We teamed up with Bratpack to celebrate these five student-artists and their small victories

Pursuing your passion is hard, but pursuing your passion while being a student is even harder. Not only do you have to work hard to get yourself and your work out there, but you also have to think about your next exam or finish that paper that’s already 12 minutes past due. I mean.

And then there’s just life in general. Waking up early, being disciplined enough to #SayNoToFOMO, staying away from toxic people (and things!); even making your bed every morning can be a struggle. But here’s the thing: even if you just get one or some of these things done in a day, you turn a struggle into a small victory. And that’s what Bratpack’s #BratpackUniversity is about, celebrating getting over these everyday speed bumps. Because before you know it, you’ve got a stack of wins on your side and you’ll be too blessed to be stressed.

We talked to five up-and-coming artists about their work, how they balance this all out, and getting that gold on the Olympics of the everyday. Because if they can do it, so can you.

Sofia Abrogar, musician and graphic designer

I’ve been training as a classical vocalist for most of my musical life, so skills development-wise at least, that’s where my heart really is. I’m also in an alt pop band called Any Name’s Okay; it’s always really fun to write with my bandmates and perform at all sorts of gigs.

My creative process is pretty all over the place; I don’t exactly have a step-by-step checklist I like to use when I write music. That’s both to my advantage and sometimes to a fault. The whole “creative chaos” mentality has encouraged me to explore with the way I write, sing and compose melodies.

I don’t think there was a singular moment that sparked my love for visual art, but one thing I’ve loved since forever and still do love today is animation. I think that’s where my taste for visual art is rooted.

(Before a school year starts), I always try to take myself out on a date. Whether it’s to go watch a movie, to go out on a school supplies spree, to plan the following year out, or to just have coffee and read a book alone, I’ve learned to value my time with myself.

Managing time for me is really all about knowing what’s important to you and standing firm by those decisions. It’s taking care of myself. It’s knowing when to cancel a gig to study for an exam, or to sacrifice a few hours of sleep to finish a design in time for a deadline.

A tiny but mighty achievement for me is being able to keep my grades up despite gigs and different org projects. Personally, I try not to give too much importance to academic awards, but I’m really glad I was able to show my parents that I’m still taking my education seriously and that I’m grateful for all these opportunities that I’m privileged to have.

Jea Gaviña, illustrator

I started drawing before I learned how to read. My lola was a teacher so she always had a lot of pens and scratch papers to let me draw with. Drawing was like an RPG where I get to come up with my own stories, locations, and characters. It was really fun and it kept me busy while my lola or parents looked after me.

I work with different media when it comes to making art: some days I wanna paint, some days I wanna make digital illustrations. Some days I’d even consider becoming a photographer or filmmaker; (but)  at the end of the day, no matter the medium I use, I just want to be able to tell a good story through my art.

One of my favorite things about being an artist is the people I get to be surrounded with. Being a part of the creative community exposes me to a lot of fellow artists who are really cool and inspiring.

I think being an art student makes it easier for me to pursue art and get good grades at the same time. School comes first, of course, but I know that there are a lot of things to learn outside of the classroom. That’s why I always make sure I put in equal time and effort for both.

I buy cute notebooks and art supplies (to prepare for a new school year). I usually end up not using half of what I buy but I just can’t help it every time a new school year is about to start. I also get a haircut.

One of my biggest achievements is holding a position in the UP Music Circle’s executive committee all while getting to make music of my own. (On the other hand), learning to be proud of myself is a small victory that has made a big impact on myself and my work. Looking back at where I started and where I am now motivates me to keep going forward.

Miguel Tarrosa, photographer

I was a freshman in high school when I started with photography. My parents bought a new camera right before a family trip and I played with it right away. I took photos of literally everything — grass, my mom’s hair clip, my feet. I enjoyed it too much. It was actually supposed to be a family camera, but I was the only one using it!

My work focuses mostly on street photography, music photography, and photojournalism. I don’t think I have like a specific creative process, though getting inspired by different artists and art helps me keep my creative juices flowing. Photographers like Robert Doisneau, Vivian Maier, JL Javier, Karen dela Fuente, Ta-ku, and of course my friends will always be a source of inspiration for me.

Before a new school year starts, I decide on what organization(s) I plan to join for the year. I always apply as a photographer because I get to meet fellow creatives. Also, all orgs have different processes and styles in documenting events. It’s kind of a way for me to try different styles of photography.

A really significant milestone for me would have to be being able to document Mark Redito’s workshop with Cosmic Sonic Arts last year. I have been a fan (when he was still known as Spazzkid) since high school and the whole thing was just surreal.

A small victory that I think really changed how I do photography now was fully understanding the camera that I use. Being aware of its features and its limitations is important for me to sort of work around those parameters and adapt it to my own style of shooting.

Being a photographer has given me a lot of opportunities to meet creative individuals whether in photography or other fields of art like music, fashion, or filmmaking. And because of that, I get inspiration from different kinds of people. That’s actually my favorite thing about it—being a part of a community that’s always supportive and constantly inspiring me to try new things.

Sam Bumanlag, illustrator

I’ve always had a soft spot for fashion. There was even a point in my life where I actually considered to be a fashion stylist one day. That past dream is kind of put into good use with the way I integrate my personal style into all my illustrations. I love dressing up my characters in clothing that I would randomly find in online shops on Instagram; sometimes I would use my actual clothes as reference.

Growing up in a family where our love for art is somewhat naturally ingrained in us, it doesn’t really surprise me that I was able to find my spark from the moment when I first learned how to hold a pencil. And the way my parents encouraged me to pursue my own passion, it really molded me into the person I am today.

As someone who is not exactly great at expressing herself through words, I love the fact that I’m able to create a visual language that helps me translate my concepts and ideas into works of art.

I get mixed feelings just before another school year starts. It’s a combination of dread and excitement. I’d usually combat my nerves with last minute activities that I would want to do with my friends and family.

What I try to do (to balance work and school) is consider the date when it’s needed and how heavy the workload is so that I know which plate or commission I should prioritize. On hectic weeks, I like to time myself. I’d allot maybe 30-40 minutes of my time to one project, and then I would shift to another one so that by the end of the day, I would’ve at least made progress with the things I needed to do.

My biggest achievement would probably be the Wanderartist 2018 title that I won back in 2017. It was the defining moment that really jumpstarted my career into what it is today. On the other hand, a small victory to me was the time when I realized that failure is truly part of success. I learned it the hard way that no amount of success can be earned without a few bumps in the road.

Rik James Zantua, Carlo Cabato, Paolo Malong, and Derrick Chan of Sofa Sky, musicians

We started jamming and hanging out around October 2016. We only started gigging in May 2017, opening for Lola Amour’s EP Launch. Carlo and Rik James had a band called Awtsudon before, formed while applying for their music organization, The UP Music Circle. The pair recruited Derrick, their classmate in summer Calculus and Rik James’ coursemate, to play bass. Our current drummer, Paolo, is also part of The UP Music Circle.

When we write songs, we usually draw them from personal experiences. For our premiere album “Good Evening, Good Night”, we tried to write songs around the theme of going out at night — from nights out with friends, to dates with loved ones, and even drinking alone on your bedroom floor. We like to say that we sing the songs of youth — of being young, drunk, and in love.

Carlo: One thing I usually do before the school year starts is to go out with friends or watch a gig. It really helps just going out and having fun before school starts.

Rik James: I like buying new stuff (to start off a school year). I’d go for a National Bookstore run for my school supplies and a Uniqlo run for some new fits. I also try to meal prep and plan my schedule. Of course, it’s back to the normal messy life after a week (laughs).

Derrick: I try my best to return to a normal human’s circadian rhythm so I don’t wake up as a zombie when school hits. Goodbye 2 a.m. to 11 a.m. sleeping time!

Paolo: I try to squeeze every bit of free time left before the sem starts. May it be completing a video game or binging a series or completing a personal project.

(We balance everything through) prioritization, communication, and calendaring. We have a group chat to talk about our different commitments, and even have a shared calendar to input our non-negotiable events or dates (like exams, presentations, paper deadlines, or family commitments). We then try our best to schedule our rehearsals and gigs around those events, or at least as much as possible try to adjust to it.

A big milestone for the band was us playing three nights for UP Fair this year. As freshmen, we’d always joke around about playing in UP Fair and we never really thought it would come true, and three nights at that. Small victories for us are doing well in our exams, especially after a night of gigging and drinking!

Bags, DBTK shirts, and Polaroid cameras courtesy of Bratpack
Photos by Kitkat Pajaro
Produced by Maine Manalansan
Styled by Neal P. Corpus
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