Perhaps it’s life’s biggest irony that we spend the first few years of our lives fantasizing about adulthood. We overproject it into this utopia that breeds independence, an interminable supply of cash (what child hasn’t dreamt of having a credit card?), and optimal career success. And once the milestone presents itself, we realize it’s not as glamorous as we had pictured it. If anything, adulthood is a series of existential crises, anxiety, and questioning our life choices right after we have made them. As we were just about to accept the post-youth stress disorder as an inevitable aspect of life, Martine Velasco makes her own case. At the ripe age of just-turned-eighteen, it seems as if she’s already ahead of the rest of us.
The newly minted adult recently received her diploma from British School Manila and is set to take up her BFA at NYU. Her academic achievements alongside her quintessential '90s chick fashion sense, styling work, photography, and an Instagram aesthetic that will put yours to shame, make her the modern-day Renaissance woman. In an exclusive with Martine, she decodes the cool-girl uniform, deconstructs the beauty of her visual masterpieces, and decides where she’s headed to next. What’s wishing her a bright future ahead when she’s already living it at present day?
The millennial generation has seen a rise in divergent career paths. As a self-confessed multi-hyphenate, how would you hyphenate both your profession and personality into one line?
Lazy artist-stylist-sometimes photographer-Gemini-cat person-social media addict.
You’ve had your luck (and success) in styling, photography, and even modeling. Which of these would you say has been the most interesting to pursue? And is there anything else you’d like to get into?
Styling has really opened my eyes to the behind-the-scenes world of fashion. It's given me a chance to turn my passion for clothes into a profession. It's hard for me to call myself a photographer because it's something that I feel I haven't been putting as much effort into pursuing. I'm trying to prioritize it as one of my goals for this year. I also don't really consider myself a model because it's not a career that I'm actively pursuing. I usually only dabble in it when people approach me about it, but it's been an interesting experience being in front of the camera, too. Art was my first love, so first and foremost I'll always be an artist. As for what else I want to get into, I want to try more video work!
As per Instagram, you recently had a graduation exhibition of your paintings. What was the inspiration behind your work?
The artwork in my graduation exhibition reflects my interest in the way that humans live and work. I like that we aren't completely perfect beings, so I tried to focus on the inherent aspects of ourselves that make us this way. Besides the paintings shown on my Instagram, the exhibition also included two videos, an installation piece (which was actually censored by my school since it included real animal organs) and a GIF, which was shown in a separate area.
I categorized the pieces into three sub-themes: Emotions and Experiences, which deals with our relationship with our feelings and memories; Dreams and Perception, which deals with the way our mind works and processes information; and Psychological States of Mind, which mainly highlighted the idea of dissociation and mental disorders.
You have a killer resume, an anticipated degree at NYU, and a cult-following on social media to your name. How does it feel to have achieved this much success at 18 years old?
In one word, unreal. People tend to view me as someone unapproachable,which is a weird feeling because to myself and the people who know me personally, I'm a very regular 18-year-old. I'm very grateful for the people and opportunities that have helped me to reach where I am today. This is just the tip of the iceberg though, I'm still changing and growing every day (not height-wise though, sadly).
What achievement are you most proud of?
It's hard to pinpoint one specific achievement because I'm proud of so many things, but I think managing to kick start my career before graduating high school is definitely a big one. Also, getting my first job—I'm currently working part-time as a Junior Creative Assistant at Sunnies Studios until I move.
What is your dream project? Both in terms of concept and who you want to collaborate with?
Like I mentioned, I'd really like to get more into film, so maybe a short movie or do a series of photographs meant to look like movie stills. I want it to be something about teenagers; I love the idea of secret lives after dark, first love, fresh independence, and testing out the waters of freedom, things like that. I'm not sure who I'd want to collaborate with for this in particular, but in general I just like working with laid-back, interesting people.
You’re also quite the fashion icon. How would you describe your signature style?
Lately my style has been quite edgy/urban, and very much influenced by street style and the '90s.
If you could only have three items in your closet, what would they be?
A really good pair of blue skinny jeans, denim cutoffs, and some kind of t-shirt—you'll always find me in a t-shirt in my downtime.
How do you think your style will evolve once you go to New York?
I view New York as a city where people aren't afraid to take fashion risks on a daily basis, so I definitely see myself wearing more daring and unusual types of clothing that would maybe be seen as strange in Manila.
Whose style are you always inspired by?
I love the style of the Hadid sisters, especially Bella! Their stylist, Monica Rose, has great taste. Bloggers Rumi Neely and Erika Bowes also never fail to inspire me. I get most of my outfit inspiration from my Tumblr and Instagram feeds.
What are the stores wherein you can’t leave without buying anything or seeing something you like?
I mostly shop online, and I can never go on to Nasty Gal without seeing something I want! Other stores I love are Reformation, Topshop, Missguided, Commonwealth, Stussy Women, Acne Studios and American Apparel, but I love vintage shopping and thrifting too.
Let’s play dress-up. What would you wear in the following situations?
a. A night out in Manila
A leotard (may substitute with a crop top and denim jacket), skinny jeans, a choker and chunky heeled boots.
b. A Sunday brunch
A striped t-shirt dress or a romper, a crossbody bag, sunglasses and ankle boots.
c. A first date
Depends where! But probably a cropped sweater, skinny jeans, my Air Force 1s and a thick choker. Just something simple and comfortable so I don't have to think about wardrobe malfunctions or anything.