Just how advance is our technology nowadays? For years, people have been drawing with pencils and pens on paper. Time flew by and now people are producing art through their smartphones, tablets, and computer. Where do artists really get their inspiration from to create such beautiful images?
Based in the Philippines is Hardy Araza, a 25-year-old digital artist, a visual artist as he calls himself. Currently working as a home-based art director at Marque Media, we reached out to him to see more of his world in colour.
KOBOO: Why did you decide to become a digital artist?
Hardy: “It’s only recently that I’ve been very active with art as I have started to become more passionate about it again and realised that illustrations, digital art, and painting are what I’m really skilled in. I’ve always wanted to go draw as much as many other artists do. However, I have been very lazy when it comes to making my own work and I guess it’s also the day job that hinders me from doing so.”
KOBOO: Your day job? Being a home-based art director sounds pretty cool though!
Hardy: “Actually, my job doesn’t sound as grand as the name suggests but I take care of brands’ digital space mostly on Instagram. I curate the feed and make visual graphics for them to post.”
KOBOO: Tell us how you entered the world of art! What got you started?
Hardy: “I’ve always been drawing since I was a kid! Maybe 2 or 3? I could remember vividly I would draw helicopters, robots, and even Spongebob on my notebooks. They would be filled up with drawings and my teachers would scold me for it. Up until college, I was like that. I would only use a pen or pencil because I never really learned other colouring mediums. I honestly thought I was very bad at it so I never touch colours because I was afraid.”
KOBOO: How were you able to overcome your fear of colour?
Hardy: “In college, I joined an organization, it was the school newspaper. From there, I started to learn Photoshop and learned how to colour my drawings. I was so excited to see my drawings come to life by giving it colour like the illustrations I see online rather than the usual black and white on paper.”
KOBOO: Isn’t digital artist and visual artist the same thing?
Hardy: “As to why I call myself a “visual artist”, I started with my interest in photography and fashion in 2015. My sudden interest in this field made me realize that I’m actually good with colour and even my friends thought so too. I became more confident with styling and usage of colour.”
KOBOO: How would you describe your work?
Hardy: I’m a perfectionist, like for real. It takes so much time for me before I save an illustration or artwork. I’m a semi-realist, I want it to look real perspective wise but since I have an anime influence, I don’t really mind about the head so long as it looks cute. I really hate it when my drawings start to look awkward, I just can’t take it so I’d restart the line art just so I can make sure that the effort is worth it in the end. Ever since I overcame my fear of colour, I have become very meticulous with it. I double-check to make sure everything has the right brightness and contrast so the details can shine on their own. I just want to make sure everything is worth it in the end and not looking like its half-baked.
KOBOO: So your weakness of colour became your strength after all. How did you hone that skill and what would you say your current weakness is?
Hardy: “I looked at interior design magazines to look at colour combinations to see how they balance out the contrasts and temperature. Later then on, Harajuku fashion and Korean fashion became an interest to me. The clothes are oh so colourful and always very extra. Vibrant colours have always caught my attention and Asian fashion serves that well. To add to that, music videos really serve inspirations for colour and I’d often check Pinterest or Instagram for streetwear. My weakness is definitely backgrounds. I really want to add nice depth to my artworks.”
KOBOO: Speaking of Korean fashion, do you have any favourite Korean brands?
Hardy: “I usually buy my clothes from fashion markets, “Ukay” is what we say here in the Philippines. I would buy similar pieces based on a certain fit I’ve seen. My friend would always talk to me about UNIF, their rainbow and colourful stripe tops are iconic! I also discovered that TWICE’s Chaeyoung and Momo wore some of their pieces though I don’t think they’re a Korean brand. ADLV is a Korean streetwear brand I recently discovered because of TWICE. They collabed on the new season collection and all the pieces look really colourful and comfortable to wear. I’d actually sport one if I could.”
KOBOO: A lot of attention towards TWICE huh? So you’re a “Once”? What is it like?
Hardy: “Idk why I still feel a bit shy when asked this question but here it goes. Yes, I do, a lot! I’m a full-fledged Once. I even pre-ordered their newest album “More & More”. Being a Once is uhh…being a fan of 9 girls, all with different attractive personalities and really catchy songs. Late 2018 is when I started to appreciate K-pop but I didn’t really belong to any fandom. I just wandered around Spotify and YouTube to appreciate the colourful, bubble gum pop music and I didn’t really pay attention to who I was listening to. Eventually, I started to get into TWICE and ended up watching the girl group survival show “Sixteen”. It was because I discovered that these girls who I listen to actually formed because of a reality show. I got curious and that’s how it started. I fell in love with each of them and I guess survival stories really catch your attention.”
KOBOO: In any way have they influenced your work of art?
Hardy: “Yes, absolutely! Before I even became a “full-fledged” once, I would watch their music videos for colour references as they have always had unique concepts, mostly with colourful settings and outfits. As a Once, TWICE have always lifted up my energy, their colourful personalities would always brighten up my day. I always make artworks of the things I love so I’ve recently been working on them and it feels like I do something for them as well as for myself. I used to do up to 2 illustrations a month only sometimes none at all and it’s been like that for the past few years. But this time it has been different. I’ve managed to pull off 19 character illustrations in a week and that’s a big feat! These illustrations are actually a tribute to my dear TWICE as I wanted to do something big for their 5th anniversary and I’ve never felt so motivated like this before. If it wasn’t for TWICE, I probably never thought I could and would do this and this is their power and influence. They’ve managed to pull me from the deepest I’ve been when it comes to my own art.”
KOBOO: Looking at your illustration, you decided to start off with Chaeyoung, is there a reason for that?
Hardy: “Chaeyoung is my bias! She’s very free-spirited and I love that part of her. The tattoos and unique choice of clothes tell me so much how confident she is to express what she loves the most and she’s not afraid to hide it! I relate a lot to her so much beause she’s also an artist!”
KOBOO: A plagiarism statement was claimed on TWICE recently by an American artist Davis McCarty on his “Pulse Portal” installation piece on their recent comeback “More & More”. How does this make you feel?
Hardy: “I was actually sad to know about this and as an artist as well, plagiarism has always been a big deal to me. I would side on the artist and this is their production team’s fault and JYPE as well for letting this happen accountability wise. The girls are working hard so I hope they do their job too.”
KOBOO: What’s your favourite side B track on their new album?
Hardy: “I’m kinda torn between “Make Me Go” and “Shadow” but I’ll go with the first one as there is no particular reason, to be honest, it’s the first one that caught my attention when I ran through the album. Wait…change that to “Shadow”! Urgh, I can’t choose!”
KOBOO: What kind of art would you like to see in their next comeback?
Hardy: “Maybe something pastel-ish, terracotta kind of feel with clouds and whatnot goddesses, unrelated. Although, I’m guessing their next comeback might have something to do with an apple or at least has an apple with it based on the apple in the “More & More” music video. Just a wild guess.”
KOBOO: Do you have a life motto you stick to?
Hardy: “There are many sayings I live by but I’d love to mention the value of self-love. For a long time now, I’ve stopped caring about what people think about me. I try my best to stay true to myself because that is self-care. In the cruel world we live in, no one can truly save you but yourself and the things closest to your heart. Most people get lost in their journey but that is part of the growth process. I too was once lost and am very happy to be back home. I hope everyone finds their refuge sooner because that’s the place anyone can be the happiest.”
KOBOO: Is there a dream you’re running towards?
Hardy: “Working in character design! I’m always fond of drawing people and fashion has helped me broaden my knowledge, not just the character itself but the personality shown in the clothes they wear. I swear a few years from now, when I’m ready, I’ll be applying to art school and major that course.”
KOBOO: What advice would you give to young artists out there or someone just getting started?
Hardy: “Cliché but to be honest…just keep drawing! Do not try so hard yet to have a style, it will come later. Focus on the fundamentals first like perspective, lighting, and anatomy. There are days you wouldn’t feel drawing anything but that’s okay, don’t push yourself! If you really love it, you’ll always come back to it!”
As has been noted, with the help of TWICE, Hardy has been pulled from the deepest he has been in the world of art proving that he truly is “One in a Million“. The girls’ personality shines powerfully through their music the same way all artists express their emotions through art.