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Monica Ong: Our Seaside Selection's Featured Artist

This Spring, we have curated Filipino delicacies that showcase the creativity of Filipino artisans who have drawn inspiration from the rich coastal cuisine of the Philippines.

So it’s only fitting that our Seaside Selection's featured artist is someone who creates works that are just as vibrant, someone who takes pride in the biodiversity of the country she calls home. 

"There are so many islands in the Philippines that you can explore and each one has something different to offer!"gushes Monica Ong, 27, whose work first caught our eye on Instagram.

Though Monica admits she wasn't particularly skilled at drawing when she was younger, it was passion that kept her motivated.

It all began when she first picked up a brush and got her own watercolor set when she was in kindergarten. 

“I remember how light the colors were and how I struggled to paint within the lines. I think that's the first time I actually fell in love with art and colors in general,” recalls Monica.

It was a love for cartoons that inspired her to start sketching her favorite characters and keep at it until she perfected them. 

"Most of the time, I draw depending on my mood or if there's something interesting that I saw going to work..."

When she's not making gouache illustrations (mostly on cotton paper), Monica works as an art director and UI (user interface) designer.

And the same passion that drives her to become better at making art has trickled into her professional life. She shares that she's always trying to find ways to lead her team better.

But the effects run deeper, as Monica views making art as a form of therapy.

“Drawing and painting has always been my outlet," she says. "Most of the time, I draw depending on my mood or if there's something interesting that I saw going to work or when I'm out and about."

 If something catches her eye but she's in a rush, she snaps a photo with her phone for when she has time to draw or paint. 

Our featured artist Monica Ong alongside one of her some of her gouache illustrations


Much like her art, her life story is also quite colorful. "I've had a lot of experiences which pushed me to become who I am today," she recalls. Because of these challenges, she's become more focused on her own growth as an art director and illustrator.

When asked about her current style, Monica describes it as “versatile.”

“I dabble in different kinds of styles and just pick whichever suits the moment or project best," she explains. But one quick scan of her Instagram account will show that her go-to style is definitely, as she says, "the colorful, texturized ones.”

“I've been lucky enough to be part of several groups....which promote authenticity, self-love, and growth in art."

To grow in one's craft as an artist, you need to find an environment in which to thrive. And Monica happily shares that she's found a welcoming community in Manila.

“I've been lucky enough to be part of several groups (mostly planner-related) which promote authenticity, self-love, and growth in art."

gouache illustration

In the future, she sees herself coming up with her own line of paper merch, from pads to stickers to planners, and so on. “It's actually something that I've been working on for a while now!” she shares.

As for seaside-themed art, her work for Chibundle is only the beginning.

"I'm currently a part-time illustrator for a UK-based company which works with divers to find diving spots around the world and the like," she shares. "Most, if not all, of my illustrations for them are sea-related and I definitely love it!"

"The sea is close to my heart as I love going to beaches with my friends to surf and chill!"

"The sea is close to my heart as I love going to beaches with my friends to surf and chill!"

For aspiring young artists, Monica's advice is to "Just keep drawing and be stubborn at it."

Despite the struggles, she urges budding artists to "keep going."

"And you'll definitely become better at what you do," she says in closing. "Even when you've become better though, remember to keep being humble and take constructive criticism to keep improving."

For our Seaside Selection, Monica has created exclusive, stunning stickers that draw from her love of the Philippines' islands. 

Subscribe here.

See more of Monica's stunning work on her website

 all images courtesy of Monica Ong