Manila, this is art
- Carina Santos () - August 26, 2011 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - These days, the word “illustrator” can mean a lot of different things. It’s not a term that’s strictly limited to someone who draws using a pen on a piece of paper anymore, as illustrators currently use a number of different mediums. They also do their work for a number of different causes and purposes, such as to accompany a piece of text (as in story books), or to enrich a design or message. Illustrations can even tell stories by themselves, as standalone pieces of art.

Before the age of the Internet — in which sharing images and news has become just about the easiest thing to do after breathing — illustrators didn’t really get much attention or praise for their work. It was harder to infiltrate this very exclusive field, but now, it seems like things are working out for these young illustrators. These are some of today’s most sought-after and followed young artists. Some are practically household names already, as their works are consumed by hundreds of people every day. These are seven of the most talented people in their field, and although they all have different styles, techniques and backgrounds, they all answer to the name “illustrator.”

It’s no wonder people continue to keep tabs on their work. Read on to find out why the crowds are drawn to them, and take a look at the kind of art they have up in their sleeves.

Rob Cham


Rob was a business management major in college, but what he really wanted to do was make comics and draw. This is sort of perfect because Rob doesn’t really like management very much, and also because a) he is quite a funny person (in a quiet, awkward, understated kind of way); and b) he is very good at drawing.

One of the first few posts by Rob on the Internet consisted of an angry Philippines expressing rage at Typhoon Ondoy. Over the next few months, Rob’s art would be seen circulating all over the Internet, as it was reblogged and shared by hundreds of people all over the world. It’s hard not to notice it, because aside from being cheeky and weird (reminiscent of Cartoon Network’s Adventuretime), Rob’s art is actually really good. What you typically see of Rob’s work is his funny cartoons, but his hand is also skilled at rendering other things, most notably, portraits of people.

CJ de Silva

Currently: Art director for TBWA


CJ de Silva, having been dubbed as a “Promil Kid,” is a name that we all grew up with. CJ studied in UP Diliman and had been hailed as a child prodigy, revealing her skill for the arts at a young age. Decades later, one thing’s for sure: she’s still got it.

Everyone knows that CJ de Silva excels in traditional media, having been celebrated as a gifted child. However, her talents did not go away with age, as she continues to exercise them in her chosen field, as an art director. She still, however, makes art. CJ makes lovely pencil sketches of random moments in her life and posts them on her blog, and while she has shied away from painting, CJ still draws passion projects, such as fictional band posters for the band Hapipaks, as seen in the indie darling flick Rakenrol, and various portraits of friends. She continues to show her technical skill as an artist, making us look forward to more.

Christian San Jose

Currently: Creative Director of HSThree, Inc., a company based in LA, and has founded his own design studio,


In pursuit of what looks to be a life-long career in art and design, Christian (or csj89) put college on hold and hoped for the best. So far he’s been pretty successful. Having worked for clients like Coca-Cola and Kobe Bryant, Christian has only begun what looks to be a brilliant career.

Christian’s web design portfolio boasts a very clean and sleek aesthetic, so the look of his illustrations comes as a surprise. Filled with playful characters and bursts of color, his work is energetic, dynamic — and very, very busy. He has an understanding of space and how shapes fit and flow into each other. A Christian San Jose illustration is a frenetic place to be in, the noisy capital of a bustling city.

Valerie Chua

Currently: Doing freelance for numerous local and international publications and has worked for a number of clients.


Val graduated from the University of Asia and the Pacific with a BA degree in humanities, but it was in art that she found her niche. She’s a self-taught artist — one determined to create art without sacrificing the volume and breadth of her personal works.

Valerie’s work is refreshing — a quiet retreat from the fast-paced world of vector illustration that pervades this field today. She works mainly with watercolor, gouache and acrylic, choosing the route of traditional art. Imbued with femininity and grace, her work captures the quiet sort of life, coupled with a seeming reverence for silence and spaces. Which isn’t to say that her work is lifeless and boring. Val works with a lot of colors, but they come in whispers instead of shouts. She catches your eye, instead, with quiet and intimate moments.

Kasey Albano

Currently: partner at


Kasey Albano, a recent graduate of Ateneo de Manila University, is quite accomplished in academe — but Kasey also holds a few other extra talents, visual arts being one of them.

Kasey’s work merges new subjects with a vintage and retro feel, creating a fresh aesthetic of clean art with a certain warmness to it. She is also very intuitive when it comes to type work, creating a very natural environment in which text thrives. Kasey has a unique understanding of design. She knows how illustration can be used to push good design, as shown by her series on maps (called “The Handy-Dandy Map Project”) and posters made for events and productions.

Kristine Caguiat

Currently: Senior staff writer for and, Art director for Greater Good Apparel


Even in school, Kris liked to make things that didn’t really, well... work. She and her friends set up an alternative jewelry line called Telebasura. Armed with a BFA degree in information design from Ateneo, she flew to London to study illustration at Slade School of Fine Art. Kris has always been sort of a rock star, challenging art and design norms ever since.

Kris Caguiat is very gifted at fusing things that don’t go together and making them look like they have always belonged together. Her work features hard, clean lines, as well as very organic and natural images. She uses both digital and traditional means when she makes her pieces, striking a sort of perfect balance between both styles. Inspired by art, music and culture, she’s an artist who knows herself and her art deeply, and continues to work in the best way she knows how. Ultimately, Kris seems to be a fan of taking opposites and making them make friends with each other, resulting in works that could only have been made by her.

Laurice Plando

Currently: a student taking up Multimedia Arts in De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde


Laurice Plando draws every day. One of her aspirations is to work in the entertainment industry as a concept artist.  

This De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde student knows the human face, and the human body. She is especially good at drawing them. Rifling through her blog and online portfolio will reveal sketches of sweet faces, rendered in rough pencil. But these sketches are utterly transformed once she colors and refines them on the computer. While Lau works with watercolors and pencils, she is best at making Old World magic using her digital tools. Her portraits and landscape sketches emit a glow and undeniable charm that’s hard to come by and even harder to imitate.

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