Sixth Man is the unsung hero, the one cheering from the bench and delivering quality minutes when needed. In this weekly series, BuhayBasket puts the spotlight on the men and women who contribute to the game in their own way, away from the limelight.Last week, sports photographer Paul Ryan Tan told his story of capturing the game that ended the “Korean curse.” This week’s Sixth Man is a fan from Cebu whose Photoshop skills led him to meet his favorite team.
That’s how Michael Jan Pinat, a graphic artist from Mandaue City, Cebu, felt when he was introduced to PBA stars James Yap, Peter June Simon, Marc Pingris and the whole San Mig Super Coffee Mixers team in 2013.
“Kasi ‘yun ‘yung team na pinapanood mo lang sa TV eh, tapos nakita mo in person, nakasalamuha mo pa,” Pinat told BuhayBasket.
Pinat, a fine arts graduate, didn’t think he’d meet his idols. Six years before that fateful meeting, he had absolutely no ties with the PBA.
In 2007, he was sitting in his office desk in Cebu, learning the tricks of Photoshop to design posters, flyers, and billboards that had nothing to do with sports.
“First job ko nun kaya medyo pinag-aaralan ko pa ang paggawa ng graphic design sa computer,” he said.
During office hours, he is Michael, a graphic designer for a retail store in Cebu. But on his free time, he is Hael Grfx, a basketball fan who spends hours combining his love for the game and digital art.
“Nakakita ako ng design ng NBA, sabi ko, ‘Bakit ‘di ko gawan ng version ang PBA kaya?’ Parang ‘yun ang naging practice ko at nakahiligan ko ng gawin ‘pag bakante ako,” Pinat said. “Iba talaga ‘pag gusto mo ‘yung ginagawa mo, halos ‘di mo na napapansin ang oras.”
The first design he made was of his favorite team, then called the Purefoods Tender Juicy Giants.
“Bata pa lang ako mahilig na talaga ako mag-drawing, halos lahat ng kaklase ko dati sa akin nagpapa-drawing,” said Pinat.
As a professional graphic artist, the 33-year-old Pinat continued to be the go-to guy, but the stakes have become much, much higher.
“‘Yung mga first designs ko nasa Friendster ko pa dati. Sadly, ‘di ko na na-retrieve,” he said.
These designs grabbed the attention of fellow fans, and it helped him score the biggest gig of his life: designing basketball trading cards for San Mig Coffee.
“Siyempre I grabbed the opportunity. Pinapunta nila ako sa Manila, dun sa shooting ng commercial ng San Mig Coffee,” he said.
From drawing projects in grade school, he moved on to designing posters for his day job, then to what he really wanted to do.
Pinat is now waiting for the next big thing that will allow him to share his art to basketball fans all over the world. After a big Steph Curry game, or before an explosive PBA match-up, expect to spot a Hael Grfx art making its rounds on social media.
He said he draws inspiration from Australia-based graphic designer Tyson Beck, who designs digital art for the NBA, as well as from Filipino fans like him who take time to share, “Favorite,” and “Like” his art.
“Iba ‘yung feeling na may nakaka-appreciate sa gawa mo, na parang napasaya mo sila in your own little way,” he said.
His works can be found here. You know what to do.