Young Star

Different strokes

Maine Manalansan - The Philippine Star
Different strokes
Mural master: If Jappy Agoncillo could draw one thing for the rest of his life, it would be superhero comics.

Street artist Jappy Agoncillo talks about his process, and the one thing he can draw forever.

MANILA, Philippines — When someone thinks of the word graffiti, they’d usually associate it with unruly artists who vandalize the streets. But times have changed and street art has been an important medium in political and social movements, as well as a representation of youth culture in certain communities. If you think about it, good street art captivates and stops you in your daily hustle, but really good street art can help cement your place in the art world. The likes of Banksy and Shepard Fairey have proven just that.

Bringing it back to our own streets, we see the likes of Jappy Agoncillo and his colorful art inspired by music and comics. If you frequent Pasig and BGC, you’ve probably seen one of his creations. There’s one along C5 Northbound Libis area too. Aside from painting the street walls, his works have also appeared in Globe Wanderland, Satchmi, Bench, and SM Youth.

As part of Axe’s Project You campaign, they’re holding an Axe Masterclass featuring Jappy Agoncillo on May 26. He will discuss how to achieve success in the street art world, and more. But for now, we interviewed him over email to get to know his process and inspiration.

YOUNG STAR: When did you learn that you wanted to illustrate full time?

JAPPY AGONCILLO: I wanted to be a full-time artist around my last year in college. I took Legal Management as a pre-law course in DLSU. Towards the end of college, I needed to make a choice as to what I was going to do after. So I chose my profession now.

Can you remember the very first thing you drew?

The first thing I drew was probably a fruit, like an orange or an apple. Just a red circle with a badly drawn leaf really. But technically, the first thing I ever drew well was Krillin from Dragon Ball.

What’s your process when it comes to doing mural paintings?

Paint the town: If you frequent Pasig and BGC, you've probably seen Jappy's work inspired by music and comics.

It starts off with the surface. I like to play with the environment I am given, as it provides a fun challenge when designing big wall pieces. I design something based on the location, the viewers, the wall surface, and of course what I (or the client) wants to see. I size the wall up, and mock a design in Photoshop. I sketch out the design on the wall, making sure the scaling is as close to the real thing as possible, and then its just a matter of filling it in.

Were there times in the past when you encountered some challenges? How did you overcome it?

I always keep my designs flexible. That’s how you should be if you want to face challenges well. Paint splashes or running out of paint is no big problem. You adjust, use what you can, and see it as another design obstacle to overcome. If I run out of a color, why not turn a solid part into a gradient, use another color to save the day? Big paint splash? Make it into a pattern, or a new part of the design. Flexibility is key.

If you can draw one thing forever, what would it be?

Superheroes, or more accurately, superhero comics. It’s not evident from the way I look or the art that I do, but I grew up reading comics. I love superhero comics. It was what started me on this career and I wouldn’t mind if it’s all I would get to do forever.

What’s your most exciting project to date? How did that come about?

I think a very exciting project was a painting I did for the Welling Court Mural Project in Queens, New York. It’s a neighborhood full of murals from artists around the world, and I was allowed to be a part of it. I was in New York and I took a chance when a stranger messaged me on IG asking if I wanted to paint some stuff. He turned out to be one of my coolest friends in the city. Through him, I met other artists who eventually connected me to the curator of the project, who said he liked my stuff enough to let me (be a part of it.)

Do you have a playlist when you’re working on your art?

Depending on my mood, my playlist could be anything from ‘80s rock, pop ballads, ‘90s hip hop, 2000s alternative (a.k.a. emo), or even ‘70s hard rock.

Any tips for aspiring artists?

Put in the work. Whether you want to build a career, start a brand, or just improve for your own sake, it wont get moving if you don’t put in the work.

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For more information on Project You and the Axe Masterclass featuring Jappy Agoncillo, visit facebook.com/axephilippines.


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