Thursday, January 3, 2008


15" x 15"
pen and ink on acid free paper

Dear *******,

I initially wanted to send this to you privately but... what the heck. I simply decided to make this an entry here in my blog.

People who know me well will tell you that one of my pet peeves (aside from being called "Kuya" by people I absolutely have no blood relations with) is when total strangers come up to me and say, "Hi, can you paint me nude? For FREE ha?" or, "Hi! Can I have one of your sketches or better yet, can you give me na lang one of your paintings. Sige na PUHLEEEZ??", and then would proceed to give me the most doe-eyed expression they can muster. They ask me these without the temerity of even giving me their friggin' name!

What I will say here is something that most artists, deep within the deepest recesses of their minds and guts would want to say but are either too polite or too timid to tell when confronted by these “requests” or anything similar to what I wrote on top.

"Ano ka? Sineswerte?"

Like all of us who try to eke out a living, us “artists” are no different from those who clock in 8-hour daily shifts. We actually earn from what we draw, dance, sing or sculpt. It even takes a whole lifetime to perfect these skills. Some even die without seeing the rewards from the fruits of their life's labor.

I admit, unless the works are mediocre, these products of our imagination are indeed expensive. Why? Blood, sweat and tears pour into these imaginative creations. When a painter or sculptor exhibits his works, it doesn't mean it's a mere 'brag-o-rama' sort of exposition where he shakes his balls for the whole wide world to see... and ends there. There's actually business that happens behind it, which the public doesn't necessarily have to see nor even know about. Monies, fortunes and even reputations are traded for the best art.

The beneficiaries of these are not only the galleries that exhibit the works, the promoters who make all these press releases, the managers who take care of the artist and his career, but in the end, the artist himself. In a much wider picture, another beneficiary, through time and how well the artist was able to encapsulate the thoughts of his community into a quantifiable expression, would be the culture to which his work adds on or improves upon. Every single piece done by a career artist is unique, well thought of, has value and in many cases, seen as an investment.

So you see, it isn't just a doodle that an artist would give out to every Tom, Dick and Harry he meets along the street - unless if that is the thesis of the artist's work. It is a well-structured business where every piece is traded for with something of pre-determined equal value to acquire.

Here's a little fact that many neglect to know. Serious artists don't necessarily make "give-aways" of their works the way Mcdonald's or Jollibee do with their freebies as part of a marketing gimmick. A lot of times, the artist or his family, when he’s long dead and gone, would keep many of the works for varied personal reasons. Ergo, unless bought, it is difficult to part with a work as a token. Think of it like having a child. Now, how often have you heard of any person who would give away his child the way he'd give, say bananas to any passing monkey?

It even took me more than ten years before I actually gave a very close and dear friend a sketch of mine.

An artist needs time, an actual relationship and a good, meaningful reason to give away something he/she created without the presence of any physical barter. We don’t buy our thoughts or ideas the way a Hermana Mayor would buy gold-foil wrapped chocolates from the supermarket and toss it to the town children during fiesta.

My suggestion, if you would like to have a “free work” from some artist who’s into what he does on the long run… befriend him or her first. Be close to that artist and establish some form of rapport or relationship. Paul Gauguin made his best works using his Pacific Island mistresses as his models. Jose Joya drew some of his boy lovers and their naked images are now preserved for posterity. Frida Kahlo gave Trotsky one of her works after they had a short affair. I even know a thirty-something artist who’s now based in Hong Kong and making waves with his angst-ridden drawings of his father with fangs. He gives away his drawings and sketches to every lover he invites under his sheets, or above the kitchen sink.*

Who knows, di ba? If you start befriending a career artist with an excellent body of works and have good relationship with that person, you wouldn’t have to run away with one of his/her works. Heck, he might even hand it to you with a brass band to accompany it.


*I know that my examples are a bit racy. I am not looking for a lover to give my sketches or devote a painting to. I just used them to illustrate a point.


Kiks said...

you painted your point well.

as for the lovers, they'll just come your way. and it's all upto you anyhow whether you'd give more that what they truly deserve.

sa mga puhleez girls, puh-leez.

atticus said...


Misterhubs said...

People don't realize how hard it is to paint and draw something worthy of public display until they try it themselves.

Anonymous said...

Hello Palma
This reminds me of a story by Roald Dahl. In the story, a kind man who took care of a struggling artist was rewarded by having an art piece tattooed on his back by the artist. Later the man got into financial problems and became homeless and the artist died. When the artist passed away, he became very famous and his art pieces were coveted by everyone. One day an art curator had an exhibition of the dead artist's paintings. The homeless man saw the exhibition while passing by, went in and showed everyone his tattooed back. The art gallery owner lured the guy with food and money. After a few days, a new painting was hung up in the gallery and it looked exactly like the one that was tattooed on the man's back.

Anonymous said...

it really is quite hard to paint and even more so to make a living out of it. :-) but it can be pretty rewarding at times too.


i remember an anecdote involving picasso.

being as famous as he is, picasso was hounded by autograph seekers.

one day, he was sunning himself on the beach when a little boy approached him holding a big pen and paper. apparently, the child's mother sent the kid to ask for a sketch from him.

but instead of drawing on the paper, picasso drew on the boy's back and sent him back to his mother.

picasso wondered out loud to his companion, whether the mother will ever give the boy a bath.


SeƱor Enrique said...

This should explain why I don't ask famous people's autographs (whom I've met or have run into in New York); Instead, I'd ask to shake their hands. almost always, they'd respond even more affably and spend a minute or two to chat with me. I've had this wonderful interactions with rock stars, movie stars, NBA stars, artists and even politicians.

I have seen similar incidents of people asking my artist and musician friends for some of their free stuff or services. I was actually thinking about blogging about it; however, I couldn't have so eloquently expressed their indignation as well you had done here, Daniel.

Wishing you more successful journeys for 2008!

Anonymous said...

Ouch! Buti na lang binayran ko iyung akin!

But very well said, DPT.

Thank you for me laugh and making my day!

Andy DCB

Anonymous said...

@ eric : i was thinking that after i wrote this entry, i'll be walking down the street and i'd hear the wheezing sound of an egg or rotten tomato flying through the air that would eventually land on my head followed by a loud, "Ang yabang mo! Di ka pa naman sikat!" ouch...

now that will pull me back to earth.


palma tayona said...

@ andy : yo! anderson! nice of you to have dropped by. miss you mon ami. haven't heard from you for a while. how's life in london?

yeah... that drawing i sure do remember. i've been mulling over the idea of doing it into a bigger work.

MANDAYA MOORE: Ang bayot sa bukid said...

sige na nga, papayag na ako sa request mo na magpose ng nude para sa yo. hehehe

Unknown said...

I guess its the same situation when some people would ask doctors for their medical opinions at social functions, or legal advice from lawyers habang nagyo-yosi sa lobby. :D Your paintings remind me of Fernando Botero's artworks...nakita ko lang sa National Geographic a few nights ago. :)

atticus said...

one small, innocent line and one snarls at you with his lifelong frustration on the subject. tama ba iyon? it ain't fun. and it ain't fair, either.

oh well. thank you for the humor and the patience.

statatoiler said...

hi. points you made are right. as someone new sa pagappreciate ng arts (esp drawings), i really make it a point na pagipunan ang mga works na gusto ko. hard-earned talaga. pero the satisfaction i get from the works that i will connects sa akin (whether it be a work on paper, a print,...) is worth the pagiipon :)

palma tayona said...

...then you belong to that second category of collectors (other than the ones who collect art as an investment) who value pieces according to how these would affect them emotionally.

i have met collectors who are so avid and passionate about the pieces of art they acquire that it gives a different perspective and life to a piece of art which is totally separate from its creator - the artist.

thank you for having read the above post.