Who’s That Girl: Paola Santos, Gianne Encarnacion, Faye Amante


April 28, 2020
Read Time: 5 minutes

These up-and-coming Filipina illustrators remark on the human experience through art



Creativity has played a crucial role amid trying times.


Community-driven challenges and projects have gone viral; online classes serve as an escape for many in self-isolation. It may be means to ease restlessness, entertain or remark on current events. For up-and-coming illustrators Paola Santos, Gianne Encarnacion and Faye Amante, it’s a healthy mix of these things. Through art, human connections are made, masses are educated and compassion materializes.


Get to know these young Filipinas and their take on creativity amid the pandemic.


RELATED: #IsolationCreation: Importance of Creativity Amid Difficult Times 


Paola Santos

W: Personally, what is the relevance of creativity amid difficult times?

This lockdown has been paralyzing and frustrating for all of us, and thankfully, I can still make art for others and myself. It’s my way of coping with the situation, keeping myself sane when all of this gets too overwhelming. Ideas can’t seem to find me sometimes, but I don’t pressure myself to come up with something unless it’s needed. I try to reclaim my energy by reading a lot and doing non-art related things.


For others, it can be therapeutic. They also have the opportunity to educate the masses through visuals and writing stories. Anything that would make us feel less alone. Another thing is being strategic and using our creative talents to help our countrymen.


We do what we can—to heal and be fully geared for what else is to come.


W: How would you describe your style when illustrating? Any elements uniquely yours?

Looking at my work, I don’t think I have a style yet but I’d like to think that it has a unifying theme which is the human experience. Bringing emotion and connection together.


W: Your recent illustrations seem to be a form of creative activism, a response to the government’s incompetence in handling current affairs. Care to elaborate?

We’re bombarded with bad news on the daily, and I can’t help but be angered and disheartened by some events that have transpired amid this pandemic. It’s okay to be hopeful. But to ignore the pressing issues encompassing us, then we need to check our privilege, and if we’re using it wisely. Now more than ever is the time to voice out against injustices and stand up for those people whose voices are being silenced.



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Gianne Encarnacion


W: Personally, what is the relevance of creativity amid difficult times?

Creativity is crucial during these times as they help us cope and stay connected. When you see a piece that you resonate with, there’s a surprising [feeling of relief] that comes with viewing it, because someone [is] able to capture what you were feeling. And if that piece [is] able to move hundreds and thousands of people, you kind of realize that you aren’t alone in this at all. It opens you up to the world and urges you to become more compassionate; it’s an “I hear and understand you” or “I’m here for you” moment.


W: How would you describe your style when illustrating? Any elements uniquely yours?

I’ve once been told that my works are “organized chaos,” and I’ve been owning that ever since! These center on emotion and connection, but I visualize them through the ornate. I’ve always loved ornate work and patterns, and I incorporate these with my love for grids and tiled work. Apart from these, I also like to combine my fascination with celestial iconography and flora (especially endemic Philippine flora), and I’ve always been up to the challenge of making everything meet in between. Once I find the midpoint, everything just flows and becomes really therapeutic.


W: Your recent illustrations highlight the importance of bayanihan during this pandemic. Can you talk more about this?

Thank you! It’s a reaction towards the pandemic situation in the Philippines. It’s infuriating to see how the government has been handling this pandemic, seeing them make one inefficient decision after another. These decisions are also at the expense of those who are disadvantaged, and it is painful to see them suffer while those with privilege, including myself, can get by comfortably. I wanted to send a message that we should extend our compassion and use our privilege to help out when we can during these times. We need to take care of each other.



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Faye Amante


W: Personally, what is the relevance of creativity amid difficult times?

For me, creativity serves a purpose of somehow entertaining and de-stressing people amidst the crisis. We also encourage others to participate in our cause using creativity. It helps them understand the gravity of the cause we’re trying to promote.


W: How would you describe your style when illustrating? Any elements uniquely yours?

Right now, my art is based on this type of style that I just seem to have fun developing. I try to be simple and straightforward as much as possible because I think more details just spoil the intention of my art. And that is to be spontaneous and humorous. When it comes to originality, I strongly believe that we really don’t or can’t own any element of art because it can come from anywhere. All we can do is do different interpretations of those elements.


W: I love how lighthearted, almost comedic, your illustrations are but still remark on current events. Is that intentional?

I, myself, enjoy humor, memes and whatnot. It’s important to me that my art reflects how I see the current situation. It’s really just a way of coping.



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RELATED: Who’s That Girl: Leila Alcasid 



Art Matthew Ian Fetalver

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