Makers and Artists on What Joy Means for Them

Joy! For 13th century poet and scholar Rumi (whose words still resonate with many of us), it’s a river moving in us when we do things from our soul. For many, joy is an emotion. From the Latin word ‘guadium,’ that means to rejoice, joy is when we feel good about ourselves, when we feel fulfilled, confident, loved, almost buoyant. For others, joy is something much deeper than being happy. It’s a practice, it’s intentional, and it can make space for other emotions such as fear or longing without it perishing. 

However you define joy, it’s something we all want to experience and practice. It can mean different things for us. It can also be the same. Here, we find out what joy means for some of Common Room’s makers and artists. 

Getting in the zone and just creating

“Joy, for me, is getting in the zone of creating something. That moment when your hands start to tremble out of excitement. You can already imagine the end result and feel, smell, even taste 

your creation, while not physically being there yet.”—Lala de Leon, Simoy ng Haraya

Watch: How this Filipino perfumer grew her business during the pandemic

“Joy is being able to create art without the pressure of numbers and social media bogging down my inspiration and creativity. To be able to fully create what I want and not what the market or the algorithm wants. Joy is being able to spend time with the people I love.”—Elly Ang, Danger in Design


Watch: Enamel pin designer Elly Ang offers encouraging words to anyone starting out

Being a full-time dreamer…and parent

“Joy is waking up each day and realizing I have the best job in the world—a full-time dreamer who gets to breathe life to her ideas and share all these with other fellow dreamers. Joy is knowing that this job allows me and my husband to be full-time parents to our baby girl and be a mom who gets to witness her every milestone in life.—Roma Agsunod, Popjunklove and Common Room

Watch: What it took to build the retail business that Roma calls “the best job in the world”

Doing what you love, what you enjoy

“Joy for me are quiet mornings while making art in my studio. It gives me joy to be able to pay the bills while doing what I love.”—Cheryl Owen, artist

 Watch: For Cheryl Owen, choosing art as her career was the best decision for her

“Something I've been trying to remind myself a lot more of is ‘if you enjoy something, then it's never a waste of time.’ Joy, right now, is these pockets of time where I get to worry less and just appreciate that whatever I do is enough.”—Louise Ramos, illustrator

 Watch: Learn from Louise Ramos how she juggles a day job and freelance art projects

Telling stories

“Joy is being able to tell our client's stories through jewelry.”—Kimberly Tiam-Lee, Pulseras by Kim

 Watch: How a jewelry maker grew her passion project into an independent jewelry brand

Finding it in the everyday

“Joy for me can be found in the little things—leaves sprouting, walking around on a nice day, hearing birds outside even if I'm in the city, seeing dogs playing and chasing one another. When you hear an old favorite randomly play on Spotify, when you catch a movie that made you cry, corny jokes, a good cup of coffee, when your Grab arrives early. Coming home to a made bed, clean dishes, a cold bath, getting on a call with my niece, sharing memes with friends, receiving a funny reel, making a mess for the sake of just making. For me, intentionally seeking those tiny joyful moments every day, no matter how inconsequential they seem, are essential building blocks to a life of happiness.”—Maan Agsalud, Popjunklove and Common Room

Watch: How Maan and Roma started Popjunklove with only P5,000 

Finding it in each other

“Joy means each other. Our personal and professional lives are both deeply rooted and heavily shaped by our interactions and relationships with our people and the environment. We create, and persist in doing and living in the hopes of everyone being able to enjoy what they want freely. Our joy is in witnessing and supporting each other's growth and in intricately creating spaces of care and safety so that everyone may also live with freedom and joy.”—Mako Micro-Press

Watch: Mako Micro-Press shows us why creatives need to continue using their skills and platforms for relevant discourse and marginalized issues

Words by Mabel David-Pilar
Mabel has been a writer and editor for many publications including a teen fashion mag and a book on the most endangered Philippine trees. She spends most of her time writing, illustrating, stalking Common Room’s online shop, and making ferments. Together with her sisters, she co-created to celebrate fermentation and eating more plants.