Computer Arts: Tell us about the project ...
Tof Zapanta: The project, through my agency, the Illustration Room, was to illustrate several spreads in Men's Health Australia about TV shows and how they can teach us a thing or two about real life, or how we sometimes turn to these shows and look for answers to our daily problems.
So, the idea was to represent these TV shows as people, with TV heads ... To give them personality and character, imagining how they would look like if they were real people.
CA: How did you put the illustrations together?
TZ: I always start my creative process, after reviewing the brief, with a day of just thinking about it. I go through a normal day out, walk in the streets, have coffee, eat, read a book, but with the problem in mind. The image then slowly takes shape in my head until I see it clearly. That's when I start. This takes a whole day, but after this everything moves at a very fast pace. I send sketches the next day, in the morning, get feedback, work on revisions and finish the project between two-tree days after that one day of letting the idea simmer in my head – procrastinating [laughs].
I use Adobe Illustrator most of the time, and then drag them to Adobe Photoshop for textures and finishing touches like contrast and colour correction and cleaning up. The tricky part about this project was making each illustration unique, because some of the TV shows the TV Heads represent are quite similar, or their characters are quite similar. So, yeah, I had to really pinpoint something that makes each of them unique and different from each other.
CA: How did you get into illustration?
TZ: Long story [laughs]. It was by accident. Literally. I was an athlete in College, on scholarship, then I got injured and was going to lose my scholarship, so I needed to find another organization that grants scholarships to their officers, so I applied for the literary and arts folio of my university – on the basis that I used to doodle – and my world was opened to art in the Philippines and my mind was blown and changed forever. It also opened up a network, through which I get all these jobs, especially the Illustration Room.
I prefer designs and illustrations that have something peculiar or strange about them, something that makes you question it because a part of it doesn't make sense – but it actually does, when you figure it out, hidden in layers of meaning – like the works of James Jean, Andrew Archer, Kilian Eng, Mario Hugo, Sachin Teng, to name a few. There's also melancholy evident in their works, which to me is really beautiful. I like to think I don't have a specific style. It's more of the feel or mood of my works that's a common denominator. If there is anything common on the surface of my works, it's the colour and the simplicity of figures. I like to try different things and styles and see what works best with what.