Banker-turned-artist finds her niche | Inquirer Business

Banker-turned-artist finds her niche

/ 01:06 AM November 01, 2015
MARTIE Datu’s work station

MARTIE Datu’s work station

It has been more than a decade since Martie Datu chose the stable life in the banking industry, thanks to her father’s influence.

“Back then, my father headed an investment house and I saw how much he loved what he was doing,” shares Datu, who has a degree in banking and finance from De La Salle University in Manila.


Although she always sketched and doodled, making a career out of art was farthest from her mind.

She never considered art a serious option and instead focused on expanding her wings as a banker.


After graduating in 2003, she started working with a multinational bank but just two years after, when her father retired and put up his own financial consultancy firm, Datu decided to help him in the business. She took note of how her father merged his creativity with business acumen.

Three years later, in 2008, she decided to return to the same multinational bank and diligently worked her way up the corporate ladder.

But on her 29th birthday, she made a promise to herself, “When I turn 30, whatever it is I’m doing, I’ll be doing for a lifetime.”

Later that year, she was offered a position in the same multinational bank in Singapore.

In 2011, she accepted the offer and became part of the bank’s Offshore Banking Centre in Singapore, catering to the Philippine market. Then came an offer from a leading Swiss private bank in Singapore.

MARTIE Datu at work

MARTIE Datu at work

“Although banking is a very exciting job, it can also be quite stressful. After a decade working in this industry, my life has become routine—waking up in the morning to head to the office, working behind a desk and coming home in the evening. Also the pressure to produce for the bank could really take its toll. I suddenly felt like I was boxed-in,” reveals Datu, who then started to search her heart for what she really yearns to do.

The search made her take note of the art galleries and schools near her home in Singapore and hone her creativity.


Providentially, while walking home one day, she found My Art Space, where she met Singaporean artist Chankerk, who is also chair of the Art Critique Group.

She also met Wen Shan, a professional artist who was trained and educated at the Atelier Beaux-Arts de Maire de Paris in France.

Not long after, she took a leap of faith and returned to the Philippines to try her luck in the art industry.

“When I came back, I had no idea about what was happening in the Philippine art scene. It was not an easy decision, especially when new opportunities were being dangled in front of your face,” she says.

She also did not go to any art school nor received formal training, but she was unfazed.

As soon as she arrived from Singapore, Datu went around looking for a place to exhibit her work. Luckily, a gallery owner took a chance on her and let her showcase her pieces.

In August 2014, Datu mounted her first successful exhibition, titled “Stories” at Art Galileia in Bonifacio Global City.

“I guess when you do what you are created by God to do, opportunities knock on your door,” says the artist who recently mounted her second solo exhibit, titled “Through Their Eyes,” at the Green Sun Axon in Makati City.

In this exhibit, Datu journeyed back into her childhood, which she described as a “mix of bliss, a little bit of sadness, and inquisitiveness.” She rendered images of happy and energetic kids through vibrant colors on canvass. The children don’t have facial features, allowing viewers to connect with the image and recognize his own face or his loved ones in the piece. Her current collection also includes paintings of skyscapes, which Datu explains are all about life—the joy and sadness, winning and losing, hope and courage through time.

“This is a fulfillment of my dream and I have found my true calling; that is to share joy to people through my art; to help others especially kids through its proceeds. I believe these are my purpose in life,” says Datu.

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TAGS: art, Banking, Business, Career, fulfillment, Martie Datu
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