Welcome to Ask Poppy! I’m Poppy, your go-to girl for all of life’s woes. And when I say ALL, I MEAN IT. I’m not an expert on anything except maybe for being me, which makes me totally qualified to do this.
I’m 29 years old, midway into fully becoming a full-fledged adult, complete with crow’s eyes and pronounced wrinkles. But my personal problems go beyond my aging appearance. I’ve been working in a job that pays well, and I admit, I only kind of like it. But I feel like there’s something I need to do. Like, let’s say, a few years ago, I’ve always wanted to pursue art. But this damned economy doesn’t pay the profession well, so my scared arse fled to the other direction where corporations and six digits on monthly paychecks are.
The thing with having so much money is that eventually, from affording so much stuff, I couldn’t find joy in them. But the longing to do what I’ve always wanted still pulls me to a place I fear, a place where impracticality lies and somewhere a smart, stable adult shouldn’t be. I’m tired of a lifeless job. I’m tired of a place that values profit and material things. I want to go back and nourish my own wants, especially if I believe in them. But the thing is, will I be welcomed?
Good artists abound here. Who am I may to invade their little clique so late in the game? And oh, let’s not even mention about my family and fiancée. They’d think I’m hallucinating. I just need to know if I’m being wise, whiny, or just plain foolish. At 29, I should’ve gotten my shit together. Looks like I don’t.
I remember watching Reality Bites at 18 and feeling that throbbing pain when Lelaina (played by Winona Ryder) said, “I was really going to be somebody by the time I was 23.” At that moment, I felt like Winona was challenging me and I was really gunning to be someone doing relatively well by the time that I was 23. But, like, fast forward to when I’m actually 23, feeling a lot like I’m 64, and I’m still a nobody. But then I started owning what Troy Dyer said to her in that scene: “Honey, all you have to be by the time you’re 23 is yourself.”
Pippa, you know deep down inside you that even though you’re already 29 (you’re not old), there’s still a part of you that wants to be that somebody that you’ve once dreamed of. Sister, it’s never too late to become who you want to be.
There’s a ton of famous people who managed to achieve their dreams even at 30. Ang Lee was almost 40 when he made his first movie. Julia Child learned how to cook in her 40s. Even the women of Sex and the City are still having sex in the city. And they’re like… lola levels already. Just a couple of days ago, I learned that Emitt Rhodes is releasing a new album. That guy hasn’t made an album since 1973 and yet here he is now, making music with Wilco and Aimee Mann. I’ve been staring at his new album cover for a really long time today. The expression on his face is a cross between a bitter smile and a painful laugh, and it made me think about all those years that he wasn’t making music, and just staring at the mirror trying to trace the guy that he once looked like.
Emmitt spent the last few years being a recluse, recording here and there but never really amounting to nothing. Pippa, stop worrying and don’t let the precious few remaining years of your sad little life on this Earth waste away. You wanna be an artist? Do it now. But don’t quit your day job just yet.
Being an artist here in the Philippines is not an easy thing to do. It’s going to break your heart and your bank account if you’re not doing something extra on the side. Do you think I spend the rest of the week just thinking about other people’s problems so that I can shower them with my sage old wisdom? Fuck, no. I have a job, and another job, and a job here and there. The truth is that it’s not profitable to become an artist, not until you’ve achieved the recognition that you deserve.
It’s cool that you have the stability of having so much money that it’s already making you sad. Goddamn, gurl. Bless your soul. Ikaw na (you already). I bet you really had to work real hard just to get this, so you really have to think twice before leaving that job that pays. To help you, let me give you a few examples:
1. Making art for a publication? Make sure you have enough cash for the next two months, because that check won’t magically appear no matter how hard you rub your magic lamp.
2. Want to exhibit at a gallery? They’re booked until next year, brah.
3. And if you do manage to nab an exhibit and sell your art, you’d have to give (almost) half of your earnings to the gallery. Because that’s how shit works.
So is art profitable? Yeah, if you’re really good. You really have to know your shit and execute it properly. Your art has to have meaning, it should reflect who you are. It represents your core. You really have to own it. The thing about the art scene here is that it can be so overwhelming. With a sea of creative Filipinos all over, you have to stand out and you have to make your mark.
To be able to do that, you have to work. Make something. Anything. And then show it to people! Make room for criticism and don’t let it bring you down. Building your own portfolio is CRUCIAL. Don’t stop learning. Don’t be afraid to find your voice. Notice, how I’m just typing a load of bullshit inspirational quotes in here? It’s because you need to be fucking inspired, Pippa. And you need to accomplish it while you’re still making money in that boring job of yours.
Do it on the weekends—or at night when you can’t sleep. Make art in your spare time. Just. Make. Something. And keep doing it until you have something to show that you are REALLY proud of.
Pippa, it’s not so hard to be a part of the “clique” once you have something to show to people. The art scene here is very welcoming, but it’s often not what you know, but who you know. As much as I’d like to drop names, I’m not going to do that. They’re out there. They don’t just exist in art galleries during openings. Some of them have bands that perform at local bars (and they’re good). They’re selling their wares at small press expos and art gatherings. Just keep your eyes and ears open for any events that support their shit and make friends. Follow them on Instagram and share your art there. Make small talk. Pippa, as long as you’re doing something and you’re honest in doing so, you won’t have a problem making friends here. I mean, they’re just like you.
It’s okay to feel that you haven’t gotten your shit together, or that you’re not exactly who you envisioned to be. This is what you’ll need to fuel your drive. Take that passion and shove it up your pie hole. Make that leap in the infinite abyss. Give it all you’ve got and goddamn, you’re going to be just fine.
Kaya mo yan,
Got a question for Poppy? From love and relationships to weird questions you dare not ask even your psychologist, Poppy is ready to answer them all. Send in your questions to [email protected] or post your question over Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #AskPoppy, and you just might get the answer you are looking for.
Art by Dorothy Guya