Peace Community: Rilla Fernandez

The past 10 years have been the most challenging for myself, artistically speaking. I’ve dabbled in different mediums from graffiti, photography, drawing and also graphic design. While I did gain some positive exposure from all of these forms of art, I also lost myself in it. I tried to become great at all of these things, all at the same time. I didn’t really concentrate on what I loved, which was drawing. I probably spent thousands of dollars on photography equipment, software thinking that these materials would make me a better “artist”. I quickly became restless and un-inspired once money got into the subject. “How much should I charge that client?” “How much for a new laptop?” “That last client lowballed me”. All of these questions and not one time do I remember asking myself “What can I do to make myself better at this?" I’ve seen and personally experienced how artists get exploited or cheated out of making a name for themselves. So I stopped everything altogether. I stopped doing photography, I gave up on trying to be a graphic designer, and worst off all I stopped drawing. I kept making excuses to why I stopped, I was disappointed in myself, and felt like my prime years were behind me. It was 2009, I was 23.

November 2013. I was on the internet admiring pieces of Typography, which coming from a graffiti background has always been my favourite subject. The first thing I noticed was that all the pieces were digitally made, enhanced, nothing drawn. I thought to myself “I can draw this stuff by hand”. So I got some paper, a Bic pen and started drawing…and I didn’t stop. My pen was to paper for the next 5 hours and that one piece took me 5 days to complete (which was later purchased by an admirer). I’ve been inspired to write all over again and it hit me like a ton of bricks. My sister once said that my “art is words and words are powerful”. Typography, quotes, lettering, script, calligraphy. That’s what I do, that’s all I do, this is what I want to define me. It’s influential, honest, harsh, vulgar all at the same time. Since I’ve posted my work on Instagram, the response has been overwhelming and positive. In the year of 2014, I successfully completed my #project365 which was exclusively dedicated to my lettering and progress. This was more than just posting a picture a day, this was a level of commitment to my passion and a year long step in the right direction. Surprisingly enough, I’ve had people message me and tell me that I’ve inspired them to do a Project365 for 2016 - last I checked they’re still going strong. Now I’m learning how to perfect my lettering through design and Illustrator.

Lettering and Typography is not how I pay my rent or my bills. I get odd ball commissions but it is not my source of income. I simply do it because I love it. It is my outlet, my “wind down” and my classroom. I have sleepless nights where papers and markers are all over my bedroom, but I never regret it the next morning. So to me, the concept of chasing your passion means to LOVE what you do and always remember that you really don’t have it all figured out. Give yourself the discipline to keep learning and that every lesson we learn in art is not any way limited to art.

That pretty much covers it. It turned out to be lengthier than I thought, but since I haven’t told this whole story before I figured I might as well go big or go home. Thank you so much. Look forward to our future endeavours together.