Previously a sign of delinquency, graffiti, formerly known as vandalism, is now celebrated as an art form with a dedicated cult following. Manila's winding streets and back alleys are no strangers to graffiti, and they make the perfect canvas for street artists to freely express themselves.
Kookoo Ramos is at the forefront of this urban reawakening. As a street artist whose works primarily feature women, Kookoo is breaking stereotypes in a male-dominated field by producing works that capture beauty, vulnerability, and emotion.
It's as if becoming an artist was in her blood. In her childhood, she was fond of doodling, a telltale sign of a creative mind. Her first canvases were her sister's old notebooks, and more notably, the walls of her home—she drew on them with crayons. In high school, she loved art-related extracurricular activities and projects, because they gave her an outlet to express her vision.
In 2009, in her freshman year in college, she started out as a spectator, tagging along with more experienced dabblers in street art, scouting for locations, hanging out, and painting together. It wasn't until a couple of months after her urban excursions that her curiosity peaked, and she finally picked up a can of spray paint for the first time—the electrifying moment when her passion came to life.
She is the first female artist to be recognized by Filipino Street Art Project as their Artist of the Week, and was hailed as one of seven prominent personalities in the street art scene by Art Radar Journal in 2014. That same year, she was invited to the Rebel Daughters Convention where she collaborated with other female street artists to paint several street murals around Singapore.
Her art is a testament that beauty and inspiration can be found even in the unlikeliest of places. You can find her work all over the metro, from Ortigas to Bonifacio Global City, and even in cafes and restaurants.
Whether you love graffiti or not, Kookoo is a testament to working hard to achieve your dreams. "I'm proud of my work pero malayo pa ako sa katapusan. Ang dami pang space to paint on, ang dami pang puwedeng gawin," she says. "I haven't even painted [on] my dream space. And if that happens, I'll think of something to do next that's even bigger."
All the decisions she made brought her limitless opportunities and experiences. You, too, can open doors to your passion. Join her now.