Jade Suayan AKA “SYN” has been active in the Manila street art and graffiti scene for several years now, but this is her first solo exhibition as part of Art Fair, the undisputed largest art fair in the Phillipines. Suayan’s exhibit — organized by Secret Fresh, gallery of globally esteemed street culture collector DJ Big Boy Cheng — one of Art Fair Philippines 2023’s largest displays.
The annual Art Fest from San Juan City’s Xavier School is quickly become a signature event of the Philippine fine art and street art calendar. We took an early tour to see what this show has in store for street art lovers, and here’s what we believe should not be missed.
Last week, rumours started swirling that Filipino graffiti artist, Quiccs was lining up an official collaboration with the three stripes brand. On Tuesday, the artist put all speculation to bed with photos of his contract signing with the brand and graphic designs of his collaboration lockout side by side with Pharrell and Jonah Hill collaboration lockouts.
Now on its third year, #NPSD2020 or National Philippine Streetwear Day 2020 is being celebrated across three dates: one for Davao, one for Cebu, and one for Manila. The concept of the movement is to promote your local, Filipino apparel brand. Simple enough, right?
But are we still in a market where we need to tell people to “support local?” It’s a question worth asking, especially since support this year seems to have somewhat dwindled. Compared to last year’s 1000 posts using the #NPSD2019 hashtag, the #NPSD2020 hashtag haas only managed to pull a tenth of that number on Instagram.
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.”
Straight lines and perfect circles. Forward-thinking designs. Hyper-realistic pieces. Pretty much any kind of tattoo you’re looking for, Jhay Colis has got you. While he prefers to focus on black and grey pieces and neo-traditional styles, he’s wildly a versatile artist. Colis works out of a small shop in Wharf Plaza in QC across the way from graffiti supply shop Carrot Bombing (which is probably why he recently did a Nemo design for one lucky customer).
Before he became a tattoo artist, Colis was a painter and performance artist, often doing public interventions focused on freedom of speech. But ten years ago, after getting his second tattoo, he got pulled into the world of skin art. With a cash gift after graduation, he bought his first tattoo gun and set about finding early victims to experiment on. After two years his work became presentable enough and he found an apprenticeship to bring his style to the next level. In late 2016 he finally opened the doors to Jhay Colis Tattoos, where he’s since worked alone with an apprentice. In the decade he’s been working, tattoo culture in the Philippines has exploded. “When I first started there was still a stereotype about tattoos, but people have become more open-minded now,” he explains. “Local events like Dutdutan helped a lot, but so did Western TV shows like ‘Miami Ink,’ ‘LA Ink,’ and ‘Ink Master.'”
His work has evolved into something of a catalog of recent styles. Paint splatters mixed with bold blackwork, small anime boxes, gothic realism. Colis has a steady hand and is versed in most of the latest techniques, so pretty much anything you’re looking for he can do. At Dutdutan last weekend, he even won second place in the neo-traditional category. Do not sleep on this man.
When you talk about Manila streetwear, many local brands come to mind. But there are only a select few that sit confidently on top of that list. THE is one, if not the one. They helped pioneer the rise of streetwear culture in the Metro and are one of the reasons why many young people started their own T-shirt brands. And this week they’re celebrating their 10 year anniversary.
Browsing through the artwork of Tyang Karyel evokes the childhood pleasure in small things. A single candy, a plastic toy, an old movie. As we grow older it’s a little harder to find joy in these things, but the Cavite artist puts a low brow art spin on things, refreshing their aura. Her pieces are art objects for the everyday fan, often made in cutout shapes or packaged in satchels. “I’m fascinated by cheap, local brands with weird designs and wobbly lines. I especially like product labels and ephemeral stuff,” she tells us. “Everything looks clean, crisp, and shiny these days. It’s too perfect so we forget about the simple stuff.”
Last weekend the cul de sac of Cubao Expo was once again filled with creatives from all walks of life, this time to celebrate the fifth anniversary of The Twelfth House’s storefront opening. People filled the shop and overflowed out its door into the cool night air. The label dropped a series of 12 collaborations with other brands and DJs handled the decks all night, juggling styles from reggae to rap to chill electronic beats. “It was a culmination of eight years for the brand and five years for the store. Years’ worth of work, friendship, and growth for me and the brand,” says owner and founder Mikki Dela Rea. “I wanted to give back to the community that helped me grow as a person, found a family within, and built a business with that keeps me fed.”
Al James is no stranger to success and his latest video “Latina” is on track to become one of his biggest yet, hitting 5 million views in less than two months. As his sound has spread throughout the Philippines, he’s switching up his style a bit to stay ahead of the imitators. And he’s also invested some more in the video since it was clearly going to be a hit. The updated flow, crisp animation, and cinematic views all come together for a true leveling up.