Students are inspired to make a living out of their art as they learn from professional artists at the final leg of the 55th NSAC Virtual Art Interact. Clockwise: Serge Bernal, Pilipinas Shell Vice President for Corporate Relations; Jezzel Wee, artist and potter, Andrei Pamintuan, Creative Director of FringeMNL; and Soleil Ignacio; Art Director.

The complexities of the art world make many artists hesitate to pursue art full-time. The last leg of the Shell National Student Art Competition (NSAC) Virtual Art Interact gave the artists confidence in their careers by showing them that they can realize their passion and make a profitable, successful career in art at the same time. This season’s final leg revealed growing opportunities in the creative space, showed them how to move their art from “page to product,” and effectively taught them how to design their future.  

The 55th NSAC theme of “Sulong Sining” (“Art Advances”) was realized as artists from around the country learned about the fundamental building blocks for a prosperous and professional art career. Serge Bernal, Pilipinas Shell Vice President for Corporate Relations, said, “I encourage you to use the  power of art to charge forward  by showing who you are, what you value, and what you envision through art. May this program ignite your passion to not only excel in the arts but to use your gift to power an entire generation of Filipino artists for the country.”

The discussions and workshop were facilitated by known fashion and beauty industry illustrator Soleil Ignacio and UP College of Fine Arts Ceramics Workshop facilitator Jezzel Lorraine Wee. Guest artist Ana Montinola described the promise the current Philippine art scene presents for talents: “improving with so many platforms to showcase our talents and, with so many new kinds of art, it’s very exciting for young artists nowadays.”

The road to success 

The NSAC artists’ workshop, “Translating Your Design from Page to Product,” taught the students business advice and the current realities faced by talents who want to succeed professionally.  It held a demonstration on translating their art designs to their own 3-color silk screen print tote bag which can also act as a subtle promotional platform. Ignacio elaborated on the importance of this kind of visibility and networking, saying, “As artists, we have the tendency to stay at home—but we need to show who we are. It’s part of the work: you can’t work alone, you need others.”

In talking about the business side of art, the artists emphasized the importance of knowing the target market who they are communicating with. Multiple online platforms can also be a tool where artists can develop their portfolio or creative storefront that can help develop their brand and style.

Ignacio also emphasized making the artwork an experience, showing to their audience who they are as individuals and as artists. “For client work, there’s a brief, so you have direction in what you’re doing,  but part of that is you’ll have to show your own style and voice in that work because it’s still a collaboration between you, the artist, and the client,” she said.

Wee emphasized that collaboration is also key to success, especially during the first years when artists encounter all kinds of trials and tribulations. She said, “It was lucky for me that, in the pottery circle, there were people who knew about business that I could ask. So don’t be afraid to ask people who have expertise because you will learn a lot from them.”

Handling criticism and failure

Ignacio described the impact that collaboration can have on the mainstream public‘s general perception of art:  “With Shell, it’s great they’re commissioning artists to create big pieces for public display where everyone can see it because that’s what we need right now. Where people, the masses, can have more access to art so it can enter the public consciousness.”

In facing naysayers who create doubts in their minds, Wee advised artists to focus on developing themselves and “continue on improving, not to prove them wrong, but to nourish your principles as an artist. It’s important that you’re happy with what you’re doing. As long as you’re sincere with the work that you’re doing, your clients or viewers will feel it.”

Ignacio also advised the artists not to be derailed by setbacks: “Don’t be afraid of failing, I’ve been through many failures in this career. Just keep at it and don’t be disappointed with yourself, it’s all part of [being an artist].”

As the longest-running student arts competition in the country, Pilipinas Shell’s NSAC continues to be a platform to develop and nurture young Filipino visual artists. Harnessing Filipino artistry through opportunities for budding artists to develop their craft by learning from NSAC alumni and established personalities in the art scene.

To learn more about next year’s Shell NSAC and Virtual Art Interact, visit

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