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MANILA, Philippines - We at Young STAR are always on the lookout for creative individuals making their presence known in the visual arts scene — from the jacks-of-all-media to the single-craft savants, from the portrait takers to the abstract reality benders. We’re lucky enough to live in a place that relentlessly pursues artistic mastery and prestige, where competition is fuel. And out of that mad bustle, when the dust clears, these are the five fast-rising artists who come into view.


Monica Esquivel, 23

“I’ve been drawing as far back as I could remember,” says Monica Esquivel who, as a child, drew influence from shows like Sailor Moon, and whose current work exudes the same kind of childlike whimsy. Yet even though the talent and the desire were there, it took Monica a while before she realized illustrating was something she really wanted to do, having held a job as a graphic designer and considered working in advertising, with the realization that illustration was a job that didn’t pay much. To Monica, who she is as an artist is at the core of her identity. “When I improve at illustrating stuff, it feels like I’m growing and not just merely improving.” Now, Monica works as a graphic designer for By Implication, an independent app, game, and web development studio. She balances her time with building her portfolio and illustrating for"

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Check out Monica’s work at

Raxenne Maniquiz, 24

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Raxenne considers herself a controlled maximalist, putting tons of elements and colors together but finding a way to tone it down. There is a subtle femininity in her works, like in the refined floral patterns you’ll see in the Bratpack catalogs which won the Adobo Design Awards, or in the limited-edition bag she designed herself for JanSport x Bratpack. Her work is vibrant, cheerfully calling out for attention, but organized with symmetry and done with sheer taste. The 24-year-old currently works as a designer and illustrator for Plus63 Design Co. As a child, Raxenne would only experiment with art by playing with her ninang’s watercolor and poster paint sets. Now, her style is ever dynamic as she finds inspiration in the works of other designers like James Jean, Eduardo Recife, of course, Dan Matutina.

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Follow @raxenne on instagram

Tim Lopez, 21

It used to be that Tim just drew compulsively, making comics and cartoons since he was a kid and drawing for school projects. Come college though, he found himself taking interest in ideas like branding and creating design solutions, all approached within the medium of illustration. It’s something that Tim believes connects people. His illustration style is psychedelic, boasting rich and bright colors, resembling the kind of feverish and alien allure found in the brush of the jungle, or on the seabed. “I’m really influenced by nature and marine life. For as long as I can remember I’ve been fascinated by strange sea animals and such.” He also draws inspiration from the likes of JP Cuison, Rob Cham, and Joan Cornella, and shows like Steven Universe. Nowadays he keeps himself busy designing promotional materials and gig posters, and dedicating himself to personal cartooning projects.

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Check out Tim’s work at

Kara Chung, 22

As a photographer and illustrator (and part-time musician of electronic outfit Birdforms), Kara Chung approaches each medium with a different motivation and creative philosophy. “I draw when I have to withdraw. Illustration typically requires me to have a certain level of introspection, eliminate distractions, pay attention to every detail. I take photos so I can connect with other people. I love that the end result of a portrait is the result of many factors, and each person in a team adds a new layer of complexity to the stills.” In both her photography and illustration work, the subject of her art is placed at the center, boldly, which each element carefully placed to create one cohesive form. This is especially obvious in her work as a photographer for retail brand Sunnies Studios. Kara’s central creative philosophy, though, in relation to her keen eye for detail, is this: “At my core is the desire to make every space I fill matter.” And if her future plans to collaborate more offer any proof, she’ll be filling a lot more empty spaces, the spaces that need her the most.

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Follow @karachungart on instagram

Abbey Sy, 22

Abbey has perfected an old art: calligraphy and lettering. While most young artists have moved onto the digital sphere as a medium for their work, Abbey is able to work skillfully with a pen. She can let it glide smoothly on paper, guided by discipline and aesthetic, and the strokes of her script come alive. “I’ve always been awarded for penmanship, gold medal (laughs), during my elementary years and I think that led me to somewhat pursue hand lettering.” Her script is elegant; she can make any quote speak louder with her flowing lettering than it could on its own, as she playfully makes words dance on paper. At 22, Abbey has already been able to collaborate with other artists and brands, and was even able to work with Bianca Gonzalez for her book Paano Ba To. She currently works as a strategist/performance planner at Tribal Worldwide, but dabbles in personal and commercial lettering projects. She also conducts lettering workshops.

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Follow @abbeysy on instagram



Photos by Tim Serrano

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