AITF 001: Perspectives on the Surreal with Jill Arteche

AITF 001: Perspectives on the Surreal with Jill Arteche

Art in the Flesh (AITF) is a series of articles, features and blog posts highlighting several artists and creatives deemed fit for the theme of our collection. Be it to share their own personal experiences and inspirations or showcasing their work, AITF seeks to establish a deeper connection with our audience. 

For the launch of AITF, the Léon Team has selected to feature Manila-based illustrator, Jill Arteche. Jill’s creative process and eccentric art style make her the kind of ideal artist that we believe is becoming of the main message that our brand wishes to carry out: finding extraordinary in the ordinary.

Meet Jill —


The 25-year-old artist describes her art as funny, lighthearted, and unique. Influenced by the New Objectivity Art movement, Jill Arteche sees the ordinary in its most extraordinary form and translates this in her work. Beyond her captivating eccentricity is an irrefutable warmth both as a person and a creator, as she wants nothing less for her audience than to laugh and smile upon laying eyes on her work.  

Although Jill does not consider her art style as immediately categorized under Surrealism, she hopes she might one day be able to put ideas and thoughts into objects and see the world the way Surrealist artists do. In the meantime, let’s get to know more about her and meet some of her friends.

Based on how you described your art style, how would you define your creative process?

Jill: When people ask me this, I say that I don’t necessarily have a step-by-step process; it’s more like since I deal with everyday life a lot, I try to live through it then try to take note of everything I think is notable. That’s when I try to concretize and actualize it. Of course, it usually starts with an idea, and those ideas come from dealing with everyday things. 

I always keep a sketchbook with me (before when I used to go out). Whether I go to the mall or go out to dinner, I usually just have a sketchbook and whenever I find someone or something notable I write it down. Like, I see a girl wearing an interesting outfit and then I write it down. I take these down from afar and then when I feel like drawing something, I look back. That’s my creative process. 

 Given that your work delightfully features disproportionate figures, dramatic silhouettes, and objects that are, to say the least, beyond the ordinary, have you faced any kind of resistance and criticism from people with regard to your work?

 Jill: Yes. I feel like I’m a perfectionist, and there are times when I doubt my work. When people say things, I mean the usual criticism like “it doesn’t look like something they wanna hang in their houses.” Even little children, like my brother, goes “ate, that’s so ugly.” The way I try to deal with the uglier parts is that I think that, “Hey, that’s actually good because that’s how I really wanna portray my work, and if they think that my work looks like that then I guess I’m doing a good job at what I want to do.” 

“My biggest tip to anyone working and pursuing art is you do you.” 

I don’t feel that down anymore when I hear those things because I translate them into something positive. Basically, my biggest tip to anyone working and pursuing art is you do you. Even if people find it ugly and put you down, just you do you and look back and see how far you’ve come. I’ve kind of tweaked my work a bit. It doesn’t look as scary anymore, and sometimes it’s cute. I guess that’s the result of getting burnt out and the resistance from my art, which has caused me to venture out into cute themes and trying to simplify my work, but it’s still me.

With your conviction being “I am a firm believer that there is beauty in the unattractive,” do you believe there is an importance to unconventional art styles? If so, why?

Jill: I do feel like I pursued this direction because it’s mainly how I view the world: When I was in college, I dealt with drawing realistic stuff. When you go back to my sketchbook, it’s more on realistic faces and such. It came to a point where it didn’t make me happy; it didn’t show who I was, it didn’t show the things on my mind. 

 “There’s an importance to unconventional art styles because it reflects a different thinking to how people see the world.”

 There’s an importance to unconventional art styles because it reflects a different thinking to how people see the world. It’s not always just beautiful, standard-looking things, or seeing the world through rose-colored glasses. I think unconventional art styles allow us to see the world from different people’s perspectives. There are other ways of looking at it. 

Have you encountered or dabbled in Surrealism among these art styles?

Jill: I tried to dabble in surrealism, but I don’t consider my art style surrealism. It could go there, but I’m not at that point yet. Whenever I see surrealist works, I end up wondering how they think. It’s really different. The way they put ideas into objects is something that I’m not really good at. I’m more of a very direct person. If I see something, I wanna draw it. I don’t look to put meaning or something deeper. But it is what I wanted to go for when I was starting out. I just thought it felt pretentious if I did it because I don’t want to be that artist who tries something when I’m not ready for it. But it’s something I really wanna go for. 

 My work is inspired by the New Objectivity art movement that has been around in the 1920s, so I would say it’s influenced, but not particularly falling under a certain art style. I deal with the objectivity of the world. Again, I don’t want to be pretentious by putting my work under a certain movement, but it’s what I enjoy and what I love.

Having pursued a career in this field at a relatively early age, what is the biggest barrier you have to overcome as an artist? 

Jill: The biggest barrier would be the uncertainties in doing art full time. For 2 years, I worked at a 9-5 job as a graphic designer while doing freelance client and personal works on the side. I was scared of the uncertainties – and I still am – but I went for it because it’s what I’m really happy doing! Another discovery I found out about myself happened when I was working. I graduated with an information design degree. I realized I’m not much of a designer. Just because you draw, doesn’t mean you have to be a designer. There’s a fine line between design, art, and illustration. It’s one of the barriers I had to overcome too since I was pushing that I was a designer. I guess I still am one, but I wouldn’t put it in my title. I did it full-time after coming back from New York. Starting fresh, it was a matter of how to build yourself again. 


Who do you keep most in mind when creating your work? 

Jill: Whenever I draw, I think about how big the world is and life. I think about how big life is. I feel like I come from a very privileged standpoint to say those things, but I just really feel that life is good. The reason why I try to deal with everyday experiences is that I think that what makes life true and beautiful are these everyday experiences that we take for granted. In the same way, it is in these experiences that we find our truest and ugliest, and most candid selves. I guess that’s why I try to paint in this ugly way because that’s how I see people every day, you know. We’re ugly! (laughs). So yes, I think about the world and how big it is. 

Leon’s main message is “Allow Léon to be your means for visualizing timeless works, and using those as inspiration in expressing yourself.” In what way is your work timeless? 

Jill: Through my work, I hope that it’s always a source of relatability, connection and familiarity. I guess in that sense, I hope that whenever people see my work wherever they go, I want them to laugh, I want them to smile, I want them to have this light feeling in them; primarily because it makes me feel that I was able to connect with them, and that’s the thing about my work: I wanna be a source of these things for them. When they see my work, I want people to say that “I know that feeling, I also do that.” 

I know this might sound crazy, but my work, I see them as my friends. They’re all faces, and I never get tired of drawing faces, so I see them as friends. So when people for instance buy a work of mine and hang it on a wall, I want them to see it as a friend that is trying to remind them about how life is, and a friend who is just there making kuwento!


To view more of Jill's work, make sure to check out these online platforms: 

Website: (Recently disabled it for a website renovation but should be back very soon!☺) 

Instagram: @jillarteche

Twitter: @jillarteche


Catch the next post for AITF soon featuring renowned Filipino surrealist, Danny Castillones Sillada.


Photos courtesy of Jill Arteche


AITF 001

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