He took me back to how Ariel was chosen for our first Discovery Issue. It’s amazing how conceptual art photographers get that ability to juxtapose reality and fantasy in a single photograph. It’s like taking our eyes in a ride that’s about to dwell with the photographer’s point-of-view, his own interpretation of reality, making sure that every shot is a love child of creative visual art and genuine passion. Coming across Mike’s photo blog is like entering a theme park, a wonderland, a mecca of photographs in fine manipulations, illusions, leaving me at awe.
This month, for our annual Art Issue, we got Jan Michael Alegado to talk about art, photography, and his dark sick personality.
How often do you work on a conceptual art?
As much as possible every day!
You are your own photographer right? What is the beauty in it?
At first when I started with photography I didn’t have any models to work with so it’s really hard to ask people to practice with especially if I want to practice every day. When I found that people have started out taking self portraits to practice and have improved greatly on the technical stuff as well as artistry, I took an initiative to start my own project. Being my own model has its own advantages as I can go out on my own to shoot and it’s really convenient. But there are also some limitations to it when it comes to planning concepts as a piece would require a female subject.
Most memorable shoot you had.
There are so many I don’t even know which one. But there is this one time when I traveled to South Korea and went to a place called Taejongdae Park in Busan, it’s a small mountain they turned into a park and it was located at a coast with cliffs so high it’s scary. I went down the cliffs to the beach and while I was going down the scenery was breath-taking and I just wanted to stay there the entire day! Of course given my tight schedule there I could only stay for the day. That is where I shot the photo “amidst the chaos” Where these huge waves would come crashing to the rocks and it felt like it would devour me alive if I get too close. Luckily enough though it only got me wet shoes and socks.
I see most of your works are of dark, twisted and avant garde. What is your inspiration on coming up with these concepts?
Sometimes it just comes naturally really and I have no idea where it comes from. But I really like taking on themes that are dark and somewhat disturbing. Maybe I have some dark sick personality sleeping inside my conscious mind that just seeps right out whenever I think of concepts. It’s funny really because my personality is so cheerful and always making people happy is probably what I would think of myself and whenever someone says bad things about me I would just brood about it for so long and feel uncomfortable that would make me feel sad for a long time. Inspiration for these works may have also come from my experiences through life.
What camera are you using?
I shoot with a Nikon D90 and a 50mm 1.8d. I shoot mostly in natural light and with the 50mm I am able to shoot even at low light situations.
When did your knack for photography and editing started?
Probably around April last year, I was amazed by how other photographers made beautiful imagery with editing and I wanted to challenge myself on how much I can do. With a lot of experiments and mistakes I have learned a lot from it and really was able to hone my skills.
Let’s talk about tumblr. When and how did you discover tumblr?
Actually, I didn’t have a tumblr when I started with photography. It was only when I was halfway that I then decided to make an account and also put my stuff on here. But what I didn’t know was that there were also so many artists and photographers in tumblr that had astonishing work and I just found myself browsing through post after post.
You had an exhibit of your works…tell us something about it.
Oh! I am so glad that you mentioned it! I am currently on a group exhibit now in Bar Dolci at Fort Bonifacio. It was a contest held by Bar Dolci to promote photography in the Philippines and also showcase emerging photographers.
Soon there will be another exhibit somewhere between late March or April and one of my photos and several other photographers will be featured there. Anyone reading this that is interested in meeting me or is interested in seeing the exhibit, just like my Facebook page and I would post the details to it soon.
Do you have this one concept in mind that you really want to work on and is stocked in your head for a long time? What is it?
I do! I have a lot of them but it’s still in the planning stages or I still don’t have the resources to achieve them. I can’t say what those concepts are because if I do then I would lose it, right? But I can say that it involves a lot of props.
How do you define art?
Art is very diverse, it is everywhere we go and it is part of our everyday lives even though we take it for granted and don’t really notice it but it’s there. For me, art is something that invokes the mind. It makes us think and wonder, feel emotions and be curious.
Artists you look up to and why?
For painters, I love the work of Salvador Dali and René Magritte. The thought of surrealism is really refreshing for me because it gives another way of seeing the world and as a photographer it inspires me to create worlds in my vision. As for Modern photographers I would say Tim Walker, Brooke Shaden, Miss Aniela, Alex Stoddard. I love how they create stories in photos in just a single frame and the way they work through it is really inspirational.
5 things we don’t know about you.
1. Stayed in South Korea for a month and flights were paid for by Korean Cultural Center as part of their program.
2. I was a student of Mapua studying Computer Engineering for about a year but dropped out due to financial difficulties.
3. If you don’t know already but I’m completely self-taught. Going to workshops is just a luxury that I can’t afford.
4. Fluent (well almost) in Korean and Japanese.
5. I am introvert, so I don’t take the initiative to talk to people. But if you see me wandering around looking for good locations, say hi and I might say hi back.
Words you live by.
This is a quote brought up by the amazing Brooke Shaden and I feel that it resonates with me the most.
I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.
More than the motion picture itself, the cast, the director, all the labels and production house that brings a movie to life, a huge part of the promotion also goes to the poster. The theatrical movie poster is like the one-stop summary of the entire film. It is how the people behind the project puts all element in one visualization. In this rare interview, 24-year old photographer and graphic designer Justin Besana talks about the industry that chiseled his love for graphic design, the law of attraction, movie posters, movie posters and movie posters.
Since you’re not from tumblr, why don’t you introduce yourself haha.
I’m Justin Besana, 24. I took Bachelor of Advertising at the Far Eastern University. And yes, I survived the whirlwinds of college life four years ago! Basically, I do graphic design for a living. I call myself as a “design kid” for I do lot of cluttered stuff just like a child’s imagination and hunger for knowledge- the creative freedom. I’m obsessed with color blue and I love photography. One thing most of the people don’t know about me is that I do concerts; concert when I take a bath. I learned from my professor in physics that the ceramic in CR resonates our voice and thus makes my voice sound good. I’m holding onto that idea until now. (haha!) I also write story concepts and essays, but I’m not a pro.
I’m just fascinated with words and how it forms a thought or a story. Food is my ultimate weakness and my stress quencher. At some point, that made me think of trying culinary but just as Chef Gusteaus’s, “anyone can cook”. Well, I’m still in the process of sorting the things that I hate and I like. So for now, I’m just enjoying the circus.
What was that turning point in your life that made you decide to enter the movie industry, the business of movie posters?
Ever since, I’m a big fan of Pixar and DreamWorks movies, as well as their posters. They are fancy and smile-provoking images. To be honest, I never imagined myself being in the movie industry that easily. I presumed being a cum laude would passport me to get a job in an ad agency. Heck no, it was just a wild idea. I used to be this timid guy, who always has this speech balloon with cluttered words and finds it hard to translate those words, verbally. Consequently, I joined various design conferences including Cinexpo. CINEXPO is a film symposium organized by Star Cinema and SM Cinemas. From there I was really moved by Direk Olivia “Inang” Lamasan’s humble and inspiring story, I’m a fan! Afterwards, there was Sir Roxy Liquigan. He presented the process of promoting movies that includes the development of movie posters. Their talk made me realize that this is related to my course and I want to work in ABS-CBN. Now, I have a goal. Without further ado, I followed the law of attraction. I started adding promo staffs on facebook, followed them on twitter and instagram. I read forums and watch local movies. Until Kuya Jayson Sarmiento (Thanks to him), a schoolmate from college messaged me on Facebook. He then asked me if I could do a study of Vice Ganda’s hit movie, Praybeyt Benjamin. So, I did and it was approved! Law of Attraction worked!
How long have you been doing this? Was it something you’ve mastered since college, a hobby?
I’ve been doing this for quite some time now, more than two years already. My first project was Praybeyt Benjamin’s solo poster.
In college, we focused more on the traditional design rather than the digital so we need extra effort to Google tutorials, learn and be in line with the design trends of today. It came to a point that I consumed my free time liquifying my sibling’s photos, experimenting colors and making it photo finish. Back then,I used to imitate album covers and posters just to learn various techniques. It’s part of the process of learning, which turned out to be so engaging.
Was it all you’ve ever wanted to do? What is your dream job?
Actually no, even when I was in college I questioned myself if this is for me, if I’m on the right track. I really wanted nursing and marketing over advertising, which was only my third choice. Since I already started this course, I pursued advertising/design and it was something I acquired, learned and still in the process of honing. Maybe unconsciously, this is really what my heart desires. Besides, I can apply science and marketing in graphic design. I do some sort of cosmetic surgery in Photoshop, which I think is part of my self-taught masters degree (haha!). Also, doing movie posters is a visual form of marketing. So, it’s just how I make my frustrations be my drive to expand my experience and knowledge in the chosen field.
You’re working on two of the country’s biggest film productions, how was it? How do you handle your work schedule?
Working with Star Cinema and Regal Films that easily is something I didn’t see coming. More than the honor of working with the industry leaders, it’s overwhelming to be able to be entrusted with projects that would cater to the development of the movie industry and be part of the audiences’ lives. I just think each movie represents a part of us, so being just a tiny cell of its team made me enter their lives. Also, I’m getting the privilege of learning how things roll in both film outfits and it’s something I always look forward to. With every project I handle, I put my heart and life on it; “Taya kung taya” at “Buwis buhay”. I strive hard to dedicate fair amount of time and effort to both film outfits. No project is too small to be taken for granted.
Hardest part of your job.
Stress. Sounds familiar, right? Usually I have these different kinds of stress that I experience whenever I do key art designs. Stress eating, I must say occupies the 40% of my “stress pie chart”. In terms of design, the hardest part is how I compress the 2-hour long story in just a single image without compromising its aesthetics. Plus, the image should not just only be a display but should encourage the audience to buy tickets.
Best thing about your job.
It’s the influence and simple smiles. I didn’t imagine how design could be life-changing not just for me but also for those who got the chance to see my work. I receive messages from random people thanking and complimenting me for doing the posters and for inspiring them; Or, by merely just a hint of a smile :-) emoticon, it’s the kind of fulfillment that’s so priceless. Every project gives me the opportunity to put my design DNA. So, I encourage myself not to make movie posters, instead, make artworks.
What was your very first project with Star Cinema? What movie? How did it turn out?
My first project was Praybeyt Benjamin. I did the mini poster or the solo poster of Vice Ganda. It was well received by the audience. Some even told me the concept and execution was very “DreamWorks”. I was thrilled when we presented the study to Vice ganda before the pictorial he uttered, “o ayan na pala, pwede na yang poster.”
Ok, we’ve already talked about this, your top three favorite Star Cinema movie posters that you made, and why?
1. Corazon: Ang Unang Awang (tied with Unofficially Yours)
As a beginner, it was hard to topple Unofficially Yours, and having a follow-up project was a big test for me. To be honest, it was the easiest among all the posters I did, until now. I’m still fascinated on how I was able to capture love, frustration, and horror in one image. It’s a milestone in my life as a designer where I had to put my style aside and try something different.
2. Unofficially Yours (tied with Corazon)
Great feedbacks left and right made me realize that maybe I was called for something bigger than my ambition. I’m not as good as everyone else in the industry but I worked hard for it, delivered with my utmost artistry and it was all worth it!
3. The Mistress
Hands down! It is an Olivia M. Lamasan Film. The simplicity of the poster still stuns me. The passionate image, movement, lines and daring palette are just breathtaking.
Almost all of Star Cinema’s movie posters were displayed on the wall of its office. That one poster (you didn’t make) that you love in terms of the layout.
“In the Name of Love” Poster clearly got my attention. It has all the feels! But move the feels aside, “My Only U” poster is the most creative in terms of layout.
Take us to the process. How do you work on a movie poster? Are you present in the shoot? Do you get to choose the photos to be used? Do you have pegs?
First, I come up with studies or “pegs”. It’s actually the hardest part because more than the visual narrative, the design will set the attitude of the whole campaign. There are 3 types of studies; what I want, what my client wants and a mix of both. Then the management decides on what design to pursue. Afterwards, we push through with the pictorial. During pictorials, as the artist/art director, I should take note of the lighting, poses, emotion, orientation, make-up and wardrobe. Everything must go hand in hand. When the shoot is done, we choose the best shots, compose it in Photoshop, and have it approved by the management. We do variations in terms of color, poses, layout and fonts. It enables the team to have a visual idea on what’s best for the theme of the film. There are projects, like for regal, that I decide almost everything, especially the art direction and just have it approved by my bosses there. I also had several projects that require production photos or screen grabs as materials. Mostly, indie movies and restored classic films. The main challenge with that is how I innovate, preserve its distinct quality and let it communicate in such a way that the design must complement well with the given material and story.
Best Hollywood movie poster.
I must say Dark knight (Why so serious), Inception, 127 hours, Black Swan, Perfume, The Gamer, Source Code are the standouts. From the recent ones, I’ll go with Fault in our Stars and Maleficent.
Where can we check your designs and projects out? (website)
I do have a small hub online, it’s www.justinbesana.com. It contains most of my projects, which represent me a lot as an artist. I also have few writings there and my SNS details. Enjoy!
STATE OF MADNESS
Back when i was on sixth grade, I joined a poster making contest in celebration of the Jubilee Year. We were inside a church where kids from different schools were gathered for the competition that allows grade schoolers to let out their creativity in a poster that will depict how Filipino families celebrate the wonderful celebration for the love of God. I have no idea what to draw so there i was at the altar staring at the giant canvas of Jesus Christ and I copied it, put some glow marks, my family at the bottom part, happy faces, doves, and doodles i can’t recall. next thing I knew, I was on my way home, holding my very first trophy as winner of a poser-making contest. From there, I was recognized by my mentors and that’s how I get to join these press conferences for student journalists. Yeah, my ticket to joining school publications. Creativity comes in many forms, sizes, aspect, persona. Imagination is something that each one of us has, distinctly. Your interpretation of a rock or a cloud can be very different with my interpretation.
For our third Art Issue, we feature a Conceptual Fine Art Portrait Photographer whose passion for creative photography is just as gargantuan as his vision of altering ordinary photographs into an element of illusion and manipulation. This month, you’ll get to know more about our cover artist for our annual Art Issue, Mike Alegado.
And just to tease you with his amazing works, here’s “Dance of the Wind Spirits”
Something to look forward also this month is our annual Dashboard Art Exhibit, where we feature artworks (from paintings, digital/graphic designs, vexel art, doodle, photographs etc.) submitted by our tumblr artists. Also on highlight this month is Miyazaki’s return to Oscar’s with The Wind Rises. Its edge among Best Animated Movie including Frozen. We also have Star Cinema’s Mr. Justin Besana and his love for the art of making movie posters on two of the biggest film productions in the country. All that and more, including Cruzinemag and the 24th national Arts Month in this issue that will pay honor to all our resident tumblr artists. We give you our February Issue!
“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” --Eleanor Roosevelt
This serves as the official Tumblr account for the online magazine Tumblr Magazine Philippines, also known as TMPH. Operated by a group of Filipino microbloggers headed by Editor-In-Chief, Dexter Balita (dexternews) and seconded by Associate Editor, Pael Balbaboco (raphaelandthemachine), this magazine caters different articles of different topics as according to the assigned theme for every issue.
Every month, TMPH releases its cover with a specific theme like art, body, travel, food, barkada, entertainment, books, literary, fashion, lifestyle, design, humor, photography, sports, politics, etc.
JULY 2011 - The Maiden Issue
AUGUST 2011 - The Art Issue
SEPTEMBER 2011 - The Body Issue I
SEPTEMBER 2011 - The Body Issue II
OCTOBER 2011 - The Travel Issue
NOVEMBER 2011 - The Barkada Issue
DECEMBER 2011 - The Holiday Issue
JANUARY 2012 - The Power Issue
FEBRUARY 2012 - The Green Issue I
FEBRUARY 2012 - The Green Issue II
MARCH 2012 - The Fashion Issue
APRIL 2012 - The Discovery Issue
MAY 2012 - The Style and Design Issue
JUNE 2012 - The Pop Cult Issue
JULY 2012 - The 1st Anniversary Issue (1)
JULY 2012 - The 1st Anniversary Issue (2)
JULY 2012 - The 1st Anniversary Issue (3)
AUGUST 2012 - The Rivalry Issue
SEPTEMBER 2012 - The Music Issue
OCTOBER 2012 - The Alpha Male Issue
NOVEMBER 2012 - The Femme Fatale Issue
DECEMBER 2012 - The Dark Issue
JANUARY 2013 - The Power Issue
FEBRUARY 2013 - The Art Issue
MARCH 2013 - The Fashion Issue
APRIL 2013 - The Literary Issue
MAY 2013 - The Photo Issue
JUNE 2013 - The Pop Cult Issue
JULY 2013 - The 2nd Anniversary Issue
AUGUST 2013 - The Food Issue
SEPTEMBER 2013 - The Music Issue
OCTOBER 2013 - The Discovery Issue
NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2013 - The Year-End Issue
JANUARY 2013 - The Power Issue
LETTER TO THE EDITOR Submission