This digital artist sees Manila through bitmaps and pixels

It’s easy to feel frustrated in Manila. 

The inglorious traffic, the suffocating pollution, the grungy streets—Manila really does have it all. But even with all the repulsive aspects of Manila, this city brings introspective sensations to those who stop to contemplate amid the fast-paced concrete jungle. Even with the presence of disarray in every corner, serenity can still be found in the most mundane spaces. Digital artist Paul Timothy Sabado proves this in his works, which depict the peaceful side of the metro by highlighting halcyon themes like solitude and rain.

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Paul’s works show us that envisioning art scenes could just be as simple as looking within his POV while walking along España. It could be from under the safety of an umbrella while stationed at a waiting shed during a torrential downpour. These kinds of mundane experiences drive Paul to create wistful artworks that stir up different emotions and memories.

We sat down with this 17-year-old senior high school student-slash-budding graphic artist from iAcademy to discuss how he captures the nostalgic essence of Manila in his pixel-based digital works.

Out of all art styles, why did you choose pixel art?
I chose pixel art because it’s currently a trend on the internet. I’m also this kid who loves to listen to chill lo-fi hip hop music. Every time I listen to them on YouTube, they usually come up with an animated pixel art depicting Asian culture that’s mostly Japanese and Chinese. [That’s the reason why] I decided to create my own animated pixel art showcasing my own country, the Philippines.

Who are your creative inspirations when creating your own art?
My artworks are mainly inspired by the works of Aeonix, WaneellaAtey Ghailan, and Kenze Wee.

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Why did you choose Manila as the central theme of your artworks? Are you planning to make pixel art about other places as well someday?

I chose Manila because it is where I live and I really find so many references and inspirations to set the mood for my artwork, especially when I commute and roam around the streets. Yes, I’m actually planning to portray Baguio City for my next series. I love the gloomy weather out there.

Dark tones, isolation, and rain seem to be prominent elements in your art when we scrolled through your feed on Instagram. Are these intentionally put for a certain message?

Probably, it’s what I want my audience to feel. Even though Manila is a populated place, there is always a time and a place to find peace and tranquility. I like setting the sad and rainy mood not for the negatives but for the chill vibe it gives my audiences.

As someone who has a knack for turning mundane views to potential art scenes, how would you describe Manila?
Basically, Manila is a very noisy and crowded place. But once you put your earphones on and play chill music, I envision a [relatable] mood that people would want to see but they can’t see in person. Manila is actually a beautiful place once you stare at people who are doing actually anything. It could be a reference for an aesthetic artwork because it really is relatable.

Will you be selling your art soon? When and where can we get it?
Yes! I will be selling my artworks in the upcoming February Komiket 2020. 

Do you see yourself expanding to other art styles in the future?

Yup, I’m actually an illustrator and I paint digitally. I’m currently doing projects for local artists and food companies where digital painting is needed. I will pursue digital painting soon since my dream really is to become part of Pixar Animation Studios.

Stay up to date with Paul’s creations on Instagram, Twitter, DeviantArt and Art Station at @sabadontt. 

This story is part of our #SeenOnScout series, which puts the spotlight on young creatives and their body of work. Paul and many other creatives shared their work at our own community hub at Scout Family and Friends. Join the Scout Family & Friends Facebook group right here, and share your work with us in the group or through using #SeenOnScout on Twitter and Instagram.

Interview by Cristina Palmares

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