Award-winning UE CFAD Grad is PHL Rep in Asia-wide Sneaker Design Competition!

John Nikko S. Pelaez, a December 2016 UE graduate of the UE College of Fine Arts, Architecture and Design, is the Philippines’ representative in the ongoing Vans Asia Custom Culture Competition!

The Malabon-based Mr. Pelaez bested other fellow Filipino artists in representing the country in the competition of the sneaker brand Vans. His fellow competition finalists come from 10 other countries, namely Australia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Japan, Korea, Singapore and Thailand.

In the meantime, the competition’s online voting period is ongoing and the public, especially everyone in the UE community, can vote daily for Mr. Pelaez’s entry by clicking on the near-upper-right-corner button on this page:…/c…/themed-slip-on-design/nikko-pelaez….

Voting can be done daily up to October 24, 2018. The competition’s winning entry, which will be announced on October 30, will be reproduced and sold by Vans Hong Kong across Asia within 2019.

With our help, Mr. Pelaez’s potential victory in this Vans competition could help usher in Filipino design on an Asian platform and bring further pride to Lualhati!


Mr. Pelaez, who was a member of the UE CFAD student organization Artstroke, had attained the rare feat of being the Grand Prize winner at the Vision Petron 2016 in not just one but two categories: the Painting (Oil/Acrylic) Category, for his work “Nena and Nature,” and in the T-Shirt Art Design Category for his “I See Leaf and I See Life.” Vision Petron 2016’s awarding ceremony was held on December 7 that year―the day before he earned his degree of Bachelor of Fine Arts, major in Advertising Arts, at UE’s Midyear 2016 Commencement Rite at the PICC Plenary Hall.

As a UE student, Mr. Pelaez was declared Artist of the Year at UE’s 2015 Recognition Day, and was nominated as Best Director, for his film ‘Balik Loob’, at the Twenty Quatro Guerilla Filmmaking Competition of CineSB6, De La Salle-College of St. Benilde’s independent film festival in July 2016; Balik Loob also won the Audience Choice award in the same film festival. He was recently named as the first Ultimate Champion in the Fringe Manila Art Battle Challenge and will be the first Filipino representative in the Art Battle abroad.

In the run-up to the 2018 Vans Asia Custom Culture Competition, Mr. Pelaez went through a rigorous process that entailed joining the competition’s local round, where his entry was chosen as one of the best designs for June 2018. The competition’s top three designs for April May and June 2018 were then pitted against each other via judging and online public voting, with his design emerging as the winner and the Philippine representative to the competition’s Asia-wide phase.

As posted on his Vans Custom Culture webpage, Mr. Pelaez sees himself “as becoming a professional artist in my country… I aim to be an artist who will inspire others, an artist that will contribute something significant to my country and to society.” In explaining his mythology-inspired “Along with the Gods” design, he says, through the aforesaid webpage: “The skater gods represent each and every one of us. It simply tells that we are the ruler of our own lives with our own ride and journey. They also symbolize truth and freedom, living our own truth and freeing ourselves. They come in black and white or with no color, showing [that] all men are equal. Yin, yang—a balance. The blazing fire represents struggles, rules, barriers and people who want to stop us from what we love doing.”

Part of the ongoing competition’s final score will be coming from online votes, and online voting is until October 24, 2018. Voting for his proudly Filipino-designed entry can be done every day until the deadline.

Let’s help our Warrior artist win this one for the Philippines!

[Co-written by UE CFAD Prof. Pam Santos-Galera; images from the House of Vans-Asia website]