Be humane first, a person with virtue or a good moral compass, before becoming “something.” From there, you can be effective at anything you want. If you want to maintain your artistic self, love it, nurture and protect it, because this world is full of things that can break your soul.
If you feel that being an artist is your passion and purpose in life, you should ask yourself the questions: “Why do I create?” and “Para kanino?” It’s good that you create for yourself, but it’s much more noble, progressive, and beneficial for our civilization if you create for the benefit of other people, too, especially for those who are less privileged.
Study work and life of masters
Improve your technical skills by studying the fundamentals of arts and design. You should study the work and life of the masters, and read art history, especially Philippine art history. We are lucky because almost all of the information about arts and design is free to access on the internet.
If you’re already confident that you understand the basics, try finding your visual voice or identity. You can do it by experimentation. Don’t be afraid to try out new things and go out of your comfort zone, in those places we truly find knowledge.
Be a storyteller. Use your art as a form of expression and communication. In this world full of lies and disinformation, be the protector of truth. If you struggle to find ideas, try to be introspective and observe your environment. They are the greatest source of inspiration and ideas. You can improve your conceptualization by consuming information about everything.
If you are lucky to have a family that can support your education, try studying in an arts and design school. If not, the internet has a wide array of reliable information sources about art that you can learn from. If you don’t have the money to buy expensive paint and paintbrushes, you can create art using recycled materials. I know a fisherman who paints using soy sauce as his paint and walis tambo as his paintbrush.
Find a tribe
Surround yourself with good and effective people. Find a tribe! They will help you become the best version of yourself. In my case, I am thankful that I found the Buklod Sining Organization (facebook.com/BuklodSining).
Led by interdisciplinary artist Richard Legaspi and art academician Ronwell Jason Bacani, they give advice, seminars and assistance to every artist who wants to improve their skills and knowledge, not just in art, but also in history and philosophy. They are a progressive organization that uses art for social change. It is good to seek help; be curious and don’t be shy to ask questions from the people you look up to.
Lastly, be proud of yourself! The decision to actualize your dream of becoming an artist is already a noble act in this society that has a culture of treating art as inferior to other fields.
Art is integral to humanity; it’s the catalyst for human transcendence and innovation, and the reason we are motivated to prolong our life.
To quote the late Filipino artist Riel Hilario: “Art is the highest expression of being alive.” —CONTRIBUTED INQ
The author, 22, is an experimental artist taking up visual communication at University of the East-Caloocan.