Drawing your path as a young Filipino artist

Surely, the liberating nature of doing art makes it a considerable career choice and to be secured and successful, you have to know what comes along with choosing this field.

The six artists featured in Young Filipino artists you have to know about shared the challenges they faced in this path whereas Graphic and Web Designer Chester Obligado discussed the essence of portfolio-building. 

The Plight of the Artists

Aside from doing arts for leisure and self-expression, most artists sell their pieces to earn. But of course, there are roadblocks along their journey and these oftentimes cause the instability of their career in the creative field. 

The most common struggle they encounter is when people think that “art is easy” and they undervalue artworks.

#PowerpuffGirls by Aprilyn Cunanan

Aprilyn Cunanan, a Background Artist in TV Animation, used to work endless overtime, alongside skipped meals. This led her to see a therapist eventually. 

“It’s real hard work. Very hard work. Very small pay,”  said Aprilyn. 

Ocean Art by Arielle Guevara

22-year-old Character Designer and Illustrator Arielle Guevara once had a client who commissioned her to draw a 34-page children’s book with an “extremely low” pay, along with a really fast turnaround. 

“I hope clients understand that even though a lot of illustrations are digital now, they don’t happen in an instant click. That’s still an artist drawing every single stroke and making every creative decision,” Arielle said.

20-year old artists Cas Aseoche and Jena Tornea share the same sentiment when it comes to feeling insecure. Cas rarely gets commissioned works since he started it 4 years ago, while Jena, being a self-taught artist, prices her works cheaper than she initially thought because of imposter syndrome. 

Self-portrait by Jena Tornea

The shared experiences of these artists are rooted in this phrase we always hear: ‘walang pera sa art’ (‘no money in art’). But this is also because people refuse to pay for an artwork even though the artist spent several hours, days, even months, to work on it. It may not seem like a concern for some, but for artists, this has been greatly affecting their line of work. 

But despite the difficulties, they are not giving up. In the end, they just keep on remembering their purpose and motivations. 

Everyone has SOGIE. Art by Tee-Jay

For the 19-year old student activist and artist, Tee-Jay, he uses his talent to illustrate the reality where the Filipino masses are living in; “I am motivated by the apathetics, as I aspire to take part in educating them on the essence of immersing ourselves to the masses rather than antagonizing them as individuals.” 

Being persistent in doing what you love, being firm with the worth of your work, and keeping in mind why you started opens up a lot of opportunities for people. Despite the few others who do not appreciate and value your works, there are many more who do!

Portfolio Building 101

#PortfolioDay was mentioned, but for those who are not familiar with what a portfolio is, it is basically a well-curated compilation of an artist’s artworks.

We invited Chester Obligado, a Graphic and Web Designer of Rocket & Nines, to share with us his knowledge about portfolio-building. Here are his tips and tricks that will surely make your portfolio stand out:

  1. Your portfolio is the proof of your skills and talents, most especially if you want to pursue a career in the creative industry. This establishes your credibility and creativity and also serves as a bridge for your potential clients and employers to communicate and connect with you.
  1. Few years back, portfolios were done through printing it similarly to a magazine or booklet. But recently, most especially because of the pandemic, most artists opt to create an online portfolio that is relatively inexpensive, easy, and accessible. Behance, Facebook, and Instagram are suggested platforms where you can compile and showcase your works. A personal website works, too, but you may have to spend on some of its features. For motion graphics or video editing, making demo reels and uploading them on YouTube, Google Drive, Vimeo, or your personal website is preferred.
  1. Having a portfolio does not only give you an edge; it is a must for people who want to pursue a creative career endeavor. As mentioned, it serves as proof for the involvements and projects you listed on your resumé and it helps you track your previous accomplishments to help you in the future.
  1. In building one, you don’t simply compile all your past works. Choose the best ones and organize them accordingly— based on the most significant and important for you. Be clear; have labels and descriptions. You may also want to explain the journey of your project from start to end. Update it from time to time and remember, quality over quantity. Your portfolio reflects how you want to be presented to other people.
  1. Before posting your works for your clients, make sure to ask for their permission first. Prioritize the projects you want others to recognize. Focus on your forte and collect the ones you are comfortable doing in your career. If you consider yourself a ’jack of all trades,’ showcase first the field you are very used with. Avoid including works that involve something you don’t want to do in the future. You may also include “call to actions” wherein people can get in touch with you for future work. Most importantly, avoid plagiarism. It will ruin your career if you committed this mistake. 

One’s portfolio is a ‘work in progress’ at all times, and organization and wise decision-making are the most important takeaways from this. A good portfolio reflects a good artist, and as shown by the regular #PortfolioDay online event, there is an abundance of young Filipino artists out there.

About the Author

Tricia Allyson Salvador is a Communication student from the University of Santo Tomas and currently an intern of SubSelfie.com.

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