Illustration by Ariana Maralit

quiversmiths featured image

For years now, the call for sustainable living is strong and it doesn’t just apply to businesses but also to every lifestyle. In the arts, creatives are encouraged to go greener by choosing sustainable art materials, and to practice repair and recycle.
No wonder, more and more art supply companies and even smaller shops are following this path, as creators are now looking for this type of materials. Locally, a young artist named Iana Cris Forbes has built an online art shop that sells handmade, eco-friendly art supplies. Recently, the beautiful images of her products even went viral online. In a conversation with Manila Bulletin Lifestyle, Iana shares how her journey to this path began and the things she has learned along the way. 

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MULTI-TALENTED Iana Cris Forbes works as a creative director while managing an online art shop

It runs in the blood
If her her last name rings a bell, that’s because she is related to contemporary artist Romeo Forbes Jr. Under his wing, Iana explored the colorful world of visual arts at a young age and she learned to love it even more as she grew older.
“I started painting when I was a child,” she says. “My late brother, Romeo Forbes Jr., was a known Filipino artist and I started training under him when I was six years old. Later on, I studied Fine Arts at the University of the East.”
Aside from having firsthand mentorship from a master, Iana said that, as a kid, she also enjoyed watching art shows. “Besides painting, I like doing crafts,” she says. “It’s the result of staying at home and watching art shows like Art Attack. Overtime, it became my hobby to create DIY projects that I could use daily, such as journals and tool rolls.”
Today, 25-year-old Iana is working full time as the art director of Mayad Studios, a wedding photo and video company.

The rise of QuiverSmith
Working behind the lenses to capture beautiful moments, Iana travels a lot. When traveling, she makes sure she has all her creative tools with her, and some of them are her handmade art materials.
“I travel a lot because of weddings. I’m an SDE [same day edit] editor, I bring my tools with me, all the time” she says. “Then two years ago, I shared it with a friend, Louis Duran. He recommended that I should share it with other artists because they, too, might need travel art tools as well.”

Sierra Madre Brush Set

Sierra Madre brush rest

From that moment and with the help of trusted friends, Iana put up QuiverSmith, an art supply shop that sells handmade, eco-friendly art materials.
Because she is big fan of Lord of the Rings, most of her products are inspired by the characters of the fantasy series, such the Samwise and Bilbo leather-bound journals. She also makes beautiful paint palettes. When you look at them for the first time, they seem to have been created from Middle Earth. Made from ceramics, these are named after Filipino games, like her sungka and piko palettes.

Quiver Journals


Supporting local
“Right now, I’m the only one creating these products. I source the materials from all over. I drive around from Bulacan, Quezon City, Marikina to Caloocan to find these,” she says. “I took ceramic classes as well, so I can make the palettes eco-friendly since most of the stuff in the market is made of plastic.”
The visual artist who uses watercolor as her main medium also says that she’s looking forward to expanding her business by hiring local craft makers.

“If the odds are in my favor, I am planning to hire local crafters. The goal is to give opportunities to local makers and traditional artists. That’s why I take my time to learn each process so I can teach them myself. This also preserves the quality I want to give to my clients. If I can generate jobs for sculptors and seamstresses, that would be amazing!”

But with the Covid-19 threat, Iana admitted that her business and her dream to open opportunities to other craft makers have been affected. “It has become difficult for me to source materials. Most stores are closed or are running out of stock,” she says. “Luckily, it did not take a toll on the orders because everyone is willing to wait for theirs and that’s something I am really thankful for. For international orders, I have been offering refunds but they are willing to wait.”

Iana is grateful for the opportunity she has been given to pursue her passion while earning a living. “Pursue what you want. At first, it was hard for me because I wanted to be a painter, I wanted to be a sculptor, I wanted to be a graphic artist, I wanted to be a wedding colorist, I wanted to stitch, I wanted to make bags and shoes and jewelry. But I haven’t seen a person doing all of those!” she says. “Before, I could not see any future in them but here they are now. I’m doing everything all at once and I’m fine. I’m happy living multiple lives. It’s like connecting the dots. My hobbies are now my sources of living and I couldn’t be more thankful.”

Source: Manila Bulletin (