Studio Canteroâs âCreative Conversationsâ Are The Conversations We Need To Be Having
“Creative Conversations” moderator Gabbie Tatad with panel Pam Quinones, founder of Qurator Studio and Vestido; Vince Flores, Zalora regional brand communications manager; fashion designer Vania Romoff; fashion designer CJ Cruz; and H&M South East Asia sustainability manager Marian Dang
Studio Cantero’s ‘Creative Conversations’ Are The Conversations We Need To Be Having
THE UNGENTLEWOMAN - Gabbie Tatad (The Philippine Star) - June 19, 2020 - 12:00am

Ano na?” said commercial director and photographer Gabby Cantero to me, pertaining to our current situation as creatives. There is currently no place of work that hasn’t been plunged into uncertainty and stress with the ongoing pandemic, but it’s been especially murky for many creative industries. It seemed to us that the best place to start was with conversation.

The idea was to get together some of our good friends on a single panel to talk about our genuine concerns moving forward. To ask questions not only about how to be safe in working environments should the projects start coming back in, but to talk about what creativity looks like in this atmosphere, and — at an even more basic level — to discuss how we’re all really, honestly doing.

Ano Na Nga?

We made a list of shoot-based creatives for this first panel —photographers, directors, stylists, creative directors, production designers — all of whom were vocal in their concerns. We landed on photographer BJ Pascual, director Judd Figuerres, stylist and creative director David Milan, interior designer and production designer Martina Bautista, Cantero herself, with yours truly moderating the discussion. The live stream ran on Facebook, at the Studio Cantero page, and ran almost two and a half hours long. We entitled it, quite appropriately, “Creative Conversations: Ano Na?”

At the end of the pilot panel, I received a message from a fashion designer whose work I’d admired but whom I’d never had the chance to meet. They said: “It was reassuring. Because ang dami — myself included — na when you see people being productive, it builds pressure, which contributes to anxiety. Hearing this lessens the load on your shoulders kahit papaano. It’s comforting, and it develops compassion in each one of us.” That’s when we knew we needed to do more.

Sounding Board, Not Echo Chamber

This past week’s episode marks the fifth out of six episodes we committed to producing. At this point we have talked to professionals in the fields of public relations and live events, beauty, fashion, and food and beverage. For each panel, we’ve tried to put together a mix of personalities occupying different spaces in their industries — younger hires, established names, independent creatives, multi-hyphenates and such. The goal has been to create a well-rounded sounding board, rather than just an echo chamber, wherein differing but respectful opinions are all welcome.

The discussions we’ve had the privilege of facilitating showed us what can happen when we meet each other in an honest space. We’ve had the CEO of Colourette Cosmetics giving practical advice to Benefit Cosmetics Philippines’ digital and PR manager regarding sending out product samples. We’ve had PR specialists giving hypotheticals as to how pandemic communications might possibly be improved. We’ve had a slew of creatives sending reassurance to viewers who were freelancers, telling them that taking on a corporate job isn’t always the solution. We’ve had some of the best names in fashion design, editorial and retail taking their time to tell a 16-year-old aspiring designer that chasing your dreams is worth it, but that it also requires grit and hard work. We’ve discussed both the merits and gaping holes in industry safety guidelines being issued, and we’ve even had industry clients asking how creatives can be treated better.

Each panel has ended with everyone saying, “I didn’t realize we’d gone on for that long,” because it is so rare to be able to be professionally vulnerable in an open space. It’s cathartic, it’s reassuring, but it also leads to better solutions.

It Starts With Conversation

At a time when we’re told that physical isolation is the safest route for survival, oddly enough, we find we’re able to survive better — creatively, mentally, and emotionally — when we decide to connect on a very honest level. Because that’s when we realize there’s more that unites us than divides us. We all want to do the things we’re best at, we all want to keep creating and sharing beautiful things that bring joy to others, and we’re all equally concerned about what the world will look like when this is all over, about whether or not there will be space for all of us in it. And we realize that the solutions will never come if we’re trying to resolve these things individually and separately. There is a reason they say “no man is an island,” or even “two heads are better than one.”

What’s clear is that there is a deep need for this kind of dialogue, even in the privacy of our own professional circles. As the old working models have been severely disrupted, it’s the best time to consider what we can realistically change and how we can help our industries evolve. It’s the best time to recognize that none of us are alone, and that we’re all just trying to figure it out. And it’s the best time to understand that the only way we’ll get anywhere is if we just start the conversation.

* * *

Creative Conversations goes live on Wednesdays at 5 p.m. at facebook.com/studiocantero.

GABBY CANTERO
Philstar
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