Artists & Makers
Hey Kessy Chats with Summer Puertollano
Posted July 11, 2017
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Get to know this all-around artist who’s into photography, soap making, tie-dyeing, and making the world a better place with the things she creates.

How did you get into arts and crafts? Can you share your favorite stories as a child?

I’ve always been into making and tinkering with things as a child. Growing up, I lived a pretty sheltered life. Our parents wouldn’t spoil us by buying everything we wanted, so I created my own toys and altered clothes to my liking. I used my imagination a lot and collected pretty things. When I think of something, I try to find what materials are available around me and I try making or inventing them by myself.

My mother told me that I picked a lot of flowers. Some I would give to her, others I would keep and press between the pages of a book. I still press flowers and leaves. I find that they are nature’s art—meant to be preserved, somehow.

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What is your favorite medium and why do you consider it as such? 

This is difficult for me to answer because I do not exactly think that what I am doing is considered art. I used to do photography and a little bit of installation art where I would use wood, dead flowers, dried up leaves, driftwood, and sticks. I thought those were enough as an expression of who I am as an artist. Then I learned soap making and I’ve been tie-dyeing and tweaking my garments since way back in high school.

I find that my creations from these are expressions of me. I am proud of them and I love them. Simply put, I work with mixed media. I love my raw materials because they aid me into making something that is mindful of people and nature.

How did you get into travel photography?

My mother subscribed to The National Geographic monthly magazine during the ’90s. I would spend my afternoons flipping through pages and cutting out the pictures I liked (I actually still have the cutouts!). When I look through them, I realize that I was drawn to the ocean, mountains, and communities ever since I was young.

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What would you say is the most vibrant or interesting place you’ve visited?

It’s really hard to say which place was most vibrant and interesting, but from the top of my head I would say it’s the country of Turkey. I love their culture, the colors, and how the city is so alive. It has so much history.

How did you get into making soaps? 

My journey into making soaps started when I decided to change my way of living. I decided to respect Mother Earth and honor my own body by stopping the use of chemically processed “beauty bars.” I joined BodyFood All Natural’s Cold Processed Soap Workshop, and since then, I’ve been using only natural soap.
DIY Soap

DIY Soap

How about tie-dyeing bikinis?

Tie-dyeing swimwear began when a certain brand sent me a white suit, but when I tried it on, it was a little see-through. I decided to dye it into a darker color so I could wear it comfortably. Friends started asking me to dye their suits too, until I eventually collaborated with two swimwear brands for their tie-dye collections.

Tie Dye Bikini

Tie Dye Bikini

How do you marry your surfer philosophy with the things you create?

I learn to love and care for the earth more and more as I continue the surf and travel lifestyle. It keeps teaching me how to appreciate the little things, and it taught me how to live simply. Because of what I learn from the lifestyle, the things I create become earth-aware. When I make my art, I ask myself questions like: “Will this send a good or bad message?” Or “If they have my product, will it end up polluting the ocean?” And “Will my product harm people or benefit them?”

Where do you get inspiration for your work?

I get inspired by nature, the natural, and life events (as simple as a memory of making a new friend). Sometimes, I get inspired by a song.

On your website, you said: “Follow your fixations. That most likely is your art.” How did you come to that realization?

I’m lucky enough to remember the things I got fixated on when I was growing up. The things, thoughts, experiences, and art I got drawn to back then are somehow still evident now.

I ignored the thought that they could somehow be my art because they have always been around. For a long time, I thought they were going to be photos I saved from the Internet, songs I downloaded, pieces of textile I saved, or shells I picked up and kept in a jar.

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What are your upcoming plans or projects?

Right now, I’m developing my brand (Para Sa Diwa) and making it grow. I plan to keep making handcrafted natural soaps and skincare products, then eventually go back tie-dyeing (this time using natural dyes that can be found in leaves, petals, and root crops). I’m also doing research and development for sustainable fashion so I can eventually launch some locally made garments.

I’m also still in the process of moving my life (completely) to the island. There I will be launching another passion project, which will involve art, coffee, and community.

What kind of imprint do you want to leave the Philippine art scene?

I really want to be able to inspire and encourage Filipinos to be proud of and to seek local crafts. In the Philippine art scene, I want to be among those who will leave a mark proving there is beauty and power in the careful work of the hands. That by being involved, the maker shares a fragment of their soul into the craft, which then becomes a soulful work of art. Lastly, I also want to inspire people to slow down and dream again. Amidst the chaos of the fast-paced life, I would want people to learn and appreciate the simple things, like sipping tea and writing in a journal.

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Follow Summer on Instagram. ♡

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