Presenting as a professional artist


Johanna Paula Dazo

Johanna Paula Dazo found her purpose when she started into mural painting. But it takes time for her vision to become completely realized. She considered abandoning visual art entirely, but unexpectedly, it saved her from being depressed at one point of her life.

Dazo grew up in an artistic family where everyone knows how to paint and enjoys the arts. She participated in art contests during her elementary school years. When Dazo was in high school at the Philippine Science High School in Davao City, she prioritized her studies over visual art.

Dazo took up Industrial Pharmacy at the University of the Philippines (Manila). During her college years, she entertained herself with art by doing calligraphy in her spare time.

"Being a student, you cannot afford calligraphy tools because they were expensive at that time. I tried watercolor and brush. I watched art videos to supplement my learning. Then I tried to use a brush pen. It took a long time to progress but I am happy for it.”

She decided to return to GenSan after 8 years in Manila. She did not have any money or connections at the time. However, she is grateful to her cousin Ella for suggesting that she try calligraphy in the city and incorporate it into the local wedding industry.

Johanna Paula Dazo

While introducing her calligraphy services in the wedding industry, Dazo also worked as a Technical Assistant and Caption Writer for Niño Solis Films as a side hustle. To establish her brand as a calligraphy artist, she held a series of calligraphy workshops and created her Paula Writes Facebook page.

Dazo later decided to switch to mural art after falling in love with it and seeing the potential for a professional business.

Dazo did not know how to present herself professionally or even set a price for her art services at first. She felt degraded because she was willing to lower her standards just to get a client.

Johanna Paula Dazo

"I had a bad experience with my first mural painting client. I was self-conscious and did not know how to charge for my services. At the time, I was trying to please my client so that I could build a portfolio," she explained.

Her sister Henna suggested that she use a "per square foot" pricing scheme to help her set rates for her projects. Despite her negative experience with the first client, she continued to pursue her goals.

A big break

Dazo admits that Hannah Miranda Mamon gave her a break in mural painting. She is thankful for the opportunities she received from Hannah. Dazo’s collaboration with Hannah made her realize her worth as an artist.

“My good experience with Ma’am Hannah led me to realize that the right client is willing to pay for your services. Just let the right clients find you. Working with her made me realize my worth as an artist.”

Johanna Paula Dazo

In 2019, she shifted to mural art. Hannah's business ventures provided the majority of her projects at the time. When the pandemic struck in 2020, however, most of her projects were put on hold. But that did not stop her from learning new things and exploring other areas of visual art, such as digital art.

Dazo was eager to try and submit her portfolio when a well-known coffee shop in GenSan announced that they were looking for a visual artist to paint on their wall. Despite the lengthy selection process, Dazo got the project.

Johanna Paula Dazo

“I always think about how I can differentiate myself from other artists. I was not after the money. I was after the brand for my portfolio. After that experience, it opened lots of opportunities to work with different brands,” she recalled.

“The majority of the local artists do not have an idea how to price their services. It is sad to know that most artists from GenSan devalue their worth. We all know that there are many good artists in the city.”

The Importance of Professional Presentation

Dazo always emphasizes the importance of professional presentation to her fellow local artists. An artist must present himself or herself well in order for clients to be impressed and respect his or her work.

“Present yourself as a professional. You do not have to lower your value just to please a client or to have clients. Just present well to your clients. If you are not confident with yourself or your work, how much more is your client’s impression of you.”

Johanna Paula Dazo

Dazo also said that some companies would want an artist that has a name or has an established brand, with a decent social media following to boost their businesses. But Dazo reiterated that “every transaction must be professionally put into the paper.”

“It is important that everything must be put into the contract. I am a contractor to your business which is why it is vital to present things professionally. Learn how to market yourself or your service properly. And of course, utilize the power of social media to establish your brand or to help raise awareness about your services.”

Johanna Paula Dazo

“I always remember what my mom said – ‘if it's for you, it's for you.’ You make yourself available to those people who want you,” she added.

Dazo wants to remind the public not to disregard the worth of artwork. “Learn to appreciate and pay right. Learn to value the artist.”

A self-fulfilling art

Mural art, according to Dazo, is only temporary, as opposed to painting on canvas, which is meant to last. It also serves as a reminder of her artistic development. Every (mural) project is a "clueless task" for her. She treats it as a large canvas and is eager to paint on it.

“It is a different kind of fulfillment to paint on a big wall, especially since I am a woman,” she said.

“I like painting in public places. It is fulfilling how it becomes part of people’s lives. I unknowingly become part of their memories. But after completing a mural project, I feel like a stranger to my work."

Johanna Paula Dazo

Dazo still has a list of dream projects that she wanted to do. She enjoys challenging projects and would want to conquer bigger walls.

“I am not closing any doors for other opportunities like I want to create a creative team or put-up other business. I still have my list of desired projects that I want to do in the future,” she said.

Johanna Paula Dazo

Dazo encourages other artists who have not tried their hand at mural art to do so. "It always begins with the first step," she explained.

“Art can be learned. It does not have to be innate in you. The key is consistency. Every one of us who has a talent serves a purpose."