Interview with Arnold Arre
Arnold Arre is one the leading graphic novel and comic book artists in the Philippines having titles such as "Batch 72", "Mythology Class", "Trip to Tagaytay" and "Lost". He has held a one man exhibit on his illustrations that have sold out. Arnold Arre is a graduate of the University of the Philippines College of Fine Arts is veteran advertiser. Currently he is part of Tala Studios along with award winning designer Cynthia Bauzon.
How did you get started drawing comic books? How early and what are were your influences?
Arnold: As early as 6 years old I think. I kept borrowing my brother's comic books, studying paneling and figure drawing. In highschool I did a book report in comic book form. The only thing that's changed now I believe would be my drawing style. My early works looked very much like anime. I prefer the style i have now - a fusion of european and anime.
What's the process you follow when other people are doing the inking and the story?
Arnold: I love collaborating with other artists. of course it's a lot easier doing everything on your own but working with others makes it more interesting because the style takes on a whole new shape and often turns out better than you imagined. I usually take liberties in illustrating other people's scripts, but I make sure that I maintain the writer's vision. It's the same thing with inkers, I love it when they show their own style though keeping the original forms and layout that I've made. I believe that's how the process works - it's better for it to be more of a team effort rather than just one guy calling all the shots.
There are lot of comic book groups right now. (Alamat, Kestrel, Quest, Tala and the guys at Culture Crash.) The market is still small but moneyed and seems to be able to grow inspite of tough times. Can you comment on the life now of a Filipino comic book artist? Is it feasible to earn a living as a comic book artist (for people who are not as famous as you :)?
Arnold: Thanks for the kind words. :) yes it was a struggle in the beginning and what I've attained is the result of hard work and good honest labor. The question of whether it's feasible to earn a living making comicbooks is hard to answer. I could say no...because of the small market, going head to head with mainstream foreign comics and of course the economic situation. I could say yes if you're lucky. it's a totally new field to explore.
So many different styles of Filipino comic books right now. From the manga style of "Culture Crash" to real life angst of "Purgatory" to those x-men clones with filipinized identities that are all over the place. Which are the ones you like? Any comment on their styles?
Arnold: I'm very much into independent comics right now. My favorites are works by Andi Watson and Craig Thompson. Locally I love works by Gerry Alanguilan, Carl Vergara , and Marco Dimaano. these guys never fail to amaze me - definitely the prime movers in the Filipino comic scene.
During our interview of Paulo Manalo and Mark Dimaano your name keeps popping up. You are one of the most respected comic book artists right now. How has that changed your life?
Arnold: Thanks again :) well... in terms of work load i'm a lot busier these days. I'm just thankful for Cynthia who's always there for me. I never would've made it without her.
Your comic books are often very self-referential; Batch 72, Lost and Mythology Class are based on real people. Has this ever created problems for you?
Arnold: Not really. I consider the drawings as my characters and not directly based on the people they look like. They're not really "them" (though some do feel flattered when they see the resemblance.)
Now that you are working with Cynthia, what advice can you give those who partner with the ones they love?
Arnold: Share thoughts. Share ideas. Blend your talents. Work like it's play. Never underestimate the power of quality time. Work with love.
Any projects you are currently working on now that you would like to plug?
Arnold: Cynthia and I recently finished an album design for Ryan Cayabyab. it's out now. more to come...;)
Which character is closest to you and why?
Arnold: The kid in "trip to tagaytay". He's a romantic :)
I've been trying to replace my copy of "Trip to Tagaytay" na nabasa. Where can I find one?
Arnold: It's in all comic quest branches.
Read our "After Eden" interview of Arnold Arre.
Browse Arnold's homepage.
interview by Bosyo