How Did A Filipino Artist Support His Family with No Art Degree, No Galleries, and No Social Media?

(Transcript)

I’m Tom Secuya and my dad is Victor Secuya.

He loves his art.

He’s also a poet and a philosopher.

And he has basically made a living and a life out of it.

Before a show, he would call people that bought paintings before and he would ask them, “Look, I’m raising capital for an exhibit happening on such and such.

And these are the paintings that are going up.

Do you want to have an early viewing of it?

And do you want to kind of, you know, purchase so that I can make you, hook you up as a sponsor and show the painting and put your name underneath there that you’ve already bought it.”

You know, and these like high-end people, socialite people, would love the clout.

Because the more expensive the painting was like 50,000 pesos, 200,000 pesos.

I mean they have their little name there and a little red dot that it’s been sold to them.

They would be like, “Yo, what do you think about that? It’s my art”, you know.

To a degree, I think a few years back within the last decade I can remember exactly he even got sent to Belgium to do an art installation there and do a little bit of a mini show.

Dreadfully for like possibly one exhibit or two.

I can’t remember exactly but I do recall that being a very unhappy time for him and we felt it as a family.

But he would keep it to himself, but I could just tell the difference of how fulfilled he felt doing exhibits on his own versus, you know, doing it with an institution or doing it with, you know, with the gallery.

Oh no! No. His best relationships were grassroots, you know, kind of cold, built on like just people drawn to his art.

And this was back when there was no social media, no digital marketing or anything. So you can imagine, the challenge for artists is that people really have to come to you, to be found. It’s not like you could walk around with your massive painting and say “Hey!”, you know.

That was his journey.

And you know, on hindsight I’m realizing how hard it was now like this — it’s not even that easy to do it digitally, right?

And even more so without.

And without galleries at that time.

And he has some really strong relationships and the people who bought 20 years ago, bought five years ago would still buy today for — it doesn’t even matter what series he’s making like because like he goes on a whim right it’s like still life and then like landscapes and then abstract, whatever inspires him.

And people will just get it. Like why? What’s up with your signature man?

Like, you know, and he will just tell me, “Look, that’s years in the making. You know, it’s not overnight.”

But like he made it happen for himself.

The thing as it is I think it’s more possible now.

I think it was harder when your dad was coming up because there were fewer tools at his disposal. 100%. 100% for sure.

So if he can do it then, come on now, we can do it! You can do it. I’m 100% sure you can do it.

It’s just, I guess it’s like a leap you have to take but it’s possible. It can be done if some guy from the Philippines made it happen for himself and his family.

Dad didn’t have any formal — he’s self-taught.

What he did was, because the access to art schools back in the day didn’t exist.

What he did was he bought tons of books then.

I remember Rembrandt books, Rodan, all these books that I didn’t really recognize back then.

And he basically taught himself.

His dad didn’t even appreciate him wanting to do art because back in the day they would be like old school.

They’d be like, what is that?

Be a lawyer or be some, you know, like a teacher or an accountant.

Look, if you have an art school background and you know, just,

I guess trust the craft and the process.

Talk to Ann.

You know, get the guidance you need and the first few initial steps and you’re off.

You’re on your way man.

I learned a lot like, hustle.

You got to grind it out.

No matter what the books tell you, you really got to grind it out.

And for him as an artist, I saw him do this from, you know, from zero to hero if I may say it like that

And I think I’ve adopted that and I’ve taken that on really grind it out.

He would always live within or below his means.

And that means he was a very — like frugal person and he manage his finances really really well.

I think number three is never stop learning.

My dad’s always been, you know, a bookworm and I believe that it has influenced the way he did his art and the way he did the business side of art and the way he lived his life.

o, I don’t think anyone should ever stop learning.

He used to tell me “You only stop learning when you’re dead. Are you dead?”.

It’s so true.

That’s what I would tell my students.

Everything you’re saying, I would say check, check, check.

Absolutely, yes.

How random is this interview? Thanks Ann!

Hey, just so everyone knows, tell them what you do and why the hell we’re talking in the first place.

Oh no! We were supposed to talk about like digital marketing and, you know, doing something cool maybe on social media.

I just met Tom randomly because I was really interested in his agency and what he does and then I found out his dad was an artist.

Not only was his dad is an artist.

His dad is an independent artist.

Not only that, he’s a successful independent artist.

I was like, “What?! I want to hear about it.”

Dude, I hope to the people watching they enjoy this interview and I hope it encourages and empowers people man.

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