DAMDAM

Conversations with

Monica Zobel Urquijo

BY GISELLE GO AND PHILIPPE TERRIEN

Photographed by Monica Urquijo

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to go on a psychedelic trip, a quick scroll through Monica Zobel Urquijo’s Instagram @monichiwa_u ought to do the trick. Her feed is an escapist’s dream: A hyper-realistic take on the ultimate summer holiday. Is it any wonder that London-based Monica has a fascination for sun-soaked destinations? She calls the Philippines home where her family, the Zobel clan, are one of the country’s prominent patrons of local art and culture. Monica’s digital collages carry references that borrow elements from the tropics, her personal travels, and her work in fashion – coalescing into an all-encompassing lust for life that translates even on a mobile phone screen.

We connected with Monica through mutual friends, collaborating on a series of prints for DAMDAM. Her sense of whimsy, color, and island iconography is a tribute to sun worshippers of the digital age. We have a quick chat with the multi-media designer about her beauty regime, supporting local, and her favorite destinations.

Hi, Mons! Can you share a little bit about yourself for DAMDAM?

I’m half Filipina, half Spanish — but I live in East London. I’m obsessed with colors, graphics, patterns and prints and I love making video or photo collages that feature all these unexpected things. I think it’s really interesting to put photos or videos in unusual contexts. Otherwise, I work a lot with LOVE magazine — freelancing for them, making films for them and thinking of ideas for the issue and online. I also creatively consult and do design for different brands all around the world. You could probably say my work is like my art: a colorful collage!

Do you have a beauty ritual? Can you talk us through it?

Keep it simple! That’s my number one rule. So I wash my face twice a day, and keep it strictly natural and organic. There’s too much pollution in the London air, so why add more chemicals. I use a seaweed soap every night to wash my face, grapeseed and chamomile oil to remove my makeup, and then a light moisturizer every morning and evening. Every other day I use a salt scrub to exfoliate, to get the day off.

Monica’s collages are whimsical, eclectic, bohemian, and not for the faint-of-heart.

“Keep it simple! That’s my number one rule. So I wash my face twice a day, and keep it strictly natural and organic. There’s too much pollution in the London air, so why add more chemicals. I use a seaweed soap to wash my face, grapeseed and chamomile oil to remove my makeup, and then a light moisturizer… Every other day I use a salt scrub to exfoliate, to get the day off.”

Are there things in particular you look for in your beauty products?

Fresh smells. And no unnecessary chemicals. A little bit of makeup goes a long way, so I keep it minimal there too. While I adore and appreciate drag and all the amazing female makeup artists who have changed the beauty industry, heavy makeup has never worked with my aesthetic or my schedule. I like simple, colorful makeup. All simple, but effective.

What inspires your work?

Much like my beauty regime — it’s mostly natural. I’m really stimulated by the different textures and colors found in nature: plants, leaves and their details, the caverns and veins in wood and bark, the brightness and smoothness of frog skin, the iridescence of bird feathers. It’s not always natural, but it’s always very colorful. There’s so much darkness in the world, so it brings me joy to work with color.

“I am truly passionate about local crafts and traditional modes of art. While the world speeds toward total digitisation, I think it’s integral to not only retain, but celebrate modes of art that were key to creating culture before all of this change in the last fifty years or so… These crafts and methods are what our communities and our identities are built upon and they have to be kept alive… I am invested in their beauty, their addition to my culture, and it’s a way I can give back to my place of origin.”

Her multi-cultural upbringing informs much of her collage-work – a happy, colorful medium for the digital-media artist.

Why it is important for you to support local and the artisans where you are from?

I am truly passionate about local crafts and traditional modes of art. While the world speeds toward total digitisation, I think it’s integral to not only retain, but celebrate modes of art that were key to creating culture before all of this change in the last fifty years or so. While the Internet is important in so many ways, these crafts and methods are what our communities and our identities are built upon and they have to be kept alive. Plus the things the artisans make are truly beautiful. I am invested in their beauty, their addition to my culture, and it’s a way I can give back to my place of origin — a culture and a place that I love so much.

Where are your favorite travel destinations?

Anywhere with sun! I love Siargao, Cartagena and the Spanish Balearic Islands.

At home anywhere the sun shines.

 

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