Why I Joined Ang Ilustrador ng Kabataan

Ang Ilustrador ng Kabataan, the children’s illustrators org I’m part of, had its annual planning session yesterday. I came in late, so I missed the first part which was the evaluation of last year’s activities. The rest of the afternoon was spent coming up with ideas for INK projects this year.

Liza was super kind enough to help conduct this year’s planning session using the Open Space method. The main theme of our planning was “24 Going on 25”, because the org turns 25 years next year. We listed topics, keywords, and ideas related to the theme that we think we can explore.

Here are a couple of things I contributed to the list:

  • children’s illustration beyond books and published works
    Most of Ang INK members’ works are comprised of picture books and other children’s published materials, and editorial work. The thing is that now more than ever I think we have so many other venues besides print where our work can be used or can be showcased in. I also think it’s high time we create venues for ourselves rather than wait for others to hire us.
  • community involvement
    When I first joined INK, my conception of picture book making as an illustrator was that I thought it was a very…immersive process. I thought that for one to come up with good illustrations for a book, you had to interact with children, with the author of the story, etc. The reality that I saw, though, was that illustration was quite a solitary activity. The manuscript gets emailed to you, and you don’t get to meet the writer. You work on your illustrations, scan them and send them in, and wait for the finished product. Practically, you can make a book without leaving your house haha. It’s not that there’s something wrong with it, but it’s just how it goes, and I don’t think I ‘m just speaking for myself here.However, I still find it ironic and strange how isolated we are. I’m not sure if this is a direction the org would like to take, but I would want to encourage the org to come up with more activities that involved the people who read the things we make, the real-life equivalents of the characters we draw, and, well, basically the people who need children’s illustrations. I also thought that if other people feel they’re part of our work, that they’re also invested in what we do, we’d have an easier time inviting them to our activities, and letting them know about why the org exists. I don’t think it would hurt to pay equal attention to reaching out as to working on internal activities.

Some more ideas that were brought up by other members included advocacy and how to inspire others more, how to make more meaningful content beyond beautiful artworks, critical thinking (my favorite! It needed to be suggested, thanks Ara), maximizing social media, and plans for our 25th annual exhibit.


Tonight, after I had snapped out of my groggy state of limbo, I felt compelled to dig up my Ang INK application form when I signed up in 2011. When I found it I had to cringe at the artwork I submitted, and also at my photo because I looked different haha.

I also found this!



Sorry for the grammatical landslide. But anyway! It sounds like pambobola, but I remember being really sincere when answering my application because I wanted to get in so much. My answer to the question was a direct reflection of how I saw the org, and what I thought the purpose of the org was.

When I found my application, for a moment I got sad because I know I’m not as enthusiastic as I was before. I’ve gone through experiences that have shattered big parts of my idealistic younger self, and I have seen my share of the proverbial Real World. It made me sad to see how much hope I had lost without realizing it. Illustration was a dream then, which turned into a job. It’s an ultimately very happy and fulfilling job, but as with all forms of work, you kind of get tired. I’m in no position to say that I’m tired already because I barely just got to the party, which is also maybe why I got sad because why am I already tired? What a manang.

AND THEN I snapped out of it haha. And got excited because I realized that my personal reason for being in the org hasn’t changed, that I still see children’s lit not just as a job but as a way to reach out. Seeing my application form gave me this little epiphany that hey, I really do want this! It wasn’t just a phase or something.  I still want to be part of reaching out to others through drawings and pictures, which is what I still super love to make.

I also thought that personally, now is the best time for me to help make something happen because I have reached a big goal that I’ve been dreaming about, which was to become an illustrator. The main mission of Ang INK is to professionalize the industry, uphold good practices and standards, and basically take care of its illustrators who work in or are interested in working in children’s literature etc. For the past few years that I’ve been part of the org, I saw how this worked. The org has indeed helped me become an illustrator by profession. With the help of my friends who I met in the org, I’ve gotten better at drawing, I think I’ve made significant work the past few years, and I have more understanding of how the industry works. I also think I’ve covered some of the preliminary things like learning how to draw for publishing purposes, and self-promotion and other “self” stuff.


I realized yesterday that now that I’ve gotten that part a little out of the way, I feel like I can set a new personal goal already. The “what’s next?”. I have more room in my head now to think of how to use what I can do for others already, instead of just focusing on helping myself first. After all the thinking and muni-muni, I’m happy I still believe that INK is a place where I can do that.







NAKS NAMAN. Haha sorry I can’t help myself. I have to break the sentimental tone before this entry ends! Here’s to the rest of the year! Do follow Ang Ilustrador  ng Kabataan on Facebook for updates and such. :)


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