Streetwear and illustration go together naturally, it doesn’t even really need explaining. When you look at the work of Gerone Perez, the connection between the two is obvious. He’s not the only one doing it, but he’s definitely doing it right. Labels provide crucial texture for his work. “I try to put everything and anything onto my characters and hope it works,” he says. “Most of the time the words and logos are just about creating aesthetics and layers.”
Tahoooooo. Tahooooo. This early morning siren is one of the sounds that define the Philippines, and the warm feelings it evokes in so many is why the artist Qwark sought them out during a time of personal crisis. His new series is not just the about the magtataho though, but street vendors in general. As a young kid, he’d watch them on his way to school every day, and they left him with an impression he couldn’t fully explain. “I’d see the same ice cream man in the morning, at lunch, and afternoon,” Qwark explains. “I never understood until I grew older how these people spend long hours working for minimal income. I admire their resilience, their dedication to providing for their families. So now I depict these people as modern-day gods: people of wonder and might both in body and will.”
Rainy season in Manila can be a difficult time, but combine that with an endless rush hour and you have every excuse to go full emo. A young Makati-raised artist named Sabadontt is capturing all the feels of these dreaded, water-logged days in a series of pixel art animations. Commuters stuffed in leaky stairwells waiting for an MRT that threatens to never show up. A student trying to hide under her umbrella pauses on an overpass, gazing off in existential crisis. Locals start to shed the day’s struggle in a communal break at the carinderia.
What would Neo Manila look like? Abel Arce has some ideas on the subject. The digital artist from Quezon City, also known as Polygonatic, has been working on a series of images that depict a dystopian future full of bright lights, big logos, and lots of carnage.
In a time of fleeting attention spans and never-ending scrolling, it’s rare that digital artists spend too much time on one piece. What’s the point when their work will fly by as viewers swipe through so quickly? Deathburger, on the other hand, draws such dense and detailed illustration that you can stare at them for longer than many Youtube clips. They’re full of ornate characters and baroque cityscapes.
His newest project, Nightfall, finds him building an ever more intricate world, expanding on previous themes with increasing backstory and adding new layers. The project was revealed a couple weeks ago as a Kickstarter with a goal of reaching €20,000 and he ended up getting €138,024 in backing. He plans to turn the drawings into a physical hybrid graphic novel/art book. It’s the third book in the series and definitely notches up the intensity.
Illustration is often the most literal of the arts. Along with political cartoons, it’s rare that visual art comments so directly on contemporary issues. Cebuano artist Bastinuod makes good on that tradition, covering some hard-hitting local circumstances like election violence and land rights struggles. He expands on those topics to include the likes of domestic violence and traditional folklore. And he’s not preoccupied with negativity either, often broaching the area of future tribalism.
He finds his style through mixed media, often combining painting on canvas with printmaking techniques and digital art. It’s a blend of freehand characters and comic book color tones. And it’s an effective one too, one that’s both familiar and challenging. Folded paper marks bring to mind childhood comics while also creating tension and distress. Inkblots tether anger to nostalgia.