Hi! Ako po si Emiliana Kampilan. Nagsimula akong magkomix para sa kolektib ko noong college, sa may U.P. (University of Pandacan, Bachelor of Science in Pedicure). Nagsimula ako sa paggawa ng mga posters at komix o graphics for rallies or mobilizations, information campaigns against neo-imperialist state policies, landlessness sa kanayunan, police brutality, violence against women and children, at iba pa.[Hi! I’m Emiliana Kampila. I started making comics for my collective back in college, at the University of Pandacan, Bachelor of Science in Pedicure. I started making posters and comics or graphics for rallies or mobilizations, information campaigns against neo-imperialist state policies, landlessness in villages, police brutality, violence against women and children, and many others.]
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 really never wanted to be an artist (I don’t even consider myself an artist, I don’t earn my bread and butter from my craft! I have a different job that’s non-art related), but it was during my days as a student activist nang ma-realize ko ang kainaman ng komix at cartoons as forms of protest […when I realized how fitting comics and cartoons were at forms of protest].
Q: From that moment, and throughout your journey as an artist, what has been your biggest struggle?
Finding my own style and really - really just getting the reader to understand the message I’m trying to communicate through the komix.
Q: How have you been able to cope with (or overcome) this struggle?
There is no overcoming this. Pasensiya na [Pardon me] if that sounds glib. Pero it’s the truth. I never shied away from politics, and my komix and cartoons are politicized works. That said, as a leftist, I’ve always struggled against censorship, against people who don’t want works that are too ‘politicized’ or are against the issues and people I’m struggling for.
My politics and topics automatically ‘limit’ the reach, and I guess the audience, of the work. But that IS the struggle – how to get these social issues across as many people as possible. Lalo na sa mga taong actively ayaw makinig dahil sa kanilang sariling myopia [Especially the people that are actively ignoring you because of their own personal myopia].
Q: What would you consider is the ONE thing that REALLY helped you level up your skills?
Practice and criticism. Criticism – mula sa ibang tao at mula sa aking sarili [from other people, and also from myself]. PLENTY OF SELF-CRITICISM.
Also be an ACTIVIST. It will push your creativity and perseverance to its limit. You’ll be asked to communicate very complex issues to a disinterested public, while struggling with zero budget, zero funding, and zero empathy (the military and police will truly want to hurt you), limited sources kagaya [like] ng Manila Paper, Krayola, cheap india ink. It will force you to think outside the box.
Pero higit diyan, makakasalamuha niyo ang maraming tao, maraming naratibo, at matututo kayo beyond the four corners of an office or a classroom [But more than that, it gives you a chance to mingle with different people, different narratives, and help you learn beyond the four corners of an office or a classroom]. And those are things a clean, well-equipped studio cannot teach you.
Q: What is one thing you’d wish you’d known before you started your artistic career? Why?
Sana nalaman ko agad kung ano yung pinag-iba ng CMYK sa RGB. Sana nalaman ko agad kung ano yung bleeds at margins sa printing ng libro o komix. Sana natuto ako ng indesign agad or some other software for laying out the pages of the komix book.[I wish I knew, from the start, the differences between CMYK and RGB. I wish I knew from the start what were bleeds and margins in printing books and comics. I wish I’d learned InDesign or some other software for laying out the pages of the comic book.]
Q: What drives or inspires you to continue making your art?
I consider komix and cartooning as praxis. Therefore, it is duty.
Q: What does your average day look like? (And when do you fit in the time to create art?)
Go to work. Come home, eat dinner with family. If I have free time left, I work on my komix. But usually weekends lang talaga ito [only] (Fridays to Sundays). Of course, throughout the day, even when I’m not working directly on the komix, I’m soaking up as much information and ideas that I can get para kapag trabaho-time na sa komix, may magawa na ko [so that when it’s time to work on the comic, I have something in mind that I have to do].
Q: How do you deal with distractions or challenges that you encounter while you’re working on your art?
Coffee helps me plenty for minor distractions. But please learn how to prioritize – minsan yung distraction natin sa komix work ay family issue, work issue, health issue, o isyu ng bayan at kailangan natin magmobilisa o lumabas ng bahay para makiisa sa tao. Unahan ang mga ito. It is never worth it kung ang mawawala sa inyo ay yang mga yan.[…sometimes the distractions that take us away from our comic work are family issues, work issues, health issues, or issue of the country where we need to mobilize or get out of the house to join the people. These are priorities. It’s never worth it if these are the things you end up losing in the process.]
Q: What do you do when you feel just completely uninspired or burnt out? How do you motivate yourself to start working again?
Ah, I take a break from drawing and go out to get some fresh air while mentally berating myself for being a complete and utter moron. I like imagining myself murdering another version of me as punishment. Coffee also helps. I also pray for inspiration nga pala [by the way].
Q: What would you say has been your most EPIC win so far?
Finishing the first volume of Dead Balagtas.
Q: What would you say has been your biggest failure?
I tapped out of the first book deal I had with Anino Comics. I literally ghosted my editor and publisher because I completely lost face. I am still sorry for that, and they are truly wonderful people for taking me back. Carl and Anino, maraming salamat po talaga [really, thank you very much].
Q: What, for you, has been the best way to promote yourself and your work to potential fans, clients, or publishers?
Be genuine. Don’t follow trends. Rather, STUDY TRENDS. See why they’re trendy. It all boils down to the question: “Why are people paying attention to this?” See what you can pick up from that, and try to integrate it into your work without ever forsaking your own, unique voice. And always, ALWAYS be SINCERE. Readers pick up on this easily, because it will be reflected on how you write the komix. At wala namang mahilig sa plastic na tao [No one enjoys people that are plastic].
Q: What has been your game plan throughout your journey? What’s the BIG picture here? The ultimate dream? The end game?
To make komix as praxis. By that I mean a tradition of komix making that is fully conscious of the material conditions of the Philippines; integrates that reality into the work, and actually seeks to somehow help in addressing it. This is also why profits from my works go out to progressive groups or sectors whose struggles resonate with the issues addressed in the work.
Q: What, for you personally, has been the source of your ideas, creativity and talent?
Meticulous research and study – scratch that – make that NEVER-ENDING research and study.
Q: What is your big “WHY”? Why do you feel the need to make art? Who are you doing it for? What’s the hidden reason behind your big dream?
(I answered this in a previous question)
Q: What 3 stories (comics, movies, documentaries, novels, etc.) would you say influenced and inspired your work the most?
The Goon, Kenkoy by Velasquez, Bara no Versailles by Ikeda
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
Read as many history books as you can. Bilang komixera, wag na wag na wag na wag i-lilimit ang sarili sa [As a comic artist, never ever limit yourself to only] KOMIX or CARTOONS as sources of inspiration or learning. Accommodate various sources of knowledge gaya ng [like, for example] anthro, socsci, or even math books. I wouldn’t say I’m a skilled komixera, but I turn to local textiles and fabric as sources of inspiration and ideas for paneling.
Q: If you could work remotely, from anywhere in the world, where would your office be? Why
Oh but I love my old town! Kahit binabaha itong lupa namin. Hindi ko maisip mahiwalay sa amin. [Even though our land floods I could never think of parting from it.] I really am pretty provincial. So I’m really happy working on my komix dito sa amin [here in our home]. The very thought of leaving my town and my family causes me anxiety. If I had a studio, ipapatayo ko sa may plaza sa amin [I’d set it up here in our plaza].
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?
Si Alan Moore
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 has inspired you to get better, over the years.)
Lolo Miling ko.