Art, either in its most majestic or most mundane form, is a way to express one’s self. With the right medium and loads of inspiration, art becomes an extension of one’s being. When artists share their work, they share a part of their soul to you. When one says art piece, it’s one part artwork and another other part a piece of the artists themselves.
What people need to know is that anyone can make art. But to be able to make art that moves a viewer, a piece that makes viewers feel something inside, is a gift. Such brilliance is indeed rare in this world, but it’s something that can be achieved in time. It takes dedication to master the craft, and the best artists are those who never stop learning.
Here at Village Pipol, we want to honor these talented and hardworking individuals who strive to better themselves and their chosen craft. As a growing publication, ourselves, we understand how important acknowledgement and support are in helping with success. We can grow together and brave the unknown. Our success is your success, and your success is our greatest pride. Together, we move forward.
For our first #VillagersOnTheMove entry, we proudly feature a budding artist whose works you may come across every now and then online. Eighteen years young, the digital illustrator and pixel artist known as Sabadontt helps usher a unique art style reminiscent of sentiments much older than he is.
Born on the 1st of November 2001, Paul Timothy “Sab” Sabado is your typical senior high schooler yearning for greater things in life. A varsity player for his school’s basketball team, this five-foot, nine-inch 18-year old is a kid with big dreams. With shoes already filled in, you wonder how he gets the time to do anything else.
Sabadontt Started Out Young
With a restless and creative mind backed with youthful wonder, Sabadontt initially put his attention to the arts. He learned how to draw really young like most of his contemporaries. His passion for drawing was fueled when he frequented art competitions back in grade school.
Little do people know, art contests are a serious business. Art kids are also one of the most competitive little creatures you’ll ever meet – in the most positive sense of it, of course! For Sab, his time in school revolved around it like the Earth revolves around the sun.
“Poster making and editorial cartooning were my foundations for perceiving the arts. There was a point in Grade 9 when I almost got addicted to drawing. I was so caught up making editorial cartoons that I wouldn’t do any actual school work,” Sab confesses as he reminisced about his much younger years.
Kids’ attention spans are short. But Sabadontt’s focus zeroed-in on his creations. Naturally competitive when it comes to his passion, he kept on going even when things went south.
“In Grade 10, I became more competitive. Since it was my last year in Junior High, I had this mindset. If I win at least 3rd place for this competition, I’d be so happy and I would make my parents proud despite me being a problem-child at the time *grins*. Unfortunately, I got 5th place,” he shares, now with a hint of humor in his tone, but surely something he deeply cares about.
Scarred, he felt like things went downhill after that. Family stuff came up, topped with financial and school problems. There was also this impending pressure of which school to go to for Senior High. For a kid barely in his mid-teen years, these setbacks were a big deal.
Sabadontt’s art has been his way to vent out. Instead of throwing tantrums, he poured everything on his works. He may have gone through a rough patch, but the kid in him laughed everything off.
“I eventually applied for an art school. Sadly, I have to repeat Grade 11. But it was fine because I really love what I’m doing now. The risk I took to repeat a year in senior high was worth it. The world has been far more better to perceive than before,” he exclaims. “After being gifted by a graphic tablet last year, I started exploring digital arts. I practiced a looot. Things then started happening. I was on TV; people say they love and appreciate my art; everyone kept shooting me congratulations. I’m deffo living the dream,” he adds with a hint of a smile.
Sabadontt: What’s In A Name?
Sab’s online alter ego is Sabadontt. Clearly derived from his surname, he says that he got the username from a meme he particularly enjoyed. Definitely a Gen-Z kid — no doubt about it.
“While I was starting my art account several months ago, there was this trending meme. Instead of directly saying no or if you’re trying to invalidate something, you’d add an ‘nt’ (short for not) at the end of a word. Like, for example: yesn’t. It stuck with me because it looked and sounded funny but posh. The two Ts are just for aesthetics, though,” he enthusiastically shares.
Bunny Rabbit No More
For those unfamiliar in his earlier months, Sabadontt’s social media profile picture was a rabbit stylized in his signature pixelated art. The idea of the rabbit came from a fan, who sent him a picture of her pet bunny. He thought it was cool and funny, so he immortalized the furry thing as his avatar.
“The rabbit icon was all about me featuring a pet who has the same name as my pen name. WHICH IS 300% CUTE!” he exclaims “The prof pic’s idea came from a fan. She sent me a picture of her bunny who’s name is also Sab. This one stood out because she’s the first person to actually tell me about their pet, and I was both surprised and humored that we have the same name,” he further explains.
Currently, all his accounts’ display photos have finally become his likeness. He made a digital painting of himself and he liked it, so he decided to put it up there.
“Kaya lang naman naging mukha ko na yung nasa icons ko sa mga art accounts is because trip lang lol update din, ganon. Hindi na pixel art ‘yung icon kasi I don’t do much of pixel art these days,” he confesses.
In The Time Of Crisis
Sabadontt feels blessed and thankful that he and his family haven’t faced too much trouble when it came to food and primary needs during the pandemic. It’s definitely a privilege to still be able to do what he loves despite the challenges. He makes sure he won’t waste time to better himself during these trying times.
“Seeing news that people are dying everyday bothers me a lot, nakakalungkot. I can’t even focus with my online classes. ‘Di na nakakatawa. But I’m handling and I’m coping,” he sighs. “With regards to naman sa art ko, I’m improving since I get all the time to sit, draw and learn. I’ve promised na di ko palilipasin ang araw na wala akong natutunan kasi sayang sobra, this is the best time para matuto,” he says.
Art Imitates Life
Masterpieces aren’t made overnight. For Sabadontt, it takes about a week for him to finish a piece, and that’s when he doesn’t have other things to do, which was rare. With school, varsity practices, an almost non-existent social life, has his passion decreased? It appears, not. The itch to put art in the forefront of his daily life is strong in him. Artists do experience “art blocks” too. This leaves them from finishing or even starting anything. Sabadontt, on the other hand, makes sure to stay inspired. Easy to say, difficult to do, but if you let things come naturally, they certainly would.
“Inspiration is everywhere. They would be my daily experiences roaming the streets of Metro Manila or some other places that I’ve visited in the country,” he shares.
The first thing you notice with Sabadontt’s works is the grit and gloom. But despite this, you also feel an unmistakable sense of hope between each pixel. With the haunting Lo-Fi music accompanying these pieces, there’s aesthetic relatability uncommon to digital art. When you find yourself lost in the strokes (or pixels, in this case), you know it’s quality art. There’s heart and soul. When asked about this, Sab doesn’t deny it.
“The sad boi vibes are intentional. It’s what I wanted when the idea for each one came to me. This was the goal for my artworks — to help people see relatable and gloomy content and make them feel chill about it,” he says. “With the music, it’ll always be Lo-Fi or any chill-hop beats that best fit my work. I finish the artwork first and look for the music that works best. It’s funny, I have a list full of music personally handed by random producers. I’m grateful for them. They offer these awesome tracks and in return I get to feature them on my content,” he interjects.
Going Back to His Roots
Being an illustrator first and foremost, Sab noticed that his chance for 2D digital painting had been slowly moved to the backseat when he did pixel art. Although, he did learn a lot of cool stuff about animation, but he realized he had to improve his skills overall. For technicality’s sake, whenever he does GIFs for pixel art, 80% of all the moving parts are done manually. Each action for his animated pixel artwork is done by hand using his trusty mouse.
“Fun fact! Yung project namin ni Kiyo na Imba na music video around 03:26 ng video makikita niyo dun is an animation all done by mouse,” he explains. “Kasi that time na tinawagan ako ni Kiyo para gawin ‘yung project, nasa Tagaytay kami. The Taal Volcano just erupted. We had to evacuate to a nearby relative sa Cavite. Sadly, the only thing I had then was my laptop and a mouse. Eh, need na yung project in less than 5 days ata yun,” he continues, the memory still clear in his head.
Art has a way of evolving over the course of time. As much as how our day-to-day experiences influence our lives, a lot of things affect art style. Sometimes, emotions play a big part of the shift in medium. Most of the time, it’s fairly random. For Sabadontt, the change in the direction of his works was pretty simple — maturity.
“Lumipas ang panahon, I realized doing pixel art is like a childhood friend. It becomes part of you until you grow old, but somewhere down the line, you’d have to let go. Don’t get me wrong, I love animating pixel art. But the thing is, I have to be ready for my future, to be ready for something that would help me reach my goals. So I have to work further on my craft — change some things, shake them up a bit. I’m doing this for me naman,” he morosely says.
In a twist of fate, Sabadontt won’t be doing much pixel art like before. But in a way life does intimate art. If you zoom in on an image, it’s probably because you’d want to take a better look at a certain spot. This leaves the image pixelated. But if you zoom out, you’d get a better picture, you’d get a better feel of what you’re looking at. The pixels in turn becomes smoother, more coherent. Sabadontt has just zoomed out and saw a bigger picture in his craft. He’d been too focused on one aspect that the rest became a blur. With the pieces he’d been putting out recently, you sort of see the changes in his strokes, a smoothness in his works, a more distinct signature. Much like his art, Sabadontt has finally evolved to become a better artist.
Sabadontt Is Passing It On
Young as he is, Sab has achieved so much. He may still be a fledgling compared to those who are established in the art world, but he has so much spunk. It’s undeniable that his drive will lead him far. After college, he plans to apply for an international animation studio. Maybe for an intern at least. He may even continue studying abroad and get a Master’s Degree in an art-related course. Although, all of those are still up in the air. He still needs to finish senior high.
For those who plan to follow on Sabadontt’s style or for anyone finding their passions in life, he has a few things to say:
“Be smart on using the Internet and always look for the underrated, especially software. Adobe isn’t the only one out there. There are tons of apps that you could use to create art. Also, don’t stop looking for references. References are your feet. They would lead you to achieving your art goals. Lastly, watch art tutorials during your free time, and draw on your preferred time,” he concludes.
Sabadontt’s Note To His People
Sabadontt can say he’s become more mature. Before, he didn’t really expect for his art to blow up like it did. Aside from being sincerely grateful, he honestly didn’t know what to feel because he wasn’t ready at all. Getting featured by the news and having been interviewed for articles — all of these gave him both a nudge to do better but also the fear to not mess up. Eventually, the dust settled, and he was able to get back on track. The experience helped him in dealing with different kinds of people — talking to big clients and handling commissions. He certainly learned on the job.
“Don’t worry guys! I’m going after the idea of publishing a collection of animated pixel artwork naman. Pero this time, tuwing rainy season lang ako mag-upload.. So baka yearly. Sorry talaga, but I have to do. Dreams have great bearing to success and I can say successfully ako sa learnings na nakuha ko with pixel art. Kailangan ko naman i-reach ‘yung iba ko pang dreams for my skills. Na hindi muna related sa pixel art.”
Art knows no age and style. It transcends time and constructs. It’s the kind of passion that can create life from one’s very hands. Without it, the world can still move on. But with it, life’s more colorful.
For artists who make our daily hurdles a little less heavy because of their work, Village Pipol Magazine salutes all of you. You show us that with perseverance and dedication, one can create the most beautiful things. Your mastery of the craft, the sacrifices you make “to find the light”, and the struggles you endure to uplift creativity and originality are what makes artists special.
To Sabadontt, the pixel-boy-genius, you’re definitely one of our #VillagersOnTheMove. Skrrrt
For more features, cover stories, and reviews — check out the author’s works.
Featured image was made with permission from Sabadontt.