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What are the struggles in being a creative today?


If you are a young creative trying to make ends meet while committing to your passion, say it with me: the struggle is real. It’s not enough that your work isn’t on any of your childhood grade school textbooks (you usually don’t see freelance illustrators being grouped together with doctors and lawyers, right?), now that you’re finally putting your passion and your career as one, you find out that it’s tougher than it is.

And why is that? It seems like clients tend to forget that designers, filmmakers, writers, and illustrators everywhere need to earn a living too. Good thing technology has our back, like GCash, who can precisely help local creatives when it comes to getting their much deserved paycheck. From in store QR payments to an AMEX virtual card, as well as peer to peer money transfers and access to PayPal (you can link your PayPal and GCash accounts), becoming a freelancer just became that much easier.

We ask artist Keeshia Felipe, entrepreneurs/fashion designers, Emil and Vince Javier of Don’t Blame The Kids, photographer Andrei Suleik, and musician Reese Lansangan about the hurdles they jump through to get their pay, and what they’re looking forward to in a cashless world.

Keeshia Felipe

How would you describe your line of work? What are your recent projects?

I enlist myself as an illustrator slash creator of all things sassy. I’m currently doing bespoke denim jackets for various clients.

How do you usually get clients? Do they message you online or want to meet you in person?

Instagram has been a great tool for me for reaching clients and potential ones. Sometimes I declare I am open for new commissions and many times people just stumble upon my profile and inquires for artwork.

What are your pet peeves when it comes to working with clients?

Clients that take twenty four thousand years to pay. As far as common sense goes, you pay IMMEDIATELY after the work has been done. It’s very simple, really. Hahaha!

Has there ever been a time where you had to bother clients for payment? What are your horror stories when it comes to pay?

It’s just very tiring to try and gather your hard earned money as if you’re asking them a favor. There’s this one client I have been literally asking everyday for the payment only to see him/her on an event and trying to ignore me. Hahaha. I laugh about it now, but back then it was the worst feeling ever.

Would it be better for you if you could just receive payment through cashless transactions, as if your phone replaced your wallet?

Of course receiving payment from cashless transaction is better. It’s fast, real-time, hassle free, and I can do it all on my phone.

Reese Lansangan

For how long have you been a musician-artist?

I’ve been gigging since 2009, but I’ve been doing my solo music thing seriously since the start of 2015. And then, I studied fine arts for college so I’ve been designing for quite a long time. As an author… I’ve had my first book published last year and my second book this year. I also used to do fashion design for two years, 2012-2014.

Who are the people you usually work with?
Well for music, I usually work with productions. ‘Yung mga kumukuha sa akin sa gigs, the ones that curate the lineup for gigs. I’ve also worked with fans and supporters, my Reesekids. And then, mayroon din silang merch na ginagawa so I constantly talk to them and give them feedback. I also work with a lot of brands. We’re also lucky enough to partner with a few over the years already.

In your experience, what makes it easy to work with the client?

Siguro, when they are flexible or when they listen to our ideas as well. We’re willing to adjust as long as we’re comfortable with what the level of adjustment is. As long as it feels like me, if they are flexible or excited for young new ideas. Actually most brands naman that we’ve worked with are like that. If they’re easily excitable, I usually would like that.

Do you have any pet peeves with working with clients?

Siguro kapag it takes a while for them to get back to us especially for contracts and all the legal stuff. When we need to work things out very quickly because of scheduling or because of other business concerns. It makes it more difficult for us kapag hindi namin masarado agad ang project [because] it affects also future projects as well with other people.

Would you be more comfortable with cashless transactions via your phone?

That’s always convenient. Type mo lang mga numbers and then you’re good. It saves you so much time. It saves you the hassle of actually blocking out time to get your errands done. Anything automated is very much welcome as long as it’s a secure process. I’m very for using technology to get stuff done easily and more efficiently

Andrei Suleik

How long have you been a freelance photographer? And how did you start?

More or less 2 years in the industry. I started photography when I was an intern for a film. I was taking behind the scenes photos for a film and then I realized I like photography better—taking portraits of the actors and actresses during the shoot. Feeling ko mas comfy ako doon kasi I like talking to people. And if they’re comfortable na, I take their pictures which is really nice ‘cause you capture everything naturally.

What are the struggles of being a freelance photographer?

Probably when I don’t get any projects… kasi freelance ako, eh. Wala akong agency so kung may project man ako, I get it myself. I get the client myself, and I know I worked hard for it. They see my pictures on Instagram or Explore and then they message me and then we negotiate. Sometimes I get clients through friends or friends of friends with starting brands.

Do you have any pet peeves with working with clients?

When they ask for additional layouts out of nowhere. I don’t really care if they have additional layouts as long as I like the work, but sometimes nakakapagod lang talaga.

But the worst is when we do guerilla shoots, or just shoots out in the street. The worst thing that happened to one of my shoots was when I shot in the airport without any permit.

Is it normal for you to chase checks from clients? Do you think that is common practice?

Well when I started it was like that. Sometimes it would take three months, five months, one year, forever! Ganoon katagal! So I got an idea to talk to my clients about the mode of payment, like for how long can I expect payment. But most of my clients now they pay me after [the shoot]. My personal clients pay me in cash after the shoot even though I haven’t edited the photos yet.

If you have something that you picked up before you started working as a photographer, what would it be?

A good relationship with your clients. As long as you have a good relationship with your clients, you can work it out.

Would you be more comfortable with cashless transactions via your phone?

Yes, because my schedule doesn’t allow me to go to the bank since I’m always out on shoots, plus I like that using my phones gives me control on how to manage my finances easier. At least I can easily keep track of the receipts.

Emil and Vince Javier of DBTK

Can you give me your names and line of work?
Vince: I’m Lionel Vince Javier, the creative director of DBTK.
Emil: I’m Emil Javier, I’m the CEO of DBTK.

How long have you guys been working in DBTK?
Vince: Five years already.
Emil: We started five years ago pero planning happened around late 2011. Around December.

As business owners and creatives, both of you work with a lot of people at the same time. Do you have any pet peeves when it comes to the operational side of things?

Vince: There were times when we were tricked by designers when it comes to money. We bought their design and they asked us for a royalty fee.

Emil: ‘Yung sa business side, mayroong mga times na magbabayad ka in full. Tapos halos ‘di mo makukuha ‘yung items. To a point na sobrang struggle na hahabulin mo pa. ‘Yun yung sa business side. Kaya sobrang strict na rin namin ni Vince, whenever we talk to suppliers or kung sino man yung ka-work namin that time, dapat may contract.

Would it be better for you if you could just receive payment through cashless transactions, as if your phone replaced your wallet?

Vince: The good thing about it is, you can track it and at the same time it’s safe. Walang cash na pumapasok na mapapatanong ka ngSaan ba ‘to galing?” Mayroon siyang code, so may proof na “Okay, bayad na ito.”

Emil: At least magiging efficient ka at tsaka mas safe.

Vince: Less time-consuming.

One thing is for sure: any burgeoning creative has dealt their fair share of problems when it comes to the financials. Chasing clients for checks is still a recurring problem, but it would probably be better for all parties (although infinitely better for creatives who prepare their budget according to when they’ll get their next check) if sending and receiving cash could be as easy as tapping on your phone.

With the help of GCash, anything that has to do with money can be done with a few taps, as if your phone and wallet are one and the same. Isn’t that neat? It’s starting to feel like proceeding with passion can be a comfortable career choice. Find out more about GCash here.


Photography by Ed Enclona
Assisted by Mark Eurenz Cabusas
Styling by Jana Silao and Sophia Mariette Silao
Hair and Makeup by Jia Achacruz and Micah Rondilla
Article by Lex Celera
Creative Direction by Grace De Luna
Clothes courtesy of Adidas, Anti Social Social Club, Bershka, Carhartt, Converse, DIY by Dean Cunanan, DIY by Johan Kyle Ong, Don’t Blame The Kids, Ellesse, Forever 21, H&M, Levi’s, New Balance, Nike, Nike x Supreme, Pasadya MNL, PONY, PUMA, Thrasher




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