Elijah Contillo has transcended more than just a clothing brand. His signature art became an icon covering from start-ups to big names such as Highminds Clothing, Kush Worldwide, Hip Hop group OWFUCK, Episodes.tv to name a few. The odds may not always favour some but, for Elijah being raw and authentic has to oneself has always been the key. This was well resonated to different creatives and audiences he has built within a short period of time. Beating personal challenges while creating, it actually worked well into his advantage. Not being perfect but being real is an important element for Elijah when creating. We had a little chat with this talented individual. Join us as we explore him as an artist:
Can you please introduce yourself to our readers?
Hello VIBEANT! I really appreciate your invitation. I am Elijah Contillo, I’m an artist, designer and Founder of GOLD, an independent brand from Caloocan City, Philippines.
How did you begin creating the art you make now?
I’ve been doing art since grade school on the back pages of my notebook. I draw a lot, I don’t really write notes haha way back then I’m a constant poster making contestant in our school. Then early 2013, we discovered this Street art and Graffiti together with my older brother Peter, we wondered what is this shit and why it is so cool. We’re natural nerds and fanboys so yeah the moment we discover it we do a lot of research, watch videos digging roots and try to connect with all the local artists located in our area jam with them and observe. Long story short we met a lot of them, created art and did some awesome works, collaboration on walls, trading stickers, Blackbook parties and endless art talks.
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After that, we discover skateboarding, another gateway for me because once you discover the skateboard scene there will be another door of lifestyle and culture waiting for you. We start to skate, discover local events, we enjoy everything that time we didn’t realize we were making our own scene by creating some local acts, events, make experimental music and art exhibitions. Moving forward after all of the trips and adventures you slowly discover who you are and what are the things you really want. Things get more serious yet fun because of adulting you’ll realize that you need to make a living and start something or never.
It seems like you are well-versed into street culture, how did you find your style and why “GOLD”?
2017’s, I start to sketch, doodle this word on my sketch pads and laptop. Gold, simply because it’s natural, real and valuable. You only find gold on the ground. We experience different scenes, lifestyle and subculture at a very young age because I don’t know, maybe we are just hard-headed wonder boys at that time. Wayback local acts and events are rare to find, for you to understand these things you need to dig down and experience it by yourself. As I observe, people who are into this kind of living are the gold ones; they are the small percentage of individuals who do what they love, living the life they want and expressing their emotions through art and other things. Nowadays it’s really hard to find honest people, especially to themselves. Gold is not about being perfect and shit, it’s all about natural gestures man. The whole idea is all about mindset, sort of feeling and a state of mind, to create something out of nothing releasing good energy and vibration to everyone.
About style, I have plenty of it depending on the mood and theme or alter egos you know but the one that creates a heavy impact for me is the “Goldworld Graphics”. This style is all about my experiences and the people I encounter. I draw groups of people with nice clothes because I really like fashion with street energy. It’s a visualization of what kind of people I have inside my world, my scene, this so-called subculture I’m into. Giving these normal people ideas of who we are and what are the things we do by drawing it with pastel-theme colours, fat lips, dotted eye characters or something like that.
This style is the cartoon of my reality. I think the reason why people like it so much is that the simplicity of the artwork speaks more, there’s a contrast between black outlines and pastel fill-ins that gives you some kind of chill. You can simplify complicated things and create a conversation without talking thru art man it’s either you disturb them or calm them, the point is you catch their attention. This style will constantly adapt to its environment and who knows man determination and consistency attracts success, let’s see where it goes.
What are the challenges you’ve encountered in the past building your name as an artist and as a brand?
Introducing something, starting something. First moves are the hardest especially when you don’t have any idea how to do it, what are the guidelines etc. Along the way, you will discover what is right and what is wrong by failing of course. One of the problems I encounter is how to get the spotlight and attention especially when you’re hitting something, for example, your crowd, market or community because there’s so many of them including you in the game so my solution to that problem is to stick with my own style, build my own identity as an artist and as a brand.
In my process as an artist, I don’t really give a fuck on opinions especially when it comes from insecurity because for me its the cavity of creativity once you entertain those void, useless words you’ll get distracted. I’m not doing art to impress. Recognition, applause and hype are just bonuses. Doing what you love is priceless plus getting paid to do it is fucking extra man that’s why I am forever grateful and overwhelmed unexplainable joy. Art is my self made therapy also a journal for my experiences I can totally do whatever I want all the ideas, creative freedom. Once you discover the right formula things get easier but first, you need to fail so many times for you to learn it.
How did you overcome them?
I don’t have any toxs (toxic) on my growth as an artist as an individual because for me it’s a process, everything that happens to you is a reaction to your action. Along the way, you’ll know what are the things you really like and don’t like finding your own harmony, style, vibe and identity.
Every time I encounter hassle or problems I set aside every exceeding emotion that can trigger it more. Figuring out why this shit happened and what are the things to do so it will never happen again. Shit happens in many ways so it’s very important that you’re aware so you can recognize it, deal with it and find ways to solve it.
Good to know how you were able to overcome and conquer every possible problem an artist could experience.
Let me ask you about your favourite release or artwork?
I love every release we make because every drop has a story to tell. Usually, the theme comes from our current situation, experiences or mood.
I’ll drop the top 3 for me.
January 2019 Release
2019 First Year Anniversary Collection
2020 Mid Year Collection
What’s the philosophy behind every collection?
Here in GOLD, shirt and designing are not just about garments and graphics, it can be your platform, you can share stories through shirts and it’s a tangible thought you can wear and flex.
Who are the brands that you’ve collaborated so far?
I really owe these people who invest trust and loyalty with my works, trust my ideas and let me do it with my own style. I’ll mention them all mad props to all the brands/Individuals who fucks with me.
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STO NIÑO INK
How did these collaborations happen?
This Designer life is accidental. I don’t have any hint that I will be here. They just come naturally and I like it because I don’t know maybe they saw my works on other brands and they want that vibe to that kind of design so they dm me for some graphics. How did it happen? For me all you need to do is be honest to yourself and to your audience, don’t be a pretentious person just make it organic and let things fall on its own time do it until all of your prospects, idols, target market recognize you and your works.
Can you give us a picture of your future plans as an artist and your future plans for GOLD?
Future’s first step is now. What you do today can affect your tomorrow so better watch yo’ moves. Future plans are to build a flagship store/tattoo parlour with my brother, cultivate local scenes, create more artworks, more clients/brands to work with, strengthen my connections and create channels of blessing to others. For GOLD all I want is to keep the vibe and consistency, more release, events, pop-ups, products everything. I just want to create man, what am I supposed to do? I sacrifice everything I have just to experience this kind of creative freedom. Reality is we are all gonna die and decay that’s not bad, just facts. All the material things we possess here on earth are useless when we die so for me the real price is our family and friends, all the memories you make, fucked up moments just enjoy everything you have right now, do ya thing and leave some legacy to others you know what I mean or just simply live your life I don’t know man. Experience life.
Elijah only proves that there is nothing impossible if you become true to yourself. You can never limit your dreams. You just have to keep on creating, be unapologetic, find your style and immerse yourself in your local scene/community. For once a youth, beaten odds by doing his stuff using MS Paint to create remarkable artworks that are truly eye-catching and captivating. For projects or art commissions, you may best reach him through his Instagram page at @elijahcontillo.
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Jastin Andrew Nilad is a Contributor to the magazine website vibeant.com. Based in Metro Manila, Jastin covers stories from the creative scene of the Philippines to global streetwear and high fashion scene.