Jenny’s Serendipity’s featured artist is Flerrie Valiente-Vicencio—a Malabon City native and a graduate of UST Fine Arts who majored in Advertising. When her father died, she inherited an engineering company. With the help of her husband, she was able to manage her business. But tragedy came too soon, her husband died and she was left to fend everything to herself. Thanks to her husbands loyal employees, the business survived. With the business, she then started an animation company back when it was new to do 2D animation.
Because of her struggles, her paintings became her way of relaxation. Flerrie is an artist who paints from her imagination. I got to interview Mrs. Vicencio online and here is what we talked about how her art heals her:
You have a lot going on in your life. You graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts, who majored in Advertising from UST, you inherited an engineering company, you do animation, and you are a visual artist on the side. In all these, what best defines you?
I love drawing women, sceneries, animals, houses. And a lot of times, I will switch to drawing volcanic eruptions, wars… even in high school. I still do that, especially when I am bored.
I hope through constant practice, my true character will show in my paintings. I’d like to be bold in my characters. I can say anything I want when I paint freely.
When did you start painting and what was your first work? Who or what urged you to paint? Who are your influences? Where do you draw inspiration from?
My father’s close friend was an oil painter. I remember him doing portraits, and sceneries. I really admire his style but I knew all along, that my father was just helping him financially.
Knowing that there is no money in art but despite that, I took up Fine Arts in UST and majored in Advertising mainly because we have our family business. Did not worry and hated Math… And most of all, I followed my heart’s desire.
My pleasant easy moments with my parents when I was a kid; my informal training and development I had experienced while watching my father draw images for me on pieces of plywood, while he was doing carpentry for our cabinets or whatever he was doing had a great impact with me. During his break time, he would draw some images for me mostly animals, flowers, and people. Sometimes, my mother would do the same. She would draw women with nice curly hair, flowers and bahay kubo. I was too fascinated by just watching them draw for me. I remembered my father would draw big drawings using chalks and charcoals. It was fun! I would always get in trouble because my notebook was filled with drawings instead of lectures.
When my father died of leukemia, I had to resign and continue the family business. Luckily, my taste for guns helped me a lot, and my husband’s background in engineering was a big help too. Thus, we were able to continue. What we had then was metal, woodcraft industry, and some engineering works more on air-gun manufacturing.
At the same time, some animation friends gave me the idea, to open my own animation studio back in 2000; thus, Northkey Images was born. I was able to train some youths in our area. We were able to win some projects from big studios here in the country. The biggest project we had is Kong.
What is your most memorable painting and why?
My first finished painting is “The Man from a Novel.” I started working on that piece when I was very frustrated and desperate with everything that I did. I was almost gave up and then suddenly, I found this desire to paint again.
I grabbed my college painting set. Surprisingly, my oil colors were still okay. I just worked freestyle until these images came out – “The Bearded Man, “The Snow,” “The Dog,” and “The Boat,” without any references.
The paintings are still with me but are now reserved.
You have been a widow for a while now. Do you have any children? How do you juggle all those different things that you do? Who helps you?
My most tragic blow in my life was when my husband was killed over a traffic dispute that was barely eight months when my father died. Those sad, tragic events kept lingering in my thoughts and would still make me cry to this day… But that sad episode made me stronger. Not a day will pass without me going to the firing range. I became more addicted to guns.
I still struggled to continue with the business, but with the help of my father’s most loyal employees, I was able to manage the business.
I was raised like a boy. I loved guns like how some girls adored their dolls. Our business was mainly focused on air-guns.
It is just me and my elder sister with no sons. So maybe my dad was too dreaming of a son so I grew up like a boy. I was able to survive more than 20 years and just recently, I decided it was really over, because it’s really difficult to compete with China—a major competitor.
My three daughters are all married and with nice jobs. I have a granddaughter and two grandsons. They are now on their own, have their own houses, and I could now spend the rest of my life painting and painting. I am comfortable, yes.
But my final wish, if I can still make it, is to build my dream rest house… My paradise where I can paint my heart out and paint all my dreams, for me and my family… And if I can continue with a food business, like how my parents dreamt, I will restart and do it all over again—maybe a cute, secret hideaway restaurant for artists and fans, and a nice gallery.
With all those different things you got going on, how often do you paint? When do you find or make the time for it?
When traditional animation (2D) here in the country turned slow and suddenly, India was taking over, I decided to close down because we can no longer compete with the price.
That’s when I started painting again because I was so missing the momentum I had with my animation business. Painting lessened all the strain I got from working on our business. Of course, it was more on troubleshooting. After my father died, financial losses, and uncollected debts, painting became my medium to release the stress.
Is painting a plain hobby of yours? Do you also get to join competitions and exhibits? And do you get to sell your paintings? Have you turned this hobby to a sideline job as well?
PAINTING is my passion, my comfort, and my source. Unlike before, I was very shy to join any contest, to join any art group. It is just here on cyberspace that by luck, I was able to follow the trails of some real life artist friends. I love the artist interaction especially Kimnetix. I love that group.
I don’t know but I’m too tired of competing. All I want to do now is go with the flow. Whatever will come out of this, I am charging to experience. My painting is my own escape from reality but faith and fate will change its route and who knows what could happen but for now, this is a hobby.
What do you paint best? What is your specialty and what is your best sample of that which you did?
I have no favorite piece. I love all my creations. It’s difficult to separate from them. I love the feeling if some people will somehow treasure my pieces, keep them as their own and make them a part of their family—I will miss them though.
Tell us about your foray into animation. How did you go about it? How many projects have you done? Enumerate your best works. What is your future in animation (projects that will come out this 2015)?
We were then the pioneers in animation here in the country. I was employed by Optifex International, one of the first animation studios in the Philippines together with Burbank, and then finally made it at Fil Cartoons as a 2D key animator.
How long have you worked in advertising? Do you still do it from time to time?
I was able to finish my course despite being three months pregnant and having an early marriage. There was a two-year interval for all my three daughters, and in between those years, I managed to work and practice my course. I worked for a textile company as designer, t-shirt designer, and then finally, I made it to the animation industry.
What are future events in your life as an artist that you’d like people to know about?
Now, I’m more concentrated into painting. My mind is bursting with so many ideas. If someday I make it, I will be very thankful because it is my passion, my kind of fun, my healing, and my stress buster.
Thank you so much for the interest. I know you are very nice for helping artist alleviate the life of struggling artists. More Power!
All images courtesy by the artist.