I am what one can call a Heima regular. Yup! If there’s a Heima event, chances are you would find me already there. And no, I do not live anywhere near its neighborhood. Like I said, I’m a sucker for it and no matter how far it is from me or no matter which branch it would be held at, I’d try my best to be in attendance. These events, they always guarantee a good time, and most often than not new friends too!
I met Mawee Borromeo at Heima’s Paper Stories. If you’re not familiar, it’s a craft pop-up fair with some of the Manila’s talented artists and notable art supply shops. And like most Heima events, it wasn’t big at all. It was as intimate as it could get! With only a few tables here and there, it was practically impossible not to get to meet or chit chat with the other people in the room.
I spent most of my time there sitting across the table from this girl named Mawee. With her colored pens in hand and her eyes fixed right at me, I sat there motionless for about five to ten minutes tops. I found out that Mawee was an artist, and she was offering free portraits. And I, with no power to say no to anything free, jumped at the opportunity! The session probably took longer than it should have. I had all these questions about her art, her style, and her process. And even after all the answers, I always wanted to know a bit more!
Time travel two years from that day, and we are where we are now! If you told me that I’d get to sit across Mawee again, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. But I did, and this time it wasn’t for a free portrait.
I wanted to meet up with Mawee at her workspace to talk about her art, but she said that that would mean I’d probably have to sit with her on her bed! So instead, we decided to meet at her favorite out-of-the-house workspace – a café, not to far from her home. She was sipping on what she called “her usual cup” of green tea latte when I arrived, while sitting by a table set up with a computer, a tablet, and pens on top of papers. Dressed in a black and white dainty dress, she stood up with all smiles to greet me hello. The endless conversations started on from there.
So how did you start and how would you describe your art?
“I started when I was young. I’d draw anime, until I moved on to reading fashion magazines and fashion blogs. The characters turned into actual people, but you’ll see how my illustrations still focus on an outline sort of style. The pastel colors I now use came with my childhood – elements like Barbie were always around me.”
“I would spend my time doing illustrations of bloggers. I’d work on fashion blog banners and the like, until it finally became a career! Once, Jamie Chung reposted my art and it was amazing! Now, bloggers and magazines for work contact me.”
What applications do you use daily?
“I’m usually on Photoshop and rarely on Illustrator with my Bamboo tablet. It’s been with me for 8 years now. My dad gave it to me when I was in my third year high school and several years later it still works!”
Could you tell me about your creative process?
“On weekdays I work at an online fashion and beauty retailer as a graphic designer. On weekends, I’m on my bed or at cafes to work on my art. I start early! I’m usually up by five in the morning and asleep by ten at night. When it comes to my process, I start with the provided detailed description and pictures to be illustrated. I work from there, either translating it on paper traditionally or going directly on Photoshop. It takes me an hour and a half to two hours to finish. I’m not the type to do it tomorrow. I like working in one sitting. Sometimes I take time with drawing the hair. It’s my therapy and favorite thing to draw.”
“When I’m fighting creative block, I find myself on Pinterest for forced inspiration. If not, I check out Instagram accounts of my favorite illustrators like Pippa Mcmanus, David Downton, and Agata Wierzbicka. I also enjoy scrolling through local make-up artists’ accounts. I love seeing portraits or selfies from Robbie Pinera and Denise Ochoa’s feed.”
Do you ever draw yourself? In what way can you see yourself in your art?
“Draw myself? I never. I don’t know. I’d rather draw someone else. I’m not so expressive in my style, so my art is my outlet. I see a stylish bag or blogger and I’d gravitate towards drawing that! I love window-shopping and I work for an online fashion and beauty retail company so I’m up to date with trends, and that helps with my art. I’m just really interested in fashion. ”
This new year, what can we look forward to from your art?
“I want to try a new medium. I’ve been practicing watercolor. As for my current medium of choice, I’ll be trying to venture into new colors and patterns, maybe work more detail into the background of every portrait.”
I hope the next time I get to see Mawee, I’ll be sitting not in front of her but beside her instead while trying to learn from her work. I’ve got my eyes on her next workshop schedule, but for now I’ll have to do with my phone. If you wanna see more of her work, check her Instagram out at https://www.instagram.com/maweeborrs/.