RK : Say something about you.
Justine : Hi! I’m Justine Florentino, artist from the Philippines, self taught,and I really love painting people
RK : How would you describe your artwork?
Justine : They are portrait paintings done digitally, but I try to approach it with a traditional mentality
RK : When did you first realize that you really love painting? Were there any instances that you can recall in particular that made you choose to concentrate on creating art?
Justine : used to work a office job about 3 years ago, and later parted ways with the company, in the process of finding a new job i felt i could spend that time learning art, first it was just a hobby, then i got more serious until it was becoming more part of my life, it wasn’t an exact moment more of a gradual turn.
RK : If you can recall what did your first digital painting look like, and what is the most important thing you have learned since then?
Justine : You can actually see it in my Instagram, I came from a background of charcoal drawing so I just tried to apply what I had learned from that to digital painting, and as for what I learned since then hmmm I think I have learned to become more expressive and control my values better.
RK : Was there any particular moments that you feel launched your art career for you? Has anybody guided you along your career path as an artist and if so who?
Justine : Hmm maybe the moment my works started going semi viral . haha, I’m honestly not sure yet it has truly "launched" cause I’m still in the process of learning as much as I can, maybe the moment I get a gallery of my own , but for now I think I’ll concentrate on getting better, as for guidance i remember watching this speech by the great writer Neil Gaiman, he said "Make good art" it was like if you are unsure of everything just make good art he said, you should watch that speech!
RK : Where did you start as a digital artist? Did you explore other forms of art first?
Justine : I was doing graphite portraits and charcoal ones before I did digital painting.
RK : Tell us about your work? What are you currently working on?
Justine : I’m a freelance artist right now, currently I’m working on portrait commissions for clients.
RK : What subject matters interest you? What are some of the stories behind your work?
Justine : I’m interested in people with stories just from how they look, I call my piece a success when I feel I have captured the emotion and story of that person
RK : What are some of the tools you use to create your distinct style of artwork?
Justine : Working digitally gives you a big tool box , I just really like experimenting with textures and different brush properties,
RK : Who are some artists you admire?
Justine : I’m a big fan of John Singer Sargent, Anders Zorn, Vincent Van Gogh, Howard Lyon, Jeremy Lipking, Anthony Francisco, Stanley Lau, Norman Rockwell, Jeremy Mann , Aaron Griffin, I have so many artist that I admire the list would be too long!
RK : Who is your creative hero?
Justine : John Singer Sargent
RK : What’s your favorite piece of art that you’ve created?
Justine : I would say it’s my piece "Julietta" which I have renamed Helena, cause when I painted it I didn’t know the name of the model so I called it Julietta, now I know that it is Helena, that piece I feel might be the best one I have made so far.
RK : How would you break down your workflow in steps?
Justine : I like to start out with a sketch, then refine that so I have the anatomy figured out and the values sorted, then I like to color the darks after so I can determine the range of values I can got with the colors, then paint the shapes that make up the piece, I try to be clever with brush strokes when I can, the simpler the better is what I have learned, then its refinement of edges and shapes from there on, I like to add the textures only when I feel it is needed
RK : Your pieces are incredibly detailed. How long does it take to create a single piece and what is the process like?
Justine : Normally about a couple of days, so I can work on it multiple sittings, that way I can see mistakes better with fresh eyes, the first steps are the harder steps actually the sketch is key for it to all work.
RK : Tell us about the struggles you have endured as an artist.
Justine : Starting out its difficult, you have to be resilient and hard working , I wasn’t good right away, I feel I still am not as good as I want to be, I just push on forward, even when I’m feeling uninspired I just study some more, that’s I feel the hardest part to never stop.
RK : Describe your dream project.
Justine : To work on a piece that will instill emotion in people the moment they see it
RK : If you were not an artist, what would you rather be?
Justine : I would be a web designer haha.
RK : What’s one art tip/technique you can share with us that you find really helpful?
Justine : Squint your eyes to see less detail, that way you can simplify everything to its most simplest shape.
RK : Any advice for those who are starting out their career? What kind of references are important for those who want to work with this kind of style?
Justine : Study and study some more, and never stop, everyone can learn to draw/paint just as long as they give it time and effort
RK : If you could tell the world one thing, what would it be?
Justine : Be kind.
RK : Have you ever been to India and anything you know about Indian Art & Culture?
Justine : Unfortunately I have not, I hear you guys have great food! and very colorful personalities and dresses, looks like such a fun country to be in !!
RK : We (Retro Kolkata) are trying to make a bridge between National and International Art & Culture By featuring some National & International personalities who already have made their own path in their respective fields and we think your story and tips might help the newcomers to build their career. Please say something about our initiative and any special message for your Indian followers.
Justine : I think it is wonderful what you guys are doing, the world needs more art and artist, I love all of you .
Follow Justine Florentino on Instagram