In these challenging times, highlighted by a global crisis, art, and consequently the artists who live and breathe it, were labeled as “non-essential”. However, the past two years unearthed a different outlook towards the craft, in how, in a time of distance and uncertainty, it is through art that we, as people, survived.
With different types of artists across a wide breadth of fields emerging even as the world was caught in an unprecedented standstill, the value of art has since been reaffirmed, if not amplified even more, leaving a resounding statement that art and artists will never be non-essential.
For The Mastermind Issue, on its second year, Rank Magazine celebrates the breakthrough of young and thriving new and established creatives, this time with Ina Martelino, Jolianne Salvado, Lee Caces, Ady Cotoco, Karlo Carranza, and Kim Cruz, who continue to forge an indomitable path to excellence in the art and business of creativity.
These creatives may hail from different walks of life, discipline and artistic expression, but they share the same passion for creation—each one carefully leaving an unmistakeable mark and all of them seamlessly wearing multiple creative hats, excelling and thriving, enough to call themselves masters in their own right.
INA MARTELINO, Visual Arts & Creative Entrepreneurship
On Ina: Custom Rank Magazine apron dress, Proudrace. Blazer, Edwin Tan.
Ina Martelino is a 28-year-old creative entrepreneur who manages a multifaceted creative studio called Sproos, that specializes in content production and brand curation, where she typically works in the background from styling products, directing, or even shooting.
Her love for working behind the scenes inspired her to express herself creatively and this very passion for the arts served as the driving force for her decision to launch her own business. “I started Sproos in 2018 because I knew I wanted to work in a creative company, but there wasn’t one that was doing it the way I thought it could be done. By creating my own company, I am able to create the type of working environment I want and find like-minded people who believe in the same vision and are willing to put in the work to get there with me. I think we’ve been doing well so far, and really excited to see how far my team and I will go.”
“I love being behind the camera and making mood boards and concepts come to life—it’s so much fun! I truly enjoy what I get to do. Every day is different and brings a new challenge and opportunity to create, so I always look forward to what’s next.”
When it comes to influence, her team serves as a channel for her creativity and inspiration. “I know it sounds cliche, but my team [is] my everyday influence. Having a creative team to bounce ideas off of is so helpful, especially when they are such a talented bunch.”
But aside from her team, she is also inspired by other creative entrepreneurs. “I also draw inspiration from other creatives and entrepreneurs I follow—people like Adrian Martin and Marianna Hewitt. Grabbing a coffee to chat and brainstorm with industry friends is also an effective way for me to get my mind working.”
Martelino has high hopes for her business’s future and believes that maintaining its relevance will be essential to its growth. “With content, there is always something new to create, and it’s so important to stay relevant. We used to be so focused on photo content, but now we’re learning the art of short-form videos to make IG reels and TikToks. I try to make it a point to keep my creativity flowing, and find the beauty and inspiration in mundane, day-to-day things.”
JOLIANNE SALVADO, Entertainment
On Jolianne: Jacket, Nina Amoncio. Upcycled dress, Proudrace.
An aural superstar-in-the-making, Jolianne Salvado, more commonly known by her first name, is an 18-year-old rising R&B-pop singer-songwriter from Cebu City, Philippines.
This young musician may be known for her soothing and velvety voice, but Salvado does not let herself be boxed by one craft. Writing was also something she expressed her artistry in; it was actually what gravitated her towards creative expression. It was something she has enjoyed ever since, and she does not let doubts pull her back in.
“I always loved writing. I loved filling out diaries; I loved writing bad poetry; I loved making fan fictions. I fell in love with it. Was I any good? No, I was terrible. But, I just kept at it, and after spending most of my life working on it, I got a little better.”
Salvado’s primary artistic inspiration when it comes to music is Ariana Grande. “I’d say she raised me. I also grew up listening to a lot of Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, and Celine Dion—The Vocal Trinity.”
As she began her freshman year of college, she made the decision to pursue a career in music business management. It was in taking this step where she took an even more active role in achieving her goal as a working artist. “I never want to compromise on either the artistry or the sustainability of my music. Up until now, I’ve zoned in solely on the creative aspect of the music. But now that I’ve set my mind on making a career out of my art, it’s about time I start thinking like a businesswoman too.”
Like every other singer and artist, Salvado needed to try different genres and find her sound, with the tutelage of like-minded spirited creatives that abound the artist label she was signed in, Careless Music. “After spending the past three years playing around with different genres and sounds, I’ve slowly started to narrow down what it is I really want. I’m more intentional now that I have a better sense of my artistic identity.”
LEE CACES, Fitness & Visual Arts
On Lee: Blazer with accent piece, Adam Pereyra. Pants, Nina Amoncio.
Lee Caces is a 30-year-old multimedia artist who specializes in making abstract art. As an artist, finding an art style that will help you to express your feelings, convey a story and to also make you stand out is not easy. There would be trials and errors and different inspirations needed until you find yours that you can develop overtime.
For Caces, abstract art started as a therapy. “I started doing abstract art as therapy from graphic design and editorial illustration work. I needed something different so I experimented with various mediums on paper which progressed into bigger canvas, animated LED screens, and massive walls.”
There are few people that influenced his art and all of them are artists too; Andy Warhol, an American visual artist, Henri Matisse a French visual artist, James Dean an American actor, Dan Matutina a Filipino graphic designer and illustrator and lastly, Ferdie Montemayor a modern and contemporary painter.
He started to use his skills to earn money and gain experience that helped him in his art. “I already started doing freelance as a sideline back in college, as I feel hungry for experience and was very eager to learn. Then I exposed myself in various industries like advertising, editorial, and gallery work. Now, as a full time freelance multimedia artist, I apply everything I’ve learned from these various media disciplines to maximize my craft now. “
Caces’ goal is to take his art internationally and to have put his art other than walls. “My goal is to have group and solo shows internationally. With my art style, I would love to see my elements crawl on not just on walls but possibly from floor to ceiling and sculptures. I’d like to see my elements on ceramic, furniture, fabric, etc. soon. There’s too many possibilities and avenues that can be explored, and now, more than ever, it’s the best time to take my art to greater heights.”
ADY COTOCO, Social Media, Entertainment, and Entrepreneurship
On Ady: Mock neck sweater, Proudrace. Custom hand-embroidered Rank Magazine top and trousers, Kelvin Morales.
The pandemic has brought us a whirlpool of turbulence to deal with, hindering us from various activities in the outside world, but for the 23-year-old social media content creator and livestream and events host, Ady Cotoco, it became an opportunity to ultimately focus on what he loves to do.
With more than 800,000 followers and 26.4 million likes on TikTok alone, which only started during the quarantine, Cotoco became an irresistible force on the platform. His video content ranges from discussing the road to adulting and Gen-Z life to his personal diaries like food and travel getaways.
After gaining a massive following in a short period of time, Cotoco shared that creative expression through content creation seems to be his calling in life. “I felt like it was just a calling. No matter what I do to steer away from any artistic form of a career or hobby, I seem to always find a way to go back to them. It is just really appealing to me, and I know that this is really where I am fully happy and most fulfilled.”
As early as 12 years old, Cotoco was already drawn to watching British YouTubers that later inspired his craft and even led to pioneering his own YouTube channel, with his own string of comical video uploads as a kid. “I found inspiration from British YouTubers like Aflie Deyes, Tanya Burr, Zoella, Caspar Lee, Joe Sugg, etc. at age 12. I started my own YouTube Channel as a kid and uploaded 5–6 comedy videos, but eventually deleted the account because my classmates found it.
He added, “In 2020, TikTok gave me a huge opportunity and a platform to share my content creations. I have no singular inspiration but a collective of people, rather. I also still use American and British YouTubers as my main sources of ideas and content inspiration.”
Deciding to commit full time to content creation and leaving your corporate job is not an easy decision, nor a feat, but thanks to his family and friends, Cotoco was able to smoothly transition into doing what he really is set out to do from the get. “I have a great support system of family and friends. They help me harness my interest and help open doors for me within the industry. I used to joke about being a corporate slave and treated content creation as a mere hobby, but when I worked hard enough and focused on that hobby, it sustained my being and surprisingly allowed me to be more. That is when I decided that I can finally take a step into making something that I am happy with for a career. Play hard, but work harder. Everything pays off.”
Contemplating the next steps of his career for the next coming years, Cotoco shares currently exploring different paths in the entertainment/showbiz industry. “I am currently exploring different career paths inside this entertainment/show industry. Besides content creation, I am exploring modeling, hosting, acting, podcasting, and live-streaming. I want my art to be perceived as expensive and tasteful across all platforms, whether online or offline, because that is the brand that I am building. My content, work, and art will still heavily involve my lifestyle but evolving and elevating the production means.”
KARLO CARRANZA, Tech, Entertainment, and Social Media
On Karlo: Jacket, Kelvin Morales. Pants, Nina Amoncio.
Considering himself a “fairly new” professional, Karlo Carranza is working in information technology wearing the hat of an automation manager focusing on global financial business processes for a multinational FMCG company. The foundation to this career path has forged by his academic background nurtured in the Philippines and Taiwan, where he had his hand as an engineering researcher dabbling in the biomedical field.
Such affinity with the scientific arena, it is curious to know that in high school, Carranza became known as the “arts kid” so much that he ultimately was handpicked to be dubbed the “Artist of the Year” award among his peers in his batch, having taking on multiple lead roles.
Donning multiple hats at a very young age, where he was a theater performer, head of communications for student council, and a member of a dance group, everyone was surprised when he took a rather unfamiliar route, giving his interest in numbers and science a go, leaving what he was most known for, artistically. “Let’s just say for the most of my college days, I deprived myself of the [arts] and made myself promise to focus on my goals.” he shares.
Research briefly filled the hole and his yearning for his old passion to create grew. But taking on corporate endeavors ultimately encouraged him to pursue a life outside of work, which led him to do content and attend acting classes. “Creating makes me happy, now content creation keeps me fulfilled.”
Through the impact of Nigahiga and Happyslip eight to 10 years ago, his interest in producing comic content sparked his interest. “TikTok opened me up to embracing this dorky, quirky personality I never thought I’d be able to wear with confidence.”
Carranza acknowledged that certain TikTok creators, like Inka Magnaye, Enzo Amor, and others who aren’t afraid to “unfilter” and show their true selves in a world where only the famous and carefully “manufactured” people dominated, have had the biggest influence on his content creation.
“I really haven’t taken the risk of leaving my IT profession to pursue my content creation simply because I can still do both. I’m still exploring and feeling what makes me happy and I believe that I am not just one thing. My interests may vary but my core will always be on how to do well in everything that I put my mind and heart into. But who knows I might do that in the future.”
While collecting swooning fans in views and hearts on the vertical video-sharing app, Carranza stands by the idea content production should not be turned into a metric-focused path but rather, “focus on it to being a viable channel for self-expression and occasionally lend it to advocacies or campaigns he also believes in.”
Along the process, Carranza has carefully developed the identity and self-confidence that have allowed his stars to align more favorably for him to pursue his passion for acting and begin taking risks and believing in his own skills.
“I remember choosing engineering because I always tell myself I’m not enough to be an actor but now, I can finally say I should definitely start pursuing these passions I pushed aside for the sake of things like financial security and as the safe option. But I think, especially now, there’s always an opportunity to thrive without giving up one over the other.”
KIM CRUZ, Visual Arts
On Kim: Mesh dress, Proudrace. Wide palazzo pants with panels, Nina Amoncio.
Being a woman is already an art in itself, but this artist brings the beauty of the complexities of womanhood to life through her craft. Kimberly Ann Cruz, more known as Kim Cruz, is the artist that demands to be seen now.
As someone who grew up with parents who are figurative and Asian art connoisseurs, Cruz knew right off the bat that she is for the same path. Her parents being in the art business for certain left the most significant impression on her, as she says, “I’ve tried on different hats, but art was always something that felt comforting to me at the end of the day.”
Expressing her artistry became her comfort from the doubts she felt in other industries she has tried. At the outset, Cruz was aiming to pursue a career on the business side of art, but being an actual artist was the dream. When the opportunity to become who she really wanted to be, she did not hold back and grabbed the chance. Her passion for the craft propelled her to be the artist she is today.
In an industry dominated by men, hers is a sense of determination to break through the local art scene was even more fueled by female representations. Women artists ignited even more her passion for artistry, specifically Jenny Saville and Lydia Velasco, who were among her biggest influences. Monet, Ben Cabrera, and James Turrell also had an immense impact on her growth as an artist.
As a female artist, Cruz translated her voice to celebrate the essence of womanhood into her visual expressions. The intricacy of being a woman is exhibited well in every stroke of her brush, which also indirectly implies a message only a woman can convey.
Since the artist had just started her career, harnessing her interest into becoming a means of living required courage. “There were definitely a lot of doubts,” she said, but the people around her made her feel that she is on the right path. She believes that “talent can only get you so far,” but it will be hard work and determination that will “bring you to places you can never imagine.”
What the future awaits for this artist is still unknown, but Cruz is heading straight to it with delight. At a young age, she has already proven that she belongs in the industry.
“I’d like to enhance my artistic abilities, study art history and the business of it as well. Every exhibition for me has become a personal experience of growth and I’m just enjoying the journey of getting to know myself and seeing myself grow into the woman that I am now. I aim for my ambition to be iterative, constantly growing and getting better through time.”
Produced & curated by Leo Balante
Photography by Dan Fugrad
Text by: Mike Bryan M. Agcalis, Clark Nick S. Casabuena, Allysa Mae D. Esperida, Kyneth Brian D. Magayanes, Tifany Rose P. Soringa
Creative and styling direction byLeo Balante
Beauty direction by Nadynne Esguerra
Hair & Make-up (For Ina): Zee Ghielmetti
Videography by Emil Santiago
Editorial associates: Andrea Ysabel Andres, Roni Mae Serrano, and Patrick Dale Alog
Fashion by Kelvin Morales, Nina Amoncio, Adam Pereyra, Proudrace, and Edwin Tan
With acknowledgments to Vani Altomonte for Careless Music, Jerick Sanchez, and New Monarq Studio