How did you get started making books?
When I was young, I enjoyed reading short stories, comic strips and playing adventure games. I was inspired to create my own stories from leftover papers that I found. I started drawing and stapling the pages together, and that’s how I made my first book.
I also enjoyed writing my own stories using this old typewriter we had lying around. It made a satisfying sound every time I pressed a key!
Have you been drawing all your life?
When I turned into an adult, I had forgotten to draw because of responsibilities and work. Only recently I had been inspired to get back into writing and illustrating. By then, I had forgotten everything and had to learn how to do it all over again. It meant lots of practice, mistakes, and studying other artists.
Did you go to art school?
Nope! I’m self-taught. Art school is costly, and I was already too old and too busy with life to return to school. So I used my superpowers of observance, copying, and learning from mistakes. If you’re inspired and motivated enough, there’s very little you cannot accomplish.
When and where were you born?
December 15th – I am originally from Quezon City, Philippines. I stayed there until I was 17, when my entire family jumped on a plane and moved to the U.S. I live in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Are you writing and illustrating all the time?
I’m a Sagittarius, so I like doing many things! Writing and illustrating are things I enjoy doing for fun. During the day, I go to a regular office and work as a Chief Technology Officer (I help people and computers work in harmony).
What’s your favorite color?
Currently, it’s orange. Sometimes it’s purple. I went through a brown phase.
Were you really a beekeeper?
Yes. And I was also a chicken herder, turkey wrangler, and duck rancher. These happened when I was much younger back in the Philippines. We had so many animals that our neighbors started stealing them for food! Unfortunately, when the river behind our house overflowed, it destroyed the bee hives.
Did you really race cars?
I drifted and raced cars for fun. I started the organization Vegasdrift, which focused on bringing drifting away from the streets and into the track.
What kind of video games do you play?
I like puzzle games and adventure games.
How many books or projects have you created?
I’ve probably written or illustrated over 40+ different books and comics. I’ve created for myself and others, so it’s challenging to keep track of everything over the years. I stopped counting a long time ago!
Were you good at school?
I was a good student because I was scared of my parents and teachers! Growing up in the Philippines, the adults were strict and would not think twice about punishing you if you did not live up to their expectations. Gah! But academically, I was pretty average, and I sucked in math!
Once, I pretended I was smart, but I couldn’t fake it. Physics was fun; it was math with a story, so that made sense.
What’s your favorite thing about being an author/illustrator?
I love that I get to turn ideas (something that did not exist before) into something we can see and feel. I enjoy the process, even though sometimes the result might not be what I expected.
Who are your favorite authors or illustrators?
It’s hard to pick because there are so many! It depends on the time of day and how I’m feeling. Sometimes I’m inspired by scary things; sometimes, I enjoy weird or funny things.
And this is probably why my art changes all the time as well. Maybe I enjoy them all, and it just depends on which day you ask.
How long does it take to finish a book?
It can take from a year to never-fifty! The time it takes depends on the project. Working on comic books can be something that could take a month, while working on a graphic novel could take a couple of years or more. Since I have a day job, I work on my books in my free time. Most of my creative time is spent early or late in the evening.
Where do you find inspiration?
Most inspiration is from my childhood memories, moments, and experiences.
What should kids do if they want to write or illustrate their own stories?
Start now! Don’t stop!
If you want to write, carry a notebook. Write snippets from conversations. Write funny jokes you share with friends or moments that resonate with you. These moments of truth will become important in the stories you write.
If you want to draw, keep practicing. If I didn’t stop drawing, I would be one hundred times better than I am today! So carry a sketchbook and draw. Watch youtube videos from other artists and learn from them.