Distort Monsters hits back and reclaims what’s his


EVERYTHING was set for the next solo exhibition of visual artist Distort Monsters. He had the dates secured and the pieces in place for a showcase that would further his transition from doing street art into gallery exhibits, while retaining his credibility as a street artist.

A little over a month before the opening, however, a collector tipped him off that a certain gallery was selling works that bore an uncanny resemblance to his signature style. A mob of mischievous monsters, wearing the same menacing blank stares shot from round eyes. But instead of having the original dashed lines all over the body, which implied fur and texture, they had solid lines, as if the broken segments were dotted together.

The artworks’ title: Funny Monsters.

“Being that this is the first time something like this happened to me, I was initially unsure about how to feel,” Distort Monsters wrote in an Instagram post, adding that he considered simply writing off the issue as a “decision done in poor taste by an aspiring young artist.”

He reached out to the artist, before piecing together the bigger picture. Distort Monsters realized that the gallery selling the works in question reached out to him a month prior. He did not respond, feeling something was up.

“That gut feel was proven right today when they posted the plagiarized works for sale,” he wrote in the post. “To make things even worse, it was the gallery who secretly commissioned the artist for those pieces.”

The gallery received about as much backlash as Distort Monsters did got support. So much so the artist decided to replace the entire concept of his scheduled solo at the last minute, with one that serves as his response to the issue.

On view at Village Art Gallery in Alabang Town Center is FUNNY BU$INESS. The exhibition opened on December 4 and runs until December 16.

“I switched it up because it was something relevant at the time and it was a way for me to put out a statement without having to talk with the gallery,” Distort Monsters said in an interview. “The show is about me reclaiming my identity.”


Skateboarding. Punk rock. Street Art.

Distort Monsters considers these as his personal trinity, being all deeply rooted in “counter-culture” and on a “do-it-yourself ethos.” Skateboarding was something he always wanted to do as a kid, drawn by its aggressiveness and tenacity. The passion bled into punk rock, a music genre featured in most skate videos, and he ended up playing in a hardcore punk band, something that he still does to this day.

He was also drawn to the rich images used in skateboard decks, inspiring him to create his graphics.

“I’d make my own characters, hand-draw them on sticker paper, and I would slap them everywhere,” Distort Monsters said. “I eventually met other skaters who turned out to be graffiti writers and street artists, and was invited to join them for some sessions. The moment I picked up my first spray can, I knew that it was what I wanted to do with my life.”

As the artist carved his own niche, he began to look at other street artists who began gallery work. He tried to teach himself to draw better, but could never overcome his difficulty drawing proportionally or realistically. Frustrated, the artist began to draw things “badly on purpose.”

Weird proportions, extra body parts, the works. Thus came the name “Distort.” Meanwhile, “Monsters” came later on in college, when he dealt with terrible bouts of anxiety and turned to drawing as a coping mechanism.

“Every time I would feel an anxiety attack coming, I’d pull out a pen and paper and draw,” he said. “After accumulating stacks of drawings, my best friend was going through them and asked me why I kept drawing monsters.”

The artist never really intended the characters to come off as monsters, but realized that these creatures must be the voices in his head. Drawing them, he rationalized, must be a way for letting these monsters out, freeing himself of their control, helping him to calm down.

“It’s been years since then and I’m in a much better place now,” Distort Monsters said. “I feel like I cope with my anxieties well enough. I’ve embraced my monsters and accepted that they are a part of me. From being actual monsters, I’ve had to battle, they now represent who I am.”


Presented in FUNNY BU$INESS is personal commentary of Distort Monsters on the issue: a mockery of the imitation.

There are several pieces in which the artist presents his characters interacting with their versions. In Impostor!, the artist recreates the popular meme with startled Spider-Men pointing at each other. In Mirror Mirror on the Wall, standing on each end of the reflection are the original and the copycat.

“This show is about Distort Monster channeling all the stress and frustration from the plagiarism issue,” said Anton Lorenzo, Gallery Manager of Village Art Gallery. “[It’s] a way for him to make light of the situation, and a way to reclaim what he has been working so hard on these past couple of years.”

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