Technology is making art more accessible – as told by webcomic artists

Can technology make art better? It turns out, it can.

As Told By… takes a closer look at today’s issues, from those who are impacted the most. Today, we’re looking at how art is adapting to a digital space, and what local webcomic artists have to say about it.

Technology has helped a lot of industries to adapt, especially during these uncertain times. Take art, for example. These days, artists are ubiquitous on Facebook and Twitter, whether they be performance artists like actors to comic artists. In fact, artists are now being seen more on social media, and webcomic artists are leading the way.

So, we at Variable talked to two digital artists who are making their mark in today’s digital space.

Using technology to increase reach

For AJ Bacar, the artist behind the hit webcomic Sskait, he started posting his comics online as a way to share relatable life stories. It was also his way of dealing with stress.

Naging outlet ko na rin ang pagkokomiks ‘pag pagod at stressed ako sa life,” he adds.

From its launch in 2016, you will pretty much see a Sskait comic when you scroll your social media, thanks to his meme-able take on things. In fact, many of his webcomics are his amusing takes on pretty much everything—from the weather to celebrity, and even current events.

“Sources of inspiration ko ‘yung mga life experiences ko, mga kaibigan ko at mga bagay na nangyayari sa paligid ko,” Bacar answered, when asked about the things that inspire him to draw. Like any artist, he gets the inspiration for a webcomic at literally anytime, even when he’s with friends!

In some cases, he uses issues of the day to poke fun at it, bringing light and positive feelings and laughter to his readers.

Minsan din kasi ginagawa ko ung komik pag nag aasaran kaming mga magkakaibigan, mga jokes about labels, singleness, magjojowa… (hahaha!)”

Talking about technology, Bacar says it helped make his work easier: “‘Pag may mga errors ako sa lining, p’wedeng i-undo and erase tool lang.”

He also credits social media for improving Sskait’s reach, saying these platforms have helped him share stories with a wider audience. The comment section of each webcomic takes a life of its own, with people sharing their own takes on the subject.

“Mas madaling nakaka-reach ng mga tao and nagagamit din nila ang mga comics para may conversation piece sila ng mga kaibigan nila, family, or mga crush nila (lol),” he adds.

But technology isn’t without its downsides. For Bacar, having a popular webcomic means it’s at risk for content theft. Since Sskait is accessible to everyone, that means unsavory characters can just crop out the watermark to pass their work as their own. Of course, eagle-eyed fans know better—only AJ Bacar can give life to their favorite ulan and araw!

So, what’s next for Sskait? It’s simple, says Bacar: “More comic books! More plushies and merch! And more relatable content para sa’ting lahat!” (Read: Latest tech lets electronics be drawn on your own skin)

How technology is advancing art and advocacy

In the latest episode of The EXP Show with Franz and Bea, Franz and Bea talked to Levi, the artist behind the webcomic Dandampas. The self-taught artist launched Dandampas—short for Dante, Damian, and Pascal—in June 2019. The webcomics deal with the couple Dante and Damian and their daughter, a talking cat named Pascal, as they deal with their day.

For Levi, he takes inspiration from his own experiences and from issues that plague the LGBTQ community. For instance, a webcomic he drew for Pride Month was based on something an acquaintance of his said in a group message.

This experience, he said, served as a wake-up call for him—in particular, to raise awareness on gender sensitivity and the issues that the LGBTQ community face.

“If I really want to make a statement, kailangang kong i-reflect ‘yung mga social issues na pinagdadaanan ng LGBTQ community, and other people as well,” Levi adds. “[Comics are] are more than just drawings, more than just doodles—you can really tackle social issues in your drawings.”

Of course, Levi mixes in a lot of humor in his work: Most of his webcomics are funny and biting takes on social issues, but he also has panels that deal with pretty much anything—including the supernatural.

Learn more about Levi and Dandampas, and how technology is helping their art, by listening to our latest episode at The EXP Show with Franz and Bea.

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Ralph Gurango

explainer | newsman | jrpg adventurer

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