Unhindered Conversations: Female Artists on How to Make It in the Industry
Fighting stereotypes and societal expectations, these female artists follow their passion and stay true to themselves.
As beautiful as art can be, the creative life can be difficult. In a country where creatives can be undervalued or underappreciated, sustaining the craft and gaining respect is a challenge. Fortunately, that seems to be changing, but for these female artists, the hiccups are well worth it for their craft.
Many of these female artists knew they were artistic from an early age. “I was into art ever since I could remember. I grew up in an artistic household. It was just natural for me to gravitate towards it,” artist and creative director Aila Torre says. “Art and creating was highly encouraged in the school that I went to.”
“It took a long and winding path to be where I am right now,” illustrator and artist Wiji Lacsamana shares. “I knew this was it because I didn’t want to be anywhere else. It seemed right for me to be creating, in whatever medium, be it watercolor or tattoo ink or clay. It was inevitable, it wasn't so much a choice.”
Meanwhile, Sunny Tolentino of Sunny Label credits her grandmothers for sparking that creative streak. “I realized that I have an insatiable passion for creating things at a very young age. I grew up with very creative lolas who make beautiful dresses, crochet and knit, cook good meals, and prettify our homes with plants and flowers.” She adds, “I knew then that I wanted to make something of beauty with my own hands, too.”
Even with different styles and ways of self-expression, these female artists share the drive and passion to be better at their craft.
Know Your Value as an Artist
It’s no secret that creatives – female artists included – can sometimes be undervalued and underpaid for their work. However, despite what others say, it’s essential to hold your ground.
Aila, who also runs a branding and graphic design agency, says it’s essential to lay out everything even at the very beginning. “There is a disparity at times because some clients just want someone to execute what they already have in mind, and sometimes this isn't the best way to reach a certain audience or execute a certain message.” To avoid friction, she explains that it’s essential to lay all your cards on the table and discuss everything from the get-go.
“I think there are no easy routes. Each path one chooses will always have its challenges. I always ask myself: is this worth the effort? When I go back to the reasons I am on this path, and if my reasons are authentic and with integrity, then I am always pushed forward, onward,” Wiji shares.
Remember Why You Started
Unlike the corporate world, the creative scene has no clear-cut ladder to success. It can be tempting to say yes to every opportunity to earn, but this could come at the expense of your passion and mental health. Returning to your roots and staying true to yourself can help keep you going in the right direction. When things get challenging, and the hows don’t manifest, go back to your whys.
“As a young creative, I felt the need to make sure that my craft is profitable and that I could make a career out of it. I was able to scale it, book a steady stream of clients, become an ambassador for brands, but unfortunately, I got burned out and decided to take a step back,” Sunny shares.
She adds: “I’ve learned that being true to my why is very important. This may not work for most, but I realized that separating my source of income and craft works for me. It takes off the pressure and allows me to focus on what I truly value – the slow process of creating.”
It’s also crucial to focus on your art and remember that you are not competing with anyone else. . “Sometimes I struggle to keep my interest in creating because of self-doubt, failure, or rejection,” artist Sheila Paren says. “There are so many amazing female artists in the industry, and there are times that you tend to compare yourself with others. I learned that it’s never about competing with anyone else but yourself.”
She adds, “Prove that you can always get better by comparing your old artworks with your recent creations, and, that will help you see how you grow as an artist.”
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Don’t Mind the Haters
The life of an artist can draw attention – but not all of that is positive. Multidisciplinary artist Anina Rubio shares that for female artists to make it in the scene, you must know which opinions not to heed. "There are always people rolling their eyes or saying they could do the job better, especially for mural painting."
Anina has an all-woman team doing murals. She shares, "As women artists, would get bashed or discriminated against at construction sites. I’ve heard so many people say I only got the project cause I’m a girl. In the end, I After all, it’s a projection of their insecurities." She advises focusing on what you can control, improving your craft, and doing what you can to empower women in the industry."
Anina adds that ignoring people who doubt you isn't easy but having a solid support system can help. "It's a choice each day to continue [my craft] and take it one day at a time. A great support system, even just one person makes a world of difference."
Stay True to Yourself
Staying true to their core helps these female artists express themselves – through art or personal style. “I feel that we owe it to ourselves to be the most authentic we can be,” Aila says. “A great part of my lifestyle is sports and art – two avenues where I can freely express myself. It’s a symbiotic relationship. The more I can express myself, the more I digest external factors that help with that expression.”
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“At the core of creating art is the need to exhale what is inside you. That is self-expression. I like it when it happens with ease and grace. When I am happy you see it in the colors I choose, even in what I wear or put on my face. It also manifests when I feel otherwise. I wear my heart on my sleeve,” Wiji shares.
Sunny, whose art and products reflect her bright and friendly vibe, also makes sure these reflect the values she believes in. “Everything I create is an expression of what I love and cherish. Aside from that, my craft is also an extension of my values which is why I try to be very intentional with my process to make sure that everything I create is good for people, local livelihood, and the environment,” she shares.
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If you are pursuing a career in the creative scene or looking to break away from the norm, let these female artists inspire you to do what you love and keep on keeping on.