THE name Edmar Tacogue Santiago may not ring a bell but a search of his works online can make one say: Why am I not hearing much buzz about this talent?

The portfolio of this 24-year old graphic designer and photographer based in Davao del Norte is shouting creativity and originality. A simple scroll over his works on his Facebook page: NTXT - short for Natu Xantino, his social media name - speaks volume of his personality and what kind of an artist he is.

His journey as an artist, for him, is more of a self-discovery: from doodling, to poster making, to costume designing, to fashion, to photography.

Photos for him are remembrances and reflections of who he was in a certain time. Art is what drives him to a meaningful life.

His photography and graphic designs, at a glance, are surely unconventional and avant-garde. But those are not products made out of the blue, it underwent artistic processes with him and his inspirations involved. From conceptualization to shooting to post processing – he acts as the stylist, designer, hair and makeup artist, props designer, set decorator, creative director, editor, and the photographer.

Sharing this interview with him:

As a photographer/artist, what is/are the principle/s you are living with?

Be happy, be original, be gritty.

I have depressive tendencies and photography is my way to be relieved off the stress of life. I don't do paid projects, yes, most of my projects are personal projects and funded with my own money because I don't want to be under pressure to get a wonderful series.

Social media is excruciating. The number of likes, followers, share, and comments may hinder your creativity. There's always a trend that you need to follow or else you'll be outdated and people may leave you, but not me. I don't care about likes or shares since originality is my utmost concern. I want my work to last a lifetime. I want my work not to follow a fad or trend that if they will lose popularity, the work will lose meaning. I want to share who I am as an artist and express my own vision. To do that, I don't need to carbon-copy other artist's work just to ensure my number of likes or shares.

There are many ups and downs of being an artist and if you're not gritty enough to handle the uneven roads you take, you'll lose your grip. As an artist, I admittedly always compare myself with other artists and it is really painful that it may leave you hanging and don't want to do photography anymore. But it is my passion so I always tell myself that I need to keep shooting for myself and not for others.

What problems in the photography industry do you want to put an end to?

I wish other aspiring photographers to shoot with narrative. A lot of people want to pursue photography because they want to shoot beautiful girls or to be just paid for the sake of it. Photography was invented to capture moments and eventually became a form of self-expression. Sadly now, it becomes the venue of superficiality. Most wannabe photographers today only care about their popularity in social media, and who's the hottest girl to shoot next.

What can you say to aspiring photographers who want to pursue their passion?

Be committed. A lot of ups and downs are along the way. Trust your aesthetics, if you think that people may dislike it, don't change it but IMPROVE it. Don't always look for inspirations in Pinterest or Tumblr. Inspirations are everywhere. It's up to you how you realize it into a breathtaking photo.

==

Natu now works as a graphic designer and product photographer at Pixelpartners, an Australia-based design agency. You can check his photos and works at Facebook: fb.com/ntxtportraits; Instagram: @natu_xantino; and his website ntxt.portfoliobox.net.