In 1998 when President Suharto’s regime fell I bailed out because the thought of risking the lives of my family over a battle I had no involvement in was not appealing.

It took me years in New Zealand before I started thinking of going back to my first love, that of creating art. What a challenge! Not only do I have to find time while working 48 – 60 hours a week, I also faced prejudices. Even now, I call myself an emerging artist because that is what I am here in New Zealand.

Having sold more than 47 pieces of art works, I wonder what I still need to get validated as an artist here. Sometimes, after getting rejected by a gallery who keeps me out because I do not fit in with their idea of an artist, I find myself standing in front of my art with an urge to destroy it because I felt it was not good enough. Now honestly, how many of you have felt this scary emotion too? To destroy something you felt was beautiful in the first instance only to have your dream dashed because someone working for a gallery said `No’?

A few times, friends had to rush in to prevent me from going through my whole studio destroying my work. Must we really be subjected to a handful of people’s idea of what art is? Of course there are times when humility should be in place and we have to acknowledge we may not have done enough on some work of ours – but what if you have poured your all into it, you know it is good and there are people wanting it, but you just loved it too much to let it go at the prices they offered? Then to have a gallery said it lacked the x-factor?

Do you stop creating more of the same work just because some people said `No’? Do you give it all up because a gallery preferring to show case art works of mutation, works you thought was done by a 7 year old kid and vulgar things said yours lacked the x-factor?

I have been through all sorts of emotions and I keep getting told I should not care whether I am selling yet but to think of creating from within. However, unless I market my art and have it out there making me money to sustain my creativity, how will I survive? I cannot bear having to return to standing in retail work for 48 – 60 hours a week just to pay bills. After all, I did not give up my career, my home and life in Indonesia to come to New Zealand to stay stuck in a job. I avoided death and calamities, surely tackling the art world can not be harder?

So I do have to care! I do stay up late till the early hours either painting or contemplating what to do next. Am I the only artist worrying about money problems? No, I know for a fact, I am not. However it is the romantic notion of some people that real artists are willing to die for their art. Well, I am not. I want to be a totally successful artist making a living out of my craft so I can have a better lifestyle, travelling, doing great things and creating works of art that buyers and art investors will fight to own!

I want to be using my work to raise funds, so I can help my fellow man. To set up places helping others so that not only do I feed them a fish, I actually teach them how to fish! Now, what is so wrong with this picture? Nothing! I can not give up. My art is my lifeline. And thankfully, I have my happy client’s words ringing in my ears helping me on. They are happy someone out there still paint stuff they truly can enjoy having hanging on their walls at home. Ah yes. Maybe it is time for me to talk to some galleries again and maybe get a reviewer on to my work. Onwards and upwards!

Her work can be seen here: https://art-tomasoa.com/

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