Prinsomnia (Ivy Berces IRL) is an Animation student at De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde, and a learning freelance artist on the side. While she creates her own original, magical and plant-themed pieces, she also works as an illustrator at the Benildean Press Corps.

Ivy has participated in numerous fan-made and original zines like YOI Zine PH and Dames zine, and has also had a couple of features on the Tumblr Radar. Her art is often seen on cover art for music makers and podcasts like Pixie Labrador, Adib Sin, and Voyage to the Stars. She often tables in local art events like Komiket, BGC Art Mart, and Sticker Con MNL. Currently, she is working on an iteration of her well-received PLANTARE Project, and a tarot card project set to launch soon.

When she isn’t creating art, Ivy travels, cooks, plays the kalimba, and tends to her garden in her humble home in Manila. You can find more of her work on Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram.

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?

Ever since I was young, I’ve always loved making stuff. Basta mukhang artful siya, ginawa ko yun [As long as it looked artful, I did it]. I even played music! I think I circled around a lot of things before I decided to be an illustrator. I guess I could say I started taking my illustration skills up a notch since I started high school, while starting to take on graphic design at the same time. Also, my love for nature really made me start making art for myself. I particularly liked drawing mountains as a kid.

There wasn’t really a certain point where eureka moments happened, because I really saw my art making as a sort of lifestyle. It was all I knew, and it was something I never stopped being interested in. Growing up like this was sort of hard in the middle of my journey, because at one point my parents disapproved of my ambition when I failed some classes in high school HAHA. But now they support me and my craft a lot! They gifted me with a bunch of equipment and all, and I’m really grateful for them.

I started posting my artwork online around 2016, when I was going through some tough times with my mental health. I broke up with someone then, and my family was going through some troubles. I made art to vent, but eventually I started to illustrate from life, and things I dreamt about. I could say that drawing plants again after a long time made me heal. Nature, even when it’s just drawn, has its healing capabilities. Drawing plants somehow made me return to my roots!

Q: From that moment, and throughout your journey as an artist, what has been your biggest struggle?

My biggest struggle so far was having some artist burnouts here and there. Sometimes I get ahead of myself when I come up with projects and set deadlines, and I end up sacrificing a lot of things to get work done, even my health. Although now, I’m learning how to pace myself, and accept my limits as a person despite my limitless passion as an artist.

Q: How have you been able to cope with (or overcome) this struggle?

I like to travel a lot. And when I really need a break I would spontaneously go somewhere isolated and filled with nature. Oftentimes, I need space to breathe, and I can’t find that in the city. One of my favorites are the beaches in Zambales. Daming kulay [So much color]. Refuels me every time!

My closest friends (hi, Beeves!) and my twin sister Iris should also be given credit for helping me overcome my burn outs sometimes! They always listen and remind me to be a person, aside from being an artist. From them, I learn to always take care of my mind and my heart. Because in the end, I’m the only one who can solve my own problems. Also, we lamon together, and eating heals me a lot.

Q: What would you consider is the ONE thing that REALLY helped you level up your skills?

It’s a sure stray from my usual digital medium, but keeping in touch with traditional art helped me level up my drawing skills! I learned a lot from drawing from life, and I do that a lot in my sketchbooks with inks, markers, and watercolors. From traditional art I learned to use some fun stuff like negative space and gradients in my artworks. I think that analog drawing helps a lot with my art blocks as well, other than giving me opportunities to journal!

Pero honestly, I think ‘di pa tapos yung journey ko [my journey isn’t finished] as an artist! I wouldn’t say that my art now is my end point. I think I have more opportunities to level up in the future. I recently shifted to the Animation course sa college ko, and sa tingin ko [the way I see it] some of my art will change once I start there.

Q: What is one thing youd wish youd known before you started your artistic career? Why?

I wish I knew how to detach my artist self from my human self! I think growing up with art was a really good thing, but I forgot that even that shouldn’t dictate or describe my personality. I’m fixing this flaw in myself by giving myself more leeway to consume art, rather than to spend more time making art.

Q: What drives or inspires you to continue making your art?

Nature, definitely! Also, every now and then I would watch some animation and listen to new music, because they motivate me to make my own stuff. Pati yung mga ibang artists na nakikita ko sa Twitter [Even the other artists that I see on Twitter], they motivate me a lot! Even my friends in CSB motivate me as well kahit na [even though] they like to tease me about my artist persona and all, but they make me happy.

At the core of it though, exploring more of the world drives me to create a lot. I can’t really describe it, but there’s something really profound that I feel when I travel and stay in nature, that I want to translate it into art.

Q: What does your average day look like? (And when do you fit in the time to create art?)

Pag walang pasok [Whenever I don’t have no class], I always start my day sleepily staring at the tree right outside my bedroom window. I developed that thing out of habit!

When I finally get up, I eat my breakfast while checking my messages and emails. Depending on how that goes, I make a checklist for the day and start on accomplishing everything! I make an hour long break every 3 hours of work, but on school days I make a 25 minute break every hour.

In college I have the privilege to customize my schedule, so as of the moment I have class 3 days a week, and illustrator work for the other half of it.  There are days where I spend all of my hours journaling, watching, or reading things, and I always think that it’s a good thing. A wise internet mongrel once said that “Time enjoyed wasting isn’t time wasted”.

Q: How do you deal with distractions or challenges that you encounter while youre working on your art?

I do a variety of things depending on what seems feasible! When I’m distracted, I nap, but sometimes I listen to music and sing along to it. When I have even more time, I read a book. When an opportunity suddenly comes around, I go out and leave my work alone. Part of my creative process is leaving the piece out sight for a while and then coming back to it with fresh eyes! Its time consuming and slow on my end, but I deem it important!

I have a lot of difficulties going through the grind when I make art, and sometimes I let it happen nalang. Its part of life! I like cutting myself some slack, pero I also try to remember rin na some pains will make me stronger. Up to now I’m still trying to learn the balance between those, because I really don’t want to end up being drained!

Q: What do you do when you feel just completely uninspired or burnt out? How do you motivate yourself to start working again?

I take the longest break possible. I hate it when I do it, but I would detach myself from making things if I get super drained. The longest, detached break I’ve taken was about 2-3 months, and its thankfully the only one I’ve had.

Sometimes I get uninspired because I think about getting things done and posting something regularly more than thinking about making art I like. I don’t like losing the purpose of what I do, because I think that it’s my main motivator.

I work again after a lot of self-reflection, after taking time to remember that I’m a person besides being an artist. These days I’m still practicing not overworking myself, I honestly think the practice will never end! There’s no definite formula to it.

Q: What would you say has been your most EPIC win so far?

Working with Adib Sin! I’ve been a fan of his music for the longest time, and when he contacted me last year to create art for his music I totally flipped out! He’s not the most famous guy, but his music meant a lot to me and to a lot of communities around the world. It’s such a big honor to be his official cover artist from here on!

Q: What would you say has been your biggest failure?

Not being able to keep up with deadlines. Even now I still overestimate myself, so I would have so much work piled up here and there. Part of it is cutting slack on one item in the list, so the piece would turn out mediocre for me. It happens sometimes, but this year I aim to make it happen a lot less.

Q: What, for you, has been the best way to promote yourself and your work to potential fans, clients, or publishers?

I think the best way really is to put my work out there for people to see. I think I wouldn’t be able to grow as the artist I am now if it weren’t for the strangers (and not so strangers) who rooted for me and my craft!

Social media has been a big part of my artist journey, even though I’m not very good at it. HAHA! I met a lot more artists through Twitter and Instagram, and became friends with ones who make art I absolutely adore! I’m a very introverted person, but one way or another making connections with these people made me put my foot forward into opportunities.

I also take into importance being myself when I make art. I don’t try to be anybody, but I’m also pretty much a lot of things when I draw. My style grew from a lot of influences, so I try to be as original as I can when I make stuff! I think that’s one thing a lot of people like about my art. They don’t really see stuff like that anywhere else!

Q: What has been your game plan throughout your journey? Whats the BIG picture here? The ultimate dream? The end game?

Nothing solid yet. But in the future, I would really want to make comic book covers! Or become a concept artist for a really cool animated feature? Dang, but I also dream of making cover art for more OPM artists! The other day, I considered teaching art as a profession as well. I want so many things pala…but again nothing solid!

Q: What, for you personally, has been the source of your ideas, creativity and talent?

Again, nature! I’ve always liked the idea of nature mixing into the mundane of urban life. Most of what I do is conveying a simple but profound thing, and a lot of that involves nature. Being alone, as well, gives me a lot of ideas and creativity to use when I work. I grew up with a lot of people around me every day, and that can be tiring.

Q: What is your big WHY? Why do you feel the need to make art? Who are you doing it for? Whats the hidden reason behind your big dream?

I always feel the need to make art to translate the things I feel. Some days I hate how my art would sometimes be too weird or insensible. But in the end, that’s how I feel, and I always look for the innate satisfaction of looking at my pieces.

When I started making art, I didn’t expect that my pieces would make a lot of people feel comfort, warmth, and nostalgia. Eventually, making people feel good when they look at my art became one of my big “Why’s” as well. To the core of all my “Why’s”, though, I make art because I really love making things. I think I have this child-like love of nature, creating stuff, and illustrating places with my own two hands, and it’s a love that isn’t going to fade anytime soon.

Quick-Fire Questions

Q: What 3 stories (comics, movies, documentaries, novels, etc.) would you say influenced and inspired your work the most?

Spirited Away, Moomin stories, and Hyouka!

Q: What are the top books, art books, blogs, podcasts, or workshops youd recommend that helped you level up your skills? (Feel free to plug in as many as youd like)

Starting out, I looked at a lot of reference and tutorials in Deviantart, though I can’t remember which ones really stood out to me.

Also, I personally like collecting Ghibli art books not just for sentiment’s sake, but because I learn a lot from each one!

While I work, I like to listen to Owl City, IU, Orla Gartland, and Reese Lansangan. There’s something in their music that helps me translate my nature-loving feels a lot.

My imagination springs out when I look at really good visuals, so I would recommend looking at the Kitchen Ghosts blog, Iblard Jikan, the photos of Satomi Ishikawa, and botanical blogs!

When I’m stuck and I want to draw something random for kicks, there’s a blog called Create That Thing, a blog full of nice little random drawing prompts.

Q: If you could work remotely, from anywhere in the world, where would your office be? Why?

Would definitely work in a cozy house next to the sea! I love the sea soooo much. It would be so peaceful there, and I can imagine just how much more in touch I would be with nature if I spent my days there. Sometimes I think about working and living in Japan, and I would never think that it’s a bad idea. It could happen!

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?

Makoto Shinkai!

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.)

Iris, my twin sister, has been someone who motivated me to keep being better over the years, moreover have fun at being better. She introduced me to art in the first place, and gives me constructive criticism even in the littlest details of my works now. She has really good taste, a great sense of humor, and a really weird mind. My not-so-identical version of myself isn’t a full-fledged artist, but she’s a total nerd. She’s definitely the better twin!

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