Another year, another great time at the Anime and Cosplay Expo (ACX). This year’s ACX happened on July 7-8, 2018 at the SMX Convention in Manila.
ACX specifically caters to anime lovers and cosplay enthusiasts. It highlights a beautiful community where everyone is welcome and where everyone is encouraged to get as creative as you can. The diverse array of cosplay get ups and the obvious effort put into making these costumes had been amazing and very impressive. Many expo goers went as their favorite anime characters and even went as far as emulating their personalities. I’ve watched a few animes and read a couple of mangas back then, but while cruising through the venue, I realized that I’m really not that cultured because I wasn’t able to name a single character I encountered. The only characters I recognized were Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse, and my personal favorite, Ursula from Little Mermaid.
But you know what’s as impressive as these costumes? The artists and all of their works displayed for everyone to see and purchase. The venue specifically had a section where artists can set up and sell their products. From stickers to pins to colored art, I’m you’ll find something that sparks your interest or feeds your fan girl soul. Going through the different artists booth, I noticed how they all had their own style of art and had different kinds of items to sell. What’s even more impressive is that these were all their creations and some are even handmade!
Luckily, I had the opportunity to talk to some of these talented people.
The first booth that immediately caught my eye was the booth that sold magnetic bookmarks of different anime characters belonged to a certain Ms. Eri Bloodberry. These magnetic bookmarks made these chibi anime characters look like they are dangling from a page of a book. These bookmarks were an absolute hit that when I came back to her booth later in the afternoon, more than half of it was sold out already. Ms. Eri said that it takes her 3 hours or more just to graft one character. Drawing them is a different topic. Aside from these magnetic bookmarks, she was also selling a number of her artworks.
Originally, Ms. Eri took up HRM and had a job totally different from art. However, she cannot deny that art has always been her love and passion. She quit her day job to continue pursuing art. Now, she’s a freelance illustrator who creates amazing artworks and items on the side.
Ms. Eri was a ’90s anime kid. Cardcaptor Sakura, Inuyasha, and Akazukin Chacha are just some of what got her started with anime. But talking about her art, she says that it was Inuyasha that really piqued her interest because the characters were always her muses. Aside from Inuyasha, western cartoons also shaped her love for art. As an artist, she wants to explore and create more. Going back to her roots as a ’90s anime kid, she hopes to create more art involving some of the shows that made her love anime.
Check out more of her art here.
Mark Kevin “K” Espiritu
Among the cute and colorful booths, there was one who opted for simplicity but his artworks did all the talking. The stunning art of different anime characters sprawled on the table were all drawn by Mark Kevin Espiritu who goes by the name “K.” His booth had a mixture of art drawn by a black pen as well as colored artworks. Upon approaching the booth, you’d see K hunched over and drawing an artwork. Not only was he selling some of his already made artworks, but he was also accepting commissions. His drawings must have been a hit and he must have gotten a lot of requests since by the time I got to his booth, he wasn’t accepting anymore.
When asked what got him into art, he only answered “anime.” He shared that his favorite animes are Code Geass and Oregairu. K says that his artworks usually take him 1-2 days to create. Aside from drawing being his hobby, K is also an anime and cosplay conventions goer himself. Seeing other artists in the conventions he had been to inspired and pushed K to sell his art as well.
What’s so special about the anime community? K says it’s everyone. He loves the diversity found in all anime conventions. From different genres to different activities, there’s always something anyone can relate to and can be a part of. As for the future of anime and cosplay, K is highly positive more people will come to love anime. He shared that back in 2008, there were no artists selling their craft in conventions. Looking at it now, where artists now essential in these events, he believes the community of people who love anime and everything about it will continue to grow.
Check out more of his art here.
Kim, Khie, and Chigo
Contrast to K’s booth is a cute and colorful set up. Different artworks clipped on the sides and a variety of sticker sizes and designs to choose from. Here I met Kim and Khie. They told me that they were actually a triad of different artists in the booth and that they were missing Chigo, another artist that day.
About what got them into art, Kim and Khie had different answers to share. For Kim, it was an interest and hobby that was highly fueled by anime. On the other hand, art was a form of coping mechanism for Khie. She shared how there were days when her parents weren’t around much, spending most of her time alone. Luckily, she found a companion in art and drawing. Kim became interested in anime because it offered a different style from the usual cartoons on TV. It was the type of style she wanted to immerse herself in through anime and through drawing. Like many anime lovers today, Khie became acquainted with anime through the ’90s dubbed anime that aired on local TV channels. Tuning in to these TV channels to watch anime easily became a part of her daily schedule.
Both of them have turned their passion of art and anime into a business. Being part of conventions helps them grow as artists and helps them gain recognition. Artists do have their own bills to pay, you know? With the help of the internet, social media, and events like ACX, many will come to see the beauty of the anime community and more artists will soon pop up. Both Kim and Khie are proud to be part of this community – a community that’s about showing love, appreciation, and support for everything anime.
At this point, I realized that a majority of the artists in ACX 2018 do art as a side project. Squeezing my way through the crowd, I came across a long booth which I assumed was also managed by a group of artists. Having a look at their display, you’d see notice the difference in style and in form between artworks. At the right side of the booth sat one of the artists and she goes by the name Marzellene.
It was her sister that influenced Marzellene to start drawing. She points out to me her colored artwork and tells me that it takes her 2 week s to make a full print. Like those artists who make this as a sideline, Marzellene is still a student yet always finds the time for her art. Her love for anime, however, blossomed when she started watching those animes shown early in the morning on local TV shows. Also a convention goer herself, seeing other artists at anime conventions also inspired her to make art she could sell.
Like all of the artists interviewed, Marzellene is, no doubt, positive that anime and cosplay will continue to grow. Anime creators will always create new content. Like technology, anime is always upgrading and constantly changes. She remains optimistic that the anime community will continue to grow simply because of the kind, helpful, and supportive people she is surrounded by.
Check out her art here.
Anime as Art
Through different paintings and artworks, people are able to express their deepest and most intimate feelings. Different art styles have popped up through the years, including anime. Anime has helped a number of artists express their creativity. Anime has brought together people from different walks of life to become part a community where they feel like they belong because of their mutual interests. That is why ACX and other anime conventions exist – to celebrate every different individual’s love and appreciation for anime.