MOST artists do their art mainly for self-expression, but this Dabawenya digital artist goes beyond that.
Amanda "Mandy" Pantoja uses her craft and passion for art to promote Mindanao’s culture and arts.
One of her latest artworks featuring Mindanao is a doodle portrait of a Bagobo woman holding a cup of native coffee.
“It was actually a commissioned piece for a friend in the US who wants to help me get my art out there, and we wanted to showcase Filipino Culture and Arts. I proposed to do Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. I made portraits for Luzon and Visayas, but I did the Mindanao one first,” she shared.
More than being a Mindanaoan herself, Pantoja added that she prioritized Mindanao because she personally believes people need to know the tribes in the area more.
“We have been belittled for so long, especially the tribes. Belittled for how we talk and for the morena skin, and making us feel more insecure by these whitening products being sold commercially. It needs to stop. I have fair skin because my lolo was a Japanese, but I don’t mind getting a tan or having darker skin. I envy morenas,” the 32-year-old creative underscored.
'The Future is Female'
Scrolling through her Instagram art account (@amandapantojadoodles), it is impossible to not notice that most of her artworks are about women, love and food.
This is mainly because she draws inspiration from women/girls, landscapes, still life/daily routines, and even food and beverages.
“I’m a woman -- I am all for ‘The Future is Female.’ Whoever and whatever skin color, shape and size she may be, she will always be beautiful,” Pantoja said.
Love for digital arts
As a Bachelor of Fine Arts-Fashion Design and Marketing graduate, Pantoja started her career as a fashion designer. But she, later on, pursued being an artist and stylist.
“I realized that I should not limit my love for art on clothes, but I can also draw and decorate and be a prop stylist for a set or conceptualize a look for another designer’s clothing collection. I still love clothes and making/designing them, but right now, I love being an artist more,” she said.
She loves doing digital artworks now because the possibilities are endless. She shared there’s a lot one can do with digital platforms whether doodling, art commissions for portraits, greeting cards, calligraphy, even a simple animation.
“With digital art, I can work on sketches/digital paintings anytime, and I can leave it anytime when I need to tend to my other works and my family. Especially now that Covid-19 has happened, doing digital art makes it easier for my clients to receive their portraits, and have them printed,” the artist-mother of two (soon to be three) shared.
Dealing with naysayers
Pantoja believes that no matter how good you are in what you do, people will always have something to say.
“I think every designer/artist will have this experience whether we like it or not. It was one of the most unpleasant feelings I’ve ever felt and I wanted to shrink. The worst part is, comparing myself to other artists/designers and their works. Insecurity can eat you up,” she said.
But Pantoja has learned to focus on making art and improving her skills.
“It’s a choice. Nobody can decide or feel for you. It takes courage and discipline. Love what you do or do what you love doing. I decided to just keep making art. It’s not easy and I haven’t perfected it. I still get insecure, but I am learning to just appreciate others and stop comparing what I do or what I make with theirs,” she said.
Moving forward, Pantoja dreams of owning a small gallery or studio with a coffee shop, or just a lifestyle shop that houses her art and clothes.
To the young and aspiring artists, Pantoja has one solid piece of advice: Art doesn’t start in school. Art starts with you.
One can check Pantoja’s artworks and styles check @amandapantojadoodles and @amandadavaoph.