Pinoy artists find way to share works globally

Posted at 02/19/14 3:23 PM

MANILA -- This weekend, the Link carpark in Makati will be transformed into a giant art space.

Art Fair Philippines 2014, which runs from February 20-23, will showcase art from over 20 galleries, including works from National Artist Benedicto Cabrera as well as young contemporary artists as Pio Abad and Rodel Tapaya.

For other young Filipino artists, however, a different kind of art fair is ongoing year round.

Yna Cruz, an art director at advertising agency McCann Worldgroup, for one, found a platform to showcase her artwork and reach a global audience and patrons. And she is doing it from the comfort of her home studio.

Cruz has been experimenting with pen and ink since she was a kid. After graduating with a Fine Arts degree from the University of the Philippines-Diliman, she eventually moved on to computer software like Photoshop and Illustrator to digitize her works. Even as she is doing a lot of art for her day job, she still finds joy in doing her own pieces and eventually stumbled upon Society6.

Society6.com is an online art gallery website that connects thousands of artists worldwide with the global art market. Artists upload their creations, while Society6 and their retail partners help them sell these in various forms as gallery-quality art prints for iPhone cases and tote bags. Artists get to keep their rights and set their prices, while Society6 takes care of the business side.

“Unicorn Boob” by Yuna Cruz used on a tote bag

Similarly, Jof Sering, a wardrobe stylist for local movies and magazines, has been doodling at the back of notebooks since her teens. In 2008 her alter ego, Felice, was born.

Sering created Felice, a fun, bikini-clad island girl, as a memoir of the extraordinary, fun life she lived on a beach island. Felice artworks were eventually launched in mid-2013 via Bigcartel.com, another art website that helps artists create their online store.

Bigcartel leases out virtual gallery spaces for a fixed fee but won’t take a cut from the artist’s sales. Sering’s Bigcartel store is also cross-linked to her own domain HelloFelice.com, thereby reaching a wider market.

"Hangten on a Watermelon Surfboard" by Jof Sering

Pushing art forward 

Both Cruz and Sering prove that art does pay. And while their works are not yet featured in Art Fair Philippines or major galleries, their works put their brand and along with it, the Philippines, on the international commercial art stage. Their pieces reach as far as North America, Middle East and Europe.

Art continues to evolve and, thanks to globalization, this generation is at huge advantage to push art forward by simply doing their work and eventually launching their pieces. Perhaps with the Internet age, artists can start saying goodbye to the days when “starving artists” was a common phrase.

To young Filipino artists looking to launch their careers, Cruz gave this advice: “Always follow your instinct when you do your art. What you think is beautiful is what is beautiful.”