WHILE looking for good food, you might have met Niegel Paraz Delima through his art.
The 23-year-old actually designed the murals of some of your favorite dining spots, restaurants and cafés around the city, starting your mood right for what could be a good food experience.
A graduating Fine Arts student of the University of San Carlos (USC), he has brought his art outside the galleries and museums. Niegel is a typographer, illustrator and designer rolled into one.
His first project was a simple request for an elementary school teacher’s condo unit in the early 2000s. Back then he decided it was the kind of
work he wanted to pursue in life.
Niegel and his friends have worked with some of the trendsetters in the restaurant business, like Gusto, Sprockets, Lantaw at SRP, Mooon
Cafe, Rico’s Lechon and Cafe Racer.
His recent works are with Bleachers Barbecue, Ramen Dojo and Brique. Read more to find out how this guy turns resto spaces into his own canvas.
How did your love affair with art start?
Actually, when I was young, I saw myself taking up a culinary course. I have always been inclined to the arts but I likedculinary arts more. Mao tong I took up Culinary Arts first, then shifted to Fine Arts.
What made you shift?
Daghan man ko’g expectations but wala na-meet,mao to nga ni-decide ko nga mo-shift og Fine Arts sa San Carlos since I heard nice things about the course, plus my inclination towards art. I only finished first sem for my culinary course.
Did your parents support your chosen course?
Pagkabata nako, ang ganahan sa akong parentsis for us to take up Law and Medicine, but they never forced us. I’m not the only member of the family who is creative. My brother is an architect.
Can you say that art is your first love?
It has always been my hobby. I always loved drawing landscapes. I prefer landscapes over people
as subjects—the sea, mountains, sunrise. Taking up Fine Arts broadened my knowledge about the discipline. I took up advertising as my major. I was introduced to graphic design until I got interested in typography.
Naa mi kaila before, an artist commissioned for a Converse mural by the roadside, and he asked help in the lettering, unya nisugot
ra sad ko. Didto nako naganahan pag-ayo. By the way, lettering is different from typography.
What’s the difference?
Simply put, lettering is drawing the letters, while calligraphy is when you write the letters, only beautifully. I am more on lettering kay honestly bati kaayo ko’g agi. Sige gani ko kasab-an ana pag elementary kay di masabtan akong gisuwat.
So mao to, I post my works on Instagram, and later, some of my first clients reached out to me through social media. It’s really fun, like combining the culinary with art.
When did you start turning your passion into a career?
I was contacted by my teacher in Bradford (school) five years ago. He asked me to paint his condo so I suggested a mural for his unit. I worked with a team and it was our first ever job. Gamay ra jud mi pay ato.
While working, we realized that designing is a really nice job even though the downside is that it’s not a regular full-time job. Mao to, naka-think mi mu-market for interior designers since sila man jud ang naay clients and maybe they can giveus projects. We sent them e-mails until someone replied that a team was needed for a “Mag TV” anniversary segment that involves renovating a house. We offered our services for free, but
it was fun.
After that, projects followed na. We were contacted by Gusto to paint the mural. Just to clarify, most of our clients have interior designers who lay down what they want, and sometimes we pitch our ideas after making a bit of research and present it to them, seeif they like it.
Can you tell us some memorable projects you’ve worked on?
I can’t say nga naa mi favorite sa kadaghan nanamong nabuhat. For most artists, it’s a personal thing, but we already reached a point nga it’s all about work. It’s not just you, I mean, you work for clients and they are watching you. There’s an art director that supervises you. But my first favorite is
katong “Mag TV.” Balay ra siya, murag swirl-swirl lang. Bythe way, we can be the mural designers as well as the illustrators. We’ll paint the designs, do the art.
My other favorite is Mexi Mama sa Panagdait. Logo ra ang pag-paint since it’s good to go na. Dili man jud ang work ang makapalipay namo, at the end of the day it’s the experience.
Like sa Bleachers Barbeque, during the painting of the exterior nangatkat mis luyo para sa maabot ang signage. We enjoyed the view, much more the experience. From our first project, we noticed that we are gradually making the job faster.
Do you choose which projects to pursue?
Yes, especially when it’s in conflict with school. Usually, we don’t decline immediately. If mahalan sila sa among service, sila na ang mubalibad. The price range depends on the size of the wall.
We do murals as a group, while in terms of lettering kay ako-a ra jud na like sa Brique, if they want something for the menu so I did that.
How do you get inspiration for your designs?
Research lang. It depends kay we have to consider the branding and what the client wants. Like the Bleacher’s Barbeque, we want our ideas to coincide with their branding. Since barbeque man sila, we opted for something country (design), with a modern touch. But sometimes we are just there to execute the ideas given to us.
In pitching ideas for murals, have you even been rejected? How did you deal with it?
Just never take it personally. Dili man tanan maganahan sa among designs. Not everybody speaks the same language as ours, mao ang nakalisod. Pero makasabot ra man mi sa among clients.
Worst comment you received so far from a client?
It’s not the client, but it came from someone who had a say on the project. It was a branding project, unya traditional kaayo ang mindset, festive and flowy unlike our minimalist idea that fits the younger crowd. Unya di siya mo-agree but okey ra man kay in the end, our proposal was accepted.
How many are you in the group?
The constants are actually three–me, Frances and Ikim. And Jessa, sometimes.
Do you believe in creative block?
It differs man gud for every artist pero I think tanang artists mu-agi ana na phase. I call it a phase kay na’ay times nga ma-creative block ka permi, just because nag create ra pod kas imong process, your way of doing your art.
For us, it’s understandable because we are doing something that is not ours but for our client, perhaps it’s something you don’t want or like.
To avoid it, you just have to discover your own process, how would you figure it out, what are the first steps you do when a client gives you a project. Usually, for me mangita kog inspirations and I will take it from that.
How long does it take for you to finish a project?
Depende ra jud.
Most satisfying part of your job?
It’s when people appreciate your work. Sometimes I ask their opinions without telling them that it’s one of my works.
What are the establishments you have worked for?
As a group we worked for Ramen Dojo, the one in IT Park, the Gusto also in the IT Park, Lantaw in South Road Properties (SRP), Bleachers Barbecue, House of Lechon, Sprockets in Talamban, doing the murals for Cafe Racer and painting of Mexi Mama’s logo. As for my personal projects, I did some lettering for Brique.
How does it feel eating at one of the restaurants carrying your design?
It’s nostalgic. You remember all what you have went through to finish it. Naay uban mural nga ma feel nimo mura kag construction worker kay abog pa kaayo ang place pero magtan-aw ka, aircon na finish na tanan. Ma kontento nako.
Lingaw man, maka bring back og memories.
Where do you see yourself in the future?
I’m graduating college this year but for now, I don’t have anything in mind yet. But I want to receive perhaps freelance work from abroad but not necessarily working there.
Definitely, I will continue to do freelance. And I also see myself writing a book about typography. I have been into art books, it’s very expensive. But it’s interesting how one artist shares his or her craft to others, I want to try it. I also want to try teaching or doing workshops, and help other artists find their own process.
Who are your favorite artists?
Chris Anderson. His art can be found in movies, and it always strives to be different.
How do you strive to be different?
It’s hard to achieve because of course you are after for your clients’ approval but my way to show my personal art to is I post them on Instagram, it’s more on food typography, where I use the subject as the medium.
What’s your dream project?
I want to try production design for movies. I want to conceptualize the visual aspect of the film–from set design, costumes and cinematography. I find it really interesting because it is also art in its form, telling a story.
Why do you think murals at a restaurant or food shop, or art in general when it comes to food presentation is important?
For me, I don’t really think mural helps with the food presentation, but it sets you in the mood of what cuisine you are about to indulge in, it adds up expectations. Murals actually help you connect more with the ambiance and most especially, with the brand. I think it tells more about the story of the resto’s brand and food.
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