Artists & Makers
Hey Kessy Chats with Soleil Ignacio
Posted February 21, 2017
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Learn more about this talented illustrator by delving into her art origins, creative pursuits, and life-changing experiences!

Could you share your first art-related memory?
I loved The Little Mermaid back then. (Okay, maybe a little addicted. Haha!) I remember I was drawing Ariel every day, in school and at home!

What’s your favorite medium and why?
Nothing fancy, just pencils and using watercolor for texture. I just got used to it. I like that I can make my work look polished and rough at the same time with pencil.

Who inspired or pushed you into pursuing art?
I didn’t really think of being an illustrator before going to college. I was supposed to take up Interior Design in UST (just because I loved The Sims), but my mom pushed me thankfully) to take up Visual Communication in UP Diliman instead.

In your blog, you mentioned becoming a self-employed illustrator back in 2011. What factors did you consider before taking the leap?
Before I quit, I made sure I have and will have enough projects to keep me alive. I didn’t want to go freelance just because I felt like it and I couldn’t afford that anyway!

What lessons have you learned along the way?
I learned that working for yourself is one of the most challenging things. You manage literally everything. Also, not that I regret my decision, but one thing I learned is that applying for another company wouldn’t hurt as well. It’s all about gaining more experience!

You have a strong brand identity. How do you stay true to your style when you collaborate with brands?
When I was starting out, I admit I’ve accepted some projects that didn’t really suit my brand or my style. I thought of it as something to pay the bills. But after a few of those, I really got tired and just hated the work and the process. From then on, I made sure to take on projects where I can express my own style as well as the clients’ directions. You have to let your clients understand that it’s a collaborative work and we’re not just robots that execute orders.

On my website and Instagram account, I make sure I curate my posts and just share work that I want to be doing. As artists, brand identity is a very important thing as it will help us stand out from others. When potential clients see your identity, they will most likely come to you to produce that same style.

What is the most difficult thing about building your own creative brand?
Like I said above, you have to manage everything! It’s not all drawing/I-love-what-I-do. In reality, it’s 70% admin/marketing work and 30% creative work unless you have lots of money to pay someone else to do all the nitty-gritty things. Haha!

Who are your dream collaborations and why?
I have a lot! One of them is with Barbie. I just loved Barbie as a kid! I know we all did.

Can you talk about your NYC experience?
Oh godddd New York. I love NYC and I miss it sooo bad. It changed my life and my perspective in life, I think. After I came back, I got a bit depressed honestly. Anyway, NYC was so much fun, crazy, and scary. I was there for almost four months so I had to learn to be independent. It was good that Kris Abrigo was with me for the first month, so I got to adjust gradually.

The one thing I probably learned is to just put yourself out there. For example, don’t hesitate to talk to people in events! Here in the Philippines, we’re a very cliquish country and we all hate small talk. But there, they’re very open to talking to anyone. I’m uncomfortable talking to people I don’t know, so I was really forced out of my comfort zone. Through that experience, I got to meet a lot of amazing people, and eventually got invited to visit the Instagram/Facebook and Etsy HQs!

The thing I regret would be not staying longer. Haha! I want to come back because the environment is just different. Everyone is working so hard and it just rubs off on you. You feel inspired all the time, like you can achieve whatever you want.

If you could talk to your younger self, what three pieces of advice would you give her?
Don’t be shy and talk to people. Stop overthinking! Trust yourself.

What’s next for you?
I don’t know yet! I’m planning something huge and possibly life-changing this year, but it all depends if the Universe decides to grant it to me! Fingers crossed!

Photos courtesy of Soleil Ignacio

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