Artist talk: Manila's Leeroy New
Leeroy New is a Manila-based multidisciplinary artist/designer who works with medias such as film, theater, product design and fashion.
Coming from a place that doesn't have an art market per se and still staying there takes a lot of courage. New decided very early on he will try to color the Philippine art scene and make it better. His vivid imagery always serves as an homage to where he is from. Without any intention to move, New is gradually building his own name and consequently enriching Phillipino's art scene.
We talked to the artist about his past, present and the future.
What is your art about?
Generally, I try to develop my own specific means of creative production based on my socio-cultural conditions, specifically the need for a more accessible and public presentation of artistic ideas through collaboration, community work, and harnessing other creative fields.
Can you remember your first creating experience as a child?
Ever since I learned to use a pencil for creating images I just never really stopped. Whether what I made then was art may be subject to debate, but I just kept on evolving my methods and ideologies with regards to creative production.
How is the Philippine art scene like?
The conditions that define Philippine culture is quite unique, as with all other cultures, so it follows that the art scene that is constantly developing here aims to respond to the needs and struggles of Philippine society. It's always a good time to create art, whatever time you're in.
Do you ever get frustrated with where you are and the lack of the scene?
Early on I've learned to channel 'frustration' into creative energy. Living in the Philippines, with the lack of or very minimal support for artistic endeavors, artists, and cultural workers learn to generate alternative systems that work just as well. Rather than be content with frustration we become exceedingly resourceful.
Have you ever considered moving?
I've never really entertained the idea of moving somewhere else even though my mom lives in the states. I love working for my country. I love channeling the work into something that can provide solutions for improving my country.
Tell me more about your work process?
I do so many different things alone or with a few collaborations or even teams of people but always using an internal process which I am able to apply to all these different forms of creative production. It's my way of giving myself breathing room in between projects by doing something completely different all the time.
What do you consider as your biggest achievement so far?
That I am still able to do the work that I love and be a tool for change at the same time.
Did you always want to be an artist?
Even before I knew what that word meant until now that I don't care much for the word.
What kind of art did you start with?
The basics. Sharpie, paper and clay.
What are you working on at the moment?
Designing sets for a local TV-show and working on sculptural pieces for my next exhibition.
What was your last phone call?
Was figuring out a curriculum for a week-long national art teachers' workshop I'm facilitating with the organizers.
Last text message?
"Sure, go ahead."
Last song you listened to?
Something by The Weeknd
Last time you cried?
Last time I got really drunk four months ago.
Have you ever dated someone twice?
What did you do for your last Birthday?
Hosted dinner and drinks in my studio.
What time did you wake up today?