There were three of us seated behind the long table with our tally sheets and pens ready. While outside in a “holding room” across the hallway, there was a frenzy of activity from the kids prepping up their maquettes, boards, sample merchandising materials and powerpoints. The air was abuzz with excitement.
The first student to present her thesis this morning was all jittery and her voice was shaking like a leaf on a wind-blown day. Barely trying to keep herself together, she stood there with her laptop clicking her way through her powerpoint presentation. Clearly, despite the shaky delivery, her numbers are correct, her plan’s very feasible and her business proposals are quite sound, except for one thing. The thesis subject is all about book illustration, not a dull accountant’s quarterly report.
At 8 am in the morning, in a classroom of the College of Fine Arts of the University of Santo Tomas, I sat there with two male faculty members as part of a jury for this young woman whose future clearly doesn’t reside in producing visuals. She might make a good accountant someday though.
…and I was told there were eight more presentations that will follow. I brace myself for what will come next.
“You know, this room reminds me of the interior of a mausoleum, especially with that huge window with the thick iron grills,” I told the other juror beside me who handles another class of thesis presenters in the next room, “The only thing lacking here is a crypt.”
“I think the architect of this building meant to have this formal and severe style for the whole building. You know, institutional,” the third juror said as the next student was setting up his boards.
“Hmm, I would agree on the “severe”. No wonder your students are all quivering right now. This whole room’s design adds to the tension,” I responded as the kid who was setting up his materials stood up and readied himself to begin.
“Good morning. I hope you brought your own crypt to complete the show,” I greeted the guy with a huge smile on my face. I guess he took my joke too seriously for he was sullen the whole 20 minutes of his presentation. Even after he was told an hour later that his thesis grade was excellent, his sullen expression didn’t change.
“I chose this book to re-design because I felt that the illustrations need to be more in touch with the contemporary child,” said the pretty co-ed as she held her cue cards while pointing to one of the illustrations for her book design.
“Aaaah, I see. Interesting thought. In the course of researching the material you’re re-designing, I wonder, did you research about or interview the original illustrator or book designer considering that your thesis subject is all about book illustration and design?,” I cheerfully asked her.
“I interviewed the author extensively sir,” she responded confidently.
“Oh. Really? Interesting. Hmmm, and how did you find the story?” I asked.
“I felt it should be explored more, sir… visually. And the book layout needs to be re-done,” she answered with a slight pulling back of her shoulders.
“Aw, don’t call me “Sir”. I feel old with that. You can call me by name instead,” I said with a wide grin.
“Which is what sir?” she asked.
“Open the original book you’re re-designing and read the inner flap. You’ll see my name there. I am the book designer of SOL,” I told her while I still flashed her a big smile. She leafed through the book and I could see her face turn from confidence to worry.
Although I wonder why she was ill-advised by her instructor to do a book re-design when the original material in itself is daunting, I told the other two judges that I cannot give points on half of the categories listed for her project. I ended up merely giving her points on the completeness of her presentation materials.
I also told her to join I.N.K. if she’s intent on illustrating for children. She’ll definitely learn from the guys and gals in that group and learn a thing or two about being original next time she does a design project.
“I only have one question,” I asked Isaiah Paul after he made his pitch.
“Yes sir?” he was wringing his hands while he stood there in front of us.
“You enjoyed doing all these illustrations you just presented, right?” I asked.
“Yes, sir,” came his short reply.
Amazing, simply amazing… was all I that I could think of as I surveyed again the magnificent illustrations this young man has produced and were mounted on easels in front of us. It was also the shortest time I spent on putting down his points on my tally sheet. Clearly, Isaiah, at a young age, found his muse with these works.
…and he only used a ballpoint pen for all of them.
Amazing, simply amazing.
The four images in this post are from the set of illustrations done by Isaiah Paul for his book illustration/design project “The Creatures of Midnight” – a book about Philippine mythical creatures, namely; the Lampong, Matanda sa Punso, Pugot, and the Bungisngis.
Check out the rest of Isaiah Paul's magnificent illustrations here.