Haina Salik graduated with a degree in IT, and has worked in the past as a web designer and frontend designer. At the moment, she is currently working as a freelance graphic designer. Haina has done part-time work for companies such as Canva, and sells her art and merchandise at the local conventions. She likes to draw during her spare time, but also currently enjoys watching DIY videos and process videos of artists working with clay and resin. She loves anything and everything cute simply because they take away stress and just seem to make the world a better place. She also enjoys dancing to KPop, watching KDramas, anime, and The Return of Superman. You can find more of Haina Salik and her work on Instagram or purchase her merchandise over on Shopee.

Q: Everyone has an origin story. Could you share with us the exact moment (or moments) wherein you realized that you wanted to become an artist?

I was considered artistic by other people when I was young. I knew then that I liked to draw, and I turned it into a hobby. But I didn’t really think it was going to be the path that I would take when I grow older. It was just a hobby after all.

I took BSIT in college, but I didn’t enjoy the programming subjects that much. I enjoyed the subjects where we’re tasked to design websites and do a magazine. During our internship in our last year in college, I chose a job where I would just design websites. But I was not focusing on that. I was focused on looking for lettering artists because their works fascinate me so much.

That’s when I discovered Risa Rodil and Abbey Sy. They were both doing art for a living. ART FOR A LIVING!! That time, it was mind blowing for me. You can actually do that?? It became a dream for me, but I also knew that it wasn’t going to work for me because I was not an art student. So I stuck with being a website designer.

After graduation, I landed a frontend designer job post, and I was doing okay. But the feeling of doing art for a living wasn’t going away. Until that time that I planned on resigning from my first job, and I found myself searching for graphic designer job this time. I found part-time work at Canva. That’s when I shifted from website designer to a graphic designer of some sort.

In the past three years that I’ve worked as an offsite designer, I met people who actually do art for a living. And I thought, maybe I can actually do it? Maybe the dream can actually work for me.

Q: From that moment, and throughout your journey as an artist, what has been your biggest struggle?

When I first started working as a part-time designer, I thought about a lot of things. What if this doesn’t last? How do I continue working as a graphic designer? I’m not even an MMA graduate. What if I was just doing this thing because I don’t know anything better to do?

I had a lot of doubts. I was overwhelmed by a lot of negative feelings. I wasn’t sure what to do or how to even survive through this. All these negative feelings–doubting myself and feeling like I’m not enough–these were the hardest feelings to solve, because you don’t have any idea how to deal with them. You don’t know when the feelings will disappear. You don’t know how long you will be able to hold on and push through.

Q: How have you been able to cope with (or overcome) this struggle?

Up to now, I’m still trying to figure out how to deal with these feelings. But I let them come and go. I don’t force them to go away because when I do, things aren’t working out for me. I let myself feel all of these, then have a pep talk with myself. I tell myself that these feelings are essential but I don’t have to let them take the reign.

Sometimes, this method works, and I’m able to go back to creating things. Other times, it doesn’t so what I do is that I take a break and do systematic things that don’t require much thinking instead.

Q: What would you consider is the ONE thing that REALLY helped you level up your skills?

I think it’s being surrounded by art people. When I was starting out, I didn’t really know anyone. The first artists I discovered were Risa Rodil and Abbey Sy. And then I started to discover more talented artists. Then I got to meet artists in real life. And when I saw their work and their hustle, I started to question myself. What was I doing with my life?

If I really wanted to at least make it, I should be hustling as well, right? All these artists are bettering themselves everyday by practicing and working hard, that’s how they’re able to get to where they are right now. So I decided I should actually do something to level up, to improve myself. After that realization, I found myself slacking less. I started to actually do the work, and I’m beginning to be proud of my work.

Q: What is one thing you’d wish you’d known before you started your artistic career? Why?

How to price your art! Pricing is really, really important, especially if your art is your main source of income. It can be tricky, and sometimes you price way too low because you think you’re not good enough. I think it’s important to know the basics of pricing your work so that you can actually make it your living. That way, you just don’t help yourself, you also help the industry you’re in.

Q: What drives or inspires you to continue making your art?

Making art will always be something that I will do for the rest of my life because it’s a part of who I am. But what inspires me most is when I see other people find happiness and comfort in the things that I do, when they come up to me and tell me that they appreciate my work.

I’m also driven by the support of my loved ones. Growing up in an age wherein we’re programmed to follow the study-graduate-work lifestyle pattern, I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by my family, who understands what I do, and by my partner and my friends who support me in every way that they can.

Q: What does your average day look like? (And when do you fit in the time to create art?)

I wake up before noon, 9am-10am. Sometimes earlier. I still try to be a morning person when I’m not working so that my body will get used to it. I drink my coffee, scroll through my social media accounts, watch my series, anime, or The Return of Superman, and/or sleep. On an average day when I’m not working, I create art by journaling before I go to bed. My journal is filled with washi tapes, random photos, doodles, stickers, little notes to self, and everything in between.

Q: How do you deal with distractions or challenges that you encounter while you’re working on your art?

When I’m too distracted with a lot of things, I take my time to write down every single thing that’s on my mind. Sometimes, we just need to unload our brain so we can focus more on important tasks. Also, I think it’s very important to write down all the distractions so we can figure out the actions we have to take to eliminate them from the list.

Q: What do you do when you feel just completely uninspired or burnt out? How do you motivate yourself to start working again?

I take a loooong break. I do all the things that I couldn’t do whenever I’m too busy with work and making art. I watch all the series that I couldn’t watch, sleep as much as I could, go hang out with my boyfriend and my friends. Sometimes we go to the beach and just chill. And when it’s time to work again, I force myself to open up my laptop, pickup my tablet’s pen, and work slowly until I find my groove again. I also tell myself that I’m not rich and I couldn’t afford to always waste my time doing nothing. Apparently, it works, too!

Q: What would you say has been your most EPIC win so far?

The February Komiket! It was the second con that I attended. The first one was okay, but I wasn’t really prepared. I lacked a lot of things. I promised myself that I was gonna be prepared for the next con. So what I did was I DIY-ed my display rack for my sticker packs, I prepared the price tags beforehand. I also made my own business card holder (as you can see, I really like DIY-ing stuff) and prepared my tiny business cards.

I won’t say that I was 100% prepared for the February Komiket but I was a lot more prepared than the previous one. And I noticed that all the preparations actually paid off because my sales were better than the previous one. A lot more people tagged me in their posts, and followed me on my art account. I was really overwhelmed to be honest.

Q: What would you say has been your biggest failure?

I think my biggest failure is when I stopped showing up. I joined an art fair years ago, my only products were my clay charms. A group of guys stopped by our booth and scrutinized my work. One even said, “Di naman kamukha eh!” [It doesn’t look like the original] and they left the table laughing. It was a fun art fair, but after that I stopped making charms, and even illustrations. It was like, “What am I even doing? Di naman pala kamukha, I should just stop doing this because this is all nonsense.”

Years after, I realized what I did was such a waste of time. I could’ve just spent the time improving my skills. I shouldn’t have spent the time negatively thinking about the remark. Ano naman kung hindi kamukha [so what if it didn’t look right], right? I could’ve just practiced until my charms looked better than the previous ones.

I learned to never let that kind of negative remark get to you. Use it to your advantage. And don’t stop doing what you’re doing just because some people don’t appreciate you and your work.

Q: What, for you, has been the best way to promote yourself and your work to potential fans, clients, or publishers?

Based on recent experiences, I think preparing a business card actually helped. I know it’s common to have your business card with you, but I think most of us forget it sometimes. Social media is there but some people don’t really remember your handles. I think a business card is the best way to be remembered, to be contacted and followed by potential fans, clients, and publishers. Also, don’t be afraid to post your works on your accounts because you don’t know who might share and see your posts.

Q: What has been your game plan throughout your journey? What’s the BIG picture here? The ultimate dream? The end game?

The thing is, I really didn’t have a game plan to begin with. I’m still in the process of trying to figure things out. But I hope and pray that I’d be able to continue on this path, to learn more of what I can do as an artist, to be able to advocate and inspire people with my art. The dream, of course, is to turn this into a stable job and to be able to support myself, and my family with my art.

Q: What, for you personally, has been the source of your ideas, creativity and talent?

Most of the time, the ideas come to me when I’m doing mundane things. Like when I’m lying in bed, trying to sleep, then the brain suddenly goes, “Hey, I think we can do this with that, what do you think?” Or when I’m done watching a series, and I’m so attached to it so I’m like, “Let’s make some stickers!” Or when I see something cute on my feed, I’m immediately thinking, “Mukhang masaya gawin ‘to ha, magawa nga.” [This looks really fun to do, let me take a shot at it.]

Also, I’m always curious to try DIY things. I’d DIY everything if I could, but I always make it a point that I would have to make my own version of the thing that I am creating. I think the main source of everything is the curiosity to always try something new. You never know what you’d discover about yourself and your art.

Q: What is your big “WHY”? Why do you feel the need to make art? Who are you doing it for? What’s the hidden reason behind your big dream?

Someone asked us before, “Why do you do graphic design? Art?” and I remembered answering because it’s part of our job, that’s just what we do. Well, he told us that we should do what we do because it’s also a part of who we are. He made me realize that I should be viewing my art not just a job that I have to finish, but also an extension of myself.

I make art because my heart feels alive when I’m able to create something with my hands. I make art because I like the feeling of fulfillment when I see people liking and appreciating my works. I make art because I like expressing myself, and doing things my way.

So mostly, I’m doing it for myself and for those people who enjoy and appreciate my works. I also don’t think there is a hidden reason behind my dream. I just want to create stuff that I would be proud of and happy with at the end of the day. That’s what matters to me the most at the moment.

Quick-Fire Questions

Q: What 3 stories (comics, movies, documentaries, novels, etc.) would you say influenced and inspired your work the most?

The Powerpuff Girls and W.I.T.C.H. for drawings (I started drawing characters because of them!), Abbey Sy’s story of pursuing her passion

Q: What are the top books, art books, blogs, podcasts, or workshops you’d recommend that helped you level up your skills? (NOTE: some of the following links are affiliate links)

Podcast: The Creative Pep Talk by Andy J. Miller

Books: Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, Start Where You Are by Meera Lee Patel, Things Are What You Make of Them by Adam J. Kurtz (I’m currently reading Art Inc. by Lisa Congdon and The Crossroads of Should and Must by Elle Luna)

Workshops: I don’t attend workshops that much because I’m a shy person, but I’ve attended Ella Lama’s workshop about pricing and her real talk tambay sessions. I learned a lot from the workshops I’ve been to.

Q: If you could work remotely, from anywhere in the world, where would your office be? Why?

My top choice would be Japan because it’s such a lovely place to go to. It’s like there’s inspirations everywhere. Also, there’s a lot of cute things there! But I also want to work remotely in the beaches of our country (as long as there’s a stable internet connection).

Q: Name ONE artist/writer that, if you could, you would pick their brain and find out all the hidden secrets behind their amazing work?

It would be Taylor Swift. I’m just amazed at how she’s able to write songs that can fully connect with her audience, and how she’s able to come up with her marketing strategies. I know she has her team, but I’ve read somewhere before that she has a say on everything so I feel like she’s hands on even on the marketing side of her career.

Q: Who do you consider your biggest mentor that helped you improve your skills?
(Doesn’t have to be someone you’ve met personally. Can be someone you look up to, or someone whose art has inspired you to get better, over the years.)

There’s a lot, actually. I feel like as I go along this path, I’m mostly inspired by Abbey Sy’s dedication to her work, Risa Rodil and Ella Lama’s illustrations and lettering works. I’d say they are my top 3 mentors when I first started out on this path.

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