Stephanie Tudtud finds bliss in turning paper into pieces of art
By Deneb Batucan
AS much as we aspire to pursue our career goals, it’s never wrong to have time dedicated only for oneself. Career goals are important and all, but for Stephanie Tudtud, it is just as important to have an outlet to express one’s self in any form of art.
Ever since she was little, Stephanie has always been into art. “I think my parents always saw the artist in me. They would bring home tons of scratch papers from their office so I could draw on them using pencils, crayons and colored pens. You could say that those were my first media,” she shared.
But growing up in a largely academic world — she grew up in Visca (now known as the Visayan State University or VSU), a small rural community in Baybay, Leyte — she developed a natural affinity to math and science.
“In high school, I did a study about a possible cure for breast cancer. I was invited to participate and present my research in a national science fair, and I was so determined to win not only for myself but for the people who would possibly benefit from my study. I was willing to pursue it even after high school until it becomes a reality. I really thought that was the plan destined for me. So when my work wasn’t chosen to compete for the international level, my dreams were shattered. It was a deal-breaker for me. But perhaps it was God’s way of telling me to take up fine arts. And so I did,” she said.
She studied fine arts major in visual communication at the University of the Philippines-Diliman where she graduated cum laude. In the end, it all worked out for Stephanie.
Career-wise, Stephanie has it going. At 25, she is currently the business development design head for The Islands Group. Her work revolves around the creatives in terms of art direction, campaigns, billboards and print-ads, in-store graphics, etc. But in between all the photo shoots and brand campaigns, she finds solace in gluing pieces of paper together, forming them into adorable pieces of art — paper crafting.
Paper crafting isn’t just about paper and glue. It involves layouting and a lot of spatial thinking. “My love for paper crafting actually started because I won a contest. Back in 2013, a website called TheDieLine.com had a paper crafting contest where the winner could win a conference pass to the biggest packaging design conference in San Francisco. I won the contest but I wasn’t able to go because I wasn’t granted a US Visa. It broke my heart,” Stephanie said.
But after that initial win, she didn’t give up. She began entering several art contests. In 2015, she was chosen as one of the top 20 finalists out of 400+ entries in the Create and Innovate: Essence of Switzerland Art Competition by Swatch and the Swiss embassy. She also won a Cebu Pacific costume and photography contest, which got her and her brother a free ticket to Japan. “I made a sushi and nigiri costume made out of paper materials and illustration board,” she said.
Stephanie’s paper craft artworks usually revolve around Philippine pop culture. “Our culture is so rich and beautiful that you’ll never run out of inspirations. But each of my paper craft artwork has a different story,” she said. Stephanie’s most recent work is called “Batang 90s” — a paper chandelier with elements resembling the 90’s sweets that you can buy in sidewalks and sari-sari stores. “It’s a juxtaposition of the sweets that dazzled 90’s kids and the expensive objects that dazzle adults such as chandeliers. I really had fun doing this and felt nostalgic,” she said.
Stephanie’s fondness for Philippine culture was prominent even in her college years. She chose a topic that was very close to her heart for her thesis. “I did a stop-motion animation about a Cebuano folktale because I wanted to revive the interest for local folklore. It won best thesis,” Stephanie said.
Paper crafting is Stephanie’s creative outlet from work. “As an artist, I think you’re always in this constant search for yourself and your art. You’re always evolving and you always want to try something new. But when you get in the corporate world, sometimes you get too engulfed in the work and lose a part of yourself as an artist. You don’t have time to create something for yourself because you’d rather spend it on a night out or eating or sleeping. That’s what happened to me. But really, what’s the point of making a living when you forget to make a life? I know, it’s a cliché, but it takes a lot of hard work, dedication and time management,” she shared.
Stephanie’s art, as she would describe it, is light, fun and relatable. “Since I’m in the profession of visual communication, the consumer’s perspective always comes first before my own. Even if I do my art for myself, I can’t help but always think of my audience. So I guess I always see to it that it’s something that’s easy to digest and understand,” she said.
In the future, Stephanie hopes to run her own design/creative studio. She would also love to make a living out of her paper crafting. “I would also love to see my artworks in show window displays for big brands,” she quipped. “Or as something that’s larger than life.”
Follow Stephanie Tudtud’s Instagram page: @stephanietudtud and my Facebook page: facebook.com/StephanieTudtudArt to get updates on her works. You can also check out her works at www.behance.net/stephanietudtud.
Photos: Alfred Gregory E. Bartolome
Make-up Artist: Carlo Damolo
Hair Stylist: Jerwin Bastatas