Art Fantastic: Interview with Tey Bartolome

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On April - 12 - 2010

There’s no better complement to a Spec Fic story than some good fantasy or science-fiction artwork. CG Pintor is an organization of Filipino digital painters, co-founded by Usok #1 cover artist Kevin Lapeña, and now and then we’ll do interviews with some of their members. Today we speak with Tey Bartolome (teygraphy on deviantart), who will be contributing a piece to a soon-to-be-released illustrated edition of Usok #1. In fact, let’s show you his take on “The Child Abandoned” by Yvette Tan:

Neat huh? So let’s learn a bit more about the artist behind the digital brush.

What’s the first thing you remember drawing (that wasn’t a requirement for school or anything)?

I used to be a big fan of Dragonball Z and the very first drawing I made was a stick drawing of Goku, way back when I was little.

How did you get started as an artist?

I’ve loved drawing since I was a kid. My parents used to give me crayons and coloring books. I gave so much time over to drawing that I forgot how to be like a normal kid. Instead, I’d develop my skills by doodling in my textbooks and notebooks–I’m still doing that now. When I was in school, I established a name for myself amongst my classmates and professors, who usually tapped me for activities that required drawing.

I had to stop drawing earlier in my college life because I was taking an engineering course instead of fine arts. Later on, I realized that I needed to pursue my dreams. I shifted to a multimedia-arts-related course and there I met my friends who helped me further build up my skills in drawing.

Right now I’m still in college and I’m happy that I have the time to pursue my art, either drawing or studying how to draw. When the mood hits me, I do quick sketches to apply the lessons as I’ve learned.

Were your parents supportive of your shift? Since your Dad is an engineer, didn’t he want you to follow in his footsteps?

Neither one of them was supportive at first, but I managed to explain my side. My Dad never really wanted me to take engineering though–he knew that I was very much in love with drawing. It’s just that when I was little, a lot of my Dad’s friends discouraged me from taking fine arts because they thought, and they in turn made me think, that I wouldn’t survive with just that degree–which is actually true if you’re not really into it.

When did you start creating works through digital painting? Was it difficult to make the transition?

That was about two years ago, if I remember it correctly. I started out using a mouse, which was a real pain–I actually had to take a break for a while because using the mouse was so difficult. Later on, I finally had the guts to ask my Dad for a Wacom tablet. Once I had that, it only took me a small amount of time before I was able to apply my traditional skills to drawing using a tablet–especially once I got a bigger tablet.

As an artist, what inspires you?
A good piece of artwork can put me in a drawing frenzy. Background music that fits the mood of a piece I’m doing can also help the artistic process.

Let’s say you’re doing an epic fantasy piece, what would you be listening to? What about a scene out in space?

For an epic fantasy, I would listen to something like the music from the Lord of the Rings soundtrack. That would really hit the mood! I’m not really sure about what to listen to for me to be in the mood for an outer space scene; I still have to find that out. :)
What do you consider to be the favorite subjects for your artwork?

The nude female form. :) Look, I’m not being lewd or anything, it’s just that I very much adore the unadorned female form.

How many hours in a day do you spend drawing/painting?

Two to three hours, although there are days when I have to cut the time short, because my eyes get weary if I stare at the monitor too long.

I noticed that you left deviantart before. What caused you to leave, if I may ask? And what brought you back?

Haha! I don’t want to go into personal issues, but I don’t think it would hurt to give you some idea…  I left deviantart several times in the past because I would get depressed whenever I would look at another artist’s work and think that I would never be able to draw as well as him or her. I’ve left deviantart, like, three times by now–but I don’t plan on leaving again. I’ve learned that I can just turn depression into inspiration to further develop my skills. It’s also harder to leave now that I’ve started accepting commissions.

(Besides, there are a couple of people who will kill me if I leave and change my username again.)

What’s the most important piece of art advice you’ve ever received?

Work smart, not hard. :)

If you could own five pieces of original artwork–paintings, comics pages, animation cells, anything at all–which five pieces would these be?

I’d want to have a miniature of Spolarium hanging on my wall. As for the other four pieces, I would like these to be masterpieces made by my girlfriend. :)

Is she an artist too?

Yes! She’s studying in UST and taking fine arts.

In five years, what do you hoped to have achieved, as an artist? Any dream projects, whether you’re already working on them or plan to in the future?

I really want to work with some great comic artists here in our country and probably do some cover artwork for them. I also want to have my own art studio just like Massive Black Inc. or Imaginary Friends Studios. I also want to teach digital painting and give guidance and awesome tips to the next generation of painters.

We’d like to thank Tey for taking the time to speak to us. You can find more of his work at his deviantart gallery.

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Rocket Kapre is an imprint of Eight Ray Sun Publishing Inc. (a new Philippine-based publisher), dedicated to bringing the very best of Philippine Speculative Fiction in English to a worldwide audience by means of digital distribution. More info can be found at our About section at the top of the page.