1. How did you approach illustrating A Delicate Strength?
This is interesting because when I was illustrating A Delicate Strength, there was a question that loomed at the back of my head. Should I stay true to Mrs. Dans’ realist style or should I make it more fantastical or whimsical? In the end, I brought my approach back to the story’s title. I wanted my illustrations to have a very graceful, delicate, and whimsical quality, yet still look grounded in realism. It’s a big theme throughout the story - finding beauty and strength in delicate, sometimes mundane objects - so I really wanted it to show in the illustrations.
Also, I was a fan of Mrs. Dans’ work. Many people say that my illustrations can be very mabusisi or detailed. That’s also something that I wanted to show, so I added the callados Mrs. Dans is famous for. Actually, a part of why I chose to enter this year was that I just really wanted to illustrate callados. Hehe.
2. What is your advice to kids who are thinking of pursuing a career in the arts?
I’d like to tell them to not be afraid of making mistakes and letting their minds and hands wander. Nobody starts out perfect. Don’t be discouraged when you end up making something you’re not proud of. Be excited about it! Because that’s when self-improvement and discovery comes. I feel like with social media, it’s very easy to compare your work with others. However, you’re the only one who can do you, so focus on your craft and enjoy creating.
Panadero at the National Children’s Book Day awarding ceremonies in CCP last July 16, 2019.
3. What are your top 5 children’s books and why?
- Alamat ng Ampalaya - This was my first vivid memory of a Filipino children’s book, so this book occupies a special place in my heart. To be honest, I didn’t have a lot of Filipino children’s books growing up - many of the books on my list, I discovered while lingering in bookstores. However, for this book, I remember being so fascinated with the Ampalaya wearing the colourful costume it made by stealing from the other vegetables.
- Isang Harding Papel - I love how this book tells the story of Martial Law in a very personal, intimate, and even heart-wrenching way. The storytelling device of the paper flowers was so beautiful.
- And Ambisyosong Istetoskop - I love how the story of Jose Rizal is told endearingly through this book. I also love how the book ends, with the stethoscope being proud that it’s displayed in a museum honouring its owner.
- What Kids Should Know About Filipino Food - As a kid, I was into encyclopedic books which would share facts on different topics accompanied with varied illustrations. This book reminds me of an encyclopedia, only that it focuses on food, is more engaging, and with adorable and vivid illustrations.
- Alice in Wonderland - Pop-up Book by Robert Sabuda - I am into paper engineering, so I just have to mention this book. It’s a retelling of the fairy tale brought to life by amazing pop-ups by master paper engineer Robert Sabuda. I find myself being speechless whenever I get to open this book.
4. Apart from finishing the illustrations for A Delicate Strength, what other art projects are you busy with and would need support and promotion?
I have 1 book out entitled Intramuros: The Walled City, a cut and build book which readers can take apart to build a paper model of Intramuros. I’m currently working on the follow-up to this book, so hopefully we get to release it next year.
Other than that, I am a graphic designer by profession. I work at a branding studio called And A Half. We work on different brands ranging from restaurants to real estate, skin clinics to schools. We’re looking into working on higher impact projects for audiences that need it most, so if anyone knows of a cause which thinks would need help design wise, they can send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org :)