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Rygen Necosia on Appreciating the Artist and Respecting the Art

Uprising 67 Add to collection

Paper Sky Films’ illustrator on life in the Philippines, avoiding the feeling of burnout and giving artists the credit they deserve, writes LBB’s Nisna Mahtani

Rygen Necosia on Appreciating the Artist and Respecting the Art


Born and raised in the Philippines, illustrator Rygen Necosia grew up in a rural province of the country which, in the ‘90s, didn’t have access to the internet or electricity for the most part. Her agricultural upbringing meant she was surrounded by mango plantations and “the closest neighbourhood was half a mile away”, thus came the ability for her to grow her artistic talent.

As a six-year-old, Rygen spent her alone time making her own entertainment “by getting lost in crafts, drawing and art.” She says: “I always wanted blank paper, but I was picky, I wanted good quality paper – like the kind you find in hardback books – which had that ‘paper’ smell.” Rygen recalls ripping off many of the covers of her books to replace them with her own drawings because, as she says: “I felt it challenged me to improve as an artist. Back then, I didn't have any idea I'd end up with a career as an artist, I was just happy making art.”

Determined to create new covers, drawings and art, Rygen’s father always challenged her to do better with her work. As a result, she wound up ripping the covers off his dictionaries, her mother’s novels and giving them a revamp with her very own artistic vision. “I also built a house model using covers from vinyl albums, I destroyed a lot of stuff, but my parents were always patient with me when I was a kid.” Looking back, she reflects on her wild spirit as a child and the destruction she wound up causing as part of her “expression”. 

Finishing school, Rygen got her bachelor's degree in Business Administration, majoring in Marketing Management. “After I graduated I attended an online class at Vancouver Animation School and took one of their introductory courses (Concept Art), and because of that, I was able to land my first job as an assistant illustrator/concept artist in an emerging company,” she says. This experience allowed Rygen to travel abroad, learn about different cultures and “experience the beauties of places I have never been before.” Rygen says: “I never stopped learning and eventually I got offers from clients and companies to handle 2D animation.” It was these experiences and fundamental years that allowed her to gain both the knowledge and skills she needed to be immersed in the industry.

Like many creatives, Rygen never believed that her love for arts and crafts would wind up being a career. She always believed she would be a traditional artist, as that was what she knew best: “I didn't even have the resources for digital art until the company, who first offered me an opportunity to be their concept artist, provided me with everything that I needed.” Ever since she dove into the digital art world, it’s where she’d like to continue to be. “I have been doing what I do for years and I still strive to be better, and learn new things by watching other artists who inspire me in the field of digital art.”

When starting off in the industry, Rygen faced a learning curb when it came to settling in: “It’s not easy at first because you don't know where to start, where to find clients or whether you're even sure if people will ever notice you.” However, she was determined to make it work, not relenting till she found clients that she could work with and who were able to understand her work too. “I learnt that not everyone understands you or your art style but that doesn't mean you're not good enough, it also teaches you to learn what your clients want, not always about what you want.” With being fluid in her style as well as having an appreciation for all art forms, it was important for Rygen to share how she is able to bring different styles to the table. 

Rygen’s first professional project was ‘Sam and Shadow’, a children’s animation about “how to deal with quarantine during the covid-19.” Quite topical for the circumstances, it was her first collaboration with a team from the UK and something that would go on to feature on TV and was a tangible way for her to showcase her craft to clients. When she finished, Rygen was, however, left with the feeling that she could do better, until her next opportunity came along. “An animation project came along that not only changed my career, but it also gave me an opportunity to work on a few stories for one Sir Richard Branson, when I was recruited by Paper Sky Films to handle two animations as part of Virgin’s ‘Adventure Series.’ 

“It was one of the best jobs I’ve ever had, it taught me how to work as a team and be more patient with the process.” It was this project that made Rygen realise how important it is to pursue your passion and things that make you happy. 

The best part of the job for Rygen is: “when I start animating a character, it feels like I'm the one who acts through it and that’s what makes it challenging and exciting. When it comes to illustration, I love creating the facial expressions, it’s like I'm connecting to the character's emotions, as though I’m in the scene with them.” When working, Rygen is mindful of keeping a good balance between her work and her personal time, as she knows when it is that her work takes a dive. “When I feel burnout - the quality of work suffers and I don't want to hate my passion instead of loving it.” 

Having been in the industry a while, there are a few things that Rygen would like to do away with: “The first time something riled me up was when someone stole my artwork and used it without my permission.” With the authenticity and credit for her work sometimes lacking, she also feels strongly about the way in which there’s often a monetary dispute when artists are employed. “I hate it when clients know the going rate for animation service but always haggle for more discounts and freebies.” However, with her limited knowledge of the industry when she joined, Rygen now continues to be excited by being a part of the creative circle. “Especially working with awesome teams, developing challenging projects and learning new things along the way,” she says.

“Appreciate the artist and respect the art, stop underpaying and overworking creatives. Artists are humans, not robots,” she says while speaking about what she believes the industry could be doing better. From “cheeky clients” who change details to ideas without solid backing, “there are the clients who pay late or don’t pay at all, which is sadly far too common with creatives.” Part of her involvement in the industry and changing this, is being involved with the Draw On Art Studio (DOAD) group, which welcomes emerging artists and encourage them to further their talent. As a co-founder of the group, Rygen is keen to not only hone her skills, but support others in doing so too. 

Rygen’s inspirations come from far and wide. “When I was in traditional art I admired Bob Ross (who doesn’t?) and when I became a digital artist I looked up to Aaron Blaise, an American painter and animator. I always watch his YouTube videos. He's really great!” In this digital age where there is a wealth of online artistry, she also looks to social media outlets to find work that makes her look and think twice. When she’s ready to take a break from all things art, Rygen goes “outside to take a deep breath”, even finding herself at the beach or anywhere with “lots of nature”. As a family orientated person, she uses her extended family gatherings to be around the people she cares about, recharge and have a life outside of her work. 

Looking to external mediums, Rygen finds inspiration in cinema: “I love horror or suspense movies. I admire both the practical and visual effects from a creative point-of-view. It amazes me how innovative they are and how much effort is put into everything. I also love my fantasy movies and animation.” She also finds her interest in the more business-focused side of the industry, tapping into her family’s business, as well as DIY and general organisation.

For Rygen, three things keep her on her trajectory within the creative industry: “First, it's my passion and I love doing it. Second, it’s because of my family who have always believed in me and supported me always. Third, the people who gave me a chance and are constantly inspired by the art I create who inspire me and my work in return.”


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Paper Sky Films, Mon, 28 Mar 2022 16:52:00 GMT