By Henrylito D. Tacio
The name Jeuz D. Sumangil came to the world attention in 2018 when he was declared as one of the five grand winners in “Venom” alternative poster competition, which was initiated by Talenthouse, a prestigious online community of creators and art appreciators and the Venom Team led by the lead actor Tom Hardy. The other winners were from the United States, Japan, Indonesia, and Ecuador.
Sumangil, then 22, received a cash prize of US$2,000 from the global contest. In addition, he received several awards and recognitions from various award giving bodies, including the National Commission of Creative and the Arts (NCCA).
“I didn’t think of it until I won,” he said in an exclusive interview. “What I was really after was winning the cash prize. I really didn’t know then that it is really something to be recognized internationally. There were so many artists in the country who joined the contest. And out of the more than 3,000 entries, mine was chosen. What was even amazing was that Tom Hardy himself selected my entry.”
He believed it was a blessing from God. “Whatever I achieved in life, I always put it in my head that all these came from God. It’s crazy to think and looking back, I’m amazed how a student could win such a contest? How did I win? There were so many impressive, detailed and intricate entries done by professionals. Yet it was my entry that was selected. I always believe that God has given me that opportunity and blessing. He deserves the glory, not mine.”
Because of his formidable feat, the NCCA bestowed him as one of its “Ani ng Dangal” awardees in 2018. Then, the following year, the local government unit of Davao also recognized him during the “Pasidungog: Garbo sa Davao” program. The Dujali municipality, from which he is from, also acknowledged him and even paid a courtesy call to the mayor.
In 2022, four years after he won the competition, the Davao City government also recognized his accomplishment during the Araw ng Dabaw.
Despite all the accolades he received, he still doesn’t consider himself as a digital artist. “I’m still learning and still finding my own style,” he said. “What I really want to become is as an artist/designer in the field of arts and creatives.”
He also said, “I somehow describe myself as a hybrid designer because I can do both, digital illustration and graphic design.”
But that’s going ahead of the story.
Sumangil took a Bachelor of Arts in Multimedia Arts (MMA) from the University of Mindanao and graduated last November 2018. He was given the Achiever’s Award by the university, the highest honor given to a graduating student. He was among the pioneering graduates of the course.
MMA is a course that combines various forms of media – like graphics, animation, audio, video, and interactive elements – to create engaging and interactive content. It involves the integration of different media elements to convey messages, tell stories, or communicate information effectively.
“We have subjects like painting and illustration, but those are just fundamentals and only basics since multimedia is more into digital works,” Sumangil explained. “Paintings and illustrations are traditional forms of art since these are studied in the Fine Arts course.”
He never thought of ending up as an artist. In fact, his father dreamed of him becoming a medical doctor. “It was my father’s wish and desire to send me to a prestigious school since we live in a remote place,” he said. “He liked me to become a doctor since that was one of his dreams. It never happened because they didn’t have enough money at that time.”
But Sumangil never pictured himself healing those who are sick. “Ever since I was a kid, I was into art,” he admitted. “I loved scribbling. I drew my favorite anime characters on paper. I think those were part of why I took MMA.”
Actually, he took engineering as his initial course. He had already attended two semesters but he had a hard time in solving mathematics equations. “I felt my calling and strengths are in arts and creativity,” he said.
As an artist, he has several favorites. “In the earlier days of my career, I was inspired by the worlds of Harrison Espina and Vincent Aseo,” he pointed out. “I really like their art styles and crafts when it comes to digital illustrations. Both have their own signature styles which can readily be recognized by people.”
During the earlier stage of his career, Sumangil mostly tried everything from his mind but now, he transitions into designing. “I always look for ideas through the internet and works from other designers and artists,” he said.
Works – like writing in the case of a journalist – always take time to finish. Just to brainstorm an idea alone, “it usually takes an hour or more,” he said, adding that it is dependent upon how complex the output is.”
As an artist, he gets his ideas from anything that is aesthetically pleasing. “I always remember that kind of style and inspiration for my artworks and outputs,” he said. “I also get my inspiration from my life’s dreams and hopes. For instance, I want a house that looks like that in the future. So, I’ll use that as my inspiration.”
After graduating from college, he worked abruptly in a merchandizing agency based in Singapore. “That was my first job,” he said, adding that the only hitch was there was a third party.
Currently, he is working as the lead graphic designer of a marketing agency based in Australia. “I was directly hired, which is good,” he said. “There is no party who would take some portions of my salary.”
Most of his jobs are related to graphic and multimedia designs. “I am more well versed in being a graphic designer than a digital artist. But my experience with digital arts helped me in doing vector illustration assets in websites, logos, and posters. I once used animation in one of the companies I worked with.”
“Perseverance,” that’s the advice he could give to people who want to follow his footsteps. “There’s nothing that can enhance and polish your God-given skills but practice. Practice, that’s where everything starts. And the decision you want to do with your life. You need to work on it.
Talking about the Venom winning, he said, “When I joined some competitions, what I had in mind was to win. But lately, I realize that I am enjoying what I am doing. And at the same time, I saw myself improving. Then, my time came. Again, if I don’t do it and just sit there, I won’t be able to achieve it.”
Sumangil is now in the stage of his life that he is satisfied and contented with his life. “But I’m still open for future plans where I could venture,” he said. “Lately, I am thinking of doing vlogging, just a simple one that is related to my field as a creative artist. I want to inspire others who want to learn and want to become an artist and designer in the future.”
To those who are into it, he offered this advice: “Just continue to polish your craft. It’s very fast now and the technology is advancing. With the rise of AI, we – designers and artists – need to adapt. Don’t settle with just one skill; build a skillset and practice and sharpen it day by day. Lastly, always find inspiration. Work at your pace or else our work is compromised. We will all have our time in the future. Work on what you have right now.” – ###
1 Jeuz D. Sumangil, a different kind of artist.
2 While working.
3 The awards he received.
(Photos courtesy of Jeuz D. Sumangil)