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A lawyer who draws sports icons: A glimpse of Jovi Neri’s journey

Jovi Neri

A compilation of Jovi Neri’s artworks will soon be published as a book on September 15 in an art fair. | CDN File Photo by Niña Mae Oliverio

CEBU CITY, Philippines — You might be familiar with the lawyer who draws sports icons.

Does the name Jovi Neri ring a bell?

A compilation of his artworks will soon be published as a book on September 15 in an art fair.

READ: Juxtapose: 5th Tubô Cebu Art Fair is coming this September

It is entitled, “Just a Lawyer Drawing Sports Icons.”

Neri shared with CDN Digital a glimpse of the book’s details as well as a portion of his life story which can be read on the book.

Joven Francis “Jovi” Neri is a practicing lawyer in Cebu City who illustrates sports icons besides playing golf.

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When it started

Neri began his drawing career when he was still a child.

It was in 1984 when he turned seven years old that paved the way for his talent in drawing.

“My earliest memories of drawing were on the backs of discarded legal papers from my dad’s typewriter. Then my mom took notice of my inclination to draw,” reads a portion of his book.

His mom told him about the ‘kid’s art section’ in a Sunday magazine of Manila Bulletin and asked him to draw something so they could send some to the publication.

Neri recalled that he drew soldiers firing guns and gave it to his mom to mail it to the publication.

READ: FACES OF CEBU: Vince Dherek Joaquino, 19, visual artist

Art lessons

When his drawing was published, his family was delighted, which made his mom sign him to private art lessons after discovering his ability to draw.

In 1985, Mar Vidal, his art instructor, introduced him to charcoal pencils.

After a series of art sessions, Neri discovered that the subjects he loved to draw were superheroes.

However, just when he was already into cultivating his arts, playing sports consumed Neri by the year 1990 when a miniature basketball court was built in their driveway.

READ: How rejection showed a supposed-to-be nautical student the path to being a winning artist


“The following year, I joined the Cebu Country Club Junior Golf Summer Program and immediately got hooked [on] golf. Thereafter, my weekends and summers were devoted to playing golf,” he stated in the book.

But even if he was consumed by golf back then, he later reignited the burning passion for drawing.

That was when he began to draw sports icons and among the first personalities he drew were basketball players, Magic Johnson and Robert Jaworski, and John Daly, an American professional golf player.

Neri said that sports may have steered him away from art, but it triggered the evolution of his art style.

“My real-life sports heroes had now joined the superheroes residing in my sketch pads,” he said.

READ: Some Bisaya artists who put Cebu on the world map

His book

The full life-story which started from his beginnings to his present life as a father are narrated and written in his book.

His book will be launched on September 15, and it will showcase his “highly-acclaimed” illustrations with 36 sports icons; nine of which are Filipinos.

Among the sports icons he illustrated were Efren “Bata” Reyes, the renowned Filipino pool player; the world champion in boxing, Manny Pacquiao; basketball players, Lebron James and Kobe Bryant; weightlifter, Hidilyn Diaz; and world bowling champion Paeng Nepomuceno.

Through his book, Neri takes the readers along his journey through drawings, sketches, and doodles for four decades.

He also has commentaries in each of his illustrations, telling the story of his process and his evolution as an artist.

Moreover, among the highlights of his book is the foreword written by the bowling hall-of-famer himself, Paeng Nepumoceno.

Nepumoceno will also be present during the book launch for a book signing.

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TAGS: artworks, Jovi Neri, sports icons
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