Feels good to be home.
There are certain works of art that immediately transport you to the time when you first saw or heard it. You know, that same wave of nauseating nostalgia that reminds you that things are impermanent. This is the exact feeling that Daniel Tingcungco’s illustrations give off, and cleverly preserves.
Have you always been interested in illustration? How did your passion start?
I’ve been drawing [for] as [long] as I can remember, inspired by a lot of cartoons and books I’ve read. Manga and anime were also major influences to my style during high school and college. When I graduated and started working, it was a way for me to cope with stress. And of course, quarter-life crisis hit me then, and it was through illustration that I found myself and my path. My illustrator friends were also key people who helped me and cheered me on.
I’m more confident with my works than before, I’m still on that path and continually evolving my style into something I can truly identify with. These experiences have made me [think of] illustration as more that just a hobby, but a lifelong commitment with myself.
We noticed that you do a lot of landscape/cityscape illustrations. What made you decide to focus on those?
People and food are always my favorite subjects to draw. However, I decided to expand my comfort zone by facing my weakness — drawing backgrounds, cityscapes and landscapes. I was inspired by Hiroshige’s “100 Famous Views of Edo”, and I decided, how about “100 views of Manila”? It played around my head during my travel to Japan last year, also after encountering illustrated Japanese vintage matchboxes from a museum. With this, I want people to see Metro Manila through a different lens and appreciate it the same way we admire a lot of beautiful places overseas.
Can you show us your top three favorite illustrations and tell us what they mean to you?
This is tough since I like a lot them. But since I have to, they’d be:
Golden ramen cloud, 2016
As I love noodles in general, particularly ramen, this is my ode to the fascinating feeling every time I’m about to enjoy a bowl.
No. 005 – Afternoon jazz at M Cafe, 2018
This is part of my current personal project, “100 views of Manila.” I was passing by one weekend along the walkway near Ayala Museum and heard a jazz band play. I watched them from above and just took in the wonderful atmosphere of perfect weather and music.
Swing cassette (Inspired by Damon Albarn’s “Lonely Press Play”), 2014
One of my early works for another personal project, “Single Record Project,” which was a way for me to practice illustration and thinking as I imagine creating my own personal album covers for songs I listen to. I have a lot of favorites in this series, but this is one of the memorable ones.
What are you busy with now?
I’m an art director for an advertising agency by day. During the night and weekends, I focus on my illustration, either working on several commissioned projects and personal ones such as “100 views of Manila.”
What do you want other people to feel just by looking at your work?
Joyful. It’s a stressful world we live in, and I hope my illustrations remind people that it’s still a beautiful world.
You have a very distinct style. Do you have any tips for aspiring artists when it comes to finding theirs?
Be inspired by everyday life, by the people and places around you, by your emotions and feelings, by music and art. You never know what can inspire you. It’s alright to emulate various techniques and styles derived from your favorite artists and illustrators, but at a certain point you’ll have to stop comparing yourself and eventually develop your own. But this can only happen when you keep drawing everyday, no matter what. Be committed to it as your style only evolves with constant practice. Whatever you’re drawing now can only and definitely improve in the future. Should you eventually “achieve” your personal style, you must still continue to draw, to experiment and to evolve.
Chuck Close said it best: “Inspiration is for amateurs. Most of us just show up and get to work.”
Check out more of Daniel’s work on Instagram.