A quick interview with Alanis Avenilla, resident Filipino architect student with a big passion for collages. She’s founded a creative community and freely admits the one thing she’s worst at is swimming. Find her on instagram, where she shares dreamy mixes of colours and prints and odd shots of an aesthetic life. She captured my imagination – let her take over yours.
Tell me a bit about yourself and your background.
I’m an 18-year old architecture student from the Philippines. I want to do so many things my life can’t accommodate — engineering, architecture, science, art, fashion design, graphic design, photography, song writing, curating … the list goes on. It makes me sad sometimes, but it fuels me too — must keep creating because time’s ticking!
How did you first get into art?
I started drawing pretty decent loose lines filled with oil pastels when I was 3 years old. Although my school then was really small, our art classes had so many projects and activities that introduced me to different toddler-friendly art forms. As early as 6 years old, I already knew I wanted to take up a double degree in Fine Arts and Conservatory of Music (which didn’t exist, and still doesn’t).
What’s involved in your creative process?
I strongly believe in collaborative work and in the fusion of the traditional and the digital. Plus, I’m all about challenging a particular medium or particular mixed media — painting watercolor on black paper, making digital illustrations without a drawing tablet, shooting with a broken or unmounted lens, painting acrylic on tracing paper, and the possibilities go on. My style is often brought about and is heavily influenced by the way I challenge a medium.
What inspires you?
Everything. I tend to put two or more things together like art and poetry or art and music — a collaboration between mediums of some sort. Boredom also inspires me to create a lot. When I’m busy working on projects, I don’t really get the proper headspace for creative ideas — so downtime and slow afternoons can spark creative ideas!
What form do you usually create in? ie. digitally, on paper …?
I create both traditionally and digitally, but the thing I love the most is fusing both the traditional and the digital together! I take my sketchbook doodles and turn them into digital art or even collages.
How do you overcome creative blocks?
I take a break, or focus on a different project or creating something else. Working on the same things can get sickening. Fresh ideas, inspiration boards, and even playlists can help!
What’s the hardest part about creating art?
I guess the hardest part is being satisfied with your outcome or determining when you’re going to stop — whether a piece is already done or not. Sometimes, it can be a risk to continue finding ways to improve an artwork because you can end up ruining it.
Do you see the influence of other artists in your work?
I actually don’t think so. I would normally admire an artist because he/she can create something I can’t execute or I wouldn’t have ever thought of. Because of this, the artists I look up to serve as inspirations but do not necessarily influence or reflect on my works.
What inspired your Eggnog series? (pictured above)
I’ve done collages since I was little but I only realized its potential as an art form last year. I started making digital collages last summer (2016), with different prompts for each month. My eggnog series was a product of midnight boredom and wanting to edit some travel photos. I was editing some photos from our holiday but I couldn’t seem to capture Baguio/Pangasinan/La Union in one photo, with all its beauty. So I experimented — cut and pasted some together and it kind of just happened. The solid-colored circles in the collages are supposed to be suns, also reminiscent of Eggnog biscuits.
What is your dream project?
Before my time’s up in this lifetime, I hope to publish a book. It could be about anything — architecture, illustration, life; but surely it’ll somehow be about art! I hope this book will last longer than my life so I could reach people even beyond my time. Oh, I can only imagine!
Obviously, you kick butt at art. But what are you bad at?
I am still growing in terms of art, and I’m bad at a lot of things — swimming, any form of physical sport, dancing, public speaking, and keeping my room organized!
What makes you angry?
I don’t get angry easily, but don’t try me. In general, I get angry at people who don’t care — those who don’t appreciate effort, who only care about themselves, and so on.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
“Love people and use things because the opposite never works.”
— from “Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things”
We’re all somehow guilty of trying to find happiness in our accumulation of things to that point that we neglect the important people in our lives, our health, our relationship, and all the important things. I’m personally guilty of this and its an advice I wish I could apply in my life everyday.
“Don’t let your schooling get in the way of your education.”
— Mark Twain
That’s another piece of advice I really live by. Learning from school isn’t enough, especially for architecture students like me. Most often than not, you’ll find yourself learning more through experiences beyond your classes — symposia, field trips, site visits, and non-school projects!
What are your dreams/plans for the future? Do they involve your art in any way?
I dream to inspire a lot more people, especially in making them realize that lack of equipment can’t stop you from creating. Art is definitely involved in my future, everyday. I just couldn’t escape it. For a while I was telling myself I was going to take a break from art because it’s been taking a toll on me, but I just can’t stop creating! I plan to finish architecture school first, then hopefully form a small art-related business. I don’t really want to cage my future in detailed plans so I’ll just welcome whatever opportunities life brings me!
How many people have you met who have changed your life?
I think every single person I meet changes my life somehow. However, there’s this particular small group of creative friends that gave me so much life — three I initially met online, while two have been precious bestfriends — Sergi, Esto, Cheska, Tin, and Julian. I asked them to start a collaborative community with me called Let’s Grow Together.
They’ve become my constant team for support and collaboration. Every single person who joined the community I formed also warms my heart so much.
Sergi deserves a special mention. He changed my life the most by being the first listener of my rough recordings, the only person I used to send my artworks to, and my home away from home! Without him, I wouldn’t have shown my work to anyone.
What exactly is let’s grow together?
Let’s Grow Together started as a concept in July 2016 for a collage I made. I then entered a chalk art piece with “Let’s Grow Together” as the concept in Wanderland, got to the finals, and redid the piece in their live art battle. After that live art battle in November, I envisioned a collaborative community. I then had this sudden urge to just make it happen!!! So, I became the change I wanted to see in the art scene.
I did what I could do. I asked some of my favourite art humans to be a part of my team. November 13, 2016 — I drafted a spiel I would send to them. I put up a site for all our collaborative works, a Facebook page, a Facebook community, and a Instagram account for it. We didn’t have an exact date for the launch but it was in January 2017.
Our community now has 90 members! We have a slambook spreadsheet for us to get to know each other in an organized manner — it can also serve as an org info sheet of some sort! We also started calling it LGT for short. It warms my heart so much whenever I see shy artists share their works in our thread, whenever members who only met through LGT collaborate among themselves, and whenever each one would give out tips and answers to others’ art problems!