Beach in Puerto Galera, Mindoro. Go north of Manila and there’s Anawangin Cove in Zambales, where you can camp on a beach fringed with pine trees.

But if you’re willing to go further and off the beaten path, away from the crowds, lying off the coast of the province of Camarines Norte is a group of pristine, virgin islands called Calaguas, a reward for those who make the time and the effort to journey into the typhoon-battered region of Bicol.

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Continue reading “Calaguas, an unspoiled beach destination for the Boracay-weary”

Sailing to Australia

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).

Sailing to Australia

 
This is my most recent work illustrating an excerpt from Sailing to Australia, a poem by Alvaro Salinas Jr, also known as M.M. Socks.

Sailing to Australia

 

“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?

Sailing to Australia

 
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 😛

Sailing to Australia

 
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.

Armchair activism: poster illustration for Muni.PH’s #CutTheCrap #NoMoreButts campaign

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 “in 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/

#CutTheCrap #NoMoreButts campaign poster

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.

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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.

It ended up looking like this.

#CutTheCrap #NoMoreButts campaign poster
#CutTheCrap #NoMoreButts campaign poster
#CutTheCrap #NoMoreButts campaign poster
View bigger thumbnails of the process on my Behance gallery

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.

#CutTheCrap #NoMoreButts campaign poster

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.

Some details:

#CutTheCrap #NoMoreButts campaign poster
The illustration includes a dugong (sea cow)… 

#CutTheCrap #NoMoreButts campaign poster
…and a butanding (whale shark). Both unique sea creatures endemic to the Philippines.

 

#CutTheCrap #NoMoreButts campaign poster
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.

#CutTheCrap #NoMoreButts campaign poster
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 page 205 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.

Muni.PH: http://www.muni.com.ph
Muni.PH Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/muni.PH
Check out the other illustrated posters in the #CutTheCrap #NoMoreButts campaign here.

Sunday Snippets: Hello summer! And new rubber stamps

Summer

 
With temperatures here in Manila hitting 34-35 degrees Celsius, I can’t help but have summer on my mind. Last year, I missed out entirely on summer in the Philippines as I was away on a two-month trip elsewhere, but I’m home and languishing in the heat this year. It’s the kind of heat and humidity where you’re literally already sweating before you’ve even toweled off from taking a shower. No joke.

Cool summer cat

 
Here are a few summery illustration snippets from recent/ongoing projects 🙂

Summer patterns
Beat the heat
Under the sea - WIP

 

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And of course, when it’s summer and you live in a tropical country with 7,107 islands, you hit the beach.

Wedgienet.net on the beach

 
Blog entry/article about the virgin beach of Calaguas, Camarines Norte to come, soon 😀

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I’m still carving rubber stamps in my spare time and whenever the mood strikes, usually when I feel like I need to take a break from the computer (which I spend too much time on!). I’m trying to work using a new technique that, unlike in my DIY eraser stamp carving tutorial, doesn’t involve a Speedball cutter. Just an X-acto knife and a different way of angling the blade to make stamps that are sturdier and more resistant to wear and tear.

Carving rubber stampsFirst few attempts
Carving rubber stamps

 
I’m still getting the hang of this new technique, and I’ll try to upload more stamps carved using this method when successful, heh.

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This blog’s been quiet lately, and I don’t really have an excuse except that I’m lazy (and I partially blame the heat for making me extra unproductive), but I have a few illustration, craft, and work-related posts lined up in the coming weeks, so hang tight 🙂

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Sunday Snippets is a new, semi-regular Sunday column on my blog, a disjointed, catch-all entry for the little random snippets of art, random thoughts, interesting links, and whatever’s catching my fancy at the moment.