Influenced by his love for nature, food, and city living, Ong's bright and happy character-based illustrations inspire simple joy in all who send greetings, give gifts, or decorate a home.
When was A Duck Amuck created? Where are you based out of?
I am a self-taught artist who's been drawing all his life, but about 10 years ago I had the idea to start this art business to showcase my illustrations. It was always brewing in the background, but it wasn't until the start of 2021, when many of us were forced to stay home, I decided to launch A Duck Amuck Art & Gifts in earnest. It has been a great experience so far, selling both online, to a small number of retailers, and in person at pop-ups. I love seeing people come up to my booth and smile, laugh, and react positively to the art on my table. I am currently based in Westchester County, just north of New York City.
What inspires you when creating your designs?
When creating my designs, I always draw from my love of nature. The moment I always go back to is that I went scuba diving in the Southern Philippines (Palawan Islands) as a young boy, and all the corals and tropical fish were so beautiful. I had never seen colors so vibrant! There are so many beautiful, unique, and rare animals and plants that have different colors, patterns, shapes, personalities, moods. I try to incorporate these into my work. And I try to infuse as much personality into my characters as possible.
Can you tell us the story behind your bilingual greeting cards?
I have always lived in multilingual communities, whether as a child growing up in the Philippines, where we spoke Tagalog, English, and Chinese at home, and then moving to Southern California, where Spanish was spoken everywhere. As an artist, I connect with people through my illustrations, but I know that I can also connect with people of different cultures through language. I think these cards work very well for people who live in the "melting pot" -- whether they know how to speak Tagalog, or are giving it to someone who speaks Tagalog (or is learning how to) -- I think these cards help people connect on a deeper level. I started with Tagalog, but I hope to expand the collection into Spanish, French, and Chinese.
Do you have a (current) favorite in your entire collection?
My current favorites are the Fish Buildings (Chrysler Building, Freedom Tower, Statue of Liberty). It really showcases the things that influence me most: underwater creatures and city life.
People are sending your notecards and keeping the art of letter writing alive. Do you send/receive happy mail yourself?
I always enjoy receiving postcards from friends and family when they are traveling the globe. It makes me feel connected to them even though they are far away, and as an amateur philatelist, I love seeing postage stamps from around the world.
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