End of Year Campaign Artist Spotlight: Romson Bustillo

Persistence has always been a quality among artists. In spite of adversity, opposition, and limited resources, artists have remained persistent in their work, creativity, and innovation. Bravery, patience, stamina, pluck – the act of persistence looks different for every individual but remains essential throughout the journey of any artist.

Persistence: What does persistence mean to an artist? What do they need to be able to persist? What level of support meets those needs? Those are the questions we’re asking Artist Trust artists throughout our fall campaign.

We spoke with Romson Bustillo, a visual artist, and a 2019 Fellowship recipient about his path with Artist Trust, and what persistence looks like for him.


“I first found out about Artist Trust when, early in my career, I was looking for funding to help document my work. It was the GAP award that got my attention. The application was straightforward. I was encouraged seeing other artists getting support early in their careers.

In addition to helping fund specific projects and documentation of my work, Artist Trust is an organization where I have been able to connect with other artists and with a wider audience. Getting your work seen is so important; the visibility one gets from awards and the workshops are incredibly valuable.

Persistence for an artist can mean several things. One thing I try to keep in mind is the long-term contribution of my work. What that takes. There are going to be different needs for different people to persist in their practice. For some there is a kind of reckoning that happens at some point in their art making; an impossible measuring of one’s artistic value or relevance in the society one finds oneself. On practical terms, affordable housing and workspaces; equitable compensation; and culture spaces are essential. Artists will continue to do what is in their hearts no matter. I lean towards redirecting the question; How are our institutions, including our local government, cultivating and supporting practicing artists? How do we promote a clear understanding in both public and private sectors that artists contribute to our quality of life and economy?

How artists consider and can navigate rapidly evolving systems and shifting norms are contributing factors to the viability of one’s practice. A sense of belonging, should that be engagement with specific communities or support from organizations like Artist Trust and others, is foundational. Along with funding, it is critical that organizations stay current with the most urgent needs of artists.

I hope for and work towards, a Washington that actively supports and cultivates the enriching role artists play in shaping a culturally dynamic equitable society. When you support Artist Trust, you are supporting artists and investing in our State’s quality of life.


Where can you see Romson’s work next?

“You can follow my work on instagram @romsonbustillo”

Romson Regarde Bustillo is a Pacific Northwest Artist with a rich, layered background. Born in the Philippines on the large multi-ethnic/multi-faith island of Mindanao, his family immigrated to Seattle in 1978. After high school, he moved into the 619 Building in Pioneer Square and began making work. The late painter Drake Deknatel and mixed media artist Marita Dingus were important influences and mentors during this time.