By JOHN LEGASPI

Uniqlo UTme featured image

These past months, everyone has been pushed to live a simple life. Unnecessary things such as parties and out-of-town trips, even buying coffee, were edited out. Everyone rekindled the beauty of having a hobby like painting, experimenting with new dishes, or having piles of books to read.

While we are in the safety of our homes, frontliners and medical workers are braving the coronavirus pandemic in the effort to flatten the curve. To honor their deeds, three talented artists together with Uniqlo created a collection to say thank you to today’s modern heroes.

For its fourth UTme! Art of the Philippines, the retail giant tapped Christi Lu, Kitty Jardenil, and the Bad Student studio to create shirt designs that center on the theme “Salamat.”

The collection is intended to show their heartfelt appreciation to the frontliners and everyone who has shown courage and compassion in the middle of the pandemic.

Manila Bulletin Lifestyle chats with the artists on how they use the shirts as canvas to capture the spirit of bayanihan that is evident in acts of kindness found in various places, from hospital halls to small communities.

CHRISTI LU

An illustrator and graphic designer based in Manila, Christi started her creative journey by drawing rats on her sister’s post-it pads when she was young. She often gets inspiration from the cartoons she grew up watching, which gives her work a fun and childish aesthetic.

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Christi Lu

Her shirt design depicts three details to demonstrate the spirit of community and building connections. “I wanted to show how people can rely on each other during these times,” the 25-year-old artist says. “The strings illustrate these connections. The use of can phones is nostalgic and playful, highlighting the idea that what we create make light out of the darkness. Lastly, there’s a little detail where the phone cans are drawn with sardine labels to hint that they’re from relief goods.”

UTme Salamat - Christi Lu Design

Christi’s ‘spirit of community’ design

KITTY JARDENIL

There are two things Kitty was passionate about when she was young—arts and crafts and writing. Now a 20-year-old college student, she mixes her love for the two in graphic design and lettering, which are evident in her shirt design.

Kitty Jardenil

Kitty Jardenil

Feeling the cabin fever during community quarantine, she admits that the collaboration helped her avoid having burnout, and got her asking questions about what is happening in the world outside.

“I realized that the only time I get to feel like I’m still part of the world these days is when I put my hand out the window and feel the sun. Then it hit me that windows are our portals to the outside world while we are required to stay at home—how my mom would look out the window if there’s a Grab arriving, or how my dad would also look out to talk to someone who dropped by to pick something up,” Kitty says. “I also connected this idea to our digital devices, how they too are windows, albeit in digital form, to our loved ones, fellow Filipinos who need help, and our beloved frontliners. Our generation is so fortunate to have these means of communication.”

UTme Salamat - Kitty Jardenil Design

Kitty adivises everyone to ‘keep our windows open, as well as our hearts.’

BAD STUDENT

Bad Student is an independent risograph press and design studio founded by Pau Tiu and Dyam Gonzales. Playing with the theme “gratitude for courage,” their design features the country’s National Flower, the sampaguita, as a symbol of devotion and dedication.

Bad Student

Dyam Gonzales and Pau Tiu of Bad Student

“For us, there is that powerful love and sense of duty to care for others that strengthen us to do courageous things, in spite of the fears we face day by day,” they say. “The sampaguita flower stands for our natural devotion and dedication to the people we love. To help, support, protect, and look out for each other—these are the values that bind us together. With these motivating ideals, we keep going, we keep moving, we keep fighting. This love sparks the brightest light in the darkness. For us, love wouldn’t exist without courage, and courage wouldn’t exist without love.”

UTme Salamat - Bad Student Design

Bad Student’s ‘gratitude for courage’ design

ART WILL KEEP US ALIVE

To keep everyone’s creative juices flowing, Uniqlo will also be holding a series of online art workshops conducted by UTme! artist collaborators. Every Friday starting June 19, each artist will host their own session, where they will be teaching art classes – Collage Making by Bad Student, Drawing Faces with Christi Lu, and Hand Lettering by Kitty Jardenil.

“It’s sad to think how people neglected the importance of art and design before, only to find them relying on it to stay productive and sane during the pandemic,” Kitty says. “Art has always been the soul of humanity that nourishes anyone who has ever seen a film or has picked up a paintbrush. It has been our medium for catharsis, for activism, for self-expression, and for charity.”

“Now more than ever, art is relevant. With what’s happening in our country, you can only say so much, and express so much, because there’s a looming fear. We use art to express what we feel and we use art to inform,” Christi adds. “It has always been used for sending a message, giving a voice to the voiceless. It always leaves an impact and imprint in history. I don’t think it will be different this time.”

The UTme! Salamat collection is at Uniqlo Manila global flagship store Glorietta 5.

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Source: Manila Bulletin (https://lifestyle.mb.com.ph/2020/06/18/young-filipino-artists-pay-homage-to-frontliners-with-cool-shirt-designs/)