The Illustrator: Christian San Jose

You’re about to read my entry for The Philippine Star Lifestyle Contest 2010. The winners were announced last June, and apparently I did not win. I’m not depressed or anything like that. I mean, the winners probably started writing ever since they learned how to walk. But one random day, I spotted  the “My Icon, My Hero” contest in the newspaper, and I started to whip something up. I think I just finished reading one of Dave Pelzer’s books around that time, and somehow the idea of having a hero sort of lingered for a month or two. So the first person that popped into my head was Christian San Jose, and then Pepe Diokno. I was confused for a second, but I decided to stick with Christian. I wanted to know more about him, and yes, I wanted people to know him. I wrote this back in April 2010 so the information and details might have changed already. I also edited some parts for clarity.

Being young is not a limitation, but the start of endless possibilities. Although the youth generally admires the older generation, the start of unparalleled greatness and oozing talent of today’s generation may be at par with their seniors. Age is just a number. It can never be used as an excuse for doing something. It’s not a label meant to limit a person. I’m not saying you start rebelling, I’m saying start believing, start being true to yourself. You can be successful just by being yourself. Ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, I would like to introduce Christian San Jose.

Christian San Jose is a twenty-year-old graphic designer and illustrator. Who would have thought that his hobby of creating basketball wallpapers at the early age of sixteen would make him an illustrator? A year after his budding love for it, he deliberately decided to take a break from college (now that is what you call a risk taker) and practice it as a profession. He later applied for a design job at Team Manila, which served as his art dojo, and further honed his knack for it. Now look at him, a freelance artist who has clients flocking all over him while still working full-time as a senior designer (for internet marketing) at US Auto Parts Network.

For everyone’s information, he has been featured in magazines (i.e., Clavel, Uno, BTV, WYD and Status) and newspapers (i.e., Phil. Star SUPREME‘s “22 Under 22”). Having achievements is common for artists; in his case, he won the 2009 Design By Humans $10,000 contest. He may be just another graphic designer for some, but he is an illustrator extraordinaire. Some of his notable projects include movie poster design for Pasukob (2007), web design for Bratpack and for Eric Snow, poster and souvenir program design for Poner Fin, branding for Graphika Manila 2008, and so on. His official website pretty much contains everything that you need to know about him.

What you don’t know is that Christian is like Vincent van Gogh, but born into the right generation. Does that even make sense? I think he has this connection with the people that Vincent van Gogh lacked. He’s no art god, but he works in his own creative and quite mysterious way, and he is successful now. He inspires promising artists without making a scene. He contributes to society without the press release. For instance, during the course of Typhoon Ondoy’s wrath, almost everyone in the country felt the urge to help the victims or to ask for help. Christian did his part. He made a poster for RAISE THE ROOF, A Benefit Co ncert for the Victims of Ondoy. You can say that designing posters for events is a cinch for him, but considering the tragedy, he had to do it quickly. Good thing he adeptly managed to finish it just in time. More significantly, he donated 10% of his Design By Humans $10,000 prize. You probably didn’t know that!

Winner of the 2009 Design By Humans $10,000 Contest!

I always hear or read that “everyone is a hero,” and indeed it is true. You can even be your own hero. But in reality, you cannot just call yourself a hero unless you’ve actually accomplished something or saved someone. Fortunately, he did both. His achievements can be googled (hurray for the internet!). In fact, you can ask him questions on Formspring. However, the saving part is more likely to be subjective and personal. It depends on how you see him. Honestly, I do feel that he has saved us from this “fear” of pursuing what we love, and to finally take the risk. His life is like a statement. An assertion of how a person’s life should be. A reflection of what it means to live and to “just do it.” I think that’s more than heroic.

Popularity was never a decisive factor in becoming a hero; it has always been about greatness. First, he has saved the future of art in our country by providing a future for it in the form of graphic design. By establishing a name outside the country, Filipinos would also be known as relevant and creative contemporary artists. Second, it takes a lot of nerve and guts to leave school and to try to build a career from scratch. He took the risk and relied on his passion and skills as his capital. Third, people like him exist to shed some light to aspiring artists—not necessarily graphic designers, but artists in general—that they’re not alone in their world of imagination. He reminds us that in art, there is freedom, there is a connection that we build. Creativity is boundless, limitless.

Art reminds us that we are the ones in control. We can express it in whatever way we want. We make our own stories and interpretations. Art has always been about us, it stresses our individuality. These days, most Filipinos stick with “safe” situations, whether watching cliché and cheesy local films or copying what others do for a living. What happened to originality? What happened to us? It’s never too late to discover or relive what we truly want in life.

Christian San Jose reminds us the value of originality, of having our own unique identity in what we do and what we believe in. He is an illustrator, literally and figuratively. But most of all, he is my hero.


Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.

– Pablo Picasso


4 thoughts on “The Illustrator: Christian San Jose

  1. Well said. Ayos. Inspirasyon ko yan si christian. Parang gnyan kasi interes ko, since 2006. kaso di ko magawang magseryoso noon. hopefully maging mahusay rin ako tulad niya. hehe, good article!

  2. Maraming salamat! Practice makes perfect. Try doing it during your free time or when you feel inspired. Someday, you’ll be recognized for your art, too. Good luck! 🙂

  3. Thank you Very much miji for appreciating Christians art work and good deeds!
    Kami din po di namin sukat akalain na magiging succesful siya at 21. He was with us here in the US when we migrated in Nov. 2007. Pero ayaw niya dito so, na-abandon niya ang green card niya. Mabait talaga ang Panginoon, binigyan siya ng talent at hindi ito binalewala ni Christian. Ang mabuting guidance lang ang naging puhunan namin upang maging maganda ang kanilang future! Maraming Salamat uli Miji!

  4. You’re welcome, Sir! I honestly think that Christian deserves to be recognized for everything that he has done, not just for his works or for being talented and creative, but also for being a risk taker. I admire people who follow their dreams and stand up for who they are with the commitment to achieve what they want in life. Oh, and thank you for reading my article. It means a lot! 🙂

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