Christine Dorothy Guya doesn’t limit her practice to any one style or theme; instead, she describes her work as a personal journey in which she treats each piece as her own.

For years, she has delved into various art forms —videography, photography, painting, drawing — and true enough, her insatiable curiosity not just for art but for the world as a whole is well translated into the pieces that she creates.

Today, we get a closer look into her creative journey as one of Likhaan’s Featured Artists.

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Shop for Dorothy Guya’s Art

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Can you describe your creative journey so far?

I never really had formal training with regards to art so my creative journey is also pretty much my life story — and I can’t exactly describe my journey without having to expound on my life because it’s part and parcel of who I am as a person. Take for example Kanye West: you can chart his growth as an artist by looking at his discography. His identity is unequivocally tied to the music he produces.

My creative journey is really just about having an insatiable curiosity about the world and learning how to translate those thoughts into art.

— Christine Dorothy Guya

So the way I make art is also dependent on who I am at a particular given period of time. I learned how to draw at a young age which eventually led to an interest in ‘anime‘. More than the cartoons I watched on Nickelodeon or Cartoon Network, I was interested in how bright and beautiful Japanese animation was. This jumpstarted my exploration into this vast universe so much that I wanted to keep recreating these wonderful characters like Sakura from Cardcaptor Sakura.

Growing up, I also learned how to use things like Adobe Photoshop which eventually led me to digital art and graphic design. So my creative journey is really just about having an insatiable curiosity about the world and learning how to translate those thoughts into art. That’s why I don’t have a set style nor do I wish to.

When did you begin making art? What made you want to become an artist?

I started doing art when I was still young; it was a part of who I am. Before my sister was born, I grew up in a household that left me to my own devices. I wasn’t a fussy kid. Give me my set of 72 crayons and a bunch of papers, and I’m all set.

So I never decided, in particular, to become an artist. It came organically. Like something out of a storybook, the journey of finding who I am in this world led me to the discovery that the art I made was something other people appreciated. And the more I made people happy with my art, the more I wanted to do it.

How did you arrive at your current art style?

I started with traditional materials and a very rigid style of charcoal painting. I didn’t learn formally but starting out with materials like charcoal and pencil gave me a solid foundation that eventually lead me to explore more ways to make something beautiful.

Organized chaos is something that I admire. But more than that, I think just being so curious about all things around me made me very open when it comes to art. I apply everything I’ve learned, everything I’ve seen and felt, everything I’ve come across in life. And I think that’s the reason why my art has its own signature — I wouldn’t define my style as wholly original though because everything is a copy of a copy.

Nor is it something cemented. But what makes my art different is that it’s me trying to make sense of the chaos inside my head. So my work spans across different fields and formats and materials; whether it be abstract or charcoal, videos or photography.

I, first and foremost, just want to create. And if it means discarding a style of art I’ve adapted, then so be it.

What does your work aim to say or portray?

I don’t ascribe a strict meaning to my artworks because I treat each piece as its own.

I personally don’t have any interest in making art solely to impress people. If they appreciate it, then I am happy that it has touched someone else. But the way I make things, it’s a personal journey and a way to quiet a noisy mind. That’s why I don’t have a very particular style nor do I have a strict, formal process. I make pieces when I’m called to do it.

What’s a favorite piece of artwork that you’ve created?

My favorite piece of artwork is definitely the one I made on a whim called Duality, 2021.

It was my first attempt at impasto and I remember just being so excited to try out this technique. I didn’t have a set plan for the artwork so it was very much made with just exploration and experimentation in mind.

I bought a huge canvas and willed myself to just start painting. What eventually came out of that mindset was a work that I’ve loved to stare at when I needed to be entranced. There are so many layers of textures you will discover when it’s hit by light at a certain angle, that I never really get bored at watching it.

It’s not my most difficult artwork to date but it is, for me, the most visually delightful one.

What has been the most challenging aspect when it comes to selling your art?

The most challenging part of selling art is how lonely it is.

There’s so much involved in getting your name and your work out there that there are moments that make me want
to give up on it. As someone whose day job is so very different from the art world, selling my paintings can be a daunting task.

What’s your most important or indispensable art tool?

The one thing that I can’t lose when I’m making art is music. It’s not exactly a tool or supply but I believe that music and art go hand in hand. And it’s easier to be in the zone if your environment is conducive to creating art.

Whether I’m doing something with oil or just simply sketching on my sketchpad, I need to have music on.

Who are your biggest art influences?

I would like to thank Matisse for existing because his work is such an inspiration. He creates artwork with a sensibility that rivals Picasso. The way he uses color and composition is well-thought-of and made with precision.

I respect how he isn’t exactly defined by the notion that only realistic artworks have weight in the art world. That’s why my heart has always been captured by abstract and contemporary artworks.

What are your main sources of inspiration? Within the realm of art or even elsewhere?

My biggest inspiration is really just everything I see around me. Be it a sunset or the way the colors of the sky reflect on a building, these things inspire me to keep creating. After all, art is everywhere if you cared to look.

Are there any recent films/books/events/artists that have captured your attention?

I am very inspired by the works of Alpay Efe. His way of creating portraits is so beautiful but also so very chaotic — I admire his ability to control his strokes and the way every color is purposeful.

Christine Dorothy Guya

When do you feel most creative?

As someone with bipolar II, it is very hard to be in a consistent headspace for creativity. That is why I learned a great deal about this illness to make sure that I can maximize the time when I am at my best.

So when my mood is stable and the energy thrums underneath my veins, that’s when I create the most.

How do you overcome creative blocks?

I used to get very frustrated when I would hit a block. But growing older, I have learned to be kinder to my body and mind.

I try to rest when there is nothing in me that is calling for creation. I go by the mentality that there is a time for making art and there is a time for rest.

Do you have any tips for other artists to stay productive/motivated?

My tip for every artist is to make it personal. What helped me stay on this path to becoming a good artist is really just knowing that this is what I want to do.

That makes it so much easier to celebrate both big and small victories when they come. Motivation comes and goes but your love for the craft is what never leaves no matter what happens — your heart is what keeps you going.

What do you think is an artist’s role in the community?

Whether an art work is meant to portray something important or to stir emotions in an audience, every work matters.

— Christine Dorothy Guya

I believe artists have so many roles open to them, especially nowadays. Some artists are meant to create politically — charged work like Banksy. Other artists are there to share their personal journeys and emotional outlets in the form of art.

Whether an artwork is meant to portray something important or to stir emotions in an audience, every work matters. The world is too great and too vast for an artist to be restrained to a simple role.

What do you think is the most challenging aspect of being an artist?

I think that the most challenging part of being an artist is really allowing the world to take part in your work. Especially if it comes from a very personal place, it can be intimidating to put yourself out there.

If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring or new artists, what would it be?

My one advice is to keep going, keep learning, and keep making. The journey is a never-ending one. Art is about talent as much as it is about hard work. And to get where you want to be, you need to be fearless and strong in the face of failure.

And what advice would you give to your younger self?

The advice I will give to my younger self is this: trust yourself and believe in your capability to learn and grow.

Self-doubt is the ultimate hindrance to progress and you should stop second-guessing yourself. Don’t be defined by rules and create as much as you can. There are boundless possibilities so keep creating even if nobody sees or hears; make noise no matter where you go. The right people will notice and doors will eventually open.

Do you have any exciting new projects that you’re planning to launch in the near future?

In the future, I intend to create an artist collective of like-minded individuals and whose tastes in art are in line with mine. I want to make contemporary art that isn’t restricted by rules. I want to make tangible art accessible to everyone.

Why did you decide to join Likhaan? What are some goals you’d like to achieve with the platform?

I decided to join Likhaan because I believe in making it easier for people to purchase physical artwork. I believe in building communities and being an artist who can be easily approached by the people who support them.

Besides, being an artist in the Philippines can be difficult especially if you’re starting out or if you don’t have the right connections, building an audience can be very difficult. I believe that’s why a lot of us tend to go quiet halfway; there’s always that fear that you’re never going to be heard or seen.

That’s why I love being part of Likhaan and how their values align with mine — when you make it easier for the rest of the world to discover art, you also make it so much easier for artists to keep creating.