Tech and Canvas: An Interview with Filipina Software Developer and Visual Artist, Jeanella Pascual
Interview by Atty. Chad Osorio In this age of specialization, can creativity still be merged with technical skills? In this conversation, we engage with multi-talented software developer and visual artist Jeanella Klarys Pascual to get her thoughts on the matter. Based in Lille, France, where she works as a software engineer, Jeanella grew up in South Cotabato, Mindanao, and moved to Manila when she was in high school. Before moving to Europe in 2015, she has worked as a software developer, UX designer, and game artist. How does she combine her work in technology with her artistic passions, and what advice can she give to others who want to do the same? Your background both as an artist and a software developer is very interesting. How did you get started in these two seemingly different fields? I have always been a huge nerd, and since childhood, I would spend most of my free time either drawing or playing computer games. At the age of 11, I discovered the joy of programming when our school included it in our curriculum, and it was thanks to this early exposure that my career path was somehow set. In parallel, my parents encouraged me to also dabble in the arts, signing me up for drawing, painting, and pottery classes. How do you see the relationship between your artistic pursuits and your work as a software developer? Do you find any parallels or common threads between the two? I specialize in front-end development and user experience, which is visual, like my art. Most of the artistic themes I depict combine science and technology, such as digital illustration, botanical illustration (which is a subset of scientific illustration), architecture, and science fiction. Another common thread is intricacy and lots of details. I can spend hours on a specific area of my artwork if it means achieving harmony among the several individual areas, and likewise, optimizing the performance, reusability, and readability of a piece of code in relation to the other moving parts of the machine. Psidium guajava, Botanical Illustration in Colored Pencils © Jeanella Klarys Pascual, 2022 With the advancement of technology and the increasing role of digital art, how do you think it has impacted the art world, and where do you see it heading in the future? One thing that comes to mind is this year’s hottest topic: AI, more specifically, AI-generated art. From a computer science and research perspective, I am astounded by the algorithms and models that power it. We have come a long way despite the field being in its infancy.
As an artist, however, I still do all of my artworks by hand. I find that AI-generated art in its current state has ethical issues needed to be solved. There are real repercussions affecting the livelihood of millions of people in the art industry, and the way the companies sourced training data from artists without permission nor remuneration and released the models to the public was done irresponsibly. While I believe that technology is agnostic, it is on the wielder to bear social responsibility. One positive thing I see is that it might further increase the value of artworks created by traditional human means. Various sci-fi themed illustrations, Pen and Ink © Jeanella Klarys Pascual, 2022
What advice would you give to aspiring artists who are also interested in technology and software development? How can they embrace both passions and excel in their respective fields? In terms of fields and specialties, we have much more options now than when I was starting out. Back in university, I was at a crossroads having to pick between pursuing software engineering or going the creative route. The choices were limited and the stigma of art as a less lucrative career held me back. I kept my hopes up regardless and I continued investing in my art during my free time in parallel to my career. I try to combine my down time with my art, such as travel sketching or weekend art workshops. I also follow people on social media who mix tech and creativity. Nowadays, a lot of multidisciplinary fields have emerged and I see more multi-hyphenated profiles in successful careers. The Empress, Ink on Paper Tikbalang in the Big City and Other Stories Pre-Print, 2021 © Jeanella Klarys Pascual, 2021 Sounds exciting! Looking ahead, what are your aspirations as an artist and a software developer? Do you have any projects or collaborations on the horizon? After over a decade of work experience, I find the idea of taking up studies again exciting. Perhaps a degree in 3D graphics, where I combine my passion for art and programming. It can be a nerve-racking experience leaving stability to pursue a new field, but my thirst for learning is harder to ignore. A career change is still in the works.
In the meantime, I try to work on side projects to maintain the momentum. With Chad Osorio, we have this project called Tikbalang in the Big City, a collection of stories on Philippine mythology and magical realism. A special edition with illustrations accompanying each story will be released soon, stay tuned! Check out Jeanella's other art projects and follow her on Instagram at jeekapascual . Jeanella Klarys Pascual © Chad Osorio, 2023 Writer's Profile Chad Patrick Osorio is a lawyer-economist currently based in the Netherlands. He is a PhD candidate for Environmental Economics and Natural Resources (ENR) and LAW at Wageningen University. As a photographer, he has exhibited at Harvard in the US, the United Nations University in Bonn, Germany, and the British Council, among others. As an author, poet, and artist, he seeks to promote international collaboration and creativity through the synergy of various fields and perspectives.