by Ma. Dhanika Flores
Art is beneficial to the development of our own selves and our community. We utilize it to express what we strongly believe in, the traditions we hold dear to our hearts, and even our perception of life itself. Artistic expressions such as visual and written forms have been used since time immemorial to showcase our human experience and the way we navigate the world we are living in. In the 21st century, a number of artistic forms have been utilized, but two have remained prevalent—visual and literary arts.
Mark Deutsch, a Cebuano comic artist, illustrator, and the director of the Cebu Art Book Fair (CABF), has tackled both art forms to a masterful degree. His experience in the creative industry spans 14 years, in which he uses both visual and literary storytelling to create moving works of art. We sat down with him to talk about how these two art forms interlaced with each other, and how we can use it to tell the Cebuano story more effectively.
One of the criticisms that we always hear in the Philippines is that the locally produced books do not have the same high quality as the books that are published internationally. For one thing, the book covers do not look appealing at all. They do not grab your attention as much as those books from abroad. It’s important to have a good cover art, Mark said, because this is what the reader sees first. Just like a painting, it should make people stop to look and appreciate it.
Mark emphasized that the intersection between visual and literary arts starts when a writer collaborates with a book illustrator or artist. Both address the different communication styles of humans. Words can be used to convey the plot of the story while visual storytelling is key to help people imagine better what they are reading. Both art forms are combined to create a unified piece of art that helps readers escape to a world they’ve never been before, moves them to tears, scares them at night, or even changes the way that they view the world.
In Cebu, there’s a growing community of artists that are going back to the traditional way of publishing. Although the digital age has made it easy for artists to showcase their artworks to new audiences around the world, to some, having your artwork in a tactile copy like a book or comic can feel more authentic and visceral.
This group of artists exhibit their works in events like the Cebu Art Book Fair, the first art book fair in the Philippines. Artists from all around the country and a few international delegates display and sell their works. More than that, CABF also celebrates self-published authors and indie creators. The fair is part of the Philippine Creative Industry Month. It is run by Mark alongside his wife, Johanna.
The fair has already attracted many artists from neighboring cities like Manila and foreign countries such as Korea and Taiwan. Through this venture, it encourages more creatives in Cebu to fulfill their passions and participate in the holistic development of the Philippine Creative Industry.