Jamie Bauza is an illustrator and designer from Manila. On weekdays, she works as a graphic designer for Studio Dialogo. She works with watercolor, colored pencils, and acrylic. She loves to draw children, flowers, food, and silly situations.
She is an active member of Ang Ilustrador ng Kabataan (Ang INK), a Philippine association of artists committed to the creation and promotion of illustrations for children.
You can find out more about Jamie Bauza and her work on her website www.jamiebauza.com, Instagram, or contact her directly at hello[at]jamiebauza.com
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 think to some degree I always wanted to be an artist? Or at least I knew that I wanted to be doing something creative/related to the arts. I grew up borrowing my mom’s coloring materials (she’s an interior designer, and so she had lots) and I liked making pictures. People reacted nicely to the things I made, and so I kept at it.
Q: From that moment, and throughout your journey as an artist, what has been your biggest struggle?
My biggest struggle is constantly asking myself if I’m getting better at what I do, second-guessing my life, blahblah. Every few months I evaluate myself––my art, my work ethic, my career––and I sit there thinking about how I could be better. I’m surrounded by lots of talented creative people who are always doing amazing things, and so I can’t help but compare myself to them sometimes. It makes me feel like I’m not doing enough, not working hard enough, or not pushing myself enough. It gets frustrating when I feel like I’m working hard and doing my best, but maybe I don’t have what it takes to really “make it” in this business.
Q: How have you been able to cope with (or overcome) this struggle?
I just remind myself that although some comparing can be helpful sometimes (just to check in with yourself once in a while?), it’s not healthy to hold yourself up against other people. Everyone is on their own journey and path, and it’s not a race. We each have our own definition of success and what we want out of life, so I just remind myself of what I’m working towards and why I’m doing this whole thing anyways.
Q: What would you consider is the ONE thing that REALLY helped you level up your skills?
Being in a community of fellow illustrators (Ang INK) has been really helpful. I learn so much from them! Besides being actual friends, we share lots of industry information, tips, etc. and so I learned some things really quickly that would have taken me years to figure out by myself. They also keep me motivated to keep going, to keep making things.
Q: What is one thing you’d wish you’d known before you started your artistic career? Why?
Success does not come instantly; it’s going to take a while, and that’s not a bad thing. You just have to keep going! I’m quite impatient and competitive, so I get frustrated sometimes when I feel like others my age are ahead or more successful than me. But we each have our own definitions of success, and we are aiming for different things. Comparing yourself to others won’t do you any good haha.
Q: What drives or inspires you to continue making your art?
I want to make good stories. I like making stories & pictures that make me laugh, and it’s so great when it makes other people smile or laugh too. I want my art to make people happy!
Q: What does your average day look like? (And when do you fit in the time to create art?)
I’m a graphic designer at Studio Dialogo (dialogo.co), so I’m doing designer-y things til around 7:30pm. I only really have around 8pm onwards (and weekends) for solid personal art time. It can get tiring sometimes when I have to pull late nights to finish projects but it does teach you to prioritize and work fast!
Q: How do you deal with distractions or challenges that you encounter while you’re working on your art?
I’m very easily distracted, this is another thing I struggle with haha! It can take me a while to get in that zone where I can work really efficiently. But when you have a deadline there’s no room for distractions! Deadlines really put things into perspective and make you focus instantly. No choice eh!
Q: What do you do when you feel just completely uninspired or burnt out? How do you motivate yourself to start working again?
It depends if I can afford to (schedule-wise), but if I can, I just take a break. This can mean taking a nap, eating a snack, or watching something online. I just do something else unrelated to the project for a while. I think if you’re thinking about something so hard that you’re overthinking it, it’s best to just step back, get some distance. Especially if you’ve tired yourself out from working on it so much.
However! If there is no time, you can’t wait for inspiration to come to you, you just have to make it happen. One of my teachers said that drawing is like muscle memory, so even if you don’t have any ideas, start sketching and work through it. Once you’re warmed up the ideas will start flowing.
Q: What would you say has been your most EPIC win so far?
I’m really glad I did the summer residency at the School of Visual Arts. It was one of those things that I always, always wanted to do, but was too afraid to go for. I had never been away from home for more than 2 weeks, and this meant being away on my own for 3 months. It turned out to be a wonderful and life-changing experience! I loved it so much. I was able to do so many things I’d never tried before, and although it was stressful and scary at times it was totally worth it.
Q: What would you say has been your biggest failure?
Not joining/applying for more things! I was always scared to try out for things that seemed ‘too good for me,’ like competitions or residencies. I thought, why bother applying if I’m just not gonna make it anyways? I would make excuses like “oh the deadline is too tight, there are to many documents I need to send, it’s too hard…” etc. Now I wish I had at least tried! You never know what could happen haha. It’s good to get into the habit of trying/ going for things. Nowadays I make a conscious effort to apply to different things even if I think the chances of me winning/getting in are small.
Q: What, for you, has been the best way to promote yourself and your work to potential fans, clients, or publishers?
Sending out physical mailers, going to and joining events and exhibits, joining INK. Basically, make lots of work and show it to people!
Q: What has been your game plan throughout your journey? What’s the BIG picture here? The ultimate dream? The end game?
I want to make books that will touch people’s lives! If even just one kid tells me that my book was their favorite growing up, pwede na ako mamatay [I’d already be happy to pass on]! That would be my biggest achievement ever.
I want to be able to support myself through illustration. I want to be able to travel all over the world, and work from wherever I am.
Q: What, for you personally, has been the source of your ideas, creativity and talent?
My childhood, and my day-to-day life. I like imagining how things look/are from a child’s perspective, because they are always open-minded and approach things with a sense of wonder. Also, kids aren’t afraid to be silly or do things just for the fun of it. That always makes for good stories.
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?
Honestly just the act of making something makes me happy. It doesn’t have to be a painting/drawing; as long as I’m working with my hands I’m having fun. And if what I make makes someone else happy, that’s enough for me!
Q: What 3 stories (comics, movies, documentaries, novels, etc.) would you say influenced and inspired your work the most?
The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scieszka & Lane Smith
How to Catch a Star by Oliver Jeffers
Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon
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)
How to Be an Illustrator by Darrel Rees
Q: If you could work remotely, from anywhere in the world, where would your office be? Why?
Ideally I would be working while traveling! I wouldn’t stay in one place for more than 3 years. In my dream life I would work between Manila, New York, San Francisco, Amsterdam, Tokyo, and Melbourne. I can just bring all my art supplies around with me!
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?
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.)
My friends at Studio Dialogo! Abi, Liza, and Fran are always there to give feedback and share tips. They keep me sharp!