How frequently do you see murals in Cebu? Nearly everyday, we go around the busy streets with heavy traffic and it’s almost impossible not to notice those small, artistic creations on walls that add more color to the city. Hannah Soi, a mural artist & visual designer, took up the challenge to level up those small piece of artworks on the street into a much bigger scale and a much bolder message to address.
- What inspired you to make murals?
My first mural was for a client in 2014. My friend asked me if I can do a mural for her friend’s room. I was nervous and I wasn’t going to take it because I haven’t done it before but she insisted. I wasn’t really inspired to start making murals, I was pushed. What inspired me to continue though is the thought that it is something big and new for me and I was curious about the craft.
- How different is painting a mural and painting in a canvas?
I don’t really have a formal education on painting. Based on experience and based on what I believe, when I paint a mural I like it to be cohesive with the design of its surroundings unless if the client wants it to pop out. It doesn’t have to have deep meaning if the aim is to beautify the area especially if you are working hand in hand with interior design. Painting a canvas is different. You need to have proper composition and meaning behind that artwork. It still depends though if you are painting for a client or painting for yourself. When I paint for a client, it has rules. But when I paint for myself, I just paint.
- What was the concept of the mural?
The concept of the mural is for awareness that we need to take care of our environment and protect our wildlife. We aim to let the Cebuanos know that Cebu is very special because it is the home of a few of the endangered birds in the world. We as locals should know that these birds are protected by law. We should have compassion not just to these birds but to all wildlife.
- How did you first react when you were asked to make the biggest mural in Cebu? And how did it mean for you.
I was super excited because it has always been my dream to make a 2-storey or more mural for Cebu. I was always looking at huge street art pictures from Manila and other countries and wondered why Cebu doesn’t have super large murals like them. When I knew that it was about endangered birds and flowers then it meant everything to me. I’m an advocate for the wellness of the environment plus birds and flowers are my favorite subjects to paint.
- What were the challenges?
I learned that a dream come true also has its responsibilities and hardships. It was outdoor and it was big. I usually paint a mural quick because I have my own process. But the limited amount of scaffolding made it not possible to follow my process so it added to the number of days to make and it also made the scaling of the design to a large proportion very difficult. The weather also slowed us down. The direct heat of the sun on the wall is unbearable so we have to start painting at 12 noon, when the sun shifts and there is enough shade. We couldn’t paint when there is too much rain. It was also scary climbing to the highest part of the scaffolds. Luckily, I have my assistants Buscas, Kyla and Raul. We joked our way through the inconveniences and we just laugh about everything every day. I wouldn’t have mentally survived the mural without them!
If you want to check out the mural itself, it’s located at The Gallery, Golam Drive, Cebu City.