Ryan Melgar

Fueled by streetwear and music—but mainly Taylor Swift, the visual artist creates stunning portraits whether he’s working with a pen tablet or an analogue camera. Apart from producing visuals for local musicians with artistic photographs that look like digital paintings, he’s been gracing the pages of international publications with digital paintings that look like artistic photographs.

Hello! Please introduce yourself.

Hi! I’m Ryan Melgar a.k.a. MELGZ, a 27-year old artist from Caloocan. I make digital illustrations, mostly portraits, for magazines and sometimes create visual stuff (album or single art covers, photographs, etc.) for musicians. I’m very much into music, streetwear, and Taylor Swift. Very that. I create stuff using my old computer and my trustworthy, slightly overpriced pen tablet. I also own a film camera ‘cause I’m edgy, JK!

How exactly did you fall in love with art? Was it something you always wanted to do growing up?

I’m not really sure how I actually started falling in love with art, to be honest. When I was younger, I used to watch a lot of anime and drew them and pangit talaga sobra [laughs]. I remember my friends laughing at my drawings lol. So I guess I got discouraged and took a “more practical” program. Not a lot of people know that I’m an Information Systems graduate at DLSU-M before I took up Multimedia Arts at APC. My parents were actually telling me to take a computer-related program before ‘cause it was 2008 then, when the nursing and IT industry was booming. I hate blood, so I chose IT instead. After graduating in Information Systems, I didn’t really feel like it was something that I’d be happy doing for the rest of my life. Told my parents about it and I was blessed that they were very supportive about my decision to take another degree.

The late 2000s/early 2010s was also a time when Tumblr was at its peak and you’d discover a lot of people, professional artists or not, doing their thing and posting it online. So napaisip ako, “Shet, ‘di ko ata kaya mag program habang buhay,” and that’s when I decided to take an art course right after graduating because it felt like it’s something that I’d be happy doing. So I basically got inspired and I guess that reignited the luv 4 art or something.



My parents were actually telling me to take a computer-related program before ‘cause it was 2008 then, when the nursing and IT industry was booming. I hate blood, so I chose IT instead.

What was the turning point for you that made you pursue a career in art?

When I got my very first illustration gig and it became the cover of ! True story: I thought the e-mail I received was a scam because I’ve never heard of Bloomberg before. When I arrived at my internship office, I asked our art director if he knew what Bloomberg was. He laughed at me and said, “Gago! Weh?! Ine-mail ka?!” [laughs].

How did you manage to find your voice as an artist? Did you find it difficult or did you immediately know what kind of artist you wanted to be?

I guess by practicing and doing a lot of different things. Like I said, I was shit when it came to drawing, so I started there. I worked hard to make it look at least presentable. Then I became good at it. Moved to painting. Was shit. Got better. I think that’s the process for all of us, no matter what you’re doing. I also want to keep doing different stuff. I just don’t wanna be stuck in just one thing. I don’t wanna just illustrate. I always try to do other stuff.

How would you describe your personal style to someone who can’t see?

Grabe! Miss Universe! [Laughs]. Like a fruit salad, I guess. The combination of fruits per bite is different each time. Wow?!

Lastly, what’s the future like for you?

I hope so! I honestly don’t think much about the future because it gives me so much anxiety, so I tend to focus more on what’s happening today. I’m a very goal-oriented person. I work hard to get the things that I wanna have and be good at something that I wanna do. I hope that in the future, I’m still the same hardworking person that I am right now. I’m also planning on creating a brand with a line of merch (garments, accessories, and lifestyle stuff) this year, so I hope it really pushes through!

In an age where print is considered #dead, Caloocan artist Ryan Melgar never thought that his digital illustrations would look good on paper. In fact, when his very first client (Bloomberg, no biggie) contacted him for a project, he was gagged and thought it was scam—mostly because he’s never heard of the magazine before. Gracing the pages of The Atlantic, Entertainment Weekly, Variety, Wired, and the like, his intricately painted illustrations would make you question if it’s *cue the music* real life or is it just fantasy. Not one detail would miss his eye, not even Jay-Z’s 12th nose hair.

Drawing inspiration from music, streetwear, and Taylor Swift, he’s also lent his hand in creating visuals (album or single art covers, photographs, etc.) for musicians. Although he admits that his earlier works were shit, it’s safe to say that whether he’s got an analogue camera or a “slightly overpriced pen tablet” on his hand, what he’s making right now is truly some good shit.



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