Thursday, January 6, 2011

A Sunday Afternoon with Harvey Tolibao

Red Dot Island sure has its special draw for Filipino artist Harvey Tolibao - who currently draws for Marvel Comics. After all, he stayed on the island for another 3 weeks subsequent to the STGCC wrap-up!!

Those who might not have known better may have supposed it could be the wide range of yummy local food which lured Harvey for a longer stay. It could also have been the super-warm reception he gets from his loving fans here. But Red Dot Diva confirms that there were also other more personal reasons. *wink wink*

One thing for certain, Harvey did not keep his hands idle while he was on the Red Dot Island. He kept himself busy and did a talk at the National Library on 22 December. Then, there was another round of signings and sketchings at Absolute Comics on 30 December.

And if that wasn't enough, Harvey ended his 'why is he still here? stay' on Red Dot Island with a free-of-charge art exhibition at Ink Singapore, Wilkie Edge on 1 and 2 Jan 2011. A great way to celebrate a New Year weekend, Red Dot Diva could indeed testify.

Wilkie Edge, a building located near Selegie in the rather arty part of town, was hushed and quiet on the Sunday when Red Dot Diva was there. Harvey, in his usual casual-cool-style, had settled himself at the end of the main walkway inside the building. On the opposite wall, pieces of his very beautifully detailed and intricate sketches were placed for public viewing.

There was already a pretty decent line of commissions and sketches for Harvey to fulfill on that day. And he worked hard to deliver them - all with a big warm smile!

Red Dot Diva heard that, despite the rain pouring down on the day before, many fans still came to visit Harvey's exhibition! Way to go, local fans!

The most unique request that Sunday was for Harvey to draw Poison Ivy on 1/3 HBG-Wai's black Mac notebook using a silver marker. Unfazed by almost any request, Harvey almost immediately visualized where to position Poison Ivy and deftly drew her carrying the "Apple" logo. Snazzy. (Visit HereBeGeeks' website for their post on the Wilkie Edge art exhibition!)

When it was finally Red Dot Diva's turn for her sketch request, it was already nearly 5pm. Naturally, she *had* to choose someone Red Hot. And it seems no one had asked Harvey to sketch this particular character yet. So when Harvey found out which character he was going to sketch for Red Dot Diva, he was pretty excited.

The character was none other than sexy-violent super-villainess - Elektra.

While Harvey drew Red Dot Diva's desired Elektra sketch, she squeezed in a quick chat with the talented artist.

Red Dot Diva: How did this art exhibition come about?
Harvey: Actually, there is a huge demand on my Facebook by the very supportive fans here in Singapore. They wanted to see what my original artwork really looked like so the team who was assisting me suggested the idea of putting up an exhibit. Even though it was at the last minute and the timing isn't perfect but.. the beauty of it is that people can see the art and get inspired.

Red Dot Diva: Have you had any strange sketch requests so far while you were here?
Harvey thought for awhile, then replied with a cheeky grin: Most of the guys want the girls sketched to have big boobs.
Red Dot Diva was amused: But that's not strange, right?
Harvey: No, it's not strange. People just like beautiful ladies.
Red Dot Diva: So I guess you didn't get any strange requests after all.
Harvey agreed: No, no strange requests.

Red Dot Diva: Are there characters that you find particularly difficult to draw?
Harvey: Most of the females are really challenging to draw. It's really hard to draw female characters...
Red Dot Diva: But I thought you love drawing female characters.
Harvey pointed out: *That* is why I love drawing women because most of the artists' weakness is the drawing of females. And I try to use their disadvantage to my advantage.
Red Dot Diva: Ahhh. I see. Is that because of the different visible proportions of a woman's body?
Harvey: Yes, for instance it's possible to draw their body or the boobs and their proportions wrong and they look like silicone-fake and not real.
Red Dot Diva: So, is it generally easier to draw guys?
Harvey: Yes, generally, it's very easy to draw guys.

At this point, since they have managed to get that topic out of their chests, Red Dot Diva decided to ask about Harvey's next project. Here's what he has to say!

Red Dot Diva: You love watching movies and have a huge collection of movie DVDs. What do you think of having the chance to be a movie concept artist?
Harvey's eyes lighted up with the notion and he admitted, "Actually, I'm looking for work related to this. It needs almost the same skills, but in movies, you need to be careful and it can be tricky with the shots and camera angles. Unlike comics, you can draw the perspectives which may not be totally "right", but it's OK, because it's in a comic book."
Red Dot Diva commented: It will also be great if you were doing movie concept art for one of the comics that you've done.
Harvey got really animated and said, "YEAHHHHH! Like a Psylocke movie, like Ahhhhhh!!"

Red Dot Diva: Do you have any plans to launch your own website?
Harvey: Yes I do. It would take some time to develop and I hope to launch it soon. My fans are more like friends to me ... they are not just members on a website. I owe my fans a lot. There are certain parts of the website where people can make their own page and upload their artwork, like a community, and one of the closest ways that the fans can keep in touch with me.

Hopefully, the website can be launched by mid-year. I need to get my team in Cebu and discuss with them what the website should look like. There are a lot of different things that I want on my website.

Red Dot Diva then decided to get nosy: You have been here for quite awhile. What made you stick around here for this long?
Harvey smiled, "Actually, I was planning to stay in Singapore after the convention for a vacation. I wanted to spend my Christmas and New Year with my girlfriend here. I am lucky to have her because it's not easy to understand an artist."

Harvey looked apologetically at his girlfriend, Juli, and she smiled after realizing she had inadvertently become the topic of discussion.

"But as it turned out," Harvey continued, "We ended up doing things which keep me in touch with my fans - who made me who I am. And this is a beautiful thing. And my girlfriend understands.. even if it's all very exhausting."

Red Dot Diva: Have you seen anything artistically interesting while you were here?
Harvey: Singapore has a lot of different architecture and interesting buildings. So does Dubai. These two countries can afford to have people come her to experiment with different designs for buildings. Just like this building here...

And Harvey gestured up to the ceiling at Wilkie Edge, which had irregular squiggly cut-out shapes.

"Singapore spent a lot of money on design. Every street and corner in Singapore seems to be composed of art and it's becoming a centre of art where people can gather to share and perform and meet."

Later on, Red Dot Diva found out from Juli that Harvey particularly loved visiting Vivocity and the scenic Harbourfront as well as Orchard Central, with the lighted exterior structures and the super-escalator.

To end of the interview nicely, Red Dot Diva posed the "geek girls" question that some people have come to expect. Surprisingly, Harvey gave a pretty non-conventional answer for a person who works in the geek-pop-culture arena.

"These girls are called geeks because they are so much into the topic and know the too much into the details. I am also a geek... ," Harvey clarified.
Red Dot Diva: Is that a good thing or a bad thing?
Harvey: To me, it's a good thing.
Red Dot Diva: So is your girlfriend a geek girl?
Harvey: No, she's not. She's not a geek. She's normal. And it's the balance.

Continuing to explain, Harvey said, "Too geek would not be too good. Because you'd end up arguing ... like 'Whyyyy Superman didn't have a child??!' So a geek person and a normal person is a good balance."

With that practical answer, Red Dot Diva decided not to distract him further from finishing her Elektra sketch. There are others waiting for their sketches too, so she quietly observed him put his magic touches with a red pen.

After about 10 minutes, Voila! The Elektra sketch was done! Awesome, huh?

On a whole, the day at Wilkie Edge was about bumping into familiar faces again, and meeting new ones... while enjoying a superbly laid-back afternoon with Harvey, and allowing oneself to be wow-ed by his artistic talent.

Harvey finally flew back to the Philippines the next evening. But one can still keep in touch with the friendly and charming artist on his Facebook page :)

Hope you will come back to Red Dot Island again soon, Harvey!


Special thanks to Andre and Hwee Leong for helping to take some pics that afternoon!

Also to Alywn and Juli for being so friendly and hospitable!

No comments:

Post a Comment