It is often said that the art industry can be more challenging than most. Although today’s media and technology is constantly birthing new and exciting career opportunities in the arts, the road to stability remains elusive. The questions remain: Should I still go for it? What if it doesn’t sell? Am I wasting my time? Am I ready to fully commit to this?
Until the answers come, on goes the hobbyist’s daily grind of juggling multiple part-time and even full-time jobs to fuel their art-making. However, some artists manage to support themselves through a combination of hard work, dedication, and the ability to sell oneself!
While the challenge of this can be daunting to some people, stylist and event decorator Beam Mariano took it on.
A former art director for Cosmopolitan Philippines, Beam has now earned herself a spot in the roster of Manila’s leading events and set stylists. With her own full-fledged prop styling business, Spaces by Beam, she has worked with both local and international brands and beautified all kinds of things from commercial sets to shopfronts to visual merchandise. She also has a then a separate graphic design and event decorating with a team of designers at Oomph Styling.
Strangely enough, it was in the midst of this busy back and forth of client work that Beam realized she could finally sustain herself without having to go through traffic everyday or sitting through the run-of-the-mill 9-5 desk job! Finally, there she was — a woman who succeeded in turning her passion into a career.
Of course, there is more to this story than just cute and colorful designs! Here are some lessons we learned from Beam’s journey:
For Beam, it started between college and her first job when she found herself whipping up all kinds of handmade goods to sell: home decor at Multiply.com, DIY products for bazaars, and felt desk frills for her first art store, Artwine.
Beam started with a hobby — but she just continued to grow and develop in all the different ways and channels she could!
It would be later on after leaving her job as an editorial assistant at Summit Media that Beam took what she calls a ‘braver leap’ with her handmade business. She decided to put herself out there and supplied for bigger and more popular stores. Since then, it seems that the brave leap paid off!
“That retail part eventually blossomed into getting hired to do visual displays for other brands and event styling for their launches and photoshoots for products,” Beam shares. “It was really a domino effect.”
One of the biggest challenges Beam faced when turning her hobby into a career was the pressure to keep agreeing to everything. “Some people have to go through a phase where they say yes to every request so they get to the right side of people,” Beam shares.
However, Beam trusted her own voice and vision which eventually allowed her to stay true to herself. “Over time, I realized that having a firm direction on my concept, partnered with an understanding of the client’s brand have made people regard me more,” adds Beam.
Because pursuing your passions can be extremely difficult to get off the ground, it can be tempting to aim for the bare minimum. However, you have to push yourself and set a personal standard for your goals.
“Personally, my business has been a lot about helping the people working with me to thrive,” Beam says. “But finding the right people to help me turn this series of side projects into a full-fledged business has continued to be a challenge. Oftentimes, those who seek the most help are those who have the “isang kayod, isang tuka” mentality.”
But this was not for Beam — she aimed high, and with some patience and hardwork, she’s definitely thriving!
Everyone needs someone to look up to and aspire to be. For Beam, her inspiration is none other than Martha Stewart!
“I admire how she made an empire from everyday pursuits like wrapping gifts, making breakfast or entertaining friends. She makes the ordinary look marvelously pretty in her signature idyllic Martha image,” Beam explains. “[What’s] truly remarkable for me is her entrepreneurial drive creating books, magazines, shows, etc making her a household name and the person you think of when it comes to crafts.”
Perhaps it is almost “silly and special,” as Beam puts it, that she gets paid doing what she loves no matter the stress that can come with it. She just allowed it time to grow, trusted her own process, and kept going.
The hardwork Beam applies to her passion has not only afforded her the trust of her clients and support from the arts and crafts community, but most importantly, it gave her the freedom to live a beautiful life on her terms. Today, Beam is living to work rather than working to live!
There is so much we can learn from this story, even if we’re not necessarily artists! In the end, it’s about having the determination and bravery to keep on pursuing your passions, even if the road is paved with tremendous self-doubt and pressure. In the end, this path can lead to the beautiful life that everyone deserves. As we learned from Beam, why not take that brave leap and create yours today?