World Changer: Imma Frias
Can you really live your life as an artist? We usually hear from other people that being an artist is not a practical way to live your life. Apparently, our World Changer, Imma, didn't get the memo. But, it's a good thing she didn't because she is now thriving as an artist! I am very happy to share with you an interview with a good friend of mine who is living the life she wants by pursuing her passion in art and calligraphy. She also inspires other people (myself included) to follow their hearts in choosing a career and to do the work that they love!
Tell Us About What You Do
I would like to think that I have two “jobs.” I hold tutorials for students from grade school to the college level and I help them with whatever it is that give them headaches in school.
I am also a calligraphy enthusiast—if I’m going to be really technical about it, I write and sometimes make the letters and words dance. I work on “creative projects’, if you may call them that. I create designs, layouts, and logos, too.
How do you make money or achieve freedom doing this?
I have been lucky with calligraphy. I did not get into it to earn, actually—that was just the bonus. I basically just wrote every day. I started with writing lines from songs that I could pretty much relate to and moved to more complex projects. Then, people started noticing. That’s when the commissioned works started coming in—these include custom invitation suites, working on envelopes, and framed works usually with something inspirational. I have also been holding workshops where I teach people the basics of calligraphy and pretty, pretty handwriting.
How do you change the world doing this?
It never really occurred to me that I’m a world changer. I post random inspirational lines on my Instagram account and on my blog as well. Sometimes I write about calligraphy too, when the inspiration strikes. Through my posts, most of which are for my practice, I make it a point to tell people (or at least my followers) that they can also start a hobby without any other agenda in mind but to write.
It has also been said that writing is actually therapeutic—I guess the good effect doubles when you do it in an artsy way. Just recently, I started hosting “challenges” for people who practice calligraphy and it’s so nice that a lot of people are joining and just write their hearts out.
What did you do before this?
I have been a tutor since I was 19. It started with holding one-on-one tutorials during my free time in between my classes. Shortly after, I got my own place where students would drop by for their sessions. It started with just math tutorials, but now I hold sessions for other subjects as well. The ages of my students range from 5 to 22.
How did know about this opportunity? Who was your greatest inspiration or influencer?
Calligraphy is something that I have always wanted to do, even before it became a big “hit” with a lot of people. I finally got into one of Fozzy Castro-Dayrit’s workshops in April 2013, which I had to worm my way into because slots were so hard to come by. I have always been maarte when it comes to writing and other crafty things, but being in Fozzy’s class made me realize that there is so much for me to explore about calligraphy. I went home that afternoon with new “toys” (the kit that I got from the workshop) and I never really stopped after that.
What made you decide to finally take the leap?
“Taking the leap” was a smooth thing for me. I think it happened even before I knew it did because I started calligraphy as a hobby and I did not really get into it to make money. I really just wanted to make those letters dance. When the commissioned works started to come in, that’s when I realized that I can call it “work” as well.
What was the most difficult challenge you faced when you were starting out?
I guess the most difficult thing that I had to deal with were my personal issues. Starting out in calligraphy is like being in driving school and going out on the road for the first time. There are a lot of experienced drivers out there, who drive way better than you do. The challenge is to brave the roads alongside these drivers. I’d hesitate to post (online) my work sometimes because I knew that there are a lot of more experienced calligraphers out there who’s been in the game for years and I’d ask myself, “How would my work look like next to theirs?”
How are you coping up with your challenges?
At the end of each day, or maybe just right before I hit the “post” button, I have to remind myself that I am a work in progress—I’d like to think that we all are. I have also been so lucky to be getting so much love from people who see my posts online. The comments section in my posts is like a basket filled with love, really. The comments from friends and strangers really dissolve my woes about my work into thin air. Calligraphy is also about muscle memory, so I’d just constantly remind myself that there is always room for improvement at lahat yan nadadaan sa practice, just like driving, so go lang.
What was the biggest lesson you learned from doing this?
Doing calligraphy is like getting a (daily) reminder that there is so much to learn. It’s such a humbling experience, really. Doing something that involves a craft that never seems to go defunct or old is like being given keys to more than a thousand doors—there is always something new to try out and to learn.
"Starting out in calligraphy is like being in driving school and going out on the road for the first time. There are a lot of experienced drivers out there, who drive way better than you do. The challenge is to brave the roads alongside these drivers."
Has the journey been worth it?
Yes! And for what it’s worth, I think I can see myself doing this for a really long time and not just for the sake of making money, but maybe to encourage more people to tap into their “creative side” and just feel good about the beauty that their hands can make.
What's next for you?
I’m joining more and more bespoke bazaars now. It has also been wild since the –ber months kicked in, but it’s the good kind of wild. There are more workshops and partnerships (with other creative, crafty people) slated next year.
Your advice to aspiring World Changers
I have two, actually: 1) never lose the zest for trying out something that you have always wanted to do; and 2) know what you’re good at, stick with it and never stop learning something new about it. There has been a lot of things said about doing something that you love—the saying might be old, but it’s true. When you love something, chances are, you’re great at it, so I’d strongly suggest that you embrace it and explore that field. Whatever field you’re going to work in is a big, big world waiting for you to explore, so go!
How can they reach you or join your revolution?
Credit to Marvin Bien Lopez and Gourdo's Stores for all the photos used in this World Changer Interview.