verklempt

…is a new-ish word I’ve recently learned about. It’s a Yiddish term to describe a person who’s too emotional to say anything.

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Quick life update

Between a Puddle and the Ocean opened at Galerie Roberto in Alabang last Feb, curated by Lena Cobangbang. The blue ones are mine, and they are the biggest watercolor pieces I’ve made to date. I normally work small, and the big paintings I usually make are for children’s books, so making these framed ones for exhibit was a feat for me haha.

It took me some time to switch from work to play mode. I found that it’s not easy or quick for me to go from making things for clients and other people to making personal pieces. I kept thinking about other people’s potential opinions, and that didn’t help me AT ALL. So much anxiety over almost nothing. In any case, I’m content with how things played out.


Our all-women original picture book art exhibit Peek-A-Book is on view at the CCP, as part of March being women’s month! I really am grateful to be part of this show, and to be surrounded by excellent and generous mentors from the children’s literature community. My younger self would freak out if she learned about this. The show is up until May 6, and there’s a paper cut workshop + Adarna House book launch on the 28th. Drop by if you can!

I gave a workshop during the opening day, and I’m proud to report that I did not cry in public while talking, thank you very much. I volunteered to do the workshop on a whim, without much thinking, in the middle of a party last year. I did my best the day of! And I had a really good time listening to the participants’ stories which they wrote and sketched themselves. I’m personally a BIG believer that art and literature aren’t untouchable things that exclusively belong to a small number of people precisely because of what I witness during these kinds of workshops. Everyone has good stories in them, it’s just a matter of helping them talk about it/show it.

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Remember that picture book about the Philippine Eagle that I worked on during my Cornell internship? Well, I am VERY pleased to share with you that An Eagle’s Feather is now published, and is available for purchase as a small book version! Aaah! You can get your copies at the Cornell Lab Publishing Group’s website and on Amazon.

100% of the first $10,000 and 50% thereafter of net proceeds from the sale of this book goes directly to the Philippine Eagle Foundation to support its conservation education and other efforts to save the Philippine Eagle from extinction.

The original plan for this book was just to make ONE copy: one big book for the use of the Philippine Eagle Foundation for their education programs. And now it’s published! I’m happy to see how far this project has come, that more people can have a copy of the book and learn about the Philippine Eagle, its plight, and how we can help.

And! On top of everything: a whole lot of warm and fuzzy feelings. Sudden but surprisingly comfortable.



Upcoming

Art in the Park is on the 15th, which is on Sunday already. I’ll be at the Ang Ilustrador ng Kabataan booth, as per usual. Local Loca will be on May 5, and I am crossing all my fingers I get to finish my new zine in time.

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Pierra Calasanz-Labrador’s new book of poems Dear Universe comes out on April 27 under Anvil Publishing. I made drawings for it, and I can’t wait to see the book in person! I’ve never illustrated poems before, so working on this project was refreshing. Pierra and Anvil were so generous and had given me a lot of room to explore the poems visually.

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Karapat Dapat, Ang INK and CANVAS PH’s book on the rights of a child, is out next month! We’ve been working on this for the past months. The topic is very pertinent, and the timing of this book’s production+release could not be any more apt.

We’ve already raised funds to produce 15,000 books to be given to public schools and disadvantaged communities. Your support through donations and book purchases can help us print more! Spread the word!

Have a peek of the activities and other pages of the book, and learn more about how you can donate and help HERE.


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The Sunday Monday Currently
no. 6

Reading

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from The Shape of a Pocket, John Berger

I am reading…a lot of different things all at once. The only books I’ve finished for the year so far are all poetry books, which goes to show how little A) time I have to quiet myself and read and/or B) attention span I have to quiet myself and read.

In any case! Current reading list is as follows:
• 2/3 of The Lonely City, Olivia Laing
• 3/4 of The Whiz Mob and the Grenadine Kid, Colin Meloy. I got bored in the middle of this, and so.
• The Shape of a Pocket, John Berger. My main read. It’s conveniently divided into short essays, and I am inching my way to the end.

Listening
Newest additions to the playlist include Thundercat and Sam & Dave.

Watching
Re-watching LOST (!!!) with Jacob in increments. “We have to go back~~~”

Liking

MayaHewitt.jpgMaya Hewitt!

Not Liking
Nothing new: the current adm!inistrat10n. Politics and the chaotic government. The pains of being (female, a commuter, both) in Metro Manila.

Feeling
Mildly disoriented because it’s April, and my question is where did the first part of the year go? I feel like I’m still gearing myself up to start the year, but here we are. Here we are already.

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The making of.

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Agustin Goy opened his exhibit at the National Museum last January 19.

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Some pieces from his Ballerines exhibit from a few years ago.
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Watercolor pieces with amazing detail and lighting technique!

nbnh-2017-11_zpsisf5v0y41Abi with her portrait

nbnh-2017-12_zpsv2iopgl8Studio Dialogo with Papa Goy. Cheers!

I can’t wrap my head around sixty years of making art. I mean, I’m only 28 and I’m constantly tired, so this is very humbling for me. Sixty years of painting and drawing and hardwork that ultimately shows in the quality of the pieces he’s done over the years. He has also apprenticed under the great Vicente Manansala! I’m proud that the country has artists like him. I hope I grow up to be someone as persevering in whatever field I may end up working in for the rest of my days, art-related or not. At one point during the opening I started to think about the next sixty years of life until I got antsy about the possibilities. I love what I do but the future scares me a lot these days, so I’ll have to leave the future to take care of itself / me / us.

Agustin Goy: Sixty Years in Art runs until March 19 at the National Museum (Old Legistlative Building).


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Graphika Manila also happened this month. It was a 2-day event featuring designers, artists, and illustrators from different corners of our lovely world. Pictured above, Jonathan Kim from Rare Volume, one of my favorite speakers from the event.

They make interactive data visualization pieces which are super cool. He talked about the importance of collaboration and making experiments with people who do entirely different things from you. I could just imagine how much testing and research goes into their kind of work. It’s also pretty amazing how they can push technology like that. What a time to be alive.

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Gary Baseman was also there to show us his sketches, and share concepts behind some of his exhibits and paintings. He talked about his family background, heritage, memory, loss, and displacement. His talk had a very different tone from the rest of the speakers because his was the most personal, I think, and profound in a way.

On the second day my favorites were Avid Liongoren who talked about Saving Sally and everything his team learned from making the film, and Mr. Bingo, his full-production Kickstarter intro rap video, and his love for hate mail. I liked most of this year’s speakers, and in general this year’s GM was alright.

Although~ The biggest disappointment was how the host went about the event, and why the management allowed it. It was like she didn’t take the industry seriously enough to prioritize asking relevant questions to the speakers, instead of asking them to dance, rap, what their shampoo of choice is, or which sports teams they like. Most of the very few questions that were asked every after speaker were insignificant, which I am only feeling frustrated about because there were only what, two, three questions that were entertained every after speaker. This has happened before, too, when this guy took one of the precious two Q&A spots for the Sagmeister talk to just ask the designer to sign his girlfriend’s book in public.

And we wonder why a lot of people don’t take design seriously in this country.

I have a lot of strong feelings about constantly presenting design in a gimmicky noontime show way. Some people enjoy it, sure, inevitably so. I mean, we’re in the Philippines. Fun times are fun (fun times sell~~~ hello elephant in the room), and play is an integral part of creativity, but I think education, insight, and discourse should be at the forefront of these conferences, not entertainment. Right now, it’s the only conference of its kind and of that scale, with the capacity to bring in international speakers and all. People (students!) shell out money and spend a whole weekend at the event, and I they deserve something more. I really hope to see improvements in the future.



The Sunday Currently, no. 4

Reading
Just finished After Lambana (Eliza Victoria, Mervin Malonzo, published by Visprint). I enjoyed it and I’m happy I bought it. Please read more local graphic novels!  On a different note, my copy had badly printed pages towards the end. I wonder if I can get it replaced?

Also my Twitter feed is bursting at the seams with current events. My country’s president is still one of the worst there is right now, and it gives me real anxiety just thinking about how his words affect the country every time he opens his mouth. I can’t keep up with everything. Also, as for foreign news, my heart goes out to everyone stuck in the airports due to the immigration ban, and applause for all the lawyers camping out there, offering their services pro bono to help all those people.

Listening
La La Land’s score. I like the score, shush.

Watching
Just finished Chunking Express, Wong Kar Wai, one of my comfort films.

Loving
My sister, because she turned 18 this past week!  For the past 18 years, me and my family have never known anything that will be for certain because of her condition (she has brain nerve damage), and it’s been quite a journey for us all. Every year added is a very special gift that we are tremendously grateful for.

Aside from that, nothing. All my feelings towards anything else are desaturated because it’s that time of the month, and all my energies are focused on fighting abdominal pain and a ton of discomfort.

Needing
To catch up on news even though it hurts huhu. Wrap up drawing assignments and replying to emails.

Wanting
To do something about the chaos but what???

Feeling
Alright, okay.

The Sunday Currently is by Sidda Thonton

The Sunday Currently, no. 3

Reading

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I finally (!) have a bit of time to read actual paper books and not audiobooks! I borrowed a few from Abi and family’s library. I first saw Jenny Saville’s work in 2015’s Art Basel HK. She’s so good! And before I left for the other year’s internship, Abi told me about Raymond Ching and his bird paintings. I love the context he paints his birds in. His lighting technique also reminds me of Durer.

Liza also lent me her Hamiltome. She and Jamie introduced me to Hamilton last year, and I’ve enjoyed it a lot, heh. It is a big, big regret of mine that I didn’t get into it when I was still in New York. I could’ve watched a show! Woe. (Another big regret is not getting to taste girl scout cookies which I have heard great things about, but that is a completely different story altogether.)

Listening
Andrew Bird’s “Echolocations: Canon” album, and also the Hamilton soundtrack, both the original cast version and the mixtape.

Watching
I am on Season 2 of Mind of a Chef.

Loving
-Semi-spicy spinach with oyster mushrooms, and turmeric fried rice. All ingredients found in your friendly neighborhood palengke (market).

nbnh-2017-6_zpsegzohvt9-These hand-illustrated ceramic cups from a Japan Surplus shop along Kamuning that Roja, who I know from INK, pointed out. For good measure, all the ceramic ware were half-price on the day I visited.

-Alsoooo my parents, who just left last week, and who I won’t be seeing until who-knows-when. It’s been ages since I’ve been with both of them at the same time for the holiday. In a span of the few weeks that we were together, I’d witnessed them fight, get along real well, and everything in between.That’s how I realized that A) I know nothing about love. Nothing. and B) My father is a very good man, and I am proud of him. I can only hope to marry someone as kind and patient someday.

nbnh-2017-0_zpswqspelaxHere is a sunset photo from Antipolo to cap off my cheesy sentiments.

-And lastly, I bought a shelf! We changed shelves in the office and I bought the old one we had. This is in my room, and currently houses reference books, some picture books, and graphic novels. So now all my paperbacks can live in the old shelf, where they will be properly stored and sorted instead of just being in piles on a table.

Manila Maker is awesome, check out their stuff and buy a shelf or ten.

Needing
To finish a couple more pending projects and I am officially deadline-free! The first time in more than a year. Lesson learned in not biting off more than you can chew, brought to you by the year 2016.

Also, I picked up my Bible recently and the cover started to disintegrate, hala.

Wanting
I want all these chaos-causing people in the government to just calm down and maybe, you know, go away………

Feeling
OK, at the moment.

Looking Forward To
-I ordered a planner and it’s supposed to arrive this coming week and it’s supposed to have really good paper and I’m excited.

-Along with a couple of Taiyou Matsumoto books that are also supposed to arrive in the mail reaaally soon.

-Getting my computer. I really dislike changing electronic devices and so I have been stalling. But! I’m in the process of checking out the stores where I’ll be getting the pieces of my Frankenstein system, and hopefully by next month, I will start a new chapter of my life wow haha.

-In the past week, I am proud to say that my semi-sedentary self did not pass out while lifting dumbbells and doing planks at home after work, so I’m kind of looking forward to getting through this coming week’s set. I’ve found that a bit of exercise helps me with my anxiety every day and puts me to sleep easily at nigt. I’m really trying to convince myself to just get on with it daily.


Here are some work things!

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Last week I wrapped up some illustrated posters for the Masungi Georeserve and their geotourism and conservation educ projects. I learned so much working on the posters, especially about which species of the animals and plants on the list are endemic to the Philippines, and what they looked like. For instance, the jade vine grows purple in the country, and our local wisteria grows white instead of lilac (European variety). The native impatiens are white, too, instead of the purple and pink ones that look more familiar. It astounds me to learn how much biodiversity can exist in such a small (well, compared to the rest of the country) space like Masungi.

A lot of things feel relatively insignificant compared to this. Nature projects have a very special place in my heart because they are humbling to work on, and they put things in perspective. Carl Sagan was right about the pale blue dot.

I’ll show you the final posters some other time, but here are some style studies. I wanted to render everything in paint, and was a couple of birds in when I saw the timeline, and decided to just draw everything digitally in the interest of time. I’m happy with the paintings, though, and will push through with the other birds someday.

It was my first time to try this realistic style, and I definitely learned a lot of new things about painting with new materials (hot pressed watercolor paper and acryl gouache, which is basically matte acrylic).

Here is a peek of the final drawings that made it to the posters.

nbnh-2017-4_zpsvu5ekmymAnd a peek of a picture book drawing. Not sure when this book comes out, though. Bleep bloop.

And lastly, Studio Dialogo’s latest collab with Prestige Papers is out. I helped work on the illustrations for the covers. I first drew the leaves digitally, then we printed them out, cut each leaf, and composed and mounted them in papercut art style. We had them photographed, then laid them out across the diff products. It was tedious but enjoyable!


Some holiday introspection has brought me to notice how much my life has…hushed. I sometimes find myself missing the more intrepid parts of my early 20s, maybe even wishing I had the stamina and social capabilities to still live like that, but! I also know that taking care of myself in a quiet way is what I have to do at the moment. I need to take deep breaths and sit still for a bit; the adventures can wait for a while longer.

Recently, I’ve learned a few things about how to calm myself down and/or distract myself from bad thoughts. Particularly useful ones that maybe you can use in times of anxiety too, include:
-taking longs breaks from social media
-only thinking of the people within a 100m radius
-consciously remembering good memories from people who genuinely care
-recalling kind things strangers have done for me and for others
-a bit of exercise every day
-and a personal favorite, food show/documentary binges on Netflix heh

A very happy new year to you all, and here’s to a productive and quietly content 2017. I know last year dragged us all by the teeth into the dirt, but as the Rilo Kiley song goes, our bruises are coming / but we will never fold.

The Sunday Currently, no. 2

2016-nov-1_zpso87d8adwHello friends.

Reading

Type has (once again?) been all the rage for the past few years and everyone’s been exploring it, but one of my favorite designers and letterers still remains to be Jessica Hische. Through the years I’ve been a fan of both the development of her work (from her early illustration days up to now when she’s made font systems already) and her perspective about work and life. It’s true what they say about excellent work standing out, no matter how many others do or try to do the same kind of work she does. At some point I went through this phase of getting sick of type because it got so popular that there came a point when it was being used way too much for everything. There had been a lot of work that looked nice but were out of context.

I borrowed this from Rommel, but I really want to get myself my own copy. I’ve enrolled in her Skillshare drop cap class years ago, and this book reminds me a lot of the things she taught there. The book has so much more insight, though, as she writes more extensively about her process and also about her daily life as a designer.

Jessica is always a source of joy for me as a designer because of how energetic and gung-ho, not to mention level-headed, she is about work and life in general. No pretentious gimmicks, just hard work and the eagerness to share and educate others, and the occasional hilarious anecdote.

Listening
More Jessica Hische!

Watching
No time to watch anything now, but I did start Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories on Netflix recently, and the first episode was pretty good.

Loving

Dinner is served. 😆 #steak Meat 24″ x 36″ designer paper Swathe X J. Pacena

A photo posted by Swathe (@swathe.manila) on Oct 29, 2016 at 3:07am PDT

Swathe Manila’s meat cuts pattern

Needing
Swiffer refills, AA batteries, Frontline flea spray for the cat #adulting

Wanting
The year to not end yet? Teka lang, ang dami pang hinahabol!

Feeling
So much better. Besides the fact that local and international current events have been driving everyone crazy these past weeks, I think most of my anxiety is just leftover quarter life crisis, and also brought about by all the deadlines. And…also the thought of turning 30 in a few years. But really, I could choose to A) fret about it and grow ever more wrinkly and grumpy before I even have to OR B) not let the weight of other people’s judgments burden me or dictate what I should do with my life and career. *triple bicep emojis*

Church has also helped. I know the higher powers aren’t exactly the most popular things in the world right now, which I completely understand. The world as we know it feels like it’s about to implode any time now, and it’s just a really miserable time for everyone. But after much thinking and questioning and all, I think I still do believe in God. I still have tons of questions but all the good things still very much outweigh all the doubt. It took me a while to get back in this state and I don’t think I want to let anyone or anything take away this feeling of peace from me.

The Sunday Currently is by Sidda Thonton

In other news!

  1. I have been told that all my zines (well, there were just a few, but still!) were sold out during day 1 of Komikon yesterday! This makes me so happy, thank you world. And extra special thanks with ice cream and leche flan on top to Eva and the rest of the table friends for carrying my zines!
  2. I tried to finish painting some old drawings yesterday as warm-up for real work.
  3. And here is a peek of some plant sketches for an ongoing conservation education project. The beautiful jade vine, locally known as tayabak , is native to the Philippines.
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Changing minds

Hello, it is I, arising from the hiatus. A little long weekend has allowed me a bit of time to stop and get myself together.

fruit picking _____ #illustration #waxpastel

A post shared by Fran Alvarez (@nobeesnohoney) on

Life lately has mostly been work, which is a good and bad thing at the same time. Good because I like the kind of work I do very much, but also a bit bad because I know that somehow, I thrive on activities that aren’t work / art / illustration / design related at all. This tail-end of the year requires me to shuffle harder than ever, however, because there are bills to be paid and a computer to be replaced. I need to suck it up extra until things are stable again.

It took me a while to admit this to myself but I have been struggling a bit with illustration recently. I’m not sure why but I’ve been rather unhappy with the things I’ve been making, and I keep on redoing them with the constant hope of coming up with something worthy of being put out there.

img_0806patch by Stay Home Club

This has got me to thinking about where I might have gone wrong in the process, and about how my work habits have changed over time. I really want to make the best work I can with my current skill level and insights, and being stuck in this slump is driving me mad haha. Work and life goes on though, graciously or mercilessly, weather weather lang. Despite my frustrations with myself, I am still grateful.

Maybe I need to change my mind about things.

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I remember a time when it was quiet in my head and in my work. That is where I hope to go back to.



The Sunday Currently, no. 1
dun dun dunnn

Reading
Cabinet of Natural Curiosities by Albertus Seba
It’s this wonderful book of illustrated forms and creatures from nature. Makes for an excellent reference book, but also it’s just really soothing to go through. I found it at the Interior Design section of a National Bookstore branch, just because it has “cabinet” in the title, woe.

Listening
Regina Spektor’s new album Remember Us To Life
Stellar. I love it so much. I’ve always been a fan, and this new album is such a treat. My favorite tracks are Bleeding Heart and Small Bill$. Additional fact: I made a Spektor-inspired rap song in college to join a songwriting competition of the Filipino Department. It was kind of a secret and only told just one friend about it. I didn’t win though I was secretly happy anyway haha. Ok, moving on…

Watching
Elementary Season 5, Ep2

Loving
These Pitt pens from Abi!
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Needing
Advil. I’ve been getting these headaches upon waking up from weekend naps, and thanks to Google, I now know that there are such things as sleep headaches. I get headaches because my body isn’t used to daytime sleep, and my bodily fluids get disoriented and won’t coordinate with everyone else. Me in the year 2016, resistant to change inside and out.

Wanting
Capital for new merch I want to produce. Dear God, help me get my act together, amen.

Feeling
Anxious but hopeful!

The Sunday Currently is by Sidda Thonton