Robert Alejandro

Okay, we admit.  He really threw us a loop when he walked through our doors a few months back, having signed up for a workshop.  The facilitators of his workshops (so yes, since then he’s signed up for more than one) usually do doubletakes, then retain composure (while silently freaking out inside).  We usually hear, “What?!  YOU’RE my student??” when Robert shows up.

And why wouldn’t folks be a bit flummoxed?  An accomplished artist and product designer, Robert’s made a name for himself through his whimsical designs and illustrations.  Heck, he’s even part of children’s book illustration history (we got that bit from Jan when he attended Ang INK’s talk on the history of children’s book illustration in the country–apparently, Robert illustrated the first one), and some of us have even grown up watching him instruct us on creative projects on TV.

And yet when there’s something new to learn, we always see Robert.  His openness to learning, and his passion for community keeps us on our toes, and always on the lookout for new things to teach at the workshop.  We’re very happy and honored to have him collaborate with us at Craft MNL.  Apart from having participated in our past Paper Popup, watch out for a tandem workshop (crafting + sketching) with The Sketching Backpacker!

Sketching while traveling.  Done in Vientianne, Laos.

Sketching while traveling. Done in Vientianne, Laos.

How long have you been illustrating/sketching/designing products? What got you started?

oh ever since i can remember! Korben Gifts shop – the “mother” of papemelroti has been existing for more than 40 years! I’ve been “working” even before I went to nursery!

How did your craft evolve into a business? How long have you been doing this?

My mother started it. She ordered craft kits from overseas and she developed her own products inspired by the kits.
From papemelroti site: Papemelroti’s history began in October 13, 1967, when Benny and Corit opened a small gift shop along Tomas Morato Ave. (Manila, Philippines). Korben Gifts, as it was called, started out as a hobby, with Corit making stuffed toys and doll’s dresses and Benny supervising the furniture making.

What’s your favorite medium?

that is tough! i guess watercolor: inexpensive, easy to bring and clean 🙂

We're all going to miss this graphic and glow-in-the-dark installation for HSBC.  This used to be in Bonifacio Global City.

We’re all going to miss this graphic and glow-in-the-dark installation for HSBC. This used to be in Bonifacio Global City.

What is your process for designing/conceptualizing new products/items?

my sister (manager) tells me, we need more of these……whatever.
I think about it (all the time: in the jeep, mrt, while driving etc.) and make “thumbnail sketches” in my date book. By then I am pretty sure what I would like to do.

Tell us about your favorite projects.

My favorite projects are ALWAYS what i am working on at the moment.

What’s the one crafting skill you’ve always wanted to master/learn?

metal sculpture!!!!!!!! …..heavy breathing.

Illustration and graphic design work for WWF.

Illustration and graphic design work for WWF.

What are you currently working on?

I need to finish layouting a magazine – includes illustrations / maps etc.

What’s your dream project? What have you done to make it happen so far?

PLENTY!!!!!! i would like to make an illustrated guide to Manila / i would like to make an art class curriculum for art teachers around the Philippines among other things!!!!!!! i have to do it!!!!!!

Aside from crafting what else do you do?

WORKING for my clients. I DESPERATELY want to get fit and get rid of my flab!!!!!!!

A sketch done in Barcelona, Spain.

A sketch done in Barcelona, Spain.

How does creativity influence the other areas in your life?

CREATIVITY is my life!!!!!!

Any advice for other aspiring crafters?

just have lots of fun with it!!!!!!!

What do you do to beat a ‘creative block’?

sleep, eat and do other things!!!!!!

A sartorial sketch.

A sartorial sketch.

Give us 3 crafting essentials you must have in your toolbox at all times.

scissors, elmers glue, watercolor set, sketch pad…..sorry that’s 4!

Why should people get their hands busy (and start crafting)?

PLENTY of reasons: makes one happy, creative, imaginative, more focused etc. – skills you need for everyday living!!!!!

Where can we find your work?


As someone exposed to both design and retail, what is something you’ve learned that other designers may benefit from learning?

business is REALLY more difficult than it seems!!!!!!!! You really need to work hard and look at numbers (something artists aren’t known for).