Creative Space: Ivy Pangilinan

Creative Space: Ivy Pangilinan

What is your ideal work routine? What does a good day look like?

Being a freelancer, every day is different for me. I thrive when I have the freedom to change up my routine. This is primarily why I decided to choose this route instead of a traditional career setup. Generally though, this is what my days look like:

  1. I relish a slow start in the morning. It’s important for me to take this time for myself, allow myself to enjoy the slow process of making coffee and drinking it. I take my time getting ready in the bathroom, sitting on the couch doing nothing, walking my dog Lily to the nearby park, journaling, and stretching. My slow mornings help to counter my neurotic thoughts that are most present when I wake up (morning anxiety is a real thing), by forcing me to just be still and breathe.

  2. I like to start working around 10 or 11 am. I either work at home, in a cafe, or at my studio, depending on what I need to get done that day.

  3. Work is different everyday. Sometimes it’s design-heavy or admin-heavy so I’ll just be on my laptop all day. On other days, I’ll be working on new paintings so I’ll be in the studio, fully immersed in my creative process. There are days dedicated to meeting clients or working on errands that will require me to go around the city. Sometimes I’ll work with friends (I have a bunch of freelancer friends too so that’s been helpful in keeping my social tank full, since the self-employed route can sometimes feel isolating). I like that my schedule changes because it keeps my days exciting and unpredictable. It makes me feel more alive.

  4. At night or by late afternoon, I like to go for a run or a swim. Lately, I’ve been using the run meditations on the Headspace app and it’s been helpful for me in clearing my head after a long day’s work.

  5. I love cooking. It’s something I look forward to after a busy day, so I appreciate the nights when I have enough time to be able to make dinner for myself and my boyfriend. Some nights are just way too full and busy, but I would say I’m able to cook at least 3-4x a week.

  6. After dinner, I  like to chill, hangout with my boyfriend and our dog, maybe watch a movie or read a book, play my guitar, and drink tea. The same way that I start my day, I also like to end my day slow and in a relaxed state. I meditate right before bed and sometimes it’s what even puts me to sleep.

In between all of these tasks there’s the daily maintenance of life. Keeping the house clean, taking care of our dog, paying the bills, staying healthy, maintaining and nurturing relationships, being there for loved ones, making sure I’m living up to my potential, and general adult stuff. It’s definitely tiring! 

What does your space look like? How do you make it personal? 

I recently moved into a new art studio. I’ve been contemplating the idea to invest in one since the beginning of the year—but I was wishy washy in the beginning. During a recent trip to Europe, we were able to visit different kinds of art spaces. I was inspired to finally take my practice to the next level. The day we got home, I started looking online for rentals and two weeks later, I had signed a lease and was scheduled to move in! Intention really does lead to action.

I like to express myself in whatever space I occupy. Whether that was in my childhood home, my current apartment that I live in, and now in my art studio. I have things all over the walls —photos, moodboards for my current projects, a collection of paper knick knacks I’ve gathered from my travels, my own artworks, and sketches. It’s very important to me that my spaces feel like home, like an extension of myself.

I recently got the idea of having two separate tables from your interview with Rachel. I made sure to do this in my studio, so now I have two tables as well — one for analog work and another for digital. My analog table is where I do a lot of my paintings and experiments on paper, and my digital one is where I work on emails, admin stuff, and my graphic design work.

I also have a corner in the studio where I work on my bigger canvas paintings. It’s nice to have this space where I can make a mess. Sometimes larger pieces call for more expressive movement, and back then when I used to just work in a tiny corner of our apartment, it was really hard to let this come out in my work because I was always so scared of making a mess (I’m pretty anal about keeping my place clean. Virgos, amirite?). I’m glad that I now have more freedom to play if I need to.

What activities help you get into the "flow"? 

Having ambient music while I work is crucial in my practice. Right now, I’m listening to a lot of Khruangbin and Crosby, Stills & Nash. I love all kinds of music but the ones that make me feel are my favorite.

Other things I do to help me get in the flow are working on little pieces in my sketchbook. It’s pressure-free because they’re just studies. Sometimes when I’m working on canvas or even on my nicer quality artist paper, the fear of making mistakes paralyzes me and I end up not making anything at all. When I start small, it allows me to release that pent-up fear and anxiety. It reminds me that at the end of the day, there are no such things as mistakes—only challenges that you can turn into art.

For days when you lack drive/motivation, how do you get unstuck?

First, I must acknowledge that I’m actually stuck!

Sometimes when things aren’t going according to how we imagined they would, we make the situation even worse by pretending things are fine, but when in reality, they could be better. A break in momentum or a period of unmotivation is normal. It happens to everyone. The sooner we can acknowledge it, the sooner we can give ourselves space to feel the lows and recover.

Once I’ve done the above and I feel ready to face the work, I have two no-fail ways of getting inspiration. One is by diving into the body of work of artists that I admire. I am endlessly inspired by man’s creative spirit and the amazing things that humans have produced in the field of art. Seeing the world from another artist’s perspective is a gift, and immersing myself in these studies is rejuvenating for me. I’ll go to a gallery, museum, watch videos, and read books on art. I use my Instagram to follow and connect with other artists and their work.

Another way that I get unstuck is by journaling. It is a cathartic experience for me every time I write. It feels like I’m being drained of all my worries and everything feels lighter afterwards.

Lastly, I also believe in the saying that action leads to motivation, and not the other way around. Sometimes you just gotta get out of your own way and just DO THE WORK. Motivation will follow.

What is your biggest struggle right now?

Right now, I’m struggling with the fact that I always have a million and one things running through my mind at any given time. I have a hard time focusing. I’m an ENFP and an enneagram type 7. Our biggest struggle is wanting to do all the things, all at the same time. I want to make art, play music, say yes to all the things, read all the books, and go to many places. I want to do all of these as well as I can! It’s hard for me to slow down, and I have to remind myself to take things one at a time. It’s hard to be easily excitable! 

What lessons did you learn recently that you would like to pass on to others?

To accept the ebbs and flows of life, accept where you are. 

Every point in our journey is valid. Life is made up of a bunch of seasons—sometimes you’re in a good season and sometimes it’s the opposite. It’s just what it is. The best you can do is to stay in the present moment and experience it as fully as you can, because that’s what it means to be human—the highs and lows mean you’re alive and really living!

So if perhaps you’re in a low season right now, or if maybe some things aren’t making sense, it’s ok, because there is a bigger picture. Trust that at some point things will fall into place. And in the meantime, try to experience your reality as fully as you can. Just BE. 

Story by Ivy Pangilinan
Photos by Ivy Pangilinan and Sara Erasmo


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