Busy ad executive reconnects with her passion for art during lockdown

Leah C. Salterio

Posted at May 10 2020 07:01 PM | Updated as of May 10 2020 07:23 PM

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Advertising executive Rosse Gonzales at work on her art

MANILA -- Advertising executive Rosse Gonzales, the CEO of Toolbox Creatives, Inc., had always loved painting from the time she was in college, attending an exclusive girl’s school in Manila. She realized she was in the wrong course, so she shifted to Fine Arts.

Yet, even after studying, Gonzales’s work and her constantly busy schedule always got in the way of her artistic passion. She never had the chance to seriously sit down and devote time to her art -- until now.

“Over the past three years, I got invites from my former art professor, a former boss and other art enthusiasts-friends when they hold exhibits for their works,” Gonzales said. “They inspired me to go back to canvass, a break from the digital graphics in the advertising business.”

She made her art works easily recognizable by using large canvasses, something that she has always preferred. “Large canvass is easier for me, than the more detailed, regular canvasses,” Gonzales pointed out. “I can work on any medium, but I prefer mostly acrylic and oil.”

She started painting again when the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) was enforced. “I only finished two works, so far, during this lockdown,” Gonzales said. “Just two, plus one work-in progress. I have not been as prolific as before, before I started my career in advertising.”

Gonzales calls the paintings her “anxiety busters,” similar to her beautiful assortment of plants that adorn the interior and garden of her house.

“Being a workaholic, the abrupt work stoppage gave me a deep sense of being unproductive and felt too constrained in the confines of the home,” she said. “This made me turn to the ‘re-creative effects’ of painting art, combined with growing gardens.”

Although she is aware she cannot command a high price for any of her paintings -- at least, not yet -- the advertising boss is willing to come up with more paintings and hopes to sell some in the coming days.

“I could probably come up with more paintings to join my art associates galleries,” Gonzales said. “Donations have come more often, been around here and there, during this time. It is heartening to feel you did your part in helping out those in need during these hard times.”

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Advertising executive Rosse Gonzales at work on her art

Gonzales continued: “To do something productive in this lockdown and be able to help those who need it the most, is something that will undoubtedly give you fulfillment. You will remember the one important thing that you did to help, maybe even long after this pandemic is over.”


She lamented how the COVID 19 pandemic affected everything, especially her business and employees. “Advertising was the first to go when the pandemic started,” Gonzales rued, “as we get to hear companies giving up and re-channeling their promotions budgets to help alleviate the situation.”

As CEO of Toolbox Creatives, Inc., Gonzales handles a number of brands – from energy drink to vitamin supplements. She had earlier foreseen the need to allow her staff to work from home, days before the ECQ was officially declared.

“When we saw the crisis was building up through social media, how fast the virus was spreading in China, we started ordering my team to work from home, four days before the announced office stoppage,” Gonzales said. “At first, we did not see the impact of a prolonged lockdown, but now, we are seeing a delayed and extended reboot of the industry and the economy as a whole.”

However, Gonzales insisted she would rather be on the more optimistic side than constantly dwell of the impact of the lockdown.

“I’ve been trying to keep my team intact, as we stretch our paid leaves and allowances to tide my team over during the crisis. There is no better time to bond with the family, making up for lost time, which was otherwise spent on business,” she said.

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Advertising executive Rosse Gonzales at work on her art

Cushioning the impact of the pandemic started in Gonzales’s own household, from the time the Taal Volcano eruption was announced last January. “After the Taal eruption in January, we already started stockpiling our grocery goods, which we continued early February when the China virus is getting out of hand," she said.

“Now, we have started to examine new business models, as we observed how e-commerce transactions were accelerated during the lockdown, and how supply chains disruptions have created new channels during the crisis.”

There is simply no going back to the previous order of things and Gonzales readily acknowledged that, as well as the hard lessons learned during this time.

“On the surface, we are enjoying the cleansing benefits on the environment, exposing how vulnerable our communities are, how unprepared government is at all levels, how people cope with online chatter of information and even food deliveries," she said.

“Deep down, some have learned to deal with the losses in lives and disrupted incomes, but we are now looking at new ways of going about businesses, a re-thinking of old practices and processes.”

Gonzales is one with the thousand other professionals who are praying for a silver lining after this lockdown gets lifted and the pandemic is over, to give every Filipino a new normal in bravely facing every day.