How we started
In August 2020, about two months after graduating from college, I felt stuck and wanted to do something. Initially, I looked at what other people were doing. Then, I came across a post on Facebook that said, “Don’t copy what others are doing. Focus on what you do well and you enjoy doing, and start from there.” That same day, I decided to incorporate what I love doing into a business idea. I launched “Handpainted by JMAM,” where I initially offered only wearable art. My first collection was called “Buhay” Bags, a series of hand-painted colorful canvas bags that told of the story of our new normal. It was followed by “Paraluman” Bags—a collection of hand-painted synthetic leather backpacks from Marikina. Months later, I started offering hand-painted bucket hats, where I even had resellers offering my works to more people. Later on, I focused on watercolor painting, which I have been doing since 2015. I accepted painting commissions and started participating in local calls for artwork submissions.
How we are different
As a watercolor artist, I am visual storyteller, and I share unique, inspiring, empowering, or eye-opening stories through my paintings. My artistry can be defined by my keen observation of my surroundings. My watercolor paintings often highlights aspects of our daily lives that can sometimes be neglected. A group of ducks taking shelter from the sun under a bamboo hut. Two students going up an overpass after buying lunch from a convenience store nearby. An intricate wood carving found on the ceiling of a museum whose walls are filled with paintings. I capture these seemingly random things or moments, but I paint them because I find meaning in them. That's what my art is like.
Meet the owner
Jirah May A. Millano, the artist behind JMAM, is an aspiring watercolor artist and visual storyteller aspiring to share Filipino stories through portraits and architectural paintings. She is also a freelance graphic designer, helping female fashion entrepreneurs with social media graphics and print layouts. Jirah also recently launched an accessories business called “Charm Manila,” where she offers carefully curated collections following a specific theme at a time. She is an official member of the Philippine Guild of Watercolorists, Philippine Botanical Art Society, Philippine Fauna Art Society, and the United Fine Artists of the Philippines. Being a graduate of BS Architecture from Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila, her work is greatly influenced by places and structures that help shape the human experience.
How we give back
One of the things I enjoy about being a watercolor artist is being able to share and teach my skills to other people. When I was in college, I would teach my young nieces and nephews how to draw and paint on my free time. After graduating, I had opportunities to share the same to a wider audience. I taught children online twice through AGAPE Charity’s virtual events. I also participate in fund-raiser group exhibitions where a percentage of the sales are donated to their chosen causes. Some are “Cause for Paws” by Kurit Gallery (February 2021), “Live Your Dream Virtual Art Fair” by Soroptimist International Manila (March 2021), “The Warrior is a Child: A Fundraising Show for Children with Cancer” by Art Show Philippines (August 2021), and “PINTABANG: A Fundraising Exhibit for Victims of Typhoon Odette” by the Franciscan Itinerant Dialogue Community-Philippines (January 2022).
Our promise
It's amazing how each one has a unique story to tell. How people have their memories associated with activities and places. There are things that may seem ordinary to you, but actually plays a significant part in somebody else's life. We can learn about people's experiences and values. By reading stories about fellow Filipinos, we can understand one another better. As a watercolor artist, I help share these motivating or eye-opening stories. Through my art page, I wish to share with you different realities for different Filipinos, one painting at a time.

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