Text and Images by Kristofer Purnell
Apart from travel photos to the beach or some country with a more forgiving weather, you are sure to come across a photo of an artwork on Instagram. Most likely it would be a painting, or maybe even a sculpture. The point is that Millennials and even Gen Zers these days have included in their curated feeds an appreciation for the arts.
This was what local artist JP Pining had in mind when he created two murals for Starbucks Philippines in its latest Reserve store branch located at Assembly Grounds, The Rise by Shangri-La in Makati.
JP is the second artist to collaborate with Starbucks Philippines in designing artworks for its Reserve stores. The first was Patrick Cabral, who created three animal sculptures for the Reserve store branch in SM North Towers.
In fact, Patrick was the one who recommended Pining to Starbucks Philippines when the company went looking for another artist. It wasn’t too hard a decision for JP when they asked for his help, “You can’t say no to Starbucks.”
Eclectic candy colors and bold lines are what make up his art style. For JP, the more colorful a piece of art is, the more it is likely to seem attractive to people. Quito Tantoco-Lopez, Starbucks Philippines’ Store Development and Planning manager, saw something in JP’s artworks that make his pieces perfect to be displayed in The Rise branch. Assembly Grounds, The Rise is located right in the heart of Makati’s urban lifestyle district, and JP’s eye-catching works add a little color to the coffee-drinking experience.
“JP’s style is very colorful and bold, and [The Rise] is development more for the tech-savvy and for millennials,” says Quito. “So when we saw his style mixed with the type of development Shangri-La is having, it was a match.”
The murals, found on two sides of the Reserve store, depict a modern take on the coffee experience. Bold black lines separate the popping shades of yellow, red, and blue acrylic spray paint, and if one looks long enough amid the eyes and shapes, one will notice a picture coming to life.
“I used coffee equipment of Starbucks, their colors, the baristas, and the connections of the baristas to customers,” explains JP. On one mural you can find a stack of Starbucks cups ready for use, while both have figurative faces smelling a freshly brewed abstract cup of coffee. JP even added a couple of high-rise buildings to resemble the Makati skyline, as if to say customers themselves were the ones being depicted in the murals.
JP admitted that before the collaboration, he had yet to set foot in a Starbucks Reserve store. He acknowledged that these types of stores have a kind of “premium feel” to them, but not in a sort of intimidating way. So he hopes seeing his artwork will allow customers to think differently. “Based on experience, I’ve never seen something so colorful in a Starbucks shop. It’s a good thing they allowed me to [do my art style],” he says, “I guess it’s a different feeling, it’s a first for me to see that Starbucks is going beyond its typical colors.”
And Quito agrees it is indeed what Starbucks Philippines wants, in addition to promoting local artists. “We want to do all kinds of mediums, not just one kind,” he says. “We’re really open [now].”
In coordination with the Starbucks team in Hong Kong, Starbucks Philippines is definitely pushing for more collaboration with Filipino artists after the success of Patrick Cabral, and now JP Pining. “For now we’ll see,” adds Quito.“We’re looking at our pipeline and, with hope, it matches where we are, see what kind of medium, and who we can tap.”
JP himself wouldn’t mind if Starbucks Philippines approaches him again for another partnership, reiterating that “you can’t say no to Starbucks. Starbucks is Starbucks, just hearing the brand itself…,” the artist trails off in wonder.
In the meantime he has future exhibits and galleries to look forward to, as well as more collaborations with other brands. Another thing he’ll expect is a bunch of notifications on Instagram, tagging him whenever customers visit the new branch and chance upon his work. In fact, he looks forward to it. “They will eventually come, posting artworks and tagging artists,” he says in Filipino. “It helps in our networking and it will have a domino effect.”