Imagine Ghibli, but with a Filipino touch.
Living in the moment is quite difficult for those always on the go. There are assignments to get done, books to read, Instagram photos to like. It took an illustration of a beautiful breakfast spread by Claude Aranza to make me stop in my tracks.
Young STAR: How different is your style then and now?
To be honest, I’m not quite sure how to describe my style yet. I still get surprised when people tell me I have one since I love experimenting with various ways of painting and drawing. When I first started, I was heavily influenced and confined by how ‘90s/’00s shoujo anime and manga look like. Characters would always have these big doll eyes, straight pointy nose, and cell-shaded rendering. Now, I like to work on more diverse illustrations of characters and I also use lots of textures with the way I paint now. I experiment with various styles from time to time but I guess the recurring characteristics for many of my works would be my love for details, textures and lighting.
Where do you take inspiration?
I usually get inspired by movies, music, food, things I see on Pinterest and Instagram and, of course, some experiences from life. Communicating with words has always been a challenge for me so those emotions and thoughts fuel many of my works. I’ve also been watching a lot of Ghibli movies lately because not only are their stories very interesting, their visuals are so beautiful I could cry every time I watch them.
Can you show us your top 3 favorite illustrations? What’s the story behind them?
“Sunny Side Up” (2018)
Food illustrations always excite me so this piece is definitely one of my works I enjoyed doing. I’ve also always wanted to finish a Ghibli-inspired background (after watching Howl’s Moving Castle) and I dream of one day being part of a team for an animated film. Finishing this piece inspired me more to reach that goal.
It was the summer of 2017, we lived in a house with just fans and very little wind within the humid Metro. It was unbearably hot that summer and I just wanted to keep myself from thinking about the heat. While melting, I remembered that the word banas could mean two things depending on the usage: humidity or irritation. I found that fascinating. Maybe the reason why people in our province use banas to express annoyance is because the intense heat could make one feel annoyed.
“Exploration 01” (2018)
I started this to practice painting backgrounds for a visual development portfolio I’m working on right now. I felt that something was missing so I added the kid and the tiny hut. It turned out well and inspired me to create a series of movie-like stills of a kid finding a friend in a little forest guardian. I’m still working on it right now but I’m hoping to finish it before the year ends.
What are you busy with now?
I was working at Rezonate, a motion-design production company, till last year, and had my illustrations appear on various online and TV media including I Hart Food on Food Network, Ford Foundation’s #InequalityIs campaign, CNN’s Inside Man season 4, Sprout House, NEDA’s Ambition Natin 2040 and Circles. Life’s explainer videos to name a few.
I’ve also had some editorial works published on Buzzfeed Philippines, Adobo magazine, Class A magazine and SM Shopmag. My works were part of last year’s Bloom Arts Festival and Ang Ilustrador ng Kabataan’s INKfest exhibits as well. Currently, I’m working with Adarna House for the Buribooks reviewer illustrations.
What’s next for you?
Right now I’m focusing on working on my portfolio in the hopes of finding a career in film animation. I’d love to work on background painting and illustration on films with the Ghibli-appeal and a touch of Filipino culture and history to it, so I’m working hard on improving my skills. There’s that renewed feeling of hope, motivation and joy I get from watching films like Kiki’s Delivery Service, Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle and Whisper of the Heart. I’d really like to be a part of a team working on films that’ll make Filipino kids feel like that and at the same time find characters they can identify with and see their culture being embraced.
You can find Claude’s art on her Instagram.