Usually defined as an unsanctioned art, Street art is probably the closest an individual can get to a definition of art, besides the usual visits to museums and galleries. This growing trend that once started with just a kid writing his nickname around the streets of New York City in the early 70’s, has now become a powerful platform for artists which utilizes public space.
Unusual places have now become a spotlight of art locations in the Philippines, specifically graffiti artworks. Hailing from Manila, Kookoo is a full time art student and regular graffiti artist whose works are blazoned on the streets of España, Intramuros, and sometimes, right at the top of an abandoned building. Her love for painting and spray cans became tools in making her amazingly shaded distinct, pop, and trendy creations. Her sexy and curvaceous girl characters have decorated many places – making visual art more accessible to the public eye.
For street artists like Kookoo, the world is their canvas.
When did you begin doing graffiti and for how long did you continue?
I started doing graffiti in 2009 and until now. I just had to take a break from it right now because I am busy working on my thesis project.
Where did you paint your first piece?
I painted my first piece somewhere in Cainta, Rizal, Metro Manila
How would you describe your style?
I don’t really know how to describe my style. I always do colourful pin-up girls and female portraits. Probably you’ll know my piece by how I illustrate my characters (with the eyes, lips, hair, body, colours, and rendering). I love to experiment, but still maintain a trademark at the same time.
What are your thoughts about the current graffiti scene in Manila?
It’s interesting, growing and moving.
Have you done any commercial works, and if possible, would you be up for it?
I’ve done some for restaurants, clothing shops and events. But one of my major commercial projects was for “San Miguel Flavoured Beer” graffiti advertisement with my crew mates (Egg Fiasco, Jood, Vermonyo, Pisi). It’s a graffiti standee placed in Eastwood and in Nevada Square, Baguio City.
When writing graffiti, do you always try to keep your identity as anonymous as possible?
Which graffiti crews have you been involved with over the years?
Pilipinas Street Plan (PSP)
Have you had any crazy moments while outdoor painting? Have you ever been caught?
I haven’t…yet! I mostly do legal street art, so basically I don’t get caught or chased by the cops. Although, twice, I’ve tried doing illegal pieces during the day. It’s as though I am painting casually, as if I am doing it legally (laughs). The first, I did it alone (2010), and then the next one I did with my friends (2011). Both was during a Pacquiao game, where everyone’s busy watching the boxing match.
How did you develop such good technical painting and drawing skills? What can the rest of us do to sharpen our own?
Ever since I was a kid, I already loved drawing and sketching. I think a lot of practice will help. Well, it’s cliché but it’s true. For me, the more you repeat what you do; eventually you develop your style. Read books and do not be afraid to experiment along the way.
What other media do you work on besides spray paint? How do you feel about using airbrushes?
I love line art by only using pencil and uni-pin on a clean sheet of paper. And, I enjoy using oil paint too! I love it when I work and end up with messy hands (and painted clothes). I would want to try airbrush painting. I’m actually curious how artists use it –I’m totally clueless! I’m up for it if someone offers me to try one.
Have you ever displayed your work in galleries, and if so, is there any exhibition which stands out from all the rest?
Yes, I have displayed my works in galleries during group shows/exhibit, but I haven’t really had my solo exhibition yet. To name some galleries – Vinyl on Vinyl at The Collective Makati, Blanc Gallery at Shaw Blvd, SDA Building College of Saint Benilde and the Cultural Center of the Philippines.
What are you working currently on and what plans do you have for the future?
I am currently working on my thesis. It’s under the category of Photography. It’s titled ‘Barbara: Women have choices’ – A women-empowerment campaign through fashion photography. Wherein, I’m featuring the modern Filipino career-women. In the future, I want to be a career-woman too. I want to try working in an agency, yet still continue doing what I love to do – painting!
Keep track of the latest from Kookoo here.
- Kristina Carillo