Christian Gonzales, a 32-year-old quality assurance consultant in a software company, rediscovered his passion for the arts amid the pandemic. With spare time created by the work-from-home setup, he started painting in August and quickly found a buyer for his first work about Chinese folk heroine ‘Mulan’ with the help of Instagram and an online gallery.
“To be honest, I just finished my first painting on Aug. 22 this year. I am just lucky enough that after two hours of sending it out to the gallery, the gallery was able to sell it. It was overwhelming for me. At the same time, it gave me an idea on how to set the value of my subsequent paintings,” says Gonzales, who now prices his 36x26 paintings at P25,000 apiece.
Not long after, he sold more than 20 pieces and raised enough money for the brain surgery of his father who suffered from aneurysm. “My parents did not want me to take arts-related courses in college on the belief that there was no money in arts. I also used to believe that. But now that I started painting, would you believe that because of my paintings and the money raised from the sale of those paintings, we were able to save the life of my father,” he says.
“If I had fully depended on my corporate job, I would not be able to sustain his medical needs. But because of the savings from my artworks, I was able to pay all his medical bills and medication, and now he is at home recovering,” he says.
Gonzales, who lives in Baliuag, Bulacan, and a member of art group Guhit Pinas, grew up loving arts, particularly music and painting. He had to set aside his passion to pursue a career in information technology and worked in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City. It was during the pandemic when his company allowed them to work from home that he found time to paint again.
He believes that despite the health crisis, there is still a strong demand for artworks. “More people are looking for something that will inspire or give them joy, and painting is an artwork that gives joy. The demand for paintings has not been affected so much and the artists within our circle continue to depend on the art industry for their livelihood,” he says.
Gonzales says that because of the pandemic, he himself had time to reflect on what he really wanted to do. “I am thankful that I have a corporate job, but my very core is still looking for one thing that I think I’m missing. I’m glad that I have rediscovered it—my burning passion to paint. Now, I feel that my purpose is to produce more artworks and touch the lives of more people who appreciate them,” he says.
He combined his innate talent and digital marketing skills to produce and sell his paintings—mostly in abstract expressionism style with bright and lively colors that depict stunning landscapes or interesting characters.
“You just have to pay attention to how you market your paintings. Of course, it is important that the painting is good and you used high-quality color palette, canvas and materials. But you really have to focus on marketing strategy. If you manage it well, your career will soar up high,” he says.
“What I do is I use Instagram ads to draw traffic to my page. You can define your budget per day and Instagram will reach the audience you target. It is the number one way of advertising my artworks. So far, it is doing well. All my clients have seen my works on Instagram. That has been very effective. One thing I can advise aspiring artists is that if they really want their paintings to reach a bigger audience, please invest in marketing and advertisement such as on Facebook and Instagram,” he says.
“I have a Facebook account. I have an Instagram account. You can search for my art page called GonzArt Studio. I also plan to build my own website,” he says.
Gonzales uses acrylic paint because of its fast-drying properties. “I love working on so many layers of paint. With acrylic paint, you can even use blower for faster drying and then you can have another layer of color. If it dries faster, I am able to quickly visualize the direction of the composition,” he says.
He encourages millennials and aspiring artists who are passionate about painting to try it as a career. “Just paint. At the start, don’t think about whether you can sell it or not. Focus on enhancing your skills and study your techniques,” says Gonzales.
“Do it because you love it regardless if you can sell the art or not. Do it because you are happy. Money is just the bonus. What is important is that you are doing what you love and you improve your techniques. If they all come together, definitely you will achieve what you want one day,” he says.
Gonzales plans to hold his first solo exhibit next year or when the situation allows face-to-face interaction again. “Since August, I have been doing research on how to hold my own show or exhibit. I study about different themes. My target is that by next year, I can have my own show. I want my exhibit to be limitless. I think I should prepare at least 25 paintings which I can show to art patrons and showcase what more I can give them. That’s my number one goal for next year--to conduct my own exhibit,” he says.
Grateful that the art community has patronized his artworks, Gonzales says he is donating the proceeds from three of his paintings for the benefit of typhoon victims.
“I think my talent in drawing is not just for me but is meant to be shared with other people. I call it the ‘Heart of Art’. I have three paintings that are posted on my page. It is for a cause. I am trying to reach out people who would be interested to buy or support my artworks and at the same time help the typhoon victims,” he says.
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