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This Guy Left Corporate Life To Pursue His Childhood Dream of Becoming an Artist

He sold out his paintings during the quarantine.
IMAGE Courtesy of Joseph Ayllon
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Joseph Ayllon had been working as a communications professional for two decades when he faced an unexpected bump in his career. His company initiated a restructuring program late last year that rendered his role as head of public relations and communications redundant. His last day with the organization was the second day of the new year.

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Most people would consider a sudden job loss crippling or confusing, but Ayllon saw it as a chance to rediscover an old love. As a kid, he’s always been drawn to the arts, doodling or sketching at home to pass the time. But he was forced to set those creative instincts aside in order to concentrate on his corporate job. 

Joseph's medium of choice is acrylic along with other components like paper, plant fiber, and cement to achieve a textured look

Photo by Courtesy of Joseph Ayllon.
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Today, though, Ayllon is devoting his time pursuing a true passion, and it’s paying off big time. Not only does he have more time to paint, he has been accepting commissions from clients who pay him enough to make an actual living.

“(It’s) surprising because, despite these hard times, I’ve gained new clients,” he tells Esquire. “In fact, I’ve sold out my paintings during the quarantine!”

It’s a wonderful turn of events for someone who experienced burnout just a few years ago because of the demands of corporate life.

Art as constant

Ayllon was drawn to making art at a very young age. In Grade 5, his art teacher asked him to submit a drawing to help promote a theater play that was being staged at the time. 

STRIATIONS NO 5
24 X 36 inches Mixed Media
Year 2020

Photo by Courtesy of Joseph Ayllon.

“When the playbill came out, I was pleasantly surprised to see that they used my illustration on one of the pages,” he says. “That’s when I realized my work was appreciated by others and good enough to be published.” 

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Fueled by this affirmation, Ayllon says he tried to convince his mother to enroll him in summer art classes. Instead, she enrolled him at the Yamaha school to take piano lessons. 

But art became a constant since then. The young Ayllon kept on doodling on the edges of his notebook pages, at the back of textbooks, on sheets of paper—anything he could write on. 

“In high school, as part of our Practical Arts subject, I explored using water color, oil pastels, and acrylic,” he says. “I focused on religious figures (Crucified Christ, Our Lady of Fatima, etc.) and then I’d tape my artwork on my bedroom wall, sort of like a gallery. My family and friends liked my work, with some asking me to do a painting for them. It was then that I thought to myself, ‘It guess it would be nice to see my work framed someday.’”

STRIATIONS NO 1
150 X 100 cm Mixed Media
Year 2017

Photo by Courtesy of Joseph Ayllon.
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After graduating from Ateneo de Manila University, Ayllon worked briefly as a teacher for children with special needs before embarking on his communications career. He has worked for companies like Lycos Asia, Chevron, Globe Telecom, and Ford, and the Auto Nation Group, performing various functions from internal or employee communications to corporate communications, from marketing to PR and reputation management. 

Time for a break

In 2016 however, Ayllon was hit with that critical “burnout” that so many young professionals experience.

“I had been working for 20 years straight, was getting sick, and realized that I wasn’t my best self anymore,” he says. “I was devoted to my career in communications very much but I started to wonder if working in an office was how I’d spend the rest of my life. I knew it was time for a break so I resigned from my job with one goal in mind: become the best version of myself again.”

Ayllon was devoted to his corporate jobs so much that he rarely ever found time to indulge his artistic passions, except during long holiday breaks, when he would sneak in a commissioned project. This time, there was nothing stopping him from picking up his paintbrush and easel.

Joseph says he usually makes it a point to meet with his potential clients to know more about them and what they're looking for

Photo by Courtesy of Joseph Ayllon.
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“While I was on break, my good friend Architect Diamond Rubio asked if I was interested in a project,” he says. “He needed a number of art pieces for several units he was furnishing in an upscale condominium compIex in Mandaluyong. As you’d expect, I jumped on the opportunity eagerly because it allowed me to flex my creative muscles and paint again. I worked on those paintings for two months and shared my work on Facebook and Instagram.” 

A couple in Chicago saw Ayllon’s work on social media and asked him for a painting. And then there was another inquiry and, then another. Before he knew it, he was busy working on commissioned pieces for one whole year.

Art as a career

It was around this time when Ayllon began to seriously consider pursuing art full time. People inquiring about his work gave him the encouragement he needed to realize that it was possible. 

It was uplifting to meet people who shared my passion and supported my journey as an artist,” he says. “I knew that if I put my whole heart into making art—as with any passion in life—the outcome would be great and I would be successful.” 

HARVEST
24 X 24 inches Mixed Media
Year 2020

Photo by Courtesy of Joseph Ayllon.
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It helped that the Philippine art scene is thriving, which Ayllon says is encouraging for emerging artists. “Demand is growing and more Filipinos are developing their own taste for the arts, giving both established and new artists a wider playing field to showcase their talents,” he adds.

Besides the surge in new clients and selling out his paintings, new doors have also opened for the budding artist. He’s currently collaborating with two designers to design furniture and art pieces for a local home and lifestyle brand that will launch soon. A couple of art brokers have also expressed interest to represent him.

For those curious, Ayllon says there’s no standard price for commissions as it depends on various considerations. But to give people an idea, a 24-inch x 24-inch piece can start at P10,000 depending on considerations such as size, materials and medium used, complexity and, in some instances, the lead time.

“I am grateful that in the last four years, most of my clients have given me free rein, regardless if they have an idea of what they want or not,” he says. “Commissions can be tricky at times, though, since there are clients who have a specific image in mind and want it done a certain way (e.g. a reproduction of another painting) even when it is not your technique and style, in which case I politely explain to them that I cannot do what they want and respectfully decline the project.”

Joseph wouldn't discount the possibility of returning to corporate life provided that it allows him the flexibility to continue making art

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Photo by Courtesy of Joseph Ayllon.

Inspired by nature

Ayllon’s medium of choice is acrylic along with components like paper, plant fiber, and cement to achieve a textured look on his paintings. He says he is inspired by nature in all its forms, which is why his technique involves a spontaneous yet calculated method of applying layers and textures to create forms that resemble the earth’s topography. 

“I want my art pieces to draw out an emotion from the viewer so that an encounter with my art becomes a personal and memorable moment,” he says. “Even with my art, I’m still communicating.”

As for possibly donning a suit and returning to the corporate life, Ayllon says he’s not closing that door just yet. “I’m open to going back to the automotive/PR/Communications industry again, for as long as the job will give me time for art and other creative endeavors.

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ALSO READ: PURSUING PASSIONS

This Guy Left Corporate Life and Opened a Resort in Siargao

The Son of a Bigtime Local Automotive Exec Left His Job to Become a Rock Musician

“I left the corporate world to go on a break, not knowing it would give me my break in the art world.”

To see Ayllon’s body of work, visit https://ayllonart.artfair.ph/ or check out Ayllón Art on Facebook and Instagram.

 

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Paul John Caña
Associate Editor, Esquire Philippines
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