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Multi-media artist Jes Mercado Abella's androgynous good looks has an appeal that equals today's K-pop artists and the appeal is magnified when you dive into his art. Some of his images are light and airy and easy on the eyes while some are dark and disturbing. We got the lowdown from this Pangasinan based artist for a cursory look: "I want people to see beyond the darkness they see on my art. I think it’s the darkness and the beauty in that darkness that needs to be sought and that it’s not just something pretty to look but It has a story or a message that anyone could connect with or keep with them even after I or my photos fade away. Creating an honest art rather than for shock value." How do you prepare for your shoots? "First I need to know what my message is, second is to create the story. And a story should have the beginning,middle, and end. It is also crucial to ask my self the why,where,what,when,and how. And for me, the why is the heart of my story because when you take away the why, you have basically no idea what’s going on and i think that makes an intriguing art. My third step is conceptualizing. I use universal symbols to build my art and as much as possible I stay away from being so literal because using symbols could have different meaning depending on who is viewing it and my goal is for people to connect with it no matter what story they see in the image. In this part I also have to consider what props to use. And I often go with props that looks timeless so there is no actual time when the story is happening. Then, I have to plan for the shoot. I need to know exactly what I need to for the shoot or what time I should take the photo. I need to prepare my gears and the props. After that is the day of the shoot which takes about an average of 10-20 minutes. Finally, the editing process. My favorite and also the part that I hate the most because it is very time consuming. Here I need to combine the shots to make a whole new image. Color grading also comes in. I need to consider what colors to play with to evoke the certain emotion or feeling that i want people to feel when they see my art. After editing I let it sit for a day most of the time just in case I might notice something that’s needed to change. Finally, I write something about that image. It could be something about how I made it, my reflections on the photo, or the story or the message behind the photo. And that’s it." How long does it take to finish a concept from shoot to editing? "It really depends how much time I needed to make the props or how intricate the edit will be. But on average I spend about 5-7 hours." How do you choose your wardrobe if any? "I always go with props that looks timeless so people could not really see who the character is which means anyone could be that character and the story could be theirs." Do you work with a stylist? "I always work alone. I want to have as much control with whatever I’m doing. So i do everything myself." Average cost of one photo shoot? "Again, it depends on what the props are but mostly I use props that are free unless I have to buy a prop that I don’t have yet that is crucial to make the art come to life. So most of the time I spend less than 500 pesos. But it’s really the effort that was put in this that is something we cannot put price tag on." He believes that in any dark experience there is a silver lining. You need to embrace the experience and learn from it because what does not break you makes you stronger.


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