I’m probably one of the lucky people who don’t have to defend their choice of degree to their parents or to the “marites” out there who just love to make “pakialam” and question things that they really don’t have business with.
But whenever I would tell a stranger about my degree, someone would joke “Mass Comm? Mas kumportable sa bahay,” followed by a cheeky laugh. Sometimes, there was the occasional “Bakit di ka na lang mag-doctor mag-lawyer, or (insert any degree in science and technology, business, or whatever they deem profitable). Sayang talino mo kung sa arts ka lang mapupunta.”
Stigma and stereotypes on liberal arts, media, and other arts-related degrees still persist today. The most common is “walang pera sa arts” or “hobby lang yan.”
And these stigmas are probably because artists are not paid their dues. In market lingo, binabarat ang mga artist. Their skills are often underestimated. Their talents are undervalued. Their crafts are unappreciated.
With the misperception that art is just a hobby, most think artmaking is easy; thus, requires a minimal fee. But that’s far from reality. It takes time and energy to perfect a craft, to produce the best quality.
When I was doing freelance work, some clients would say “Madali lang naman ‘yan sa’yo” and offer pittance. I would often retort: “That’s why you have to pay me more. If I make the work look easy, it is because I have years of practice and experience in writing. That is what you are paying for.”
FYI to those who belittle the arts as a career, the creative industry is a billion-dollar enterprise. There are thousands (or should I say millions?) of career opportunities in the art field.
When asked about the current Philippine art scene and the opportunities for talents during the last leg of the Shell National Student Art Competition (NSAC) Virtual Art Interact, artist Ana Montinola enthused that the industry has been “improving with so many platforms to showcase our talents and, with so many new kinds of arts, it’s very exciting for young artists nowadays.”
While the stereotypes may deter budding artists from pursuing arts full-time, NSAC showed that young talents can realize their passion and make a profitable, successful career in art at the same time. As the longest-running student art competition in the country, Pilipinas Shell’s NSAC continues to be a platform to develop and nurture young Filipino visual artists.
Through the Translating Your Design from Page to Product workshop, fashion and beauty illustrator Soleil Ignacio and UP College of Fine Arts ceramics workshop facilitator Jezzel Lorraine Wee shared business advice and reflected on the current realities of the creative industry.
The artist facilitators emphasized the importance of knowing the target market, the people who they are communicating with. Multiple online platforms can also be a tool where artists can develop their portfolio or creative storefront that can help develop their brand and style.
Create collaborations and engage in exchanges. “It was lucky for me that, in the pottery circle, there were people who knew about business that I could ask. So don’t be afraid to ask people who have expertise because you will learn a lot from them,” shared Wee.
Networking and visibility are keys to market yourself and your art. “As artists, we have the tendency to stay at home. But we need to show who we are. It’s part of the work: you can’t work alone, you need others,” said Ignacio, emphasizing showing one’s own style and voice in any work.
For Wee, artists must focus on developing themselves and “continue on improving, not to prove [the naysayers] wrong, but to nourish your principles as an artist. It’s important that you’re happy with what you’re doing. As long as you’re sincere with the work that you’re doing, your clients or viewers will feel it.”
Pilipinas Shell VP for Corporate Relations Serge Bernal encouraged artists to use “power of art to charge forward by showing who you are, what you value, and what you envision through art” and “use your gift to power an entire generation of Filipino artists for the country.”
On the public perception of arts, Ignacio said: “With Shell, it’s great they’re commissioning artists to create big pieces for public display where everyone can see it because that’s what we need right now. Where people, the masses, can have more access to art so it can enter the public consciousness.”
To learn more about next year’s Shell NSAC and Virtual Art Interact, visit http://shell.com.ph/juanartnation.