get sticky with it
Artist Dex Fernandez a.k.a. Garapata busts the myth that good art sells itself.
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.