pen and ink with gold leaf on paper
Do or Die List for Artists:
- Be good to your landlady/lord. I remember reading in an interview that during the salad days of Pacita Abad and her husband, they’d give her works to their landlady for months when they can’t pay rent. My own landlady has a wall filled with my works. Maybe if she decides to exhibit them someday, it’ll be called “For Rent”.
- Have friends whose mothers/fathers/lovers love to cook. It helps during times when your own refrigerator only has a jug of water in it.
- Make sure you have a big window in your apartment or studio. My neighbors call me “Ang Lalaki sa Bintana”, I sit by my window when I find my mind in a slump. I get my “inspirations” from the street below which is alive 24/7. It also helps in saving on my electric bill.
- Have rich friends or friends who have rich friends. Art is expensive. Most of the time, well, always, only those with disposable income can really afford them. When exhibiting, invite all your friends and have them bring their checkbooks.
- Have lots of friends. They’re cushions when tough days come around.
- Be on the web. It expands your network, you'd learn what's happening out there, and you'd realize that your studio isn’t the only world that exists.
- Invest on the best quality art material. They’re quite expensive and punches a big hole on ones wallet. Think about it, collectors wouldn’t want to buy artworks that won’t last for just a few years. It’s like when you buy a t-shirt. If it’s the cheap kind, chances are after a few times of wearing, it’ll end up in a donation box or as a rag to wipe the oven top. I’d hate the thought that my drawings would end up as somebody’s place mat.
- When friends visit you, have them buy half-gallon ice creams. I find those ice cream containers useful for storing my various art material knick-knacks.
- You won’t be discovered. You’re not the next child prodigy. No gallery would just come knocking on your door and say, “Hey, we’re looking for the next big thing and it’s you.” It doesn’t happen that way. It only happens once in every 1 million. The rest of the 999,999 just simply have to work hard on it.
- And last, clip and clean your fingernails and toenails. Brush your hair. Take a regular bath and wear laundered clothes, not those t-shirts that would seem it can already walk on its own and stink like… like a sewer rat used it as toilet. I know exactly the feeling when one is into art and there’s so much passion involved in creating it that you forget everything around you except for that piece of yellow thing that doesn't seem right. You eventually get back to your senses and it’s no excuse to forget simple rules of hygiene. A bar of soap doesn't cost more than a few bucks.