First generation Filipino-American artist and designer residing in Brooklyn, NY. His bold visual style is inspired by his three passion points: community, social justice, and highlighting the first-gen immigrant experience through self-expression. He took some time to share with us his work and what Support means to him.
As a BIPOC creative, what does “support” mean to you?
That’s a complicated question. For me, I can best describe it as the sense of psychological safety needed to be one’s whole self.
Who has supported you and why was it meaningful?
My parents. When they left the Philippines and came to this country that was the biggest sacrifice and the most significant moment of support they could have provided their future children.
What is a big challenge being a BIPOC creative in your industry?
Breaking past invisible barriers that prevent creatives of color from being true leaders in historically white, cis-gendered, heteronormative spaces. The solution is generational persistence and the creation of our own spaces. There’s a lot of work to do on so many fronts.
Any words of advice or encouragement to BIPOC creatives just starting out?
Curate your heroes wisely. And remember that you have all the tools.
What is your cultural heritage and how has it influenced your work?
I’m a first-generation Filipino American. And my heritage affects me immensely. For one, the mentality of hard work and an appreciation for the working class, and the visual energy and vibrancy that my Filipino ancestors have passed down through generations.
Why is BIPOC representation meaningful to you?
When I was coming up, it was meaningful when I saw people that looked like me stand up and display excellence. That can have a true impact on a person, and now I’m mindful of creating those same moments for the next generation.
Why is DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) important to you and your industry?
To be honest, it’s an imperfect term that’s a catch-all for a lot of bandage solves. That said, the notion of DEI at its core can help reset the figurative table that we’ve all silently agreed to for decades. Change the table, the front-of-house, the kitchen, the cooks, literally the whole thing.
Why are telling BIPOC stories important to you?
It’s important to acknowledge each other’s specialness, whether it comes passed down from our parents or discovered later in life. For a long time, we’ve made qualitative assessments of what’s “good” and “bad”, without asking ourselves where these standards are coming from. By sharing these stories, we’re widening the cultural aperture and sourcing the granite to build a new Pantheon.