In our Qommunity Voices this week, you will get to know a self-taught background painter who is one of the artists on Billie Eilish's popular animated music video called 'My Future' that currently has nearly 103 million views on YouTube!
If you’re an animated film fan, you probably are familiar with what background artists do, if not, scroll through and learn about a Doha-based Filipino background artist in this interview.
Do you know of someone who’s got an exceptional talent or is making a difference in our community? Drop us a line in the comments below and you could see them highlighted in our next Qommunity Voices!
Genesis: I’m Genesis Magat and I’ve been living in Qatar for 18 years now. My life as an overseas worker from the Philippines began in 2003 when an acquaintance referred me to a Qatari who wanted to build a photography studio business. I worked for him for 3 years editing digital photos. When the company closed, I worked for different advertising firms as a Graphic Designer. Then, in 2008, I was hired as an in-house Graphic Designer by a real estate company where I currently work.
In my spare time, I paint, edit videos, study online, read books, or simply enjoy nature with my wife and my two children. Illustrating landscapes is one thing that I enjoy doing in my spare time because it is therapeutic and it helps me manage the pressure in my day-to-day life. Besides being a graphic artist, I’m a background artist/painter, too.
Genesis: A background artist is someone who is involved in the process of animation—the one who establishes the colour, style, and mood of a scene, as described by the writer, artistic director, or client. The work of background artists can be seen in movies, television, video games, and other forms of media.
Genesis: When I was two years old, my mother saw my potential in drawing when I first scribbled insects on walls. I was a typical boy who then loved pop culture media, such as Marvel and DC comics, Star Wars, Anime, and Hollywood movies in the '80s. From there, my ideas expanded through sketching superhero characters.
Genesis: My interest in painting anime background started only in 2004 after I saw Hayao Miyazaki’s films such as Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro. I was mesmerized and captivated by the quality of the background paintings.
From then on, I aimed to make my art style as close as possible to Studio Ghibli’s animation style, in the way that Hayao Miyazaki had done in his films. Instead of painting from imagination, I tried to infuse my artwork with known tourist attractions in the Philippines. It took me 10 years as a self-taught artist for me to get to the point where I am now.
Genesis: My biggest achievement so far was when I became part of the team that created American singer Billie Eilish's music video ‘My Future’. A director from Australia found me on Instagram and asked if I can join their team. My jaw literally dropped when I read the non-disclosure agreement he sent me. I immediately agreed and signed the contract.
The music video was released on July 31, 2020. It was produced by an Australian animation company Studio Chop, and I was one of the three artists who made the background paintings. The music video received great reviews and praises for its background animation.
Genesis: Painting with quality and having a detailed approach to art makes me feel proud of what I produce. There’s this quote that says, “if you are not doing what you love, you are wasting your time.”
Life is too short and my goal in this world is to live my life to the fullest by being happy while supporting and inspiring others to become better.
Genesis: One of the challenges I face as an artist is in keeping up with my talent. I’m sure most artists also feel the same. Talent comes in many different levels, and it’s a continuous process to polish and enhance it.
There are times I have this thought that I’ve already reached the highest level that I want for myself, which makes me stop practising. Then I find myself a few levels behind which makes me want to repolish my skills to get back to where I was.
Genesis: Last November 2021, I joined the Geekdom event during the Ajyal Film Festival in Msheireb. I’ve received a lot of requests for my art prints. I’m now setting up an online store to cater to buyers from overseas and hopefully, in the coming days these will go online.
I have many things lined up for the next year, like updating my YouTube tutorials. Also, I plan to paint more of Qatar’s beautiful landscapes.
Genesis: Qatar has inspired me in many ways. One source of inspiration are the people around me- my family, friends, and colleagues. Essentially, all the people who I’ve collaborated with along the way. It’s my way of gathering information, and I’d like to think that I’ve also inspired them.
The culture of Qatar has also impacted me, much more so whenever I visit museums, cultural landmarks, and iconic places like Souq Waqif. I often think of oriental paintings of Edward Deutsch while living in this part of the world.
Genesis: It is important to draw what comes to your imagination! The longing to paint the world in which we live is long gone. You look around and almost everyone has a camera nowadays. As a piece of advice to beginner artists, draw or paint anything and everything that comes to your mind. Polish your talent, read books, and try to notice everything around you for inspiration.
Genesis: As a resident in this country for quite some time now, Qatar is my home away from home. I have seen how this country has improved over the last decade, and this is because of the people, both citizens and expatriates, who worked together to make this country a better place for everyone that resides here.
Let us thank Qatar, our second home, for the great opportunities. We may have ups and downs in our journey in life, but in spite of this, we need to move on and continue to be happy and content with what we have.
Cover image credit: Genesis Magat
Did you find Genesis's art and talent amazing? Are you a fan of animated films? Let us know in the comments below, and please do share this article — it keeps us going!
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