On Paying It Forward

Written by: Karla Lorena | 10 months ago

One would probably wonder, what does ‘Sskait’ mean? Could it possibly be just a gibberish term for sketch? Questions like these are often left unanswered- leaving the reasons up to people’s imagination. But on this rare occasion, we finally got the privilege of getting to know our artist better- the man behind our favorite and always relatable comic characters and stories. 

AJ Bacar,  a graduate of BS Electronics Engineering at De La Salle University, was also the Arts and Graphics Editor of Ang Pahayagang Plaridel, the official Filipino publication of DLSU. As the Author and Illustrator of #Sskait Comics, we trace back the beginning of AJ’s passion for the arts. 

AJ’s love for comics started at an age far earlier than the time most people would have realized their dreams. While other kids were caught up with Legos and toys and guns, our artist was inside the comics section of newspapers. Most of us would not be familiar with Pugad Baboy, Kikomachine, Funny Komics, but for AJ, these were his worldMore than just the graphics and the good laugh it brought to him, it became his inspiration. To be able to create art is something, but to have it impact an individual’s life is entirely apart. As a kid who experienced the power of such illustrations, he dreamt of being able to give back to the community the entertainment and comfort that he felt back when he was still so young. Fortunately, when the world sees you doing what you love for a good cause, it works its own magic to give you back the favor. 

For most, it may seem to appear that AJ’s success was effortless. We may think luck goes easily to people like him who have such wonderful talents, but in reality, even the greatest skill requires hard work and perseverance. Patience. Faith. Purpose. To have a strong love for the arts is quite challenging especially when survival necessitates practicality. There needs to be a stable, professional, job, for one to earn sufficient income to provide for their daily needs. This was a real struggle for AJ as he thought hard before deciding to pursue his art career full-time. Through consistent efforts, he was able to make his dream work. As the saying goes, “Just do what you love, and the money will follow.” Indeed it was true, but an even greater following that contributed to his success was the people. His audience eventually grew, and with their continuous support, feedback, and love, AJ was able to establish a name as a well-known artist and illustrator who’s now working on his second book and even has merchandise made out of his popular characters. 

Art has never been a smooth-going road for anyone. Some days the ideas are spilled on the side and crosswalks. But on some, it is as empty as a blank canvas with a pen that ran out of ink. For AJ, the blocks are as important as the easy way trips. It teaches you to wait and go back to your very core. It establishes discipline. If there’s one thing you’ll learn from our #Sskait artist, it’s that art must never be taken out of something forced. It should come naturally. Organically. Creativity arrives when you let it take its time- wandering around people’s experiences, stories, emotions, and thoughts. It’s also crucial to note that not everyone would love or agree with your work; however, what matters is that you keep on going. Make art as a hobby and build it day by day. No structure has ever been created by only working on it on days when you feel like it. Build it through the moments when you love art, and build it even stronger on moments when you feel like giving up. More importantly, have your foundation stand with your purpose along with your responsibility to create contents that do not shatter other people’s temples. 

At the end of the podcast episode, AJ Bacar finally revealed how he came up with the name #Sskait. It was during a rainy day, on a bus ride, when he suddenly thought- he wanted to make comics out of everyone’s stories; Siya, Sila, Ako, Ikaw, Tayo. Going back to his dream when he was a kid, he wanted to pay forward the emotions that he felt when he was drawn to other people’s work. Now, the dreamer is an adult with hands that is capable of creating his own art. More than just entertainment and fun, his comics became such a safe haven for people like us who, through engaging with his relatable works and characters, realized that indeed, something will always save us from the formality and struggles of the world- and that is, and will always be, art.