At a time when everything is going digital, we asked visual artist, illustrator, and graphic designer Ralph Cifra on what has really changed with the creative process. Ralph, 29, who has collaborated with various brands and won competitions in the toy design category, among others, lets us in on what goes through the mind of a young creative in today’s technology-driven world. He also shares snippets from his daily life working as an Ideation Specialist for a media network.
Ralph still opts to start his creative process with a pen and paper.
The basics as base point
People may find it ironic to know that given all the high-tech tools available in the market today, Ralph still opts to begin his process with a pen and paper in hand to make sure he’s able to jot down his ideas which he can later turn into illustrations. “From there I get to decide which medium to use, whether traditional, digital, and what treatment would best fit the design. I prefer not to begin the process digitally by using computers as it has the tendency to distract me, thus hindering the flow of my thinking process,” he says.
Apart from having a fine grip on the basic tools of pen and paper, Ralph also notes how it’s equally satisfying to be known for various specializations as it is to have a certain niche. He thinks, “It’s always better to continuously strive for improvement while embracing diversity and variety by dabbling on other areas apart from the medium or treatment you have grown accustomed to.”
Ralph puts his personal touch on skateboards, too.
On Digital Barriers, Social Media, and Plagiarism
In a sea of distractions, getting lost in the virtual world is almost a given. Ralph considers Social Media as one of the biggest barriers to his work. But even when creative blocks can’t be helped, Ralph believes that everyone has the capacity to motivate himself.
He shares, “I practice this by working on any personal project be it a sketch, a full blown portrait, or even toy customization. When working on these, I try not to focus too much on the end result, but rather, the process so I also tend to surprise myself with a few other things and treatments that I discover along the way. I was able to elude mind blocks without noticing it.” He, however, admits that social media are very helpful (and convenient) in getting one’s craft noticed and one of the easiest means to gain profit.
While he acknowledges that Plagiarism runs rampant in the community, he still believes that it’s a great way to raise awareness, saying “…artists must also protect their copyright properties while sharing them online. I have always believed that nothing is entirely original and that one’s creative output is always partly inspired by other works. That said, social media must be regarded as a great platform for discovery and inspiration rather than to be feared as a community plagued with fraud.”
To inspire and be inspired by others' works.
For the love of arts
Ralph has some advice to artists who wish to take their passion to a professional level: Always love what you do because it’s what would keep you going. But apart from that, he likes to think these are helpful too:
“Start your projects now. Do not procrastinate.”
“Going through a creative process is important. Do not take shortcuts.”
“Mistakes are your steppingstones to success.”
“Practice drawing every day.”
“Update your portfolio regularly.”
“Invest in your creative equipment and tools to ensure maximum productivity.”
“Take risks. Try something new. You’ll never know what you are capable of unless you try.”
All of those notes though would all be for nothing without integrity. He concludes, “An artist’s integrity is just as important as how good he is at his craft. It is the element that gives further definition to his artistry as it is also the very reason why he is entrusted by other people to create for them. Without it, there is no sense in gaining mastery of your skills.”
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Banner photo by Eugene Bautista. Digital art by Ralph Cifra.