Heads will roll

a peek at my professional art practice (pro doesn't always mean paid)

It has been a while since I have not made an update on what is going on in my professional life as of late. 

It's the summer solstice. 

My favorite day of the year, for many reasons but mainly because it's also the beginning of the summer, the 21st of June, with is my birth month, and 2+1= 3 which is my birthday and I can't help but be selfish during these times. However, there's always a limit and the limit came close today. 

I've been working on professionalizing my practice in a threefold manner since early 2020. As an artist and a tailor on my own in my studio and practical researcher with a fabulous team for Vetirr (vetirr.be) a research project based non-profit aiming to fortify a growing sector in sustainable textiles in Brussels. 

This all sounds good and dandy, my three projects essentially feed each other, they nourish my passions and also fulfill deeply rooted capitalist needs measuring individual success and efficiency. However, back to the limit and back to this idea that I've been working on this threefold development for a good part of the last three years. 

It's not an easy task. 

From responding to a funding institution, to developing a micro business while trying to stay sane by doing art projects left and right (sometimes putting art on hold for months on end), to juggling adulting: a home, my love, and doing things that bring me joy like keeping a gorgeous garden, playing video games hours on end... complaining to, about and with the hubby, and the occasional social outing... well you can see how there can be limits to what one can do. 

However. (btw this is the word of the day, however)

It's been a while since I haven't been able to do this, juggling a million things at once. It somehow brings me peace. But it is definitely a double edged sword. A balancing act that simply gets tipped off to chaos every now and then. So what has been going on with my artwork ? my tailoring ? my research ? 


  • Mural in august of last year
  • prepared material for many sculptures but haven't started but ONE new mask earlier this year
  • made reclaimed canvasses, but not sure what to do with them yet. these are gorgeous, but don't really speak to me yet
  • applied for a ton of calls and contests
  • Started doing monthly video conferences with my bff Katreena who now lives in London, they are a series of one on one critiques and updates on our artventures
  • Started a mind map about my newest work, and what it means to be making art for me now; who am I type thing
  • got sweet direction position in a "small" project on aids, archives and art that is going super well this year


  • Wellp, I kicked off a small business 2.5 years ago, but now I am thinking I did everything in reverse
  • officially received the independent status (complimentary to my half time job) which helps me be "legal" in my side work
  • I followed a few coaching programs to kick start this adventure in 2020-2021
  • I keep exploring different pants and jackets specialising more and more in this type of clothing
  • started making skirts, learned all the math for circle skirts and even made a few for a client a couple months ago
  • I got in touch with costume designers to expand my network
  • decided my itch to go back to school was exactly just an itch and I don't want to go back. 
  • I developed a modular bag, a bag with three modules that can be mixed and matched to make your perfect bag. Two years and three prototypes later, I am ready to ask for a grant to kick start the production of this bag in Brussels... fingers crossed, the grant application is due on July 2nd.
  • I am being coached by a good friend with my financial plan for this bag and the whole process of designing and producing it.
  • Got accepted into a program called SEED, which is an accelerated program to kick start your business (I had a lot of blank spots in my idea of a business, so this helped clear those out)
  • I have been applying left and right for help reinforcing my business either through coaching, or support in specific fields of entrepreneurship
  • UGh thats a lot of unpaid work. HOWEVER, I am still able to make a bit of side cash, but with all these other things under development, you can imagine how much time I have to actually sew. 
  • SEWING A FULL SUIT FOR THIS SUMMER for a client, a friend, and we found an amazing piece of fabric for it.


  • Vetirr the research project which started 2 years ago has been accepted to continue for 3 more years
  • Vetirr research project is now VETIRR NON PROFIT
  • Me and 5 other colleagues are fully committed to the structure and organisation of this new non profit
  • we mad ea big buzz with this project, and now we are almost expected to take an important spot in the sector (at least this is my personal feeling based on politics and institutional movements)
  • The project needs a solid busniess plan, so here goes another few months without pay, to get this shit together before we can be salaried
  • I run many of the administrative tasks for this organisation and part of the communications

So how do these three avenues of eventual /partial revenue nourish each other? Well, they all are focused around the reuse and reclamation of existing fabric, clothing or textiles. While one (Research) helps me understand the sources in Brussels, the issues, challenges and stakes of working within the circular economy and going against the grain and against fast fashion, another (Art) allows me to work with the material and take out some stress by doing tedious handiwork to create beautiful artwork (eventually), while yet another (Tailoring) also allows me to work with existing material and produces some material to be used in my artwork. Tailoring also feeds my need to create, which allows for this lack of artmaking to be manageable in the end. It also allows for me to explore other parts of my art practice such as practical research and explorative topics that I don't usually touch on. 

 This is a lot of work, this is a lot of explanation, this is a lot. However, I do feel like my career is advancing. Weather it confines to the requirements of a happy capitalist or that of a dreamer such as myself is another story.

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Emmanuel Cortes June 21, 2023
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Saturn is in Pisces
Feeling cute...might fuck your life up later, idk.