Get to know this skilled illustrator and watercolor artist whose works appear in the After Nine Keeper corner.
Hey Kessy: Who or what inspired you to get into drawing and painting?
Megan Diño: I’ve actually been drawing for as long as I can remember. My storybooks have doodles of people made with crayons and ballpens. I kind of took a break from drawing for years because my day job didn’t require me to do it. After getting hooked on the game Draw Something, I realized I missed drawing so I started rekindling the love first via the app Paper by 53 and then using traditional materials like pen and paper. I wanted to learn how to paint in watercolor, so I enrolled in basic watercolor classes, started investing in books, and practicing whenever I can.
HK: Why do you think you’re drawn to drawing/painting celebrities and people’s lips?
MD: Choosing celebrities and pop culture icons were out of convenience. I would browse through magazines when I was younger to look for references. It’s a habit I’ve acquired even when I source my references online.
It’s also my way of expressing my admiration/fandom/obsession. If I like something, like a movie, series, or a song, I’d probably draw a favorite character or a member of that band.
I’m also drawn to lips because I love just how expressive they are and how the emotions they convey are open for interpretation.
HK: From all your works, do you have a particular favorite?
MD: Hmm… There are several, but I guess it would be Jon Snow. I’m not a big fan of painting hair, but he’s known for having unruly locks so I had to do it and do it in detail. I actually may have spent more time doing the hair than his face and clothes combined.
Plus, the postcards of this painting have been a constant bestseller, so yay! (I’ll be restocking at the After Nine Keeper section soon!)
HK: Do you have any special watercolor tricks to share? What do you love most and least about watercolor?
MD: Probably the best tip I can share is to get values education: learning the lightness or darkness of a color so your painting has dimension and has a focal point. What I do is I constantly sketch in pencil or sometimes I paint using a single color (usually Indigo or Payne’s Grey). This technique really helped me a lot and can be applicable to any subject, whether it’s a portrait, landscape, or still life.
What I love least about watercolor is that you have to act fast and you have to plan your painting because water dries quickly. And while this makes the medium challenging, this also is the same reason why I love it: I love the effects produced by water and paint.
HK: Who, what, and where do you draw inspiration for your art?
MD: I draw ideas and inspiration from stuff that I love, so most of the time it’s a song, series, movie, fashion/beauty editorials, concert photos, funny/punny things I find in the Internet, or sometimes even food! I guess that’s what I learned from my day job: inspiration is everywhere and can be anything! This is also the reason why I carry a physical notebook or use my phone’s Notes app—to record these random ideas for future use.
I have a lot of favorite artists, but I’ve been totally inspired by @nickvrunge’s watercolor portraits. His works inspire me to practice and to practice some more. Constant favorites include @daviddownton, @martinejohanna, @henriettaharris, @natillustration, and @the_hula.
HK: Do you draw/paint when you’re on the go? Do you bring around a small art kit or art materials inside your bag?
MD: Yes! I always carry a pen and a notebook with me because I live in constant fear of being marooned somewhere with nothing to do! Apart from serving as an anti-boredom device, this means I can practice anytime, anywhere and record a moment or idea through drawing.
When my workload’s a bit light, I bring my pencil case, brushes, and watercolor so I can paint in the office. I’m also teaching myself to paint plein air so when I’m out of town I also bring these with me.
HK: What’s the best advice you’ve gotten about pursuing your art? And what’s a tip you can pass on to other artists and crafters?
MD: I have two that I always keep in mind. First is from my father who’s a classical guitarist by profession: “The moment you believe that you’re the best is the moment you stop learning.” Because when you stop learning, even if you’re the best, you’re actually setting yourself up for mediocrity.
Second is “Show up.” I’m not sure who said it first, but it’s awesome advice for anyone who wants to pursue arts and be a creative professional. You won’t always be in the mood, you won’t always get it the first time, you’ll make mistakes, and not everyone will love what you do, but keep doing it anyway.
Oh, and at times I feel doubtful about what I do or Impostor Syndrome pays me a visit, I tell myself, “Love yourself like Kanye loves Kanye.” You have to believe in your work and others will follow suit.
HK: Do you have a favorite Hey Kessy store item?
MD: The washi tapes and recently, the watercolor pads! I use the washi tapes to line my paper. I love that there are lots of designs plus they are very affordably priced.
I love that Hey Kessy carries these small watercolor pads that you can take anywhere. Since they’re affordable and work pretty well, hindi ka manghihinayang and you won’t be intimidated to use it for your creations. I actually have one in my office desk so I can paint during breaks.
HK: You have a full-time job, right? Can you talk about the demands of your work and how you manage to squeeze in time for your art?
MD: I work as a copywriter/scriptwriter for a corporate events agency. My 9-to-5 sometimes becomes 9-to-forever: long hours, work on weekends, and days with little or no sleep are normal. What I’ve learned is I have make time even if I don’t have time.
I actually have a prompt on my phone, reminding me to “drop everything and draw” at 11pm. I feel that my day’s complete if I’m able to tick that off my daily to-do list even if it’s just a simple sketch done before I sleep; I have a pencil and sketchbook bedside.
I always have art materials on hand (a pen and paper at the very least) so I can draw during breaks. Sometimes I’ll wake up extra early to paint, especially if I’m working on commissioned portraits/illustrations or artwork I plan to sell. I also spend a huge chunk of my weekend drawing, which makes me saner come Monday.
HK: How does it feel to be a part of the After Nine Keeper roster in Hey Kessy? Is there anyone from the other contributors who you’d like to meet or collaborate with?
MD: My reaction upon receiving the invite to be part of After Nine Keeper was “O. M. G. OMG. OMG!!!” in Impact 72. This was just a what-if in the back of my head whenever I see postcards and prints sold in bookstores. Pangarap kong jackpot, if I may. So thank you guys for giving me the opportunity to make the jump and to sell my stuff in a physical store for the first time. I haven’t met all the contributors, but yes, I’m game to collaborate with all of them someday.
HK: What are your future projects? Do you have any upcoming exhibits/shows?
MD: I’ll be busy with commissioned illustrations as well as new merchandise in time for the holidays. I also love Train to Busan and Stranger Things, and I’m still reeling from the glory that was Game of Thrones Season 6 so watch out for new stuff that will pop up in my After Nine Keeper in the future!