Culture

#ArtLockdown: Artists and Social Media on Quarantine

With the rise of social media comes a new age for artists. Never has it been easier or never has it become more difficult to be an artist. Regardless, the quarantine never stopped the artist community from creating more of their works.

Social media serves as a platform for people to connect and join the discussion through art, especially in this time of quarantine. Five visual artists who possess passion and discipline share their journey in practicing their craft from offline to online.

Mako, a creative couple, creates zines and stickers to uphold the rights and welfare of the disadvantaged. They feature workers, indigenous peoples and farmers – such as their work, Sin Ku Wenta. For now, they settle with digital illustrations posted in their social media accounts. They continue to experiment and discover more ways on how to connect with each other online.  In the absence of print materials, the online platform gives them the space to create GIFs and stop motion animation with the same content.

Artwork by Mako

“Nagpo-provide rin ito sa amin ng visual landscape ng mga mindset, opinions at preferences ng mga Pilipino,” they said. “Nagkaroon ng iisang espasyo kung saan nandito ang lahat.”  Social media has become integral in gathering critical information that feeds their art in this pandemic. As they miss creating print materials, social media helps them keep track of their artworks and acts as mediator for their art and their audience.

Art collective Gerilya was formed in 2008 by a group of friends in the University of the Philippines College of Fine Arts in Diliman. The group has grown over the years – from creating stickers, comics and zines, silkscreen to painting large scale murals or street art. Their vision is to popularize Filipino culture through their art. Some of their works feature the Bakunawa, a legend of a serpent-like dragon in Philippine mythology and their mural Manda and Luyong, inspired by the legend of Mandaluyong City.

Artwork by Gerilya

Their art process begins with research on Philippine culture. Social media helps them gather inspiration – following others artists online, researching on Philippine culture and remaining vigilant to current events. With a large following online, they now maximize the platform to share their works responding to issues affecting our society, applauded by netizens.

Patti Ramos is a part-time teacher and a member of Illustrador ng Kabataan, an organization dedicated to creating artworks for children.

“Medyo cliche pero mula kabataan, sobrang hilig ko na ang arts,” she said. “Nanunood ako ng maraming animated films at series, at nagbabasa ng mga children’s books na magaganda ang mga illustration.” Her medium and her themes are diverse but they mostly represent Filipino culture. She primarily creates digital illustrations but she also dabbles in gouache and watercolor. From historical figures to pawikan conservation, Patti continues to garner support from her friends and audiences.

 

Under COVID-19, she was able to start “Portraits for PPEs.” It is an initiative where she commissioned portraits in exchange of donations for frontliners.

Artwork by Patricia Ramos

Social media for her, exposes issues that people are facing; and at the same time, exposes ideas on different ways to reach out and participate.

Monique Hilario is a self-taught watercolorist that draws inspiration from Filipino food and nostalgia. What started out as a hobby in 2015 became a creative outlet after “stressful working hours sa isang corporate job.” She started posting her work online in Facebook and Instagram where it connected her to the maker community. The maker community is a resurgence of arts and crafts with a DIY spirit. It inspired her to join bazaars and craft fairs where she can print and sell her works such as stickers and postcards.

Artwork by Monique Hilario

For her, it is challenging to create under the pandemic.  Instead of being charged and inspired, the overall mood of the lockdown takes its toll on her. “Ang hirap din mag cope. Minsan gawa ng mga nababalitaan, minsan nakakaaffect din sa mood at energy mo para gumawa. Bukod doon, naka work-from-home din kami so yung time mas napupunta dun o di kaya sa mga chores sa bahay.”

Alex Paredes is an illustrator that cannot be boxed into one theme. She works with different media – from rubber cut prints to candid photography.

Living with a comical family, she wants her art to connect with others through laughter and happiness. She pulls emotion from the deepest parts of her inner self. Her works illustrate the slice of life filled with sense of humor, emotion and social justice. Believing art should heed the call of the times, she quotes author Cesar A. Cruz, “Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.”

Artwork by Alex Paredes

In the superconnected world we live in, social media can speak for itself as a platform. Artists get to share their work online and network with other collaborators and audiences. Even internationally-acclaimed artists share their work on Instagram or Facebook which can serve as inspiration or ‘art fuel’ for Gerilya. They remind, “Gawa lang nang gawa.”

However, with all these followers, one might cave in to the pressure of getting likes. There is a pressure to keep creating for the sake of visibility. Monique notes “Don’t be pressured with whatever you see on social media. Honor your pace always and continue practicing.” There is no need to fit inside a box when the global village is wide enough to be diverse. “Learn different crafts,” as Patti shares. There are different art communities online that support one another in creating. Mako perceives social media as another tool for creating and sharing artworks. They recognize its potential but acknowledges its limits. With the quarantine, their artworks stand firm despite challenging times.

Alex believes that it is more important to be yourself, rather than seek validation online. Instead of asking, “Ano ang ipo-post ko ngayon?” one should ask, “Ano kaya ang ililikha ko ngayon?” And that spells a difference. To artworks filled with ire to pastels filled with hope, art manifests itself in the people’s platform called social media. [P]

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