Dream Dad

Time flies… too fast.

I was working for this guy’s father in their family-owned hotel when he was in high school. He would hang out a few times in the office, sit alone in some part of the hotel and while his time sketching. He already had a knack for art and getting better as his hand and the pen were inseparable. In fact, he even sketched a couple of projects for me, one of which was in exchange for an Alien action figure.

That was an eon ago.

Today I may need an entire cinematic collection of action figures for a project by Macky Pamintuan. This Davao born world-class talent is not only a successful international artist but a family man as well - a husband to Aymone and a father to a pretty two-year old girl, Alison.

Alison is one of the luckiest kids on earth. If she asks her dad to read her a book at bedtime, it won’t be just any book. It will be one of dad’s illustrated books from his collection.

The collection of Macky’s illustrated works is steadily growing. These days he’s in the seclusion of the “Mack-cave” illustrating a project. Mack-cave can be anywhere he wants it to be, and that’s what he plans on doing- -it was in San Francisco, San Diego then in Mexico, now in Davao, tomorrow it can be Tokyo, then Florence, then Turkey. In short, this artist’s workstation is where he wants the laptop computer to be. All he has to do is email his drawings to New York and wait for the publication.

Let’s get to know the artist and his works, and the father.

What made you decide you wanted to be a professional artist?

It's who I am. When I was younger, I tried to avoid art as work and dabbled in other fields, but I keep coming back to it. I'm glad I did. I'm not sure of the accuracy of the saying "If you love your job, you'll never work a day in your life," but it sure helps.

Which school did you enroll in? What course?

I took my BFA at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. I started with 2D Animation, but found Traditional Illustration to be more to my liking.

What were your considerations in choosing your school?

I kinda just walked in one day, looked at the walls & realized that I could make a good living doing illustrations. The Academy's focus on learning proper art foundation was a big draw. Also, San Francisco's an amazing city for artists.

How did you get into children’s books illustrating?

In 2003, I graduated and had to find work before my student loans kicked in. Shortly after, I hooked up with New York based MB Artists, who represented artists in the children's book market. It's been a wonderful partnership since.

Where do you draw your inspiration when illustrating?

I look at the story and interpret it in a way that would be fun for me to do. Some of my books take months to complete and it's important to keep things interesting and playful.

What was the first book you illustrated? How did this project come about?

The answer can vary. There have been earlier, smaller scale projects, but the first widely distributed book would be "I Saw an Ant on the Railroad Track" by Joshua Prince. The script was presented to me by Mela, my agent, and I enjoyed the bouncy nature of the story and quickly signed on.

Describe the feeling of finally seeing your very first illustrated book on the bookstore shelf and holding it.

Sublime. It's hard to describe it exactly, but I still remember to this day seeing my book on the shelves of a Barnes & Noble store. I felt all the hard work that I put in through the years was finally being validated. I still feel a rush every time I see a new book on display, but nothing beats that first time.

Since then, you’ve been doing children’s books? What are the other books you’ve done so far?

Yikes. A lot. I won't mention all. Your readers' limited patience AND my notoriously bad memory is a not a good combination. I've worked on 10 picture books and a few chapter book titles like Flat Stanley (18 books) & Nancy Drew (34 books) among the notables. I've also done work for greeting cards, advertising art & other publications. I really should come up with a better answer one of these days. Let's just stick with "a lot."

Do you have a personal favorite among the books you’ve done? Why?

The answers vary. Some days it's "Bedtime at the Swamp." Other times it's "Alfred Zector, Book Collector." My most recent books are my current favorites. Both are not yet in stores, but one is a whimsical dinosaur book and the other a sports nostalgia book.

Which among your books is your daughter’s favorite? What does she say of your books?

I think it's Bedtime at the Swamp. The writing is just fun to follow. Being only 2 years old, her vocabulary's still developing, but it's wonderful to see her wear out the pages of my books. They're folded & torn now. It means I did my job well, but I'm getting stiff competition from Dr. Seuss.

Do you read your books to her at bedtime? How often?

We read them to her constantly. In fact, many times a day because she asks for it. Even in the car or when eating out. We don't watch TV at home so her entertainment is not bound by a screen. Her creative world is found between the pages and only limited by her imagination.

Will Davao be seeing your children’s books in our bookstores? Where can they buy them?

My two chapter book titles, "Flat Stanley" and "Nancy Drew & the Clue Crew" are available in the chain book stores you find at the malls, but no picture books at the moment. Hopefully, they make it to Davao someday. But all my books are available online. Just googling my name will do the trick finding them.

What’s your proudest moment as a father?

Just when I thought I was coasting along, you spring the tough question. The list is growing and I'll skip the tried & tested answers. At the moment I'm having a blast whenever I'm driving & hearing her in the backseat singing the lyrics to Oasis, Radiohead or Blur songs. That and her being able to identify Elvis, Darwin & MLK in photos. Ok, that's two answers, but those moments always put a smile on this dad's face.

What’s your dream project?

I don't have that one big dream project, but I do hope to one day do an art show that is stylistically different from my books and for an older crowd. I'd also like to write & illustrate a book some day. I also have plans to design shirts and paint shoes. Yeah, I'm all over the place. One dream at a time.

Check out Macky’s website: http://www.mackyart.com/mackyart1/home.html

For more lifestyle & travel stories, visit http://apples-and-lemons.blogspot.com/ and http://jeepneyjinggoy.blogspot.com/

Published in Sun.Star newspaper on June 17, 2012.