Patricia “Patmai” de Vera is a freelance illustrator and animator by trade. She’s done designs, illustrations, editorial work, and artworks for notable clientele, including: UNIQLO PH, Bayer, Adobo Magazine, Philippine Star, Intel Philippines, etc. Her recent illustration book work was for “Challenging the Black Dog: A Creative Health Journal” and she has also recently released her first ink art book entitled, “Wishful Inking.”
A registered IBSN-illustrator, she hustles by drawing all day and at night… and will still draw until the wee hours of the morning.
She’s a small bird, homegrown and raised in the Philippines. A merit-scholar graduate from De La Salle – College of Saint Benilde with a degree in Multimedia Arts. She aspires to be a future character concept artist and/or storyboard artist, in hopes of creating elaborate fantasy worlds and in creating the childhood of future generations through her visual storytelling. She also dabbles in voice acting and will kick your butt in lip syncing, but maybe not so much at karaoke.
Meraki () is her main principle in life, it is a Greek one-word-phrase meaning “To do all work with creativity, body, heart, soul, and love”.
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?
When we were kids, we were obsessed with the first gen of Sailor Moon. Every afternoon, we would eagerly wait for it to show up on TV. My older brother, particularly, enjoyed emulating and drawing Sailor Moon’s art style. Like any younger sibling, I was intrigued by his work and wanted to try as well — hoping to get to his level, which would mean the world to seven-year-old me. Unfortunately, when I tried my hand at drawing, it was met with disdain by my ten-year-old sibling with “high standards.” This made me want to just keep on trying and trying, until one day, I thought I had made something pretty good for my age. When my brother saw this, he went, “There’s no way you could have made that.” It was in that exact point where I had my “I’ll show you! I’ll show all of you!” anime moment, which lit a fire under my butt to go full speed and prove him wrong.
Q: From that moment, and throughout your journey as an artist, what has been your biggest struggle?
I am my own biggest critic. I’ve been told that I’m too harsh on myself (among other personal, intrapersonal problems). I have high expectations what my art should look like, or where it should be. My self-doubt takes a lot of fun from the process, from the art in itself, or in just growing as a person. If you don’t know who you are, or if you’re not careful, you will look for validation in the wrong people or in the wrong places.
Q: How have you been able to cope with (or overcome) this struggle?
I became self-aware. My advice is to realize your OWN toxic behavior and THEN cut the toxic and user-friendly people from your life. Work on yourself, and the right kind of people will come to you. Also, cherish those who will always have your best interests at heart. Lastly, apologize and be accountable, always.
Q: What would you consider is the ONE thing that REALLY helped you level up your skills?
The moment a friend told me to pick up a brush pen — that’s when I fell in love with ink. That, and when I realized how much I love details. It’s the small things that could add or give a different vibe in the story telling of a character.
Q: What is the one thing you’d wish you’d known before you started your artistic career? Why?
Aside from pricing, probably the business and legal side of art. Every artist needs to know their worth. It’s important to understand the bureaucratic side of the creative business, so you can continue to make art for a living. Also, this helps in protecting yourself against people who try to take advantage of you.
Q: What drives or inspires you to continue making your art?
Aside from having to send Effy, my dog, to college, I get my inspiration mostly the music I listen to, from the feelings and experiences I get, and the stories I want to tell. I want to make art for that someone out there who’s just like me; I want them to know they’re not alone.
Q: What does your average day look like? (And when do you fit in the time to create art?)
My dog wakes me up, usually in the later part of the morning. I take my breakfast or lunch with my siblings, my mother, or my boyfriend – that’s my time to hang out with my favorite people. I like taking my mornings slow and in a good mood – mornings can really make or break one’s day.
Then, I make my bed—that’s important. I clean my surroundings — my workstation to be exact —and that’s when I start working. Usually I’d find the time, or the time finds me, around afternoon to evening. I’ll watch a film I’d memorize or listen to the same songs I’ve listen to the past 9 years and draw, draw, draw.
Q: How do you deal with distractions that you encounter while you’re working on your art?
That’s challenging, because I’m easily distracted. Especially when it comes to my dog, or if my mom needs help. If I have time, I’ll deal with them as swiftly as possible. Although if I do have a strict and urgent deadline, I have to have self-control over myself.
Q: What do you do when you feel just completely uninspired or burnt out? How do you motivate to start working again?
I’d watch a movie I’ve memorized or a movie I’ve watched before. I also try to find new music that I like. Sometimes, I try to go out, and find inspiration in life and in living.
To motivate myself to start working, in terms of client work, comes from a sense of self-discipline to be able to finish the project before a deadline and in fulfilling our contract. You can’t just wait for inspiration to hit you for client work, the clock is ticking, and not everyone has lenient clients. That’s where your stock knowledge and resourcefulness needs to kick in.
Of course, it’s a different story when it’s the motivation to start on your own art and on your own art works. It’ll depend on the project, if it’s a comic or a web comic, you still have deadlines for your next release. In that case, my previous point still stands. If it’s anything else, I try to find the fun in the work. It makes the work easier to do, if not easier at all.
Q: What would you say has been your most EPIC win so far?
Recently, I got nominated for Best Illustrator at KOMIKET PH’s Comic Awards. It was nice to be recognized by the local community like that.
Q: What would you say has been your biggest failure?
Possibly not fixing my mental health earlier in my life. It’s cost me a lot of heart ache, time, effort, relationships, and even work (in more ways than one). A lot of these I can’t get back even if I wanted to, but all I can do is keep moving on and improving myself, and also being a better person for future personal and professional opportunities.
Q: What, for you, has been the best way to promote yourself and your work to potential fans, clients, or publishers?
In my opinion, the most efficient way is social media, and the surest way is word-of-mouth. Social media has a lot of influence, and it’s easier now to share your works and have others do the same. Word-of-mouth is also a great way to promote yourself; it has an edge of certainty to it, especially since there’s an assurance of your work and work ethics from previous employers that you’ve worked with. I’ve dealt with both, and it’s wise not to underestimate any method of self-promotion.
Q: What has been your game plan throughout your journey? What’s the BIG picture here? The ultimate dream? The end game?
I’d very much like to be a visual developer or character designer for a major animation studio. Aside from that, I’d like to make my own graphic novel or web comic that can reach out to someone. J.K. Rowling mentioned that the best compliment she’s ever received was “You’re my childhood.” I’d like to be a creator who has made and is someone’s childhood.
Q: What, for you personally, has been the source of your ideas, creativity, and talent?
I stand on the shoulders of giants when it comes to these things. Aside from the artists I follow, in the film “The September Issue (2009)” – Vogue’s Creative Director, Grace Coddington says to, “Always keep your eyes open. Keep watching. Because whatever you see can inspire you.”
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?
To reach out to someone — maybe several people — who is similar to me, who has the same thoughts as me, and dreams like me, and tell them they’re not alone.
Q: What 3 stories (comics, movies, documentaries, novels, etc.) would you say influenced and inspired your work the most?
Much of my inspiration comes from animated films, specifically Japanese animated films and series. I’m a huge fan of Studio Ghibli and Satoshi Kon movies. My favorites, in particular, are Spirited Away and Tokyo Godfathers. I love the amazing storytelling, insane visuals, and animated expressions in them.In comics (or in this case, manga), something that inspired my art greatly was Pet Shop of Horrors by Matsuri Akino, and in close second to this selection, is XXXHolic by CLAMP.
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)
Artbooks – Any sketchbook by Kim Jung Gi. He is one of my, if not my favorite artist, hands down. Podcasts – Bobby Chiu has great advice and has interviews with world-renowned artist and animators. Workshops – Armand Serrano, a Filipino veteran artist who’s worked for Disney and SONY, has a yearly workshop/seminar that I highly recommend to anyone in illustration and animation called ICON MANILA. Their proceeds go to charity, and the guests he invites are also from his and the industry circle. It’s definitely worth attending!
Q: If you could work remotely from anywhere in the world, where would your office be? Why?
Japan, especially since a lot of my artistic influences are from Japan. There’s something mystical about Rural Japan and their myths and legends. Not to mention, their crazy antics and the diligence and discipline of their people, it sounds like a very ideal place to stay.
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?
Without a doubt, Kim Jung Gi. You’re missing half your life if you don’t know him. He is a god of ink works. I’ve met him once in an ICON MANILA V.I.P. dinner, and he’s such a chill, humble, and fun guy—yung tipong, masarap kainuman ‘din siguro. But give him the pen and paper—BAM. There aren’t enough words to explain how amazing this artist is to me.
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 siblings. My brother has always been the one who’s real with me when it came to my art, even from the start. My sister has been a great support to my art and my mental health. I wouldn’t be where I am without them.