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Gringo Benedicto

Originally a visual artist from Bacolod, Gringo fell in love with Siargao Island and spent his time there working on his craft while managing Harana Surf Resort. His surreal and psychedelic works vary from murals to digital illustrations. 

What have you been up to the past few months?

I've just been at home 95% of the time. Going to our family farmhouse for some good r&r.

I've been artworking on and off. There would be weeks where I do nothing (Netflix binging or what I justify calling visual research.) And there would be days where I’d be working one canvas to the next just going at it nonstop.

I work when I feel like it— fortunately, right now, the engine is well oiled. 

How much of your Ilonggo culture has an impact on the things you draw and paint about? 

Although each of us have very distinct styles, contemporary artists in Negros tend to have a similarity— by way that we mostly lean towards surrealism. So it's cool to see how each of our minds work and how we visually represent them in our paintings. The art community in Bacolod is tight-knit and we all support each other and influence each other's individuality.


How has this pandemic affected your creativity?

In the beginning of the pandemic— I felt so "unessential." Longest artist block for sure. Just uninspired and unmotivated— sometimes depressed. I've talked with my art peers and they said they've gone through the same ride.

But then, the realization wherein I thought artists were unessential, it was the contrary. We needed art all the more now.

For selfish reasons: art is a form of meditation and exercise.

For humanity: sharing it hoping it inspires others to take a break and drift away for a bit.

How would you define your artistic style?

Trippy Psychedelic Cartoony 


What inspires you?

There's a lot of inspiration around. Outside world and inside the mind. I'm very imaginative and pull a lot from that. Nature, people, art, movies, books, and many other artists on Instagram all get spun in my head, and I puke it out on paper. 


What music do you like listening to when you're in the zone with your art

When I'm in the conceptualizing stage—sketching, composing — I listen to ambient music. Lofi-hiphop gets me going; sometimes it's classical music, movie scores— John Williams, Zimmer, Studio Ghibli, Sitar/Tabla meditation. These get me focused - mind at work.

But when it's time to line, color, and render, I listen to podcasts, Disney music, a lot of show tunes, 90's power ballads, whatever—songs I can sing to or I’m familiar with—it's during this part of the art process where I can go semi-auto pilot— mostly hand-eye, brain drifts off. 


What is your medium of choice for illustration?

I love inks‚ the ones that come in dropper bottles. I like that they're super vibrant— unlike watercolor, inks become waterproof as soon as they dry so there is not an undo button— which I guess has helped with commitment issues. Hahaha!

I use calligraphy crow quill pens for my lines— they're much less strenuous on the hand - and the quality of the lines they give, and oh, the sound they make on the paper is just divine. 

I prefer using 300gsm 100% cotton watercolor paper.


People you look up to? 

Dali - anything goes.

Haring - complex simplicity.

Picasso - prolificacy.

Escher, Moebius, Jodorowsky - weird is good.

Studio Ghibli - magic.

Ralph Steadman - storytelling.


If you had one wish for the local art scene, what would it be? 

I wish that more people would see the value in art. Not just a piece to hang on a wall but more on the positive effects it gives to both in each person and in as a society.


Aside from art, what else are you passionate about? 

Currently obsessing with coffee. It's a different discipline. Art money goes to coffee gear. The dream is to have a studio cafe/gallery someday.


What does it mean for you to be grounded?

Doing things with good intentions.