Sunday, July 15, 2018

An Interview With Rev Cruz 2018 Wordless Book Prize Winner

Here is an interview with Rev Cruz, 2018 Wordless Book Prize Winner. He does not consider himself an artist having no degree in Fine Arts. But his attitude and disposition about art tells us otherwise.

How did you learn about the Wordless Picture Book Prize?

Winning the PBBY Alcala Prize is one of the most important distinctions that a children’s book illustrator can aspire to. It’s been an annual tradition for me that as soon as the winner for the  PBBY Salanga Prize is announced, I download and read the winning manuscript and hope that I have enough inspiration and most importantly, time and effort to participate in the illustration contest. I was lucky enough to have two entries chosen as Honorable Mention. When the Wordless Picture Book Prize was announced, I recognized it as an
opportunity to share my own stories and not just interpret someone’s. Being a member of Ang Ilustrador ng Kabataan, I saw how we were encouraged to join the contest.  

Tell us something about Pibò?

It is a story about Pibò (being a wordless picture book, I would like to let the readers and the storytellers decide what Pibò is) and his adventures. He meets unique characters whom he befriends and travels through exotic environments until he finds what he was searching for. It is a story about friendship, belonging and sacrifice.

Pibò has been brewing in my head for years now ever since I started painting with coffee (being a coffee enthusiast). I created a character based on coffee beans, calling them coffee monsters, and I painted and even made sculptures of them. I intended Pibò as a unique coffee bean, a “peaberry” searching high and low to be reunited with his batch of coffee beans, his family.

What is your creative process for Pibo?

Since Pibò has been “brewing” in my head for years, creating several paintings with the character interacting with other characters and environments. There was no narrative at first. These paintings served as key scenes in a sort of journey. So creating a narrative was a matter of “connecting” these key scenes by filling it in with additional pictures that adds meaning to the key scenes and pushes the narrative forward.

One of my favorite key scene was when the characters meet the narwhal. At first it seems like a random thing when the narwhal shows Pibò a toothbrush and he’s confused with what to do with it. People who are knowledgeable about the nature of narwhals should be able to realize that the “horns” of narwhals are not really horns but are actually tusks or essentially and oversized tooth! The toothbrush actually makes sense as Pibò cleans it!

Who are your role models in your discipline or community? Why?

I realized that creating a wordless picture book demands a unique sets of skills that is different from just illustrating a picture book. For this, I looked into the works of Bill Thomson (“Chalk”), David Wiesner (“Flotsam”), Marla Frazee (“The Farmer and the Clown”) and Aaron Becker (“Journey”) as inspiration.

For children’s book illustration, I’ve always been a Maurice Sendak fan. I’ve always considered being a member of AngInK as a privilege being able to mingle with Beth Parrocha-Doctolero, Jomike Tejido, Liza Flores, Robert Alejandro, Totet de Jesus, etc. people I look up to and aspire to.

For children’s book literature, I love reading Rene Villanueva, Luis P. Gatmaitan, Eugene Evasco and Genaro Gojo Cruz, etc…

Who are you, as an artist?

This is so hard to answer I did not graduate with a degree in Fine Arts or any related course. So I’ve always felt inadequate as an artist, even hesitating to recognize myself as an artist. (In fact, I am a physical therapist by profession) But it has always been my passion to make art. I love making people happy and inspired when they see my art. As much as I can, I just create art in whatever form it is. Gawa lang ng gawa ng feeling ko na maganda. 

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