While he didn't become a pilot, Filipino artist Kenneth Surillo continues to soar.
"I believe that art should be used to make the world a better place, and I am using my artwork to inspire others to do the same, and I will continue to do so in the future," Surillo told Digital Life Asia.
A passion for art
"As a child, I dreamed of becoming an airplane pilot. I was fascinated by the idea of soaring high above the clouds and exploring new horizons. However, as I grew older, my interests began to shift, and I found myself drawn to the world of art. But becoming a graphic designer was never something I envisioned for myself," he said.
Also known as Kenzero or Kenzeroart, Surillo is a freelance artist with a number of passions, including photography and filmmaking.
When did Surillo discover that he had a talent and passion for art?
"It all started when I joined my school's journalism club, where I was introduced to the art of editorial cartooning. From there, I continued to explore different forms of visual expression, including participating in poster making contests during my high school years," he said.
Surillo's journey toward becoming an artist, however, was not a straightforward one.
"As a former student, I once followed the conventional path of attending school and looking for a job after graduation. My passion for art initially led me to pursue a career in landscape architecture, but life had other plans for me. Due to practical reasons such as the high cost of the architecture program, the distance of the school, and a low entrance exam score, I ended up studying Computer Science at the University of Caloocan City.
"However, I refused to let this setback discourage me, and instead turned to online resources such as Google, YouTube, and Facebook groups to learn graphic design. Through online contests and freelancing, I gained valuable experience working with clients, some of whom posed significant challenges.
"Despite these difficulties, my perseverance paid off when I was able to purchase my first DSLR camera with my freelance income after graduation. With my combined passion for design and photography and the support of online communities, I was able to secure more clients and continue to grow my art business," he said.
Inspiration and influences
Asked to describe his art style, Surillo replied: "I don't know if I have a particular or distinct style, but I believe that being a mixture of a designer and an artist has allowed me to be more flexible in adapting to different art styles and using various mediums in the projects I work on."
According to Surillo, he finds inspiration from many sources, including his artist friends.
"Loish, Lei Melendres, Kerby Rosanes, Vincent Aseo, Jopet Arias, Nicolo Nimor, and Xef Sarita are just some of the artists who influence my creativity. I admire their skills and the unique styles they bring to the table, which inspire me to continuously improve and evolve as an artist.
"In addition, I draw inspiration from my life experiences and observations, as well as from the natural world. I enjoy watching cartoons and sci-fi films, as they allow me to explore new worlds and imagine new possibilities. I also love to travel whenever I have the chance, as it gives me the opportunity to experience new cultures and landscapes. These experiences, combined with my love for art and design, help me to expand my creativity and fuel my passion for creating," he said.
Discovering blockchain technology
How did Surillo first encounter blockchain technology?
"At first, I was hesitant to believe in the potential of Axie Infinity as a source of income through gaming. Despite hearing about its success stories, I was still skeptical and decided to explore other investment opportunities outside of web3. Unfortunately, I fell victim to a scam in 2022, making it a difficult year for me.
"Just when I thought things couldn't get any worse, a friend introduced me to the world of NFT art on the Paras market, which is built on the Near Protocol blockchain. Intrigued by the possibilities, I decided to mint some of my art on the platform. To my surprise, some of my pieces sold, and it gave me a glimmer of hope that things could turn around for me.
"As I continued on my journey, I discovered the supportive and amazing CryptoArtPH community, which has been a constant source of inspiration and encouragement. Being part of this community has made my experience in the world of crypto art even more enjoyable and rewarding," Surillo said.
Embracing digital collectibles
Surillo emphasized that artists should explore the world of NFT art and take advantage of the opportunities that blockchain technology is creating.
"Based on my experience, entering the world of creating digital collectibles as an artist has made me feel that my art is truly valued in this space. I believe that this is a great opportunity for other artists to showcase their work, connect with others, and collaborate without the usual hassles.
"The digital art space provides a new platform for artists to exhibit their talents and reach a wider audience. It also offers a unique opportunity for creators to monetize their work, which is not always possible in the traditional art world.
"I hope that more and more artists will explore this exciting and innovative field, and that the digital art community will continue to grow and evolve, providing a vibrant and supportive environment for all who participate in it," he said.
What message would Surillo like to share with aspiring artists?
"As an artist, my advice to others, especially to those who are new in the field, is to enjoy the creative process and trust yourself. It's important to apply the knowledge and techniques you learn from online tutorials and other sources, but don't limit yourself to just that. Allow yourself to grow and experiment with different styles and mediums.
"The journey of being an artist can be challenging but also very fulfilling. I highly recommend that you attend art conventions and gatherings where you can meet and engage with other artists. This community is very approachable and supportive, and you can learn a lot from them.
"I really hope that we're all gonna make it and hold on to why we chose to become an artist," he said.
After all, artists inspire us to let our imagination take flight.