Justin Besana’s impressive portfolio ranges from film posters such as Triangle of Sadness to TV show posters like Dirty Linen. In an exclusive interview with MEGA Man, he shares his humble beginnings and proudest achievements as a Filipino creative
For film and TV enthusiasts, a poster can make or break their decision to watch a show or movie. But for Justin Besana, the art of poster-making is a craft he has already perfected. His original and exquisite designs for shows like Dirty Linen, Darna, and The Broken Marriage Vow, as well as movies like Triangle of Sadness and Ang Mga Kaibigan ni Mama Susan captured the interest of many, especially the Gen Z. Today, we’re shining a spotlight on this remarkable artist and his fascinating work.
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A glimpse of his profile
Justin Besana holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts, majoring in Advertising Arts, from Far Eastern University. With his background, it’s no wonder that he has excelled as a graphic designer. However, what’s surprising is that this wasn’t his initial choice. He had originally planned to pursue nursing and marketing courses. Despite this, Justin feels that he made the right decision because his present situation is a great fit for his personality. “Being an ambivert, my job complements my personality because I frequently work from home rather than going into the office,” he shared.
Tracing the roots of his art
It all began with a simple Facebook message. “Kuya Jayson Sarmiento, [Star Cinema’s advertising coordinator at the moment], then asked me if I wanted to create studies for Prabeyt Benjamin. My design was used as an alternative poster and that was my first project.” He was then given the opportunity to become an advertising coordinator, too, which allowed him to gain more knowledge in storytelling that eventually translated into his works.
Later on, ABS-CBN Film Restoration absorbed him to help with the SAGIP PELIKULA initiative. As a freelancer, Justin was grateful for the company’s abundant opportunities and projects, both inside and outside the organization. This opened doors for him to work with both established and up-and-coming production firms locally and internationally, which ultimately boosted his career.
Exploring his artistic style
Justin Besana’s art style is heavily influenced by surrealism. “I enjoy ideas that stimulate the audience’s thinking and grab their attention,” he added. Throughout the years, Justin has looked up to several artists, including Dean Bradshaw, Salvador Dali, Flore Maquin, Vasilis Marmatakis, Aleksander Walijewski, and Jojit Lorenzo, who have all contributed to his growth as an effective visual storyteller.
The highs and lows
“We feel recognized and valued because it motivates us and pushes us to improve.”
As an artist, Justin Besana understands the feeling of being overlooked and undervalued. That’s why he’s so appreciative and driven to keep getting better whenever someone acknowledges his efforts. While Justin appreciates the attention, he acknowledges that it is always a collective effort to make each poster. He sees himself as the lead visual artist, but he acknowledges the importance of everyone involved in the process.
On the other hand, he is also no stranger to criticism as he views it as an inevitable part of the creative process. But he shared, “The saddest part is that some people will impulsively spew hate toward our work [out of nowhere].” During tough times, he relies on his friends who always help him keep his head above water and keep making work he’s proud of.
Discovering the masterpieces
Three posters that are close to his heart are Praybeyt Benjamin, Unofficially Yours, and Corazon Ang Unang Aswang. For Justin, these films are vital to his career as an artist, and without them, he wouldn’t be where he is today.
The artist’s impressive portfolio includes working on posters for restored classics. Some of his notable works are the award-winning poster for Asintado at Cinemalaya, as well as designs for Leonor Will Never Die, In My Mother’s Skin, and Excuse Me Miss, Miss, Miss, which were all entries from the Philippines to the Sundance Film Festival from 2021 to 2023. On top of that, Justin also worked with Dolly De Leon on creating the poster for the critically acclaimed film, Triangle of Sadness. For him, it was definitely one of the most significant moments in his career. He is also looking forward to the possibility of having his poster featured in an upcoming exhibition in Berlin, as it would serve as proof of his world-class talent.
Justin shared his surprise that his recent works of art are receiving more attention than those he created before the pandemic. The Broken Marriage Vow, Darna, Dirty Linen, Deleter, and Ang Mga Kaibigan ni Mama Susan are only a few examples. When asked for his thoughts on this, the artist said, “Naturally, all of these were made possible because my bosses trusted me with our projects. The internet community, particularly the fans, keep me motivated, too.”
His creative vision
“The Philippines is home to an abundance of talents, supported by its extensive artistic heritage. For the younger generation, art is becoming a way of life.”
Justin is pleased to see a rising interest in and appreciation for art in our country. He even pointed out the elections in 2022 as a testament to this change. He also encourages everyone to maintain their support for local artists and their endeavors, no matter what challenges arise.
To end, Justin shared six valuable tips for aspiring young creatives. The first is to be a jack-of-all-trades, but a master of one. Second, there will also be distractions and hurdles along the way; discern which voices to pay attention to. Third, acknowledge that in order for you to succeed, you should also listen so you can be heard. Fourth, always ask yourself if you are happy with your artwork. If not, the audience will ultimately feel it because every artwork is an extension of the artist’s soul. Fifth, be unstoppable. Keep creating and adapting to the ever-changing design landscape. And lastly, be kind to everyone because they are the ones who will support you, come to your exhibitions, defend you relentlessly without your asking, and actually beam with pride every time they see your works.
Photos: JUSTIN BESANA, DREAMSCAPE ENTERTAINMENT, and STAR CINEMA (via Instagram)