Born in the Philippines and currently reside in Houston, Texas – multi city muralist and painter, Royal Sumikat is a dynamic human and a futuristic artist. She works with spray paint, gouache, acrylic paints, markers, and Procreate. The images in her works come off as if they’re contradicting each other but are intentionally done to highlight the contrast in colors, ideas, and textures.
Royal’s work is informed by her experiences as an immigrant, community organizer, and priestess – taking inspiration from the spaces afforded by these different identities.
Storytelling and mythology is prevalent in her work as she aims to strengthen the connection she has with her ancestors.
In the days of our ancestors, storytelling was a form of community building – sharing space through oral tales and creation myths from our elders, building worlds from gestures and symbolism, and breathing life into each other by the fire.
And now, as a modern day ancestor, I build up from that foundation. Ancestral offerings are made through my art. My workspace is the altar. My tools are the talismans. These have provided me with protection, solace, and magic in times of uncertainty.
My work symbolizes the divine warriors, healers, tricksters, inner children, and neon indigenous-futuristic archetypes. They are celebrated through not just my art, but how I navigate the world.
From my point of view, the media pushes an extremely bleak portrayal of the future, especially for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color.
My work is the spell to change the narrative.
Every drawing, painting, print, and mural is a ritual powered by the ancestral giants whose shoulders I stand on – gently directing me to my re-membering. The Royal Universe is a prophecy – technology, gadgets, and electronics are utilized to advance the art, spirituality, and infrastructure of a thriving futuristic culture where everyone gets theirs.
This is why I dig to the water of my roots, to search and find more of myself and that which influences me; my priestesshood, astrology, and the symbolism woven in creation myths of my culture.
But it doesn’t stop there, I feel so much lately but don’t have the words to articulate these feelings. This was written in the midst of a pandemic. Life was at a stand still for months and it seems like I have been catapulted through a portal – into a fast moving, fast thinking, and fast changing world. I’m just making efforts to find my equilibrium – who knows who I’ll be or what my art will look like next month or even tomorrow.
All I know is, I am preparing to be a future ancestor.
1. Art means nothing – Because it means nothing we are free to do anything. Scream into a chocolate cake while bound to a broken television. Paint a sunset without using reds or oranges. Build an uneven chair using scraps of wood from an abandoned house. Nothingness is freedom, artists shall use this to their advantage.
2. Art means everything – Because it means everything, when artists say it’s nothing, THEY. ARE. LYING. Art is that gasp of air from violently waking up out of the nightmare of swimming in the dark abyss, unknowingly holding our breath in our sleep. Art is that one memory you still remember from your childhood that paved the way for more creation. Art is ____ (fill in the blank by asking another artist).
3. If it is a diamond in the rough, expect for it to be removed from its natural setting, commercialized, and regurgitated repeatedly – Observe it while it gets washed, tumbled, filed down, and made shiny so the masses can digest it easily. This is an inevitable phenomenon that occurs in any art platform and expelling energy in resistance is futile. Seeking for the diamonds? Go underground.
4. Never procrastinate on any important projects that require your undivided attention and concentration – I have not mastered this yet and I am utterly guilty as I write this manifesto which was supposed to be a month in the making but instead I am completing this two days before I turn it in and it is past my bedtime.
5. Artists are forever a work in progress – This applies to the artist’s body of work as well as his or her life. Stagnation is death. Satisfaction leads to boredom. Boredom leads to repetition. Repetition is mediocrity. Mediocrity is not art. Be content with the progress but never satisfied in one place.
6. Art is for the people – It must be shared with the historically excluded, to the sick, to the lonely. Make sure it reaches the eyes, ears, and souls of people who don’t have the bus fare to get to the closest art museum, the internet connection to research history’s greatest art pioneers, or the free time and mind space to THINK about creativity.
7. Build portfolios, not egos – If one is marketing themselves, networking, or rubbing elbows more than creating, they are not artists. If one has time to criticize other people’s work, then his mind is idle. If you are expecting praise but not getting it, this is due to you doing most of the praising on your own. Alleviate this by making more art.
8. Get lost – Get lost in a book. Get lost in the eyes of a stranger you met at happy hour. Get lost on the way to the bathroom. Get lost in a foreign country. There’s no harm in asking for directions if only to make an intimate acquaintance in a fleeting instant.
9. Find meaning in it all – “What is the purpose of my life, my skills, and my awareness?” – A question that should be meditated upon regularly. When one has discovered the answer – follow that path. Is it to piss off your high school art teacher? To send a message to the bourgeoisie? To heal the wounds of your past?
When artists find meaning, they’ll see beauty in the breakdown, magic in everyday mundanity, synchronicities in typical situations. The artist should pursue spirituality so long as it does not tread on anyone’s safety, beliefs, or growth (but then again, it wouldn’t be considered spiritual if safety concerns are present).
10. Acknowledge the impermanence – Sad? This too shall pass. Happy? This will also change. Angry? Only for a moment. Victorious? Don’t dwell in it too long. The artist understands that nothing lasts forever so we MUST be vigilant in cherishing each passing moment. Artists shall dedicate their existence to the practice of equanimity, mental calmness, and collected composure.