“It’s not something I thought was gonna happen, really,” said Manuel Gonzales, when asked by PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) about his reaction when he found out that he was being named as an "artist to watch for" by magazine.
The 24-year-old illustrator, who prefers to be called “Mano,” has been included in the annual list of Young Talents, released by Garage Magazine.
The young artist admitted he felt the pressure after hearing the good news from editor-in-chief Rey Ilagan.
Mano said: “Of course, I was surprised and nervous, but at the same time, I was pressured because I don’t know why [they chose me].”
He continued, “Akala ko parang like mention lang, and feeling ko hindi naman matutuloy because I’m not the top of mind when you think about artist and illustrators.”
What's interesting is that Mano did not have any formal training in drawing, but honed his gifts as he filled up his books and notebooks with doodles in his earlier years.
“I used to draw every hour when I was a kid. It didn't matter what kind of paper I had.
“Everytime I get hold of anything I can use to draw, any chance I get, I just draw.”
“I saw it as something that was very personal. It was some sort of a meditation for me.”
It was until college that he realized drawing is something he doesn’t want to just do during his free time.
“I wanted to have a chance to show my artwork to people and, in some ways, have a particular effect on them.
“I wanted to have that sort of influence over people.”
Mano’s contemporary art pieces are very detailed and projects an eccentric, dark aura.
Most of his drawings are portraits of people.
It is fascinating how his artworks’ lifelike eyes and masterful shading can make you feel the emotion that each sketch depicts.
He said, “I work around portraiture, usually mixing with it emotions, human conditions that are dark or ordinary or sometimes both.
“There is a danger of making my works look too the same, since I draw faces, so I try to make my work very different from one another, but still being consistent with my style.
“I love portraying human emotions, whatever it may be.”
Inspiration comes in different forms in every artists, and, for Mano, anything that catches his attention is worth paying homage.
“Most of the inspirations come from films I watch, anything that catches my attention, whether it's similar to my experiences or not just as long as I can relate to it.
“I also take inspiration from people I meet, and imaginary people.
“I love history, so I take bits and pieces from that as well.”
Courtesy of http://manuelgonzalesill.tumblr.com/
Mano’s sketches have gone from school projects to illustrations featured in the country’s top glossy magazines, which earned him his newfound recognition.
Still, Mano decided to pursue a career in marketing, knowing the instability of the art industry.
“[Illustrating] it's something I want to do, but, of course, I still want to have a job that’s a bit stable.
“I got into marketing because there's so much I wanna be when I grow older.
“So, now, while I'm still young and I still have this much energy, I wanna experience things and learn about a lot as much as I can.”
Deadlines might be his own “kryptonite” as he finds time for his profession and his passion.
He said: “Sometimes, I don’t sleep anymore so that I can illustrate, and I can work also.
“Parang, I do illustrations at night and on weekends, pero on weekdays and in the morning, I go to work.
He added, “I guess, I just have to parang dedicate a particular time on working on this.
“I think I work fast naman, especially if they already have a concept.”
Catch his exhibit, I Practice Detachment, at the Altro Mondo Gallery in Greenbelt 5, Makati City.