1. What is your creative process for Ang Alaga Kong Lolo?
The pre-production happened during the Room to Read workshop held in Baguio City last October. While reading the manuscript, I also had to get the “feel” of the story. Simultaneously, I was imagining how the characters would look like and their milieu.
For Ang Alaga Kong Lolo, I imagined the two main characters as subtly mirroring each other, not just with their “movements”, but also how they looked.
For example, if Lolo wears a striped blue top - the child also wears a blue top. In the last pages, however, I did the reverse. That somehow adds an element of juxtaposition. For the location, I opted for a setting that is laid back yet is in proximity to the metropolis (because the child’s mother works in an office). So what came to my mind was Antipolo. It has the perfect setting for its greens and its uneven terrains are visually interesting. It also has a view of city skylines.
Once the characters were approved by the workshop mentors, I proceeded with sketching the storyboard - integrating both the characters and the story. The rendering and coloring for the illustrations happened after the workshop. Time is one of the challenges as we only had a month or so to illustrate the entire book (and the schedule overlapped with my graduate school finals, which made it even more challenging).
The pages were sent to the mentors for approval, and then forwarded to the book designer, Alen Mangabat for the book layout and the text. The challenge was all worth it, especially when I saw the printed colored sample.
2. What is the picture book/children’s book you wish you had created or illustrated?I like Pergy Acuña’s “Sampung Eroplano” because the concept is cute, and I want to try illustrating counting books. I also like Ivan Reverente’s “Ang Kuya Kong Zombie” because I am fond of playing computer games (during my freetime). :)
3. What are your 5 tips for aspiring illustrators?
First, hone your craft by drawing a lot. Second, get to know yourself well enough to know what your weaknesses and strengths are, and work on them. Then, believe in yourself more than anyone else; do not compare yourself to others. Lastly, keep on drawing!
4. What are your 5 recommended books for young artists or anyone who wishes to break out into picture book illustration.
-Children’s Picture Book by Martin Salisbury has chapters on western children’s book history, character development and even storyboarding techniques! I think this book is a must-read.
-Cartoon Animation by Preston Blair - This is not about picture books, but if you have a cartoony style, it has chapters about character constructions and even character acting that you may want to apply to your illustrations!
-The Animator’s Survival Kit by Richard Williams - Another book that’s not about children’s books specifically, but, you might want to look at some chapters on character acting, body language, and other animation principles that can be useful, especially if you have a more cartoony style. :)
-Show Your Work by Austin Kleon - I think it is a good book for artists of all ages, in the age of social media. The book is really about how to show your work.
-Ang Alaga Kong Lolo by Genaro Gojo Cruz and Lui Buan - It will be available soon, so get a copy! :)
5. What part in Ang Alaga Kong Lolo did you enjoy drawing the most or proved challenging to draw?
I really enjoyed drawing the characters so much, as well as the backgrounds. What I think was the most challenging part was showing the connection between the two main characters.