‘Stop the starving artist trope’: Tarantadong Kalbo says amid comments on art, profit-making

June 17, 2022 - 2:31 PM
Side-by-side illustrations of Kevin Eric Raymundo or Tarantadong Kalbo (Facebook/Tarantadong Kalbo)

(Updated 7:51 p.m.) “Tigilan na yang starving artist trope, please.”

Filipino artist Kevin Eric Raymundo, also known as Tarantadong Kalbo, made this call to the public after an individual accused him of “milking” his own art for profit.

Raymundo on June 15 posted a screenshot of an unpleasant exchange he had with a user named Dilbert Dogbert.

“Milking this for another cash grab noh?” the user asked.

In his reply, Raymundo told off the user that comic book artists have every right to earn profit from the art they create and release.

“Ang liit talaga ng tingin ng iba sa mga komikero ano, na para bang napakalaking kasalanan ang magbenta ng mga likha namin. Gusto niyo palaging libre at bahala na kaming mamatay sa gutom,” he said.

In his own post, Raymundo expressed his frustration over the still-prevalent romanticized perception that artists should “starve” in the name of their craft.

“Tigilan na yang ‘starving artist’ trope please,” he said.

Raymundo also bared that he often felt guilty instead of excited every time he releases new products or merchandise.

“To be honest, every time maglalabas ako ng bagong shirt, stickers, o kaya may bagong book, ang una kong nararamdaman ay guilt, hindi excitement. Parang ingrained na ata sa mga local artists yung mahiyang magbenta. Nakakalungkot,” he said.

Raymundo then quipped that the money Filipino artists make is normally just used to support each other’s works.

“Akala naman nila magiging instant milyonaryo na kami at magsu-swimming na sa pera, eh ang totoo niyan ipang-bibili din namin yun ng mech ng ibang artists. Literal na umiikot lang yung pera sa amin,” he said.

Several Filipinos, including fellow artists, agreed with Raymundo and said that all artists deserve to earn money from their hard work.

“Being an artist in the Philippines is so difficult. Even as a Filipino itself. But here we are, still trying and doing our best,” a comic creator said.

“I’m so sorry if we have to make a living from our own art that we worked our butts off to produce,” an illustrator and designer tweeted.

“Being an artist in a nutshell. Kaya maraming ayaw magbenta ng works kasi unang una, iisipin ‘ang mahal’, ‘namemera’. We are also workhorse facing a piece of paper,” an artist said.

Others, meanwhile, encouraged Raymundo to keep up the good fight with his art.

“Wag po kayo maguilty. Karapatan ng artists kumita. Filipino mentality lang talaga na insecure sa umaasenso kaya hinihila pababa,” one Twitter user said.

“Just keep on selling po and don’t listen to negativity. Yan yun mga klase na tao na gustong magpa-commission for free. Same din po sa mga taong baraot sa mga sellers specially online kase di naman branded, ukay, second hand and etc.,” another Facebook user commented.

Raymundo did not specify the particular post where he received the “cash grab” remark.

The post about his limited edition shirts, however, drew some ire over its price tag.

This product line is a partnership between Linya-Linya, a local clothing company, and Tarantadong Kalbo.

Linya-Linya previously posted a promo where customers can purchase two T-shirts for P1,299.


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A post shared by Linya-Linya (@linyalinya)

Some Filipinos perceived this deal as too pricey for two t-shirts.

“Presyong elitista naman niyan,” a Facebook user commented.

Last June 13, Raymundo also reshared a Facebook status where the user said he encountered an individual complaining about the price of the shirt being sold by the artist.

“Guy sa komiket was complaining na overpriced daw ung tshirt ni Tarantadong Kalbo, while wearing a DBTK shirt, like?????? You aight??” the Facebook user said.

The Pinoy artist then responded: “DBTK – Damit Bougie Tapos Kuripot?” on a Facebook status.

Raymundo won the  Gold Award for Image Making in the 2022 Good Design Awards on June 14.

His book titled “Tarantadong Kalbo Book 1” is also among the finalists in the 39th National Book Awards.