The following interview forms part of a series where I invite a number of contemporary artists to each reflect on their personal history, meaning and philosophy, and how those are expressed throughout their creative process.
This week I talk to Jan Bautista, an Illustrator originally from Luna, La Union, who now lives in Manchester, UK. His practice is “driven by fleeting feelings, translating sensitive narratives to familiar illustrations”.
In our interview, Jan tells me the influences drawing him to that practice, how he goes about choosing a subject, and what a piece depicting his current state of the world might look like.
It’s written that your practice is “driven by fleeting feelings, translating sensitive narratives to familiar illustrations”. Which influences in particular took you to that creative practice?
I admire the works of the post impressionists. Gauguin most especially. Don’t get me wrong, I hate the guy, he is so problematic- but his work is a well of inspiration for me.
He has such an emotive way of painting the ‘moment’. The very atmosphere that I try to create in my practice- things coming and going, feelings of temporality. That emotion you are feeling in the now that will inevitably pass. Very that.
Tell me the story behind your piece, ‘blue blue blue’
I was in a café with a friend drawing, and there were these two guys discussing masculinity. Wanting to show the tone of their conversation without using words- I went with the obvious palette because of the associations it has with “feeling down (blue)”.
How do you go about choosing a subject?
It varies, but almost always would be because something about them would’ve caught my attention. For my sketches, I just go for it, it just comes innately. It’s a lot more obvious when I time myself, the pages will show what I am drawn to the most.
What are the greatest challenges you have experienced as an artist?
Confidence. The constant critiques you have with yourself. Insecurities, financially but also with other practitioners. These things affect your work ethic as well, which is the most important. It helps knowing that these issues aren’t unique and pretty much everyone- that be established artists or people on the ‘same level’ as you are.
Could you describe a particular encounter with art that was especially impactful on you as an artist?
Felix Gonzalez Torres’ Perfect Lovers. Equally moving as it is simple. I mean, repurposing clocks and seeing it as a metaphor for human lifetime. That is, in a way, a visual poetry?
It was a moment for me as a creative because it convinced me of conceptual art- that it’s the ideas that make the art. Having that realisation prior to going to university made me be more open to exploration- not only with where I was looking but also the things that I wanted to make.
If you were to envision a new artwork that emulated your current experience in the world, what might it include?
My mom gardening. It would be a performance piece, could be in a theatre or outside with people in chairs watching- optional to help. Whitney Houston would be playing in the background. There’s something peaceful in observing someone doing something they love.
That, or justice in the global south. Either or.