Not too long ago, a young boy named Vico began creating sketches of people he’d see throughout his day on pieces of scratch paper.
Fast forward to the present day, Vico is an award-winning artist whose paintings have captivated the art scene in the Philippines with his unique eye. Diagnosed with autism as a young boy, Vico has been able to use his fondness for art as a way to express himself. As it turns out, it’s also become a lifelong advocacy.
Throughout all this, Vico kept sketching during breaks with his mom storing them in shoeboxes until they numbered in the thousands, a little hobby spanning decades.
This collection was largely unspoken of as it grew in sheer volume. That is, until a family friend showed them a series of images of monkeys and pixelated punks of different colors and traits.
When they asked what these digital artworks were, they knew that Vico’s sketches were made exactly for this medium: NFTs.
Discovering Vico’s “artism”
Vico’s journey as an artist began like most things do: with loving parents.
Even during preschool, young Vico seemed to have a very strong interest in art. His teachers mentioned that Vico was especially adept at picking and matching colors.
But it wasn’t until age ten when he painted ‘Blue’s Clues’ on the back of his father’s 24 x 36 blueprint where Vico’s “artism” shined.
His mother Cathy shared, “At age 10, Vico pulled out a blueprint 24” x 36” from his dad’s architecture office at home. He painted on the floor of his living room using poster paints with basic painted brush in just 12 minutes and created his first masterpiece which he called “ Blues Clues.” It was then we confirmed that Vico was an artist by heart.”
From art therapy to art accolades
With the right community, Vico became the person he is now. His numerous accolades both locally and internationally have helped affirm his passion and purpose in the world of art.
His style has blossomed since his humble beginnings painting on his dad’s blueprints. Described as playful and charming, his vibrant creations exude a simple yet intricate nature about them. Vico’s two favorite subjects: fishes and faces, have made it to various mediums throughout his career and have garnered several awards.
His latest recognition was particularly memorable: Vico became the first Filipino to win in the international 2019 Paralym Art World Cup with his “Kadal Tahaw” piece.
Vico Cham’s awards
2013 — NO. 1 EMPLOYEE, from Project Inclusion Network
2014 — Appointed as BEST BUDDIES AMBASSADOR
2014 — Vico Cham’s “CLOWN FISH” won for the Philippines in Autism Trust Foundation, Dubai
2015 — Apolinario Mabini Award for PWD OF THE YEAR and MODEL EMPLOYEE
2016 — HONORARY AWARDEE FOR VISUAL ARTS, ANCA (Autistic Network of Community Achievers), Vancouver
2016 — ANGELS AWARD, from Autism Society Philippines
2017–3rd. Place ENTREPRENEUR AWARD, ANCA
2017 — Nomination for EXCELLENCE IN VISUAL ARTS, SENIA (Special Education Network and Inclusion Asia), Yokohama
2017 — One of the six HANDPAINTING ARTIST ON PINYA at the Fashion for Hope, New York, organized by Fashion Arts Autism Benefit of Autism Hearts Foundation
2018 — TOP 50 FINALIST Paralym Art World Cup with his entry “SINULOG”
2019 — GAWAD RIZAL, from the Lyceum Philippines for Excellence in Visual Arts
2019–3RD PLACE Paralym Art World Cup with his entry “KADAL TAHAW”; First Filipino to win in the international competition
Vico’s seemingly endless creative energy has not only translated into wonderful world-class works of art that were meant for public consumption but has also unintentionally created beauty in the most mundane of moments. Introducing, “Shoebox Sketches.”
The discovery of the Shoebox Sketches: going “phygital”
Even before Vico’s “Blue’s Clues,” Vico had always loved to sketch on scratch paper. His sketches involve stick art of different people he’d see throughout his day and collected in shoeboxes by his mom, Cathy.
As it turns out, this collection of sketches that Vico has been quietly working on for the past few decades might be one of the most significant pieces of his career.
“Shoebox Sketches” now numbers in the thousands, spans decades, and continues to grow organically to this very day, as Vico draws these sketches on his time off every day. These sketches offer a glimpse into how Vico’s evolved throughout the years but also how he’s somehow found a way to stay consistently true to his unique style.
And in true Vico Cham fashion, this latest collection explores a new medium: NFTs. The choice of digitally adapting these sketches into the metaverse was an easy one to make and one look at the collection perfectly explains why.
The sketches are of a large volume with one cohesive style, all with their own unique traits. While the sketches are all of the same theme, none of them are exactly the same.
In a world where rarity and unique characteristics are valued, this collection fits right in. It’s as if these sketches were made specifically to be on the blockchain. Except they weren’t.
While most large NFT collections are generated by algorithms, the shoebox sketches are all hand-drawn. Even the intent to create unique pieces to form a large collection was non-existent. It was just a young boy’s way to pass the time and unleash his creative energy.
To say that the sketches were made for NFTs would be grossly inaccurate. Rather, it’s almost as if these works were waiting patiently for the right medium to find their home.
The “Shoebox Sketches” will be sold as “phygital” pieces, NFTs with a physical counterpart. In addition, six paintings entitled “Cleopatra” will be sold with the collection. Future utility for Vico Cham NFT holders are also planned in the future, with access to giveaways of Vico’s past works as possible benefits for token holders. Proceeds of the sale will benefit Vico’s Artism Gallery and the No One in Need Movement Foundation.