get sticky with it

Artist Dex Fer­nan­dez a.k.a. Gara­p­ata busts the myth that good art sells it­self.

Scout - - BACK STORY - —Dex Fer­nan­dez, as told to Mara San­til­lan Miano

I n my high school year­book, I wrote that I wanted to take up Ho­tel and Restau­rant Man­age­ment be­cause I al­ways heard it from my class­mates. The truth is that I wanted In­te­rior De­sign. I ended up in Fine Arts ma­jor in Ad­ver­tis­ing on my sib­ling’s ad­vice. I worked as a graphic artist for a print­ing com­pany and did art as a hobby. I didn’t care about mak­ing money off of art in the be­gin­ning. Art was just an out­let.

But I was al­ways sur­rounded by artists. It was my friends and fel­low TUP alumni (Lynyrd Paras, Mark Andy Garcia, and Al­lan Bal­isi, to name a few) who in­spired me to go full-time as an artist. I thought, if they can do it, then so can I. You know, it’s a com­mon mis­con­cep­tion that gal­leries ap­proach artists and ask them to dis­play their work. In my ex­pe­ri­ence, it’s the other way around. You write a pro­posal—it’s quite for­mal, with a let­ter and ev­ery­thing—and sub­mit it to dif­fer­ent gal­leries. If they like your work, they get back to you and you set­tle on a deal.

Get­ting your name out there is im­por­tant. I guess you can say Gara­p­ata got my name out there—though I didn’t start out with that in­ten­tion. Gara­p­ata was just for fun in the be­gin­ning. I would print out stick­ers and give them away to ev­ery­one I meet. I didn’t know Gara­p­ata would be­come popular. It’s use­ful that Gara­p­ata is like my sig­na­ture thing, ex­cept that one time I im­pul­sively put a sticker on some­one’s wind­shield out­side told him I was giv­ing away the stick­ers to ev­ery­one in B-Side and it wasn’t me who did it.) Gara­p­ata is the fun side of my work. Dex Fer­nan­dez the artist is dif­fer­ent. It’s the more se­ri­ous stuff, for the more se­ri­ous art buy­ers. When you’re an artist, you can’t just al­ways be fun, you know? If you do not take your work se­ri­ously, peo­ple won’t take you se­ri­ously.

Art is now my liveli­hood. Half of my earn­ings I put into mak­ing more art, and the other half I put into pay­ing the bills. When you make art for a living, some­times it gets tempt­ing to cre­ate an art piece just start tak­ing away el­e­ments from your art that are “you” just so it be­comes more con­ven­tion­ally that’s when you be­come a sell­out. There were in­stances that I tried it, just to test the au­di­ence and the buy­ers. There re­ally is a dif­fer­ence. Last 2011, West Gallery asked me to do a show. It was go­ing to be my third show. were all sold out, so I guess the buy­ers liked what I’ve been mak­ing, right? That year, I tried some­thing dif­fer­ent. I ex­per­i­mented with ob­scen­ity, and made cutouts of porno­graphic images and cov­ered them up crudely. You know how many I sold? Three pieces, from me it is all about bal­ance. You avoid be­com­ing a sell­out when you’re con­sis­tent with your work. If you started with bru­tal stuff, then be bru­tal with the rest. Never half-ass it.

Photography by Ev­ery­where We Shoot

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