Tucked off to the side of one of Metro Manila’s many massive superhighways is a small but lively creative hub and music venue where Jappy Lemon is painting a mural. The inhumane scale of the highway makes the location difficult to access by foot, but after a long stretch of car parks and chain restaurants, an overpass provides an entry point into the venue, Route 196.
The wall at Route 196, in the Katipunan neighborhood of Quezon City, was actually one of the first Jappy ever painted. “When I was getting my start, it was hard to convince anyone to give me a shot, but they were nice enough to let me paint here,” he recalls, glancing up at the overcast sky as he keeps an eye on the weather. Two years later, he’s returned to update the wall with his newer style. These days, he paints half a dozen walls a month.
Raised in nearby Mandaluyong, Jappy has been interested in art all his life and originally planned to become a comic book artist. After a two-year stint at art school, he decided he’d learned what he needed and transferred to business school. But he continued making art on the side, experimenting with using both paint and digital means create his colorful, cartoony works.
Jappy got his start with murals by chance. At business school, a student organization asked him to paint one in their office. “It was one of the hardest things I ever had to do, because I had never done it before. It took me weeks to finish a small mural,” he recalls, laughing. But after posting photos of the completed piece to Facebook, more mural requests came trickling in, and he’s kept on ever since. These days, on walls all around the city, you can spot his signature tigers and comic book characters, all striking acrobatic poses against a backdrop of brilliant, angular designs.
Jappy 的壁画创作开始于一次偶然的机会。在商学院的时候，一个学生组织邀请他在办公室里创作一幅壁画。“那是我做过最难的事情之一，因为我以前从来没画过壁画。我花了几个星期才完成那一小幅作品。” 他笑着回忆道。但是，当他将成品拍照上传到 Facebook 之后，吸引到越来越多人来找他创作，此后，他就一直画到了现在。如今在这座城市各个角落的外墙上，你常常能看到他的标志性老虎和漫画人物摆出生动的姿势，搭配着色彩明亮、棱角分明的背景设计。
As Jappy works on a bright, animated skull character outside Route 196, the previous mural peeks out from underneath. The older piece, painted with brushes, is duller and lacks the energy of his newer creations. One year ago, he transitioned to using spray paint for his murals and hasn’t looked back.
Jappy 在 Route 196 外墙上重新画上一幅色彩鲜艳的骷髅骨头卡通形象，下方隐约还能看到之前的壁画痕迹。原来的壁画是他用画刷创作的，色彩比较暗淡，也缺少新作品那种蓬勃的能量。从一年前开始，他改用喷漆创作壁画，直到现在。
Despite a steady stream of commissioned projects, Jappy still often hits the streets in search of walls for personal projects. “I try and paint pieces for myself as regularly as possible. About three times per month,” he says. “With clients, it’s mostly their ideas I’m translating. The ultimate goal is to develop my style so that clients will come to me looking for that.”
He recently spent a month in New York, financing his trip to one of the world’s most expensive cities with his own art. “I feel a little isolated here in the Philippines because the rest of the world doesn’t notice us,” he says. “I want to prove that Filipino artists can be talented. Even within Asia, we struggle with our reputation: the light we’re shown in is so negative most of the time. All people know are the negative things and the beaches. But there’s a lot of talent here.”
尽管委托项目源源不断，但 Jappy 仍然经常跑遍街头去寻找创作个人项目的墙面。他说：“我想尽可能地多创作个人作品，每个月三次左右。至于客户委托项目，基本上我只是在帮客户传达他们的想法。但我的最终目标是发展出我个人的风格，让想要这种风格的客户来找我。”
Jappy 最近在纽约生活了一个月，运用自己的艺术来筹集生活在这座全球最贵的城市之一所需的费用。“在菲律宾，我觉得有点被孤立了，因为并没有世界上其他地方的人注意到我们。” 他说，“我想证明菲律宾也有才华横溢的艺术家。即使在亚洲，我们仍然在为自己的声誉奋斗。大多时候，我们展现给外界看到的都是消极的一面。其它国家的人只知道这个国家的负面消息，还有这里的沙滩。但是这里也充满蓬勃才华。”