Sleepwalking Amongst Divinities — Vibin’ With BKNWA
Daniel Tinagan, the proprietor of BKNWA, is a well-known artist in the city of Iloilo. He is noted in particular for his illustrations of mythological figures from the Western Visayas. He gets up before dawn to get a jitter juice, which is a stimulant that helps to elevate his spirits and the spirits of the divinities that he frequently invokes in his art. And in case you were wondering, that is coffee. Both the brand and the artist hail from the Visayas region, and they have been active in the industry since 2016.
Despite Daniel’s hectic schedule, we are fortunate to have a good vibe with him. We were able to oversee an interview with him about his creative process as well as the methods he uses to market his brand in areas that are outside of his comfort zone.
How did the BKNWA brand come to be? And for those who don’t know what it means, please tell us.
As a result of the disappointment I had at not being able to know someone and get myself hung in a gallery, I decided to just say “fuck it,” make art to put on shirts, and create a full living gallery consisting of people wearing the shirts. This is how the BKNWA brand got its start. I did not intend for it to become as popular as it has because the primary reason I wanted my artwork to be printed on shirts is so that I can share it with individuals who are unable to easily visit art galleries. The name BKNWA is an abbreviation for the word “bakunawa,” which refers to a mythical creature that originated in the Western Visayas. He was warned not to consume all of the moons that Bathala had made, and in the end he was punished for doing so; yet, he disobeyed Bathala’s orders and consumed all of the moons anyway.
What kind of creative approach does BKNWA employ behind the scenes? How do you manage to come up with so many ideas as a one-man team?
I jokingly suggest that the first step in the creative process is to consume an excessive amount of caffeine. It all starts with taking a fresh look at something you’re already familiar with. The next step is to think about the narrative you want to convey through the work you’re creating. It’s possible that the tale is being told by an emotion that’s been evoked, or that the story is being told directly but is simply lurking in plain sight.
When it comes to the process of printing it, do you have a certain medium that you use for each type of canvas, or do you just use whatever comes standard?
The medium consists of everything that can be printed or drawn on. I have a strong affinity for ink on paper, but as time has progressed, I have been interested in different mediums that may convey the design.
Do you find it difficult to reach a bigger audience because you live in Illoilo? Is it preventing you from exporting your products across the country?
The Ilonggos have been quite responsive to the brand ever since it was introduced, but the majority of the support is coming from parts of the country that I never imagined I, as a brand, would reach. This is not the case at all. I was comfortable with only being able to see individuals that I don’t know wearing my work in Iloilo, but because it is said that content is the killer of advancement, I am now aggressively marketing my work outside of Iloilo in an effort to challenge my comfort zone and expand my clientele.
You have a sizable following on your page; what might your fans expect from BKNWA this year?
I’ve lately rediscovered the desire I had when it came to proving myself, so I don’t really know what may come next, but I’m confident that it will primarily be outside the comfort zones that I have made for myself in the past. I’m just fired up. The regular batches of shirts will be produced as usual, but I have my sights set on eventually making art prints and expanding my collaborations with other brands who share the same spirit and drive as BKNWA.