February 29, 2024

Every artist owns an inimitable identity painted in his own canvas. This individuality can be visualized in his style, colors and hues, and the medium he distinctively uses to express himself. But artists don’t just limit themselves in a color or two, for they are the type of people who explore everything and would vastly think outside the box.
This versatility is best exemplified by James Gabriel A. Wandag, an artist from Sagada, Mountain Province.
Born a natural artist, James started picking up paint brushes as early as three years old. Growing up, he learned the mysteries of making aesthetic treasures from his mentors during an era when art was a boundless thing in Sagada.
Testament of his ability to adapt to any medium, James is not only able to show his prowess in visual arts, but he also captures hearts through music. He is a member of the Sagada Musikeros who often do concerts for-a-cause.
James, although resembling a typical guy who loves motorcycles, has a soft spot for children. He started a wide-ranging art school in Danonoy, Patay in Sagada to teach young individuals to dive into the realm of arts. He, along with other local artists, conduct free workshops ranging from painting to woodcarving.
James tells growing artists to be themselves and to strive in learning.
“Be challenged in various art genres. Art is universal and you should appreciate your own work. Practice more and collaborate with other artists to grasp for inspiration,” he said.
James shared the Department of Trade and Industry played a vital role in his career as an artist and an entrepreneur.
Through the assistance of DTI, he took up a designer’s course with the Design Center of the Philippines to enhance his skills.
In 2007, James started the Ayeona‘s Souvenirs which produces unique hand-painted shirts and wall decors which he himself makes. This enterprise has been undergoing product development under the OTOP Next Generation Program of DTI, and participating in trade fairs organized by DTI to promote its products in the market.
Consequently, James is always invited by the DTI to share his skills in various designing subjects to help entrepreneurs in the province to improve their products.
DTI-Cordillera Director Juliet Lucas, in a social media post said, “James Gabriel Wandag is a success story of a passionate artist-entrepreneur who is generous to share his competencies to others. My big appreciation. How time flies, we met him first as a high school contestant in the Consumer Month poster making contest.”