In continuation of our quest to introduce you all to people we believe contribute to the vibrant modern Filipino culture, we present our latest edition of Spotlight featuring Joseph Christephen Valente. As a former call center manager turned full-time artist, I believe that he has the unique privilege of being one of the brave souls that have decided to drop what they are doing and pursue those things that make them truly come alive. I recently had the opportunity to question the artist about his thoughts on art as a profession, artistic voice, and the Filipino art scene as it currently is.
Have you always wanted to become an artist? What made you decide to take the plunge and pursue art as a career?
I wanted to be a scientist or a mathematician in my elementary days. Then I took up Management, and Entrepreneurship, with a certificate in Psychology in college. But yes, since I started to draw seriously I just wanted to draw . Painting came during my college days.
I decided to paint a few months after I left the call center industry since I didn’t have time for family and friends. The week before I left that profession, I prayed for the type of work I would love that can help me balance time for my family, friends, and time for church and to serve.
Who or what would you say are your influences? How would you describe your style?
It all started with comic books! I would look for comic books illustrated by Jim Lee, Frank Miller, Sam Keith, Tod McFarlane, Masamune Shirow, and Katsuhiro Otomo. Then it jumped to paintings where my idols are Charlie Co, Ang Kiukok, and Nona Garcia.
My style? Hmmmm… It’s the bastard child of a conceptual comic book illustrator married to a whimsical surrealist whose parents were realist and impressionist who tried to paint social cultural realities. Kidding aside, my strokes now have been influenced by their styles: Charlie Co for his color palette, Ang Kiukok for his contrast, Nona Garcia for the direct approach of her subject(s). You can probably throw in Van Gogh, Gauguin, and O’Keefe too.
How would you describe the Filipino art scene? Are there any artists you would say people need to look out for?
The Filipino art scene is awesome and it’s great that the country is starting to embrace art’s diversity. You’ll notice that a lot of galleries have been booked all year which shows how busy things are.
People to look out for? Averil Paras. He makes beautiful paintings. Ramon Taguchi does awesome pen and ink. Xander Calceta for his portraits. Nino Hernandez for his abstract. Kadin Tiu for her muffled screams on canvas. Dominador Lazaro is a genius. Well, that’s a few of the artists I can think of for now I guess.
In your experience, how much of being an artist in the Philippines is expressing your point of view and how much of it is business?
I am fortunate enough to express my point of view even if I don’t want to. It can be seen through my brush strokes, in some little detail, or you’ll have to ‘see between the paint.’ I hide pieces of my personal thoughts and feelings somewhere in my art work. I guess all artists do. One of my personal goals when I paint is that it can be understood and appreciated by the audience of today and tomorrow.
Art is a business and it’s everyone’s business. But so long as you evolve with your work, and grow to understand that there’s something more than just painting a cat with a top hat, a scene of homeless people, the backs of people, or a car, or a plane, then there’s a purpose for your “business”, which is art, to expand.
What advice would you give to the younger version of yourself that wanted to pursue art full-time?
I’d say: Don’t stop believing. Hold on to that feeling! Just messing hehe. Seriously:
Trust God. Offer whatever you do to, and for, Him. Paint until a blind man loves your work.
All photographs are by Joseph Christephen Valente via valenteism.blogspot.com