UE Fine Arts Grad Wins as PHL Rep in Asia-wide Sneaker Design Competition

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Young Filipino artist and UE graduate John Nikko S. Pelaez (in photo) is the Winner of the 2018 Asia Custom Culture Competition of the popular sneaker brand Vans.

Mr. Pelaez’s winning “Along with the Gods” design (in photo) stood out and emerged victorious out of 10,000-plus entries and 10 other finalists from all over Asia as announced by the brand online on October 30, 2018. As such, Vans will mass-produce its “Off the Wall” sneakers featuring Mr. Pelaez’s winning design for release within 2019.

The Malabon-based Mr. Pelaez is a December 2016 UE graduate of the UE College of Fine Arts, Architecture and Design. His fellow finalists came from 10 other countries: Australia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Japan, Korea, Singapore and Thailand. Thus, Mr. Pelaez’s victory also helps usher in Filipino design on an Asian platform.

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The competition also encouraged online voting among the public up to October 24, 2018.

Mr. Pelaez, 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 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.

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In the run-up to the 2018 Vans Asia Custom Culture Competition, Mr. Pelaez went through a rigorous process, first joining the local round, where his entry was chosen as one of the best designs for June 2018. The competition’s top three local 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 rep 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 “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.”

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