My name is Kristelle Gengania, I’m 17 years old and currently an SHS student taking Multimedia arts in iAcademy in Makati City. I’m very passionate about video games, music, and film. A lot of my inspiration comes from the worlds of Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda and Irrational Games’ Bioshock series. I’m very interested in the idea of writing and putting together my own fictional world just as all my favorite pieces of media have done. As of now, I’m still working on a project with my friends that we could hopefully showcase someday as a webcomic!
Since I’m still in school, lately I’ve been buried under the piles of plates for my classes to really focus on my hobbies and personal projects. I have plans to booth more at future local artist alleys to get my name out there and to show the world my art! You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter or Tumblr
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?
My father is an artist. He worked as a graphic artist before settling down to freelance work. He tells me that he passed down his talent to me, but I’m not so sure about that. Growing up, I remember always carrying around a regular composition notebook with me wherever I went so I could draw cartoon characters like the Powerpuff girls.
My passion for drawing, I believe, came in when I was in the 2nd grade and I discovered Vocaloid. I drew and drew till I practically used up all the paper and used sketchbooks in the house. I never really did stop drawing. I was that one kid in class who always carried around a sketchbook with them and who was always “forced” to join the poster making contests, and that, I believe, is an experience shared by a lot of my fellow artists.
I started to take my art a bit more seriously later on when I was inspired by the works of Guweiz and other artists. I found myself very absorbed in Ghibli films and other very “artsy” looking films like all of Wes Anderson and Stanley Kubrick’s films. I just thought that they were so pleasing to the eye and they made me feel emotions I can’t really describe. I don’t think there was ever a sudden moment of realization, but after years of doing art as a hobby I just couldn’t imagine myself being anything else but an artist.
Q: From that moment, and throughout your journey as an artist, what has been your biggest struggle?
One of my biggest struggles as an artist is realizing that not everything is a competition. I was encouraged and praised a lot when I was starting out and I felt the need to always be the best at it. There came a point where I was threatened by people around my age who were great artists. I always saw fellow artists as a competition when in fact we’re all just the same and looking to be the best artist we can be. I felt bad whenever I slaved away on a piece and it would not get any recognition, but whenever I quickly sketched up fanart it would suddenly blow up. I was lowkey insecure of my abilities and my identity.
Q: How have you been able to cope with (or overcome) this struggle?
I’ve later on come to realize that things aren’t always a competition. Instead of having a toxic and competitive attitude towards other artists, I learned to be appreciative and supportive of them. I no longer felt threatened by talented younger artists. We need to have each other’s backs instead of competing with each other, and in that way we can all grow together! I stopped seeing likes and social media as a basis for my talent and instead saw it as a hindrance to my growth whenever I cared too much if people approved of my work. I focused my energy into growing, improving and trying out as much things as possible instead of caring if I got any attention on Social Media.
Q: What would you consider is the ONE thing that REALLY helped you level up your skills?
YouTube tutorials. As simple as that. We have so much resources at our finger tips, yet a lot of people still don’t bother with them. I learned so much things that weren’t taught at school. Things like anatomy, landscape drawing, making concept art, etc. YouTube tutorials are an absolute godsend.
Q: What is one thing you’d wish you’d known before you started your artistic career? Why?
I wish I had known to take up fundamentals first. Though, that sort of stuff won’t really interest an 8 years old girl who just wanted to draw her cute anime girls haha! I only bothered to learn my fundamentals when I started to take my art more seriously and that was a bit of a struggle for me. I could not let go of my preconceived ideas that I was used to when I started to do fundamentals. My anatomy always had a touch of my anime style! Though, after some time I learned to let go of all that I was used to and relearn everything from the start. My tip for basically any artist out there is: if you’re learning the fundamentals and the basics try not to let your own personal style mix in with it!
Q: What drives or inspires you to continue making your art?
Art has been the biggest thing in my life. I literally cannot imagine how my life would be had I not been an artist. Would I be pursuing a career that I wasn’t completely happy with? I don’t know. Art has been my catharsis for the longest time. Nothing else has made me feel as content and happy as making art. What truly drives me is the passion I have for my craft. I want to tell stories and to deliver messages through my work. I hope to someday be an inspiration to other people as well.
Q: What does your average day look like? (And when do you fit in the time to create art?)
Since I’m still a student, my average day is mostly spent at school doing projects. Though, that’s not stopping me from doing art. In-between classes and during breaks (even during class, don’t do that though haha!) I like to take out my sketchbook and just doodle away. I find it somewhat ironic that despite being an art student I actually don’t have much time for doing art, but it’s just like that sometimes! During weekends, I usually will allot Saturday as my “art” day. Saturday is when I can really put a lot of time and effort into one piece (that is, if I’m not busy).
Q: How do you deal with distractions or challenges that you encounter while you’re working on your art?
I have that universal artist struggle with just conceptualizing exactly what it is I want to draw. I think a lot of artists can also relate to the struggle of having an incredibly dynamic piece in mind and when you actually start doing it, it just ends up becoming really watered down and simpler compared to what you originally have in mind. I think a reason for that is that I’m afraid of making mistakes. I’m afraid that it’ll look awkward in the end, but mistakes are actually the most helpful thing if you want to improve as an artist. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes and stepping way outside your comfort zone!
Q: What do you do when you feel just completely uninspired or burnt out? How do you motivate yourself to start working again?
I’ve come to realize that it’s okay to feel burnt out and that it’s okay to take a break from art. When I feel completely unmotivated, I just forget about art and just do other things that I enjoy. I play video games, watch old movies and cartoons, listen to a lot of music, and read! There’s so much inspiration around you and it comes in any form. One day I’d be watching old anime and then I’d suddenly be inspired to make a tribute to that. I’d say that, as an artist, you should always keep an eye out and an open mind for any inspiration and to look deeper into the things that you enjoy. Inspiration has always come to me in the most unexpected ways!
Q: What would you say has been your most EPIC win so far?
I don’t have much to boast as of now. I’ve joined some competitions and won, but I wouldn’t count those as one of my “epic” wins. I’m probably most proud of how far I’ve come. There’s no beating that sense of accomplishment when you look at your old messy sketchbooks from years back littered with Hatsune Miku and seeing how much you’ve improved. That to me is an epic and incredibly satisfying win.
Q: What would you say has been your biggest failure?
I would say that my biggest failure as an artist is just limiting myself and the overused excuse of, “It’s just my style!” I personally think that artists should be open to try out as much things as possible. Hiding behind an art style while refusing to learn about fundamentals won’t do you favors in the long run. If you’re having troubling grasping the fundamentals of art, that’s just a part of it. There is also no shame in being the type of artist who has doesn’t have a solid art style. My art style is not always consistent and there’s no shame in that, I’m covering as much ground and trying out as many things as possible!
Q: What, for you, has been the best way to promote yourself and your work to potential fans, clients, or publishers?
Social media has been a helpful tool for me to get noticed. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr have been useful platforms that have helped me on my artist journey. Also, joining competitions outside of school and meeting other artists have helped me create at least a few connections! Doing Komiket was also an incredibly helpful and amazing experience that helped me get my name out there.
Q: What has been your game plan throughout your journey? What’s the BIG picture here? The ultimate dream? The end game?
I have dreams to someday work as a concept artist for a movie, cartoon, or a game. I want to be able to share my ideas and stories with other people. My biggest art goal as of now is to get my webcomic, that I worked on with friends, started! I really love to tell stories and I have so many ideas that I’d love to tell using my art. Just about anything could happen in my art journey and I’m open and very hopeful to all the possibilities!
Q: What, for you personally, has been the source of your ideas, creativity and talent?
I like to think of myself as an inspired person. I love to look at new things and try new things. My most vivid ideas usually come to right after I finish a really good book, show, movie, or game. I like to keep my mind running so I love to piece together all things that inspire me to create a giant idea! I’m thankful that as I was growing up, I was greatly encouraged and supported by my family. I think just the sheer support and appreciation I received even while I was drawing anatomically incorrect anime boys was incredibly helpful to me as it encouraged me to continue with my art.
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 want to tell stories. I want to share a valuable piece of myself with other people. It makes me feel happy to make art and it makes me feel even happier when people are inspired to create their own thing because of me. I know how great it feels when you’re inspired and you create something that makes you happy. I want to encourage and inspire other people to be artists. Maybe not in a sense that they too should make paintings or draw, but in the sense that I want to inspire people to create things that will make them and other people happy.
Q: What 3 stories (comics, movies, documentaries, novels, etc.) would you say influenced and inspired your work the most?
Howl’s Moving Castle
My Neighbor Totoro
Avatar: The Legend of Aang
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)
I think the quintessential art book for the art community are all of Andrew Loomis’ books! It tackles a lot of fundamentals really well and is actually up around the internet if you look. If you have the funds for it, concept art books for movies, cartoons, video games, etc. really help give me inspiration for characters and looking at how professionals do art really help in building up your own style. Every year on my birthday I tend to ask for artbooks as gifts! Lastly, Tumblr also has many art resources and references which are incredibly helpful.
Q: If you could work remotely, from anywhere in the world, where would your office be? Why?
I don’t think I could pinpoint exactly “where” in the world I’d want to work. Anything could happen and I’ve got an open mind! Who knows, I might end up working right in the middle of a landfill or maybe even at ritziest and luxurious office. Just as long as I’m somewhere where I can find inspiration would be ideal. Okay, perhaps I’d like my office to just be incredibly cozy, surrounded by plants and with warm light flitting in, I’d be content.
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?
If I had to choose just one artist it would definitely be Kim Jung Gi. His art never fails to inspire me and it amazes how gigantic his visual library is. His mastery of visual communication is something I aspire to master as well someday.
Q: Who do you consider your biggest mentor that helped you improve your skills?
I once took painting lessons in the UP College of Fine Arts because my journey as an artist was always a self-taught one. It’s not bad that somebody is self-taught, many artists are! But I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to finally have somebody, a professional, teach me about things that I never realized about art. Our mentor was Prof. Yasmin Almonte, the biggest lesson I got from her lectures was actually not about the process of making art, but instead about the attitude towards art. She was your free-spirited artist and for her, art is just something that just about anybody can make. It as a form of expression. Master the fundamentals first and then break it to your heart’s desire.