Art and Finance website: https://artandfinance.net/
Buy artwork/merchandise: http://www.redbubble.com/people/artan…
Assistant: Mack Agbayani
So shortly after our last two videos where we announced that Youtube videos would be less frequent for the near-term, guess what, our Youtube subscriber count has doubled. I think the market is telling us something. Also, it’s Art and Finance’s one-year anniversary!
(Episode#10: About US and Important Announcement!)
Hello everyone, welcome to Art and Finance, the website that makes learning Business and Finance fun and exciting through a blog, Youtube videos, and a webcomic, all featuring, you guessed it, art. Finance for non-Finance people.
First things first. Our major announcement is that, in a reversal of our previous announcement on Youtube videos, we will, in fact, be making more Youtube videos going forward! You ladies and gents subscribed on Youtube, so we have to give you more videos! Thank you to everyone, from our Youtube subscribers to our Facebook followers to everyone who visits our website, for your support! We’ll do our best to give you more informative and entertaining videos, and we will be putting our webcomic, Ilusion, on video format as well!
The second thing is that it’s our one-year anniversary! In celebration, we’re taking some time off to talk about my Finance background and some of my favorite artists, and what our goals are with Art and Finance. Here we go:
(Ramon’s Finance Background)
You probably gathered this from previous videos, but anyway: I’m a Filipino who grew up both in the Philippines and the US. I graduated from the University of Chicago with a BA in International Studies, focusing on International Political Economy. That’s basically the study of politics and economics in non-US countries.
Having a liberal arts degree, I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do after graduating (more on that in a future post), but it was one book that really got me into Finance, and equity analysis in particular. That book was “The Intelligent Investor” by Benjamin Graham, the mentor of Warren Buffett. This 2003 version had comments by Finance columnist Jason Zweig that really influenced me. In particular, the idea that you didn’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand or even be good at Finance.
I started my career in a private bank in Manila and worked my way up over the years to become an equities analyst in Singapore. This was a fantastic learning experience. I was exposed to different investment products – from stocks to bonds, to alternative investments such as derivatives, and got to see how investing in them was like.
And of course, as a stock analyst I learned a ton, from how to analyze companies to understanding the effect of the macroeconomy on stocks to, and I’d like to emphasize the importance of this, developing critical thinking.
Anyway, after several years, I had the itch to do something different. I left my job in Singapore to start my own venture. To be completely honest, at the time I had only a fuzzy idea of what I wanted to do, although I knew it still involved Finance and stocks, as well as my other passion – art.
(Some Artistic Influences)
I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember, ever since I was a kid. Then again, all kids draw. As Pablo Picasso once said, “All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” Well, I grew up and still remained one, and I credit that to one artist in particular…
(Artistic influence: Yoshitaka Amano)
I was about 11 when I first played the video game Final Fantasy VI. Aside from being a fantastic video game, it exposed me to something else that unexpectedly set my life on a particular direction. I had never seen anything like the artwork of the game. It had this mix of being accessible to children but also a certain sophistication and elegance I had never seen. I had also never seen women drawn like this, and it would be years later til I saw that similar elegance in real life with Audrey Hepburn. This was the art of Yoshitaka Amano, whose career spans both pop culture and fine art. Amano-san has been and continues to be a major influence on my art.
Interestingly, I actually got to meet Yoshitaka Amano in Singapore right as I was leaving my job to start what would become Art and Finance. Fate?
(Artistic influence: Hiroshi Misawa)
When I was twelve, I stumbled upon this amazing book, “Pencil Techniques” by Hiroshi Misawa. I think the reason why I’ve been able to balance two separate skillsets was because I learned how to draw at a young age, thanks to this book. Drawing is, after all, the foundation of visual arts. Recognizing the skill of Misawa, I slavishly emulated his shading and hatching style throughout my teens. And I didn’t seem to be the only one who appreciated his stuff. Eighteen years later, I stumbled across paperback reprints of his books at Sekaido, the major art store in Tokyo.
(Artistic influence: Seiichi Hayashi)
This is a more recent influence. I was introduced to comic artist and commercial illustrator Seiichi Hayashi during a backpacking trip in Japan in 2014. There is something very ethereal about his art that I like. Even the commercial art he does for Lotte candies is elegant!
(Artistic Influence: John Singer Sargeant)
I’ve talked mainly about Eastern, and specifically Japanese, artists. Among Western artists, my favorite is John Singer Sargeant. In my opinion, he struck the perfect balance between a realistic style and a more impressionist one. Notice the detail in the eyes and faces of his subjects, yet the more impressionistic and stroke-filled details elsewhere.
(Comic Influence: Tatsuya Egawa)
For those who are unaware, Art and Finance produces a webcomic called Ilusion, which teaches Business and Finance through its plot involving a cast of Finance professionals, many of whom are stock analysts.
Drawing a webcomic, and a Japanese-style manga in particular, is not the same as drawing and painting. It requires its own sensibility – the variation of linework, the choice of screentone, the use of black and white, et cetera. Which is why I’m really a big fan of Tatsuya Egawa’s work. The attention to detail, the use of screentone, and Egawa’s use of detailed facial expressions, often for slapstick comedic effect, makes his work extremely engaging. I should also mention that an animated version of one of his works, Golden Boy, is a fantastic translation of the manga’s slapstick humor.
I should also mention that Egawa-san has had an interesting career trajectory. He started as a college math professor, became a comic creator, then became an adult video director, before moving on to mainstream cinema. Also the guy is very prolific on Facebook.
(Comic Influence: Fashion)
I borrow a lot of the look of my characters, particularly the female ones, from fashion magazines, pictures and videos, drawing particularly from East Asian fashion. Something about their aesthetic – the cut, the fit and color choice, I really like.
And that’s it for some of my artistic influences. Maybe we’ll do a follow-up video in the future with more artists.
(Art and Finance)
Maybe the concept of combining Art and Finance into a consumer experience may seem a little jarring to you, but there is actually precedent for combining the two.
Investing is an art. You can have all the fancy Excel models in the world, but the most important thing is your call whether to buy, hold, or sell.
Likewise, visual art requires analysis. You need to understand anatomy, lighting, composition, color, drapery, and much more to execute a piece.
So, in fact, there is an overlap between art and finance. And this brings me to my larger argument. Do we need to fit ourselves into such neat categories that society determines? If I’m an Equities Analyst, does that mean I can’t be a visual artist or mangaka, or vice versa? If I like Finance, do I have to be part of the clichéd, Wall Street, alpha male culture? If I like art, do I have to be part of the gallery-going crowd? If I like comic art, do I have to subscribe to all of nerd culture? Conversely, if I like athletics, do I need to subscribe to all of jock culture? More importantly, if I’m just an ordinary person from outside the Finance industry, does that mean I can’t and don’t have to understand Finance, even if what goes on in the Business and Finance worlds has a direct impact on my life? Do we have to subscribe these stereotypes?
We previously discussed that the development and rise of the Internet may not be improving productivity. Maybe that’s not the point. Maybe the Internet is benefitting humankind in a more social sense, by connecting people from all over the world and giving a voice and power to niche demographics. Maybe it’s helping humankind by increasing the spread of ideas and empowering people to demand more transparency from governments and businesses. Maybe it also helps by allowing entrepreneurs to develop and grow businesses that were not possible in the past, or were considered extremely risky.
And this where Art and Finance comes in. Many people, including educated ones, are unfortunately unaware of how businesses, different economies and even the global economy operate. And while respected publications do exist to keep people updated, the use of concepts and terminology that are not taught in general education intimidates many.
We seek to turn the tide on this by use of the Internet to reach out to everyone and provide education, research and analysis, and encourage critical thinking, all in a manner that’s accessible to everyone. Hopefully Art and Finance helps you make better decisions in your life, from personal finance, to running a business, to understanding the economic platforms of someone you’re thinking of voting for.
Now, all this warm and fuzzy talk aside, some of you might be wondering how we plan to make money and support ourselves – well, we have some ideas, so keep following us. If things work out, maybe it’ll give you some ideas as well, if ever you decide to be an entrepreneur.
Anyway, happy one-year anniversary to Art and Finance, and thank you all for your support. With some hard work and persistence, we’ll be taking on the Finance world for many more years to come!
PS: Guess what we’re working on for the next vlog post!
Thank you for watching! 50 Youtube subscribers! Awesome! Please do support us by visiting our website, following us on social media, donating on Patreon, and buying artwork (more on that last one in the future)! Links are in the description. See you next time!
Ramon Rodrigo Cuenca, CFA
Art and Finance