How the Artinformal Gallery Owner Turned Passion into Success

Article by Therese Justine Bruel / Photos by Hannah Beltran

More often than not, we paint this portrait of artists: hungry and out on the streets because art doesn’t earn money—right? Artinformal founder, Tina Fernandez, proved us wrong when we sat down with her for an interview.

The Artinformal name wasn’t always associated with the gallery, she mentioned. It was a workshop dedicated to teaching art appreciation, of trying to see “art in an informal fashion,” as Tina placed it. This was in 2004—fast forward 14 years later, and her workshop has spawned not one, but two galleries! But why was Artinformal Makati situated so close to her Greenhills branch? “Traffic,” was her answer. It dissuaded the Makati audience from crossing the Pasig River to enjoy art that may be considered unconventional. Unconventional as they may be, Tina was confident that the art she showcases was nothing if not beautiful.

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The gallery was in the middle of setting up for their next exhibit when we visited. Despite the presence of her hard-working staff, Tina was in the middle of the fray—directing everything to make sure it was perfect. When we told her that she was so hands-on, she told us that you have to be! “The gallery won’t be a gallery without the owner. It is what it is because of the owner!” Artinformal is a space where she shares art that she believes is deserving of praise—anybody can copy her aesthetics, but it’s never going to be the same. “We all have different kinds of energy, and I share myself in every space I have.”

Artists, writers, photographers—those in line with creative exploits—are usually looked down on because it’s difficult for society to imagine ways for them to earn money. And yet, here is Tina proving their expectations wrong. When asked about her secret to earning money and success, she told us: “In order for you to make money, you have to try to not make money!” And while it seems counterproductive, she elaborated that the only real way to make money is to be happy. “An artist’s passion leads to money because their work exudes an energy. That kind of energy can’t come from doing paperwork.”

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Have you ever felt like giving up? She laughed. “All of the time!” She told us that she gets into a mood where she wants to close the gallery because she gets frustrated. She likened the feeling she felt to getting a bad cold: “When you have a bad cold, you can’t taste your food. Just like that I can’t taste art. Nothing was beautiful anymore. Everything was bleh, and gray.”

“I look at everything I loved and it was ugly.”

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How did you power through it? She mentioned that she took a Carl Jung workshop, and there she discovered herself. “Find yourself, find what you want to do, and you’ll be okay.” It doesn’t have to be a workshop; it could be anything—as long as you find your happy place. She told us not to run from the problem. “If you don’t address the problem, it gets bigger. If you don’t move, you stagnate, and then you’re left with nothing.”

“Do what makes you happy. At the end of the day, you live with yourself.”

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Artinformal Makati is currently showcasing exhibits by Alycia Bennett, Mark Valenzuela, and Angelica Harris-Faull, running from March 17 – April 14, 2018. Artinformal Makati showcases artists hand-picked by Tina Fernandez herself.

Artinformal Makati

The Alley at Karrivin Plaza, 2316 Chino Roces Ave. Ext., Makati

Tuesdays to Saturdays, 10 AM to 7 PM