Happy Garaje at Fortuna Circuit

In December 2015 we participated in Fortuna Circuit, a group show put together by STREETKONECT.

Some of our pieces:

Mixed media on wood, 28 in x 55 in
by Johanna

Sometimes there are things that we wish to never forget, things that keep us warm and brave and strong. A face, the sound of a person’s voice, the tightness of a hug, the sunshine on that summer day.

And then, little by little, they go away. Or all at once, as if stolen from us. What was that day? What was that song?

Mixed media on fiberglass and wood
55 in x 48 in x 26 in
by Happy Garaje

Birthdays, Friends and Phonies
12 x 12 in, ink on wood
by Karina Marga Cuizon

You here, You there
12 x 12 in, acrylic on wood
by Mark

Art Attack II

We got called up to do more work for Disney. This time to art-direct six webisodes of Art Attack. I can’t tell you too much about it at this point but I can share some behind the scenes photos here:ig-hg-2 2

That’s Marco the host of the show who is super funny and a good artist himself. Jo in the back is just trying to stay awake, having been up for more than 24 hours at this point 😂.

ig-hgJo going through all the compositions with the director Dave, before the cam rolls, making sure each frame looks spiffy.

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Yna hustling on the set, she now understands the feeling you get from hearing the dreaded words from the director screaming: ART DEPT!!!

The guy in the back is Kyle, Yna’s brother (it’s a family affair).

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Each frame is strictly checked by an exec. Most challenging part: use gradeschool materials only. What, no fibreglass?!

It has been a lot of sleepless prep nights and two hectic shoot days. We’re really thankful for opportunities like this and has been real fun working with all the great people from the production team.

Storyteller’s Night #6

The rules of Storyteller’s Night are simple: tell one personal story prompted by a theme in 10 minutes (+/-). Someone asked me before coming if it was some hardcore write and read event and I told her that it’s more nerdcore than anything else. It’s open to anyone and different kinds of people have come to tell stories. Last night we did the sixth version of the little event, four of them have been in the studio, and the very first one was held in the now lost treasure of a place: La Belle Aurore bookshop. That was a couple of years ago and was the brainchild of our friend, Anne Melody, who is now far away in a more hip(ster) place called San Francisco.
I can’t really say that the event has grown by leaps and bounds. I still believe some things are better kept small. Although we have tried to make it bigger, like at LitFest, which was also good, but a different kind of good. Other than picking the event date, offering a venue and making the posters (we enjoy this) we leave all the other parts to the people that come to the event. After the theme is announced, some folks will volunteer to tell stories and they are free to bring a couple of friends, a sort of group curated guest list and in the end its a good mix of friends and would-be friends. When we reach a number of interested people – 30 is usual, we’re all set and then the night just happens.
The theme from yesterday was On the Road and, as always, the stories from the people – half of which were first timers – were surprising and charming. Who would not smile at the thought of little Julie Jhoy telling of her first ever jeepney ride as a child calling, her newfound wealth as “nine-one-peso-coins”. Her tale is complete with the mishap of getting lost kilometres away from her house and finding her way back home together with her trusty and undeniably amazing companion: the Jollibee school bag (trolley slash backpack). “I just held my chin up so that the grown ups would think I knew what I was doing,” she said, somewhere along those lines as the now-adult version of that adventurous child told her story looking down at her notes, her hair covering her face the entire time.
Its not a new concept. How many secret crushes were indeed revealed in the solace of a college dormitory or details of the spooky neighbour divulged on the floor of the living room that one humid summer. Only now the stories are caught between what once was – a yearning for younger days and ‘adulting’. Like Julie Jhoy’s story or Darliza’s – about the time she spent in Hotel Cecil – the infamous hotel of multiple murders or Carla’s incredibly candid style of telling everyone how she once attempted to eat (in her own words) “all the creatures of the ocean.”
I feel excited every time because I do not quite know what to expect. Last night, Anne told us of the day she once saw a helicopter crash – not an everyday thing. Or Paolo telling us about roadtrips with his father. There are stories about fears (dogs) and cravings (balut). Sometimes there are funny people in everyday life that come up and tell of things that move you inexplicably and then there are people like Silver Paul who I always thought was a super serious person (I don’t know, a future lawyer with a badass vibe? :-)) who always seems to make everybody laugh. Even when he is telling everyone of his great heartbreak, people are laughing.
I think this is the magic here – that there are many things that we cannot say in the course of a daily conversation, things that would seem awkward or out-of-place if we just suddenly shared these bits and pieces of ourselves that we treasure. Some things are just better expressed to an audience in a dark room, with people huddled around on the floor, preferably with hot drink and sweets, of course. See you in the next one.

[related: Darliza wrote about STN, too!]


2016 so far (January)

This start of the year has been summarised by starting to work at a little after noon and working straight through three or four in the morning. I don’t think we are burning out just yet. I guess this is the energy of the new year. The times that we have gone out was to bring Summer to school (mornings), attend client meetings and buy food (and books)

Some things in the studio that are calling out still

1. boxes waiting to be designed

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2. a manuscript for a book design project

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3. blank canvasses waiting to be painted on

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Hello world!

Our old website crashed and burned together with all the memories from an 8-year old online journal and site. I will try to restore what I can – when work will allow me to – but for now, I guess we are starting anew on the web. Happy New Year.




A photo of Jo painting stuff in the studio, so many years ago.

Biliran is Beautiful (47 Peso Art Department and XZiBiT didn’t show)

Hello. I have just returned from Biliran where I represented the studio to do some production design work for the Cinema One Originals entry: ‘Ms. Bulalacao’ by award-winning director Ara Chawdhury.

The experience was an interesting insight into the whole Philippine independent filmmaking scenario. Firstly, what I can say is our up-and-coming filmmakers – whether they are directors, writers, production designers and such – are perhaps fuelled, foremost, by passion for making movies. Not money but pure passion to tell stories through movies.

Yes it is true that Cinema One funds the movies that it selects – between PHP 1-2 million per movie but after it all trickles down the budget for each facet of a film can be quite tight. While we have been in pre-production for the past 7 weeks – making props, posters, making sketches of how we intend to design the sets all in a do-it-yourself fashion. Our budget for the all set building was 60k. This last week was a true eye-opener: we had to live on 47 pesos a day, per person which was allotted to us for food, accommodation AND transportation. Whuut. Right? We joked about it and thought of all the scenarios where if we ever really ran out of money we could sell some of the props or dance in the streets (not that anyone would pay for that, on second thought). We ended up not doing any of those as one of the art department team members, Karl, happened to be from Biliran and he asked his mother to feed us home-cooked meals and they were kind enough to let us sleep in their house free of charge. That was g-r-e-a-t as we would have never been able to make it work within those constraints.

Now even with these obstacles it was cool to see the art department not getting down over it. Everyone’s spirits were up and did all the hard work and there was a lot of laughing and just enjoying every day. In the past week we managed to do a bunch of things including painting a blue barrio

making way for a river

and putting up the wooden signs that were hand-made

On the flipside, being in the Biliran was a welcome change of pace for me. Sitting in the back of Karl’s multicab going through the countryside was like meditation. It would have been perfect if Xzibit showed up and said, ‘YO DAWG, I’ma pimp yo ride. Pimp yo set. Give you food. Pimp yo house. PIMP YA LIFE!’ but yeah, that didn’t happen.

I have many stories I would like to tell you, but not today as we have a big presentation later (it is 3AM as I write this). I will however leave you with a photo of the province’s countryside. Biliran is beautiful:


Best of luck to my homies in the art department, wish I could have stayed longer. Thank you Karl and your mom. Goodluck to Ara, Xtian and everyone.