About the artist
In our latest artist interview, we meet Michael Vincent Manalo. Michael was born in Manila in the Philippines. Since 2011, he has travelled to many parts of the world, where he has had artist residencies, exhibitions and other art-related work. He settled in Taiwan in 2016, where he still lives. Michael’s artwork style revolves around surrealism, magical realism, pop-surrealism and conceptual.
How did you first get into digital art?
I started working with digital art in 2009. At the time, I couldn’t afford to buy a DSLR camera but discovered that I was able to create images without a camera using photo-manipulation. As I learned more about photo editing, I realised I could do so much more. When I got my first DSLR, I was into photography, but my thirst for creating composite images was already far greater.
Why did you choose digital art as your medium?
I chose digital art because I was poor and didn’t want to get my hands dirty! Seriously, though, I chose digital art because for me it was the most accessible medium. When I first started in 2009, I only had an old camera and an old PC. I tried to combine images using Photoshop because I couldn’t paint that well. After that, I learned how to paint but I still choose to work in digital art.
Which artistic styles are you particularly drawn to?
Surrealism, Conceptual, Magic Realism, Pop surrealism.
Tell us about the process you use to make your art.
When I started with photo-manipulation, I would begin by thinking of a concept by looking at a photo. My thoughts would go to a wild part of my head, imagining what could be happening in the image. I would sketch the concept out on paper first. From there I would find the stock images I needed and begin to put the image together. As I progressed and became more familiar with the process, I had a better idea of what I wanted to create. I was now able to begin my work directly in Photoshop.
There was also a style of creating which I used based on The Surreal Manifesto by André Breton, where he states:
“Psychic automatism in its pure state, by which one proposes to express — verbally, by means of the written word, or in any other manner — the actual functioning of thought. Dictated by the thought, in the absence of any control exercised by reason, exempt from any aesthetic or moral concern.”
The last part is the style of creation that I did in some of my works.
What inspires you?
I am inspired by the universal emotions that we all encounter as human beings. Certain people that I have memorable interactions with in my life. Sweet tides of memories. My girlfriend.
What is your motivation?
I am motivated by the constant thoughts of the subjects that affect me in my daily life. I also have the collective memories from my experiences as a traveller and use these memories to reflect my life today, having now settled in one place.
If you could take only two of your images to a desert island, what would they be and why?
I would choose these two from my gallery on Saatchi Art:
Describe your style in three words.
Melancholic. Nostalgic. Muted.
Tell us about any memorable comments or responses you’ve had about your work.
I mentioned universal emotion earlier. It’s a real eye-opener when people from around the world react to my work and seem to feel the same way as I had when creating an image. The world is bigger than you think and yet you’re not alone; some people have felt and experienced how you have.
Name three artists who inspire you.
I adore a lot from the surreal movement, like Salvador Dali, Rene Magritte, and Giorgio de Chirico.
How do you think you’ve improved as an artist compared to when you first started?
I want to make things look seamless with my photo manipulation and digital paintings. Year by year I get better.
What advice would you give yourself if you could go back to when you started making art?
I don’t think I will tell myself anything if I could go back, otherwise it would create a time paradox and my future self wouldn’t be who I am now. 😉
What devices/equipment do you use to create your art?
A Canon EOS500d, flash, GoPro Hero 4, Wacom Intuos.
What software do you use to create your art?
I only use Photoshop and Lightroom.
Do you use images from stock sites in your work?
I used to, but since I moved to digital painting as my medium, I have stopped.
And finally, do you think digital/new media art is still to be recognised as a valid form of art?
Yes, but it will become more recognised in the future. Digital art has been gaining popularity in the world. I don’t think its followers will decrease, especially with the technology becoming more and more advanced.
Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and art with us, Michael!
Find more of Michael’s art in his entry in our Artists’ Directory.