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Hands-On: TBWASMP’s John Ed De Vera and his creative process

MANILA – TBWA\Santiago Mangada Puno’s John ed De Vera has always been a tinkerer. Case in point: In his younger days, when his friends bought plastic remote-controlled cars, which they modified to go faster, De Vera chose to do something different. “I didn’t want to just make it fast, so I modified mine with wires and leD lights, then I made a cage to make it look like a Mad Max: Beyond thunderdome car.” 

To say that De Vera has come a long way since then would be something of an understatement. Beginning his professional life in retail with a junior artist position at Gift Gate for Swatch, the young creative would move on to seven years at Cole Haan and GBX as an ad and promo officer/ product developer/ creative. By this time, De Vera was gaining recognition through projects he would do on the side, such as album covers for bands like 6CycleMind, Tanya Markova, and Imago.
 
After his stint in retail, De Vera decided that it was time to spread his creative wings. “I wanted to focus on the creative side, and I had the feeling that I was getting left behind,” he said. As it turned out, the cure to De Vera’s creative restlessness would be found in an industry he’d never planned on entering: Advertising. 

“I was afraid I would never get to sleep!” laughs De Vera. Regardless, the young creative took the leap and hasn’t looked back since. 

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That was six years ago. 

Flashing forward to the present, De Vera is a mainstay of the local design scene, with a portfolio of metal-winning work under his belt (including last year’s Silver Lion-winning ‘The Biggest Air Filter’ for client Boysen and an enviable personal creative output on top of his day job as associate creative director at TBWA\ Santiago Mangada Puno. 

Outside of advertising, De Vera remains active as ever in expressing his creativity through a variety of media, incorporating everything from traditional watercolor (“I like the wash technique!”) to more whimsical executions of rubber stamp art, cardboard, paper money typography, and hexaflexagon art. 

While his love for crafting is very analog, he also dabbles in digital. Using a MaKey MaKey circuit board, he began to experiment with making music with objects, such as chairs made from cut up soda cans. “My interest has shifted to design tech, merging analog art with technology.” 

“In terms of influence in my art, it’s different per project because I work with different media,” says De Vera, citing Gustav Klimt, Schiele, Audrey Kawasaki and James Jean as being among his among his favorite foreign artists. “I love their composition and style, but I’m starting to be more excited towards installations. I like TROIKA and their art installation projects, they’re really inspiring. Locally, I like Arturo Luz, Dan Matutina,and Leeroy (New) to name a few.” 

An integral part of De Vera’s process is to document every step of his projects’ creation (which can be seen on his Instagram feed). “I’m not obsessive about it, but it’s like every stage of the project is a different piece of art that becomes something else entirely when you finish it.” 

Indeed, visual proof of a work-in- progress’ aesthetic qualities can be seen in the stop motion videos De Vera made for Lakihan Mo Logo 6’s announcement video, and one he produced for last year’s Bloom Arts Festival. 

Consistent through all of the work is the wide-eyed wonder and hands-on approach De Vera displayed when he was modifying toy cars into post-apocalyptic conveyors of death – the artist has lost none of his love for crafting things in the old fashioned way of just rolling up his sleeves and going for it. 

With so many projects on his plate, it’s perhaps inevitable that people have taken to asking, “Do you still get to sleep?” The answer, De Vera says, is yes. But this doesn’t stop him from keeping busy all his waking hours. “I had to stop and think, but then I realized, I somehow still find time to play DOTA and PS3 while doing these projects (laughs)! So it’s really a balance of your time and it’s a balance of what you want to do. A creative’s job is about talent or skill, so it doesn’t feel like work. And it’s innate for every human being to create.” 

“Come to think of it, says De Vera, in one of what must be several light bulb moments he gets in a day, “I just remembered…at my first job with Swatch, the tagline then was: Time is what you make of it.”

For more of John Ed De Vera’s works, visit http://www.behance.net/johned

Words: Carmela Lapeña 

This article first appeared in the Jan-Feb 2014 issue of adobo magazine. Catch John Ed De Vera work his magic on some conductive paint at the adobo Festival of Ideas on November 22. Visit festivalofideas.adobomagazine.com for more information, or book tickets at SMtickets.com.

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