Pint-sized and made out of sugar, spice and maybe a little bit of pixie dust, Pauline Suarez is so beguilingly unconventional, it makes one curious to know all about her. So, go ahead and enjoy my prying into the inner workings of the 22-year-old, the creative force behind Moonbeam by Polina. –R
Hi, I’m Pauline Suarez, a maker of things. And these things you can find on Moonbeam By Polina.
You don’t look too Filipino. Why is that?
I usually tell people I’m Indian, but the truth is just that I have Spanish and a bit of Chinese blood.
What is Moonbeam by Polina? How and when did it start?
Moonbeam By Polina is my little business, which is more like a hobby actually. I just make things then post them on my page. It’s never really planned. I just like making things, and then sharing them online afterwards where people are free to order if they like. So that’s why my products aren’t posted by collection. They’re posted randomly, one by one or a couple more. I really enjoy how this set-up allows me to make customized products for my customers as well. I love interacting with them and including their input during the entire creative process!
I’ve been following your personal blog and you’re very inclined towards the arts—music, art and even poetry—do you write too? What else do you do aside from Moonbeam?
I’ve written a couple of songs and poems, but I’m not quite confident in posting them on my blog due to so much feelings. I like to keep my blog really light, so instead I write stories about my adventures and just random thoughts like this one:
“My friend Stan said that an octopus has three hearts. If I were an octopus, I’d save all three of them for you. So that each time you break one, I could give you more chances to get it right, and love you thrice as good.”
Stuff like that.
On a more serious note, I’m currently writing my first novel. My friend Patrick Metzger has helped me with it so it should be pretty cool cause he’s just amazing.
Aside from Moonbeam, I have a day job. I’m a Junior Product Development Marketing Manager and Web Designer for Okspinoy, Inc. I’m also a freelance graphic artist. I make logos, print ads and designs for different businesses and companies. On my free time, if I’m not making flowercrowns, I’d probably just be sketching naked women.
How did you get into accessories-making? Did you have any formal training or you kind of just tinker with what you find interesting and make something pretty out of it?
I just take anything and make something of it. It’s that simple, really!
You model on the side too, right? How’s that going?
Yeah I do, and it’s perfect because I also take it as a chance to advertise my products for free. I bring my flowercrowns to shoots and post the ads on my brand’s page! I wore my flowercrown when I came out on the music video of Sirens for their song “Moments” and it was so effective. Haha! Free advertising and you can get celebrities on set to wear them too for a photo.
Flower crowns are all the rage right now. So, how crazy are the orders for those right now? I heard your flower crowns even made it to Coachella! That’s awesome!
First, I learned making them from my friend Katie, but now I’m just one person making the flowercrowns so it’s really very crazy to the point that my friends hardly see me anymore because I’m always just in my bat cave working, meeting deadlines. But I’m lucky I have crafty friends I can count on to help me make flowercrowns when too many deadlines are too close together!
Left: Pauline’s friends wearing Moonbeam by Polina flower crowns at Coachella 2013, Right: Pauline modeling her own creation
Even boys in rock bands wear flower crowns too: Martin Hocson of Runway Crimes wearing a flower crown at a gig
Actress Andi Eigenmann showing off her Moonbeam by Polina flower crown
How long does it take to make one flower crown? How do you come up with the designs/combinations and what is your price range?
The process depends on what the client wants and how complicated the design is. A simple one just takes me a few minutes but one design that had 3 strands took me about half a day to get it done. When making designs, it’s as random as taking whatever flowers I think would look pretty together and arranging them the best way. I’m also open to customizing flower crowns so when customers tell me what they want, I make a design and show it to them for approval. Then I can make adjustments and revisions based on my clients’ comments and suggestions.
Standard price is Php 450 for a crown, pre-made or customized. Php 30 shipping fee within Metro Manila and Php 90 beyond the Metro.
Where do you plan to take your business in say, 3-5 years? What are your plans?
No plans, I’ve been playing it by ear. It’s just something I enjoy doing and it doesn’t feel like a business for me. I feel like I’m just playing.
It’s unfathomable how one person could possess such plethora of talent. 24-year-old British singer James Blake, gives his single “Retrograde” a go on KCRW and we all momentarily stopped breathing. His vocals are so soothing and addictive juxtaposed with the light, echo-ey melody the keyboard makes and the gentle beat of the percussion instruments. Spellbinding, shall we say? Watch it for yourself.
If you’re a music aficionado, Couch Seats will be your newest guilty pleasure. The site curates high-quality video of live performances–and they don’t discriminate. From David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” to Amy Winehouse‘s “Back to Black” to Zooey Deschanel‘s spine-tingling rendition of “I Put a Spell On You” to Miguel’s “Adorn”–you’ll kind of panic from the gazillion videos you can choose from.
So, whatcha feel like watching?
An email interview with one of Bay Area’s most prolific photographer-cinematographers to date, John Agcaoili, where timezones were obliterated, geographical distances were bridged, and where insights on visual art, nudity and the future made for a very interesting intercontinental exchange. Read on, you. –R
Photography is shall we say, your “bread & butter”. We heard your interest in the visual arts first started with cartoons/digital illustration and motion design. That’s interesting. Tell us more about that.
John Agcaoili: Like with many children, I grew up sitting in front of the television watching Saturday morning cartoons. Cartoons took me to another world where anything was possible; pianos fell on coyotes, little yellow birds could talk, turtles learned karate and their master was a giant rat. During that time in my childhood I always used to sit down and watch my father draw. He was a great artist. I had these little dinosaur figures that he would draw for me. I would be so engaged in what he was doing. I didn’t learn till later what was so engaging to me, it was the precision and the time he took to complete it. I would sit there next to the table staring at a blank sheet of paper then a few hours later there would be an exact image of my toy. It was just incredible to me. I started sketching things my self, things like video game characters. I started out with Mario and Luigi, then Sonic, Link and Zelda… During middle school and high school I was more active in drawing banners and working on the class yearbook. During my senior year of high school I starting to have the desire to draw characters again and started to create my own characters. The Animation Industry during the time I attended high school was really exciting. Pixar created Toy Story a few year prior and Dreamworks started to come into the picture. Spring of 2002 I started to visit local art schools and eventually attended The Art Institute that fall.
So what led you to pursue photography?
J: During college I also ended up working as an artist at Electronic Arts, a game company in California. I took less of a workload on classes for about two years so I can work at EA full-time. I eventually decided that game development wasn’t for me and went back to school full time to finish and get my degree. My junior and senior year of college was the turning point I think. I started to surround myself more with fashion design and fashion marketing students. I would help them out with their graduation portfolios and photograph designs for them as well as started to get more involved with working at fashion shows. I really enjoyed the environment. It was always fast-paced and exciting. I got to meet new people with different skill-sets frequently. Thats pretty much what led me to pursue photography.
What is Darkside of the Moon? How and when did it come about?
J: DSOTM is a production company I help run here in California. My cousin, Alvin Gali and I started brain storming in 2008 about starting a photo/print lab, those ideas led to starting a photo studio. We both did it for fun for a couple of years and started to realize the potential that it really had. The original idea was for DSOTM to be a full blown creative house capable of handling web jobs as well as print, then we decided to re-focus our energy into making it a production team. The team started to grow; Ivadell is our in-house makeup artist, she has been there since day one and the most talented MUA I know. Stephanie is a crucial part of our team in handling the management end and she is also like our team mother. Mary is our hair stylist. She one of the most talented and also cooks a killer rack of ribs. Alex is one of our photographers/directors and has no limit to his talent and drive. Jon is one of our filmers and is probably one of the most hi-speed guys I know. Charmaine knows exactly how I want the models to look, she’s fun sized and is also our in-house fashion stylist. Nicole came on as an intern and now has become such a great leader. She will be a great producer one day. John is great with his hands and has become our prop master. Roger came on as an intern also and he shows growth every time he steps on a set. Jayne has been such a big part also with her business knowledge, dedication, and never give-up attitude. Daniel, our in house director, has dedication like no other. There are also a few others that have inspired us, helped us grow and become better individuals, Taki, Bobbi, Mark, Andre, Steven, Marie, Ana, Ellie, Joann, Nasty Ray. To me, DSOTM has become more than just a production team or company, we have become a family.
You’re based in the Bay Area. We’re curious how the visual arts ‘scene’ is there. How is it different from anywhere else?
J: The visual arts scene is definitely growing here more and more. Being in the Bay Area we are more known for being the capital of the tech world. We have some of the best post-production houses located in this area. Industrial Light and Magic and Pixar to name a couple. The street art scene has always been great here. We always get compared to the other cities like NYC and LA but I think we all have our own visual language. Recently I have been seeing more galleries open as well as community art and murals. It’s a wonderful way to bring different neighborhoods together and collaborate.
I noticed the subjects of your photographs show a lot of skin. Tastefully done, might I add. What is it about nudity do you think makes photographs much more appealing beyond the visual aspect?
J: For me, I really think its the emotion, chemistry, vulnerability, and trust that shows through. I think that’s what makes it more appealing beyond just the “image” and the visual aspect. Most people do not understand the courage it takes to be near naked before a camera. Most people do not understand the relationship that must be created out of thin air between the photographer and model not to mention the trust that has be to be there to produce a strong image. When I look at the past work of photographers that I look up to, like Steven Meisel, Terry Richardson, David LaChapelle, Guy Aroch, Mario Testino, I always keep things like that in mind now. What kind of direction was given to the model? Was that photograph an outtake that happen to look nice and was used in the editorial? Did the photographer set the tone to get a certain feel and mood, or was it all an accident?
Social media has played quite a role in the visibility of visual art in the past few years. A lot more artists put their work out on Tumblr, Instagram and the like. What is your take on this? Do you agree?
J: I think it’s a great outlet to get your work out there. To get “viral”. I don’t think social networks can ever replace a traditional portfolio. One thing I find disappointing about social networks is the ease of other people stealing work. It’s really difficult to keep track of where your images float off to.
A handful of photographers I know say that the challenging part of photography is balancing your aesthetic with what “sells” in the market. How do you make your work commercially viable?
J: I actually have different portfolios to present to the different potential clients I meet. It is a little more work but I think it is worth it.
What do you think differentiates your work from other photographers?
J: With all the new work surfacing all the time on the web from new aspiring photographers and even the photography veterans getting editorials and covers published, I think what really separates me from others is my team. And what I mean by that is the experience you get from working with us. We are a fun and talented group to work with and I think that really shows through on the final images.
The photographer in his element: John Agcaoili snapping shots of a model
What upcoming projects are you more excited about?
J: We have FAME coming up in about a month or so and another one in the fall. It stands for fashion, art, music, exhibition. FAME is an event we help produce that brings so many creatives together, to collaborate, shop, and watch their peers showcase their new work and talents. There are also a few other projects I can’t mention right now.
(I guess we’re just gonna have to watch out for those, then, John?)
Any project/s you hope to do in the next 3-5 years?
J: A goal of mine is to one day have a gallery showcasing my work, locally and internationally. Hopefully I can do that in a 3-5 year window. I’ve actually have had talks about this with close friends. I don’t think I am at that point yet in my professional career to do a solo show. I am still fine-tuning some skill sets and experimenting with different workflows.
What’s in store for John Agcaoili for the rest of 2013? Where are you taking Darkside of the Moon?
J: Who knows… Haha! Things happen to fall on my plate all the time, plans workout and don’t workout, projects come and go. I definitely want to keep improving myself as an artist and individual. I want to continue to inspire and motivate my team, continue to push them and help them to achieve their personal goals also. DSOTM is always growing. I am actively always looking for people that I think would make a great addition to our team.
Bid the spring season goodbye and say hello to summer with these fun, feminine pieces from Forever 21. Head on over to their website to see and shop their new arrivals for the summer season, but meanwhile, spot the video campaign up top.