Borg Sinaban is an in-house illustrator and layout artist for Adarna House Publishing. One of the books he illustrated, Pilandokomiks: Mga Pagsubok ng Karagatan, won the 2014 Philippine National Book Award for Best Book of Graphic Literature in Filipino. At the moment, he is currently working on the comic Muros with writer, Paolo Chikiamco (and published by Studio Salimbal). When he’s not busy working on his art, though, Borg usually enjoys reading books or listening to audiobooks, playing video games, watching TV and movies, and recently, watching creative video streams over at Twitch.tv. You can follow Borg and see more of his work on: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Twitch.
Q: Everyone has an origin story. Could you share with us the exact moment (or moments) wherein you realized that you wanted to become an artist?
I can’t really pinpoint the exact moment when it all started, or when I thought I wanted to become an artist, but three movies comes to mind when talking about starting out. And I’m not really sure which one kicked it off for me. It was either Aliens (it blew me away when Ripley used the power loader to fight the alien queen!), The Neverending Story (cried when Atreyu fails to save Artax from the swamp of sadness!), or Star Wars. These movies triggered something within me and changed the way I think about stories, and how powerful they truly can be.
Plus, the cinematography and overall look and feel of these movies really resonated with me and sparked my interest for these kinds of things. Pagkatapos ko sila mapanuod, sinabi ko na gusto ko din gawin ‘yan! [After I watched them, I told myself that that’s what I wanted to do]
Q: From that moment, and throughout your journey as an artist, what has been your biggest struggle?
Figuring out a consistent art style for my artworks. People always say that artists should have a consistent art style for their artworks. The pressures of having a distinct art style have challenged me ever since college.
Q: How have you been able to cope with (or overcome) this struggle?
Just recently, I gave up trying to find THE art style for my artworks. I accepted the fact that I may have multiple art styles, and thought that it’s ok. I realized that there’s really no ‘right’ way of doing things. Do what feels comfortable and fun for you! Ang importante ay masaya ka sa ginagawa mo. [What’s important is that you’re happy with what you’re doing.]
Q: What would you consider is the ONE thing that REALLY helped you level up your skills?
I’ll be cheating, and say TWO things; first, would be having a specific target or a goal, second would be constant practice.
Q: What is one thing you’d wish you’d known before you started your artistic career? Why?
I wish I’d known that there would be so many super talented artists all over the world. Tapos lahat sila magagaling! [And all of them are really good!]
Q: What drives or inspires you to continue making art or comics?
To see my work finished (in various forms) really gets my blood pumping to do more and be better. Plus there’s this constant nagging feeling or ‘pulling’ whenever I’m about to go to sleep, and it says that I should do better tomorrow.
Q: What does your average day look like? (And when do you fit in the time to create art?)
My usual day starts out with my phone in hand early in the morning, browsing the Internet to get my daily dose of ‘now what’. Then I go to my day job as an in-house layout artist at Adarna House. From time to time, I go boxing or do some circuit training to get my blood flowing. Then I come home at around 8PM to have dinner and chat with my lovely girlfriend. After that, I draw and stream, play video games, or just pass out on my bed. It all depends on the kind of work day I’m having.
Q: How do you deal with distractions or challenges that you encounter while you’re working on your art?
Most of the time a good audiobook or a podcast helps tuning out all the noise.
Q: What do you do when you feel just completely uninspired or burnt out? How do you motivate yourself to start working again?
I usually take a step back and read, go on road trip and have a date with my girlfriend, eat out, and be with friends or family. Then I bounce right back, ready to create and draw again.
Q: What would you say has been your most EPIC win so far?
My most epic win so far would be winning the National Book Award for Pilandokomiks: Mga Pagsubok ng Karagatan back in 2014. I’m so grateful to the people who helped me out and supported me on that project. Oh, I also ate a family-sized box of Yellowcab pizza in one sitting!
Q: What would you say has been your biggest failure?
My biggest failure was disappointing my partners and collaborators on certain projects due to missed deadlines.
Q: What, for you, has been the best way to promote yourself and your work to potential fans, clients, or publishers?
Exposing myself out there and being active on social media helps a lot. Ngayon ko lang din sinusubukan maging active talaga. Shy talaga ako as a person. [It’s only recently that I’ve become active, really. I’m just really shy as a person.]
Q: What has been your game plan throughout your journey? What’s the BIG picture here? The ultimate dream? The end game?
The plan is to be happy, become old and wise, have a work-life balance, and have a sustainable income doing what I love—illustrating and making comics.
Q: What, for you personally, has been the source of your ideas, creativity and talent?
I get inspiration from my childhood and from my everyday experience. I try to be as observant as possible, so I won’t miss out on something that I could use as an inspiration for my next project.
Q: What is your big “WHY”?
I like seeing my work come to life in various forms or media. I also like the rush I experience when I’m in the middle of the process of creating and conceptualizing. Pag nasa zone ka, di mo mamamalayan ‘yung oras, tapos umaga na pala! [When you’re in the zone, you don’t notice the time so much that before you know it, it’s already morning!]
My mind and body will always be looking for something to create, or to tinker with. I feel the most alive when I’m drawing and creating things.
Q: What 3 stories (comics, movies, documentaries, novels, etc.) would you say influenced and inspired your work the most?
For books, it would be The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. For manga/comics, it’s Vagabond by Takehiko Inoue. Then for film it would be 2001’s classic A Knight’s Tale (there’s something in that movie that makes me want to watch it over and over again haha).
Q: What are the top books, art books, blogs, podcasts, or workshops you’d recommend that helped you level up your skills? (Feel free to plug in as many as you’d like)
Some of these recommendations are not really art-related per se, but I recommend trying them out and see if it jumpstarts your creative drive and get those juices flowing. For podcasts/Youtube channels I’d recommend Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History, Double Toasted, and Movies with Mikey.
For fantasy/sci-fi books I recommend reading Name of the Wind, the whole Cosmere series by Brandon Sanderson, Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, and A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. LeGuin.
For non-fiction/instructional materials, I like Steal like an Artist (and Show Your Work) by Austin Kleon, Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud, and Creative Illustration by Andrew Loomis.
Q: If you could work remotely, from anywhere in the world, where would your office be? Why?
Nothing specific really. But somewhere cold (or breezy but not freezing) during the summer would be nice. Plus a great view, high-speed Internet and a spacious studio would be awesome!
Q: Name ONE artist/writer that, if you could, you would pick their brain and find out all the hidden secrets behind their amazing work?
There’s so many of them. But if I have to choose one, I think it would be Brandon Sanderson. Man, have you read his books/series? This guy is a beast.
Q: Who do you consider your biggest mentor that helped you improve your skills?
(Doesn’t have to be someone you’ve met personally. Can be someone you look up to, or someone whose art really inspires you to get better.)
I know this is another cheat, but I really consider my biggest mentor that helped me shape me the way I am today would be my cold, hard but undeniably effective, collective experience.