Nakakain ba ang 'art'?

Nakakain ba ang art? Can art be eaten? There are other versions of this. The best one I’ve heard so far is “Kainin mo art mo!” (Especially when it’s said in an angry tone. Ay! You just know that the discussion afterwards will be VERY entertaining.)

This line isn’t new to most practicing artists. Ever encountered a Filipino visual artist who is mataba? (I’m an exception. Oh wait. I have several artist friends who are exempted from this too.)

Kidding aside, this question was brought on by photos of graduating students on Facebook and several bills that needed to be paid. It was the bills that made me question my livelihood.

So… Nakakain nga ba ang art? When faced with a life-altering question like this; I turn to the one search engine that knows it all: Google.

Several people attempted to answer the question. Their answer ranges from focusing on art’s purpose as a medium for change, art’s importance to culture, art as a transformative force to the eklavu of society’s soul… Zzzzz…

Mind you, they all had valid points; but most of their answers are very cerebral. (O-ha. Dumugo ilong mo dun, ‘no? Ulitin natin: Cerebral. Hihihi. Here, have a tissue.)

When you’re hungry, it’s almost impossible to think. In fact, you’re downright cranky and unreasonable. Valid points of view goes out the window when you dream of unli-rice and liempo almost every night. As I look at new sacrificial art lambs- este, graduating art students- I can’t help but wonder if they’re prepared to face the challenges that life will throw at them.

So to the hungry and uninitiated, take heart. To the question “Nakakain ba ang art?”; my answer is a resounding “YES, but..!

You can do art and eat your cake too; BUT to survive you’ve got to learn other skills. Skills like basic accounting, sales and branding.  Practice time-tested values like integrity, humility, and commitment. Join self improvement groups like Toastmasters. Your artistic skills can only take you so far.

I remember a story by writer Robert Kiyosaki. He met this brilliant journalist in Singapore. She was a good writer; but when he suggested she learn sales- she balked. He then pointed to his book and said, “It says on the cover ‘best selling author’; not ‘best writing author’”. 

Some artists will cringe at some of my suggestions. I’d probably get some flak for this. Nevertheless, I’m an artist from a third world country. I need to marry practicality with my love for culture and art. I also like to eat.

So if you’re an artist who don’t want to see your brand and your art as a commodity, that’s fine. Move on to another blog that says otherwise. This post isn't for you.

I remember a few centuries ago, I was a new graduate and was hired by a corporation. When a fellow artist heard about it, his reaction was priceless: “Binebenta mo kaluluwa ng sining mo sa komersiyalismo!” (You are selling your artistic soul to commercialism!)

I couldn't help but answer back: "Anu daw?! Ay nakuKainin mo art mo! Che!"