Have you ever had balut? A common street-food found in the Philippines, balut is a fertilized, half-developed duck egg that is boiled and eaten from the shell.
While it sounds enticing, I doubt I’ll be eating balut any time soon.
Of course, there is much more to Filipino culture than balut. Indeed, it is one of the most ethnically diverse Asian nations, due in large part to hundreds of years under Spanish rule. Nevertheless, the people persevered, the country gained independence, and a unique national identity is alive and well.
Daniel Tinagan represents a new era of Filipino artists, and yet his work is rooted in a rich history of indigenous symbolism and mythology. Daniel is also an artist that transcends mediums, having launched his own streetwear brand, BKNWA, as another outlet to showcase his work. What started as a small project erupted into a full scale operation, and he now splits his time between his day job and appeasing his brand’s cult following.
As always, there’s no better way to understand an artist’s inspiration than in his own words. We are very proud to present – Daniel Tinagan.
“As far as I can remember, I really have not experienced difficulty in creating art. I didn’t care if I was creating good or bad art as long as I was making something. I did it for myself and I just became addicted to the vibe whenever I finished a piece.”
My earliest memory of creating art was way back before grade school. As far as I can remember, I really have not experienced difficulty in creating art. I didn’t care if I was creating good or bad art as long as I was making something. I did it for myself and I just became addicted to the vibe whenever I finished a piece. That helped the nurturing process a lot.
Your work is very unique, combining street art with ancient Philippine symbolism and mythology. How would you describe your style? What inspires and motivates you?
I really don’t know how to label it. Some would call it pen and ink but the digital aspect to it plays a big role in the final piece. Inspiration can come from anything and everything. The motivation part comes from me wanting to create something better than an old work whilst maintaining the communication with my audience that ties it all together.
Iain MacArthur. I admire how he manages to balance every detail within the design.
Can you tell us how your brand, BKNWA, came about?
BKNWA started as something that I thought would last for about 2 – 3 productions. I wanted to create shirt designs for a few friends and by the second production, it just blew up. I had to continue and nurture it. It gathered attention and that was when I started thinking about using it as a medium to connect the current generation back to the rich culture that we Filipinos often take for granted.
The end goal is for BKNWA to be a well-rounded brand that can represent my hometown and hopefully something bigger. Country-wide bigger. The plan is to branch out to other merchandise aside from shirts and bags. Mostly things that my peers can carry around or wear while being proud of the culture that we have without diving that deep into the mainstream.
Can you describe some of the symbols and illustrations that you use in your designs? What do they represent?
It would mostly be patterns or symbols that can suggest simple things but when pictured together, can relay a message. It isn’t really that deep. The symbols often suggest or stand for basic stuff like how blood drops would represent sacrifice and branches for prosperity. I keep it at a minimum as much as I can so that the message stays clear
How do you split your time between BKNWA and your other work?
BKNWA mainly serves as a stress-reliever and something that constantly saves me from the monotony of my corporate life. It is hard to split and budget the time for both contrasting worlds. There is no definite balance but I try to make it up to the other when it is called for.
When you designed “Tides” for R. Culturi, did you have to adjust your technique in order to make the designs suitable for a pocket square? How did those works differ from your others?
The style or technique for “Tides” is something that I have been maintaining even before the style for BKNWA was developed. The “Tides” style is something that forces me to think while the style for BKNWA is something that forces me to feel. I enjoy one equally as much as the other. The same goes for the watercolor art that I am now trying out compared to the digital art that I have already been doing.
What advice would you give to other aspiring artists?
Persevere and enjoy what you do. Don’t worry too much if your circle will like your art or not. Create for yourself and as a way to express yourself. Don’t be afraid to explore and put communication above the want to impress the audience. They will be impressed for a brief time but they can stay educated for much longer. And coffee. There are few essential things that we can perfect in one lifetime. Coffee is at the top of the list. Consume and consume before they make it illegal.