|Ardith Ibañez Nishii
Born in the Philippines, Ardith immigrated to northern California when she was 10 months old and has maintained a strong sense of her Filipino identity. Her artwork often pays tribute to her Filipino heritage or even American pop culture (which has oddly enough become a part of Filipino culture). Ardith has enjoyed drawing as long as she can remember. Her first piece that made her feel proud to be an artist was her drawing of an X-Wing fighter that she copied from her Star Wars lunch box during recess in the first grade. Ardith eventually studied Design at Stanford University (graduating in 1994) and enjoyed a multidisciplinary art education that prepared her for a colorful career path exploring various industries and media from web design to costume design. Her philosophy is rooted in the idea that the intersection of art and design belong in the everyday lives of everyday people. It excites her to be involved in a creative project regardless of the medium. It might be a collection of tshirts or product packaging or a poster design or an animation. As long as she's drawing, she's happy! Ardith considers herself fortunate to call herself a multi-talented visual artist --- an illustrator who can design or designer who can illustrate.
For someone who had no intention of getting into web design, Ardith is best known for her corporate web design work and 3 web design books from the past 15 years. Some clients include Isaac Mizrahi, Mally Beauty, The North Face, Beringer Vineyards, Sony Pictures, and W Hotels. Her experiences in interactive design and development will hopefully pave the way for her goal to become involved in motion graphics and film one day.
Ardith relatively recently fulfilled her lifelong dream of living in New York City --- something she has considered to be a requisite field trip for her journey as an American artist. She celebrated the conclusion of her New York City period by having an art show of limited edition art prints and projections depicting observations from her travels from the past 20 years.
Today, Ardith resides in Los Angeles with her husband and newborn baby boy. While enjoying the sunshine and being closer to family, she is working on her portfolio to do illustrations for book publishing and the entertainment industry.
Which work will you be exhibiting? Why did you select this piece?
"Love Comes First" Conté crayon on Arches paper (20" x 26")
What is your charity or cause? Why did you select this? Where does community work fit in with your ethos as an artist?
As a Filipina-American, I am passionate about helping to provide a voice for the Filipino community at large. I am passionate about celebrating the spirit of a third world country that has persevered and survived centuries of colonial rule, abject poverty, corruption, not to mention a slew of natural disasters. Despite all the negativity, Filipinos somehow emerge constantly hard-working and hopeful for a better tomorrow. I specifically want to do more with Filipino youth to help them connect with their rich and colorful heritage. COMMUNITY WORK: I need to be more involved in community work! I believe that it's a necessity! You can't be a responsible citizen of the world without it! I know that when I volunteer, I always feel like I've grown or learned something new by getting out of my comfort zone of my daily routine and/or my home turf... Back in the day, I used to volunteer at a Filipino Youth Education Center where I taught art to Filipino kids in Tagalog. I miss that. It was great to get out of the mindset of the corporate world of my day job and connect with kids and try to be a decent role model. I need to get back into that now that I'm starting my own family.
Please talk about your ideas of Freedom & Revolution.
Well there are the concepts of freedom and revolution on a massive national scale. For instance, the Philippines has a history full of notable revolutions to fight for freedom --- freedom from Spain, freedom from the United States, freedom from Ferdinand Marcos, etc. I believe that there's definitely a distinctive fighting spirit inherent in Filipino identity. What interests me the most about the concepts of freedom and revolution are how they manifest themselves on a personal or individual level. I love the fact that the Philippines is one of the few Asian countries to have female presidents. I think this explains why Filipino women tend to play strong roles as mothers or leaders in general... I like the fact that the idea of revolution doesn't have to be a violent act. It can be a quiet but profound miracle that starts at home with the power of one person. My piece "Love Comes First" is named after a song by the Haitian-American band, Zing Experience. The image is of a mother holding and protecting her child in the wind. She is actually singing the song "Love Comes First" as an anthem, but it also looks like she might be crying -- tears of joy or of pain. She could be out in the middle of war-torn streets or in the midst of the aftermath of an earthquake or she could just be at home... I like the idea of portraying something more complicated or complex than a straightforward "We Can Do It" propaganda poster. I think there's strength and confidence in being able to show one's vulnerability or struggle.
Edition One Hundred is founded with the idea of providing artists the opportunity to transform new technology into a tool to both produce affordable art while simultaneously connecting to non-traditional art collectors. What are your thoughts on Edition One Hundred?
Deciding to become involved in Edition 100 was a no-brainer! It's an honor for me to participate. I love the concept of making art more accessible and affordable for a more diverse audience. I'm all about bringing art into the lives of everyday people. I think the online presence of the Edition 100 concept is the perfect way to break down the barriers that prevent people from experiencing and enjoying new art. The fact that Edition 100 lives on the web means that I can necessarily reach a larger audience. The opportunities are limitless.
What are your thoughts on Art in the Digital Age?
We live in an exciting time. Computers have accelerated and enhanced our ability as artists to make different iterations and versions of our work. (Thank you, Adobe Creative Suite!) We can now experiment with millions more effects, colors, etc. in a fraction of the time it would take to do all that by hand. And if we wanted to create an animated version of our illustration or photograph? No problem! I love having options... At the same time, I enjoy returning to pen and paper or paint... I think it's important not to lose sight of the process and the fact that the spontaneity of making mistakes is part of the journey.
Do you collect art? Who do you collect and why? I wish I could say that I collect art from a specific artist. I'm from the school of thought that art is everywhere. Art can be my $8 garbage can designed by Karim Rashid or my Issey Miyake skirt made from highly technical fabric featured at the MOMA. My only collection to speak of is my own collection of photos of the number 5 from all over the world. It's my favorite number and I love capturing instances of it in my everyday life. If I could afford to buy more "traditional" art, I would buy Shepard Fairey's work. I love the propaganda poster style of his pieces and that many of his work was plastered around my old neighborhood in New York. I love that he had the balls to just put his work up there in the streets! Such a happy surprise to come across something stunning like his work when and where you least expect it. Beyond the chutzpah, he is an amazing illustrator! He definitely has influenced how I draw. He has an impeccable sense of design. His images are so iconic. When I finally got a chance to see one of his shows, I was so mesmerized by the detail, breadth, and scale of his work. His original stencils are gorgeous. And the other artist's work I would collect would be Egon Schiele --- another big influence on my drawing style. I love the quality of his lines and how he works with gouache on paper.
Why should people buy art?
As I mentioned, I believe that art is everywhere. To me, it can be clothes or food or a car or a photograph or a painting, etc. Art makes specific statements and makes us stop and think and therefore, ultimately enhances our lives.
For more information and more samples of Ardith's work, visit: