01 October 2015

A Discussion With. Egg Fiasco

Interview by Marvin Conanan & photos by Andrei Suleik

In the growing awareness for Street Art, it seems quite interesting to get a glimpse of how it is currently doing and how it was like before. With the quick rise to online fame of the "Why" guy and the recent Mural Festival at Bonifacio Global City, it is safe to say that we are now in a period where Street Art is more acceptable in the Philippines than ever. And we are as intrigued as you are about this trend, so we reached out to Egg Fiasco to talk about it. Egg is a rising Filipino Street Artist that started painting in the streets, most of it illegally, who has recently become a sought-after artist through his gallery works and commissioned indoor & outdoor murals. His history with the Philippine Street Art scene might not be from a pioneer's point of view, but his journey within that culture is very significant to be worth all our time. Our conversation with Egg Fiasco tackles in detail how the development of the culture affected him and how he deals with it. Plus some more about his story towards finding and pursuing his passion for art.

Can you share with us how "Egg Fiasco" came about?
It all started in college, when me and my friends were all frustrated and insecure with art. Most especially because there weren't enough venues for young artists. To have your own show in galleries, you needed to have awards or at least be well known in the scene. This was also the time when graffiti/street art was introduced to us by a Malaysian street artist. He explained to us the culture behind it, which made us interested in the fact that it will let us express ourselves without too much restrictions. It was a little risky but it was also exciting as we were all young and kind of rebellious at the time. So since we decided to pursue street art, we felt the need to come up with a code/street name to hide our true identities. It was in 2006 when I chose the name "Egg" as my street name. It was generally influenced by how my classmates would call me. Instead of "Greg" one of my classmates would call me "Geg" because he can't seem to pronounce my name properly, and from there it developed to eventually become "Egg". For a while I stuck with that until I got into graffiti art where the focus was letters. Because of it I felt like I won't be able to do much with my street name at the moment for such genre of street art, so this was when I decided to change it. Then as I was in the process of thinking of a new name, I heard the word "Fiasco" from the movie Elizabethtown, and it intrigued me. Though the meaning of the word in the movie was negative, I still decided to use it and attach it to my current name, "Egg", a name that I felt had a positive vibe and is a good fit to my lettering style. Then soon I realized that what I created is kind of a yin yang effect with my street name, which I really liked.

When did art become a part of your life? Have you been into it since you were young?
I think it started when I was young, I remember being amazed by illustrations in newspapers and books. Even the ones in clinics, like charts and drawings were entertaining for me. I would always try to copy and draw them even though I would fail most of the time because I wasn't really good at it then. In addition, I also liked assembling things like broken electronics and toys. These were all done unconsciously, but I guess this was when art started to be a part of my life even without formal training as a kid.

Did you pursue an art education? Would you recommend young aspiring artists to have formal education?
I worked part time to assist animators when I was in high school, where I would help them clean their sketches. It somehow started my formal training since there were some people who were teaching me new skills and knowledge about art. This was also the reason why I decided to take Fine Arts major in Advertising in college. I chose Advertising because you know how parents can be skeptical about Fine Arts, always asking "magkakapera ka ba diyan?" (will you earn from there?). So I chose it because it was inclined to the marketing and the corporate world. But when I got into my 2nd year in the course I learned to dislike the philosophy of advertising, it was the total opposite of the art that I liked. It was focused on consumerism and that didn't really suit my interest, which is why I didn't get to finish it.

However, I would recommend aspiring artists to pursue at least the first 2 years of art education. I realized just recently that the 2 years in college that I spent was very important, it gave me the fundamentals and sort of guidelines for starters. It showed me the purpose of what I am doing and why it is important to me. So for the most part, I recommend learning the fundamentals and the culture first and foremost. Then after those 2 years, I noticed that the professors are just giving us obstacles which slightly confused us. So I personally feel like if I moved into doing art right after my 2nd year, I would've been more advanced because the process of school kind of delayed me. I have classmates who graduated on time but didn't know what to do after school. I didn't want to experience that, which led to my own dilemma of, if I finish college I would depend on it or if I don't, it would mean I need to work harder and give my greatest effort since I don't have a diploma. So I chose the latter and worked my ass off instead. I did all the things that I liked which helped me grow as an artist, I became a tattoo artist, did graffiti, and a lot more.

Who are you influences for your art and in life in general?
A lot! But I can say that the ones who really influenced me are my co-artists, the ones who I worked and grew with, my friends at PSP. I remember being only concerned about our group that time, I just wanted them to be proud of what I'm doing. Pilipinas Street Plan is founded by Boy Agimat, a community of photographers, street artists and professors who are passionate about street and urban lifestyle. Then there was KST also, they were more about letter styles and graffiti. Those two groups were composed of the people who influenced me directly. Nowadays I'm also inspired by other creatives, those who create things, concepts and ideas like businessmen, photographers, directors, etc. I'm amazed by how they can make something great out of just their imaginations, I would want to do that and be a part of it too. I don't aim to be the number 1 artist out there or even a celebrity artist, all I want is to be a part of a movement and to be able to help positively change the community. I also want to give back through sharing the same excitement I had for art to the young aspiring artists.

What are the significant changes in your life from when you were just starting as an artist to being an established one?
With regards to my personality, I think it changed a lot. I'm now more focused and serious with what I'm doing, and I value time more. Graffiti taught me to be patient and to treat my works more lightly than before. I feel like when an artist gives too much importance and value to one of their works, it makes it harder for them to move on and somehow grow. There are no permanent works in graffiti, we could paint today and have our works removed by tomorrow. It taught me to accept that what I create is temporary and that motivated me to just paint new works every time, which then helped me grow and improve.

In addition, I think being able to travel has helped me grow as a person too. It widened my knowledge and perspective about life and different cultures. My travels brought me out of my comfort zone and helped me explore more.

Can you describe your art, do you think you've established a certain style?
For now I don't think I have my own style yet, even though some people would say that I do. I personally think I'm still in the process of experimenting and exploring. What I really do now is, I mix and assemble all the styles that I'm interested in to create what I want. This satisfies my current state as an artist. As of now I'm still in the melting pot, no definite style yet in my opinion. And I think I don't want to limit myself to one style too, like how some of my artist friends became frustrated because they struggled due to the restrictions of theirs.

But with regards to my current works, I use color so much because using only black and white is such a struggle for me. Somehow it's a weakness, but I take it as a challenge. I actually feel envious of artists who can use black and white and produce great works, but it also fuels me to work on it to get to that "next level".

How do you think is the Philippine graffiti culture doing nowadays?
There are pros and cons, it was a little more exciting before since not a lot really understand it and the rejection from certain groups made it more interesting. However, in those days there were no financial support, all the things that we were doing would come from our own pockets. So there were external and financial restrictions, but the struggle made it both fulfilling and challenging. Today when more people are already accepting it, and there are more channels and opportunities to do what we love, the downfall lies in slowly losing the genuine spirit and essence of graffiti culture. Though personally since I've experienced both worlds, I translate the excitement that I felt in the earlier days, to passion for my current craft and skills as an artist. 

How do you think the internet and social media affected you as a whole?
It helped me a lot, because all the information that I need is there. I got to learn more through YouTube videos, interviews, websites and blogs. It also helped me be informed with what's happening in the global community, be it art or something else. We have to embrace the fact that we are all connected now because of the internet, and it means that we should be more open to it. Some people say "Oh, kailangan Pinoy yung style mo" (your style should be Pinoy), but personally, I really can't say what Pinoy really is nowadays. We should keep up with the times, and be real to accept that things changed and are changing. However, even though we accept the changes, we should still always recognize that we are Filipinos, and with whatever we do, we bring that with us.

As for social media, I can't deny that it helped me a lot too. Frankly, what I really want to achieve is to be able do my art worldwide, so social media and the internet is essential somehow. Seeing my friends from other countries keep on working for their art, makes me a little competitive. It gets annoying sometimes when people say, "Oh grabe Egg sikat ka ah, dami mong likes. Daming followers." (You have so much likes and followers, you're really famous) I would say to them "Nakita mo ba yung followers ng mga artists sa ibang bansa? Mas marami pa sa mga followers ng artista dito." (Have you seen the following of other artists outside the Philippines? They have more followers than some celebrities here.) Since Street Art has just been introduced in the country, we need to work harder. That's why the internet is important for me, it makes the world a little smaller and reachable. People from Korea, Hong Kong etc., have discovered me because of it. Internet and social media is already there, we can't really do anything about it anymore, so the best way is to just take advantage of it.

What are the things you want to do in the future?
There are quite a lot of things that I would want to do actually, but one of the things I would really want is to be able to create installations. It frustrates me sometimes because creating an installation is kind of expensive, but I've started with some small ones recently. I just hope I'll be given a chance to do one soon, big installations and also murals. 


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