Dan Matutina, a designer and illustrator based in the Philippines, is a co-founder of a social enterprise & communications agency. His illustration style is a mix of handmade & digital, clean & dirty, old & modern aesthetics. He loves mixing colors with different textures & shapes to tell a story. Read below for the full interview…
You stated that’s your style is a mix of handmade & digital. Could you explain the creative process behind this technique a bit?
Dan: Some of the elements in my illustrations are actual scanned textures of ink, brush strokes and spatters. These are the handmade aspect of it. To come up with the textures, I apply ink over textured paper. I then scan it and use it as an overlay on my illustration using Photoshop. I go through this sort-of tedious process to achieve to achieve this look, but it’s always worth it.
You had a helping hand in founding a number of studios. Ideal & Plus63. What are the core differences between these two companies and what kind of work do you provide?
Dan: Ideals is a social design studio I started with a group of friends five years ago. It was solely focused on doing cause oriented communication and design. Plus63 shares the same DNA as Ideals, but we also accept commercial clients. For these past few months, we’ve been slowly moving client work to Plus63. Ideals will now be focused in doing cause oriented projects.
Ellen Lupton once said that “Type is the foundation of print and web design”. As a designer, how important is the art of typography in your designs? Do you feel a design cannot flourish without good typography?
Dan: I think good use of typography is necessary in doing good design work. It can be challenging at times but it’s always fun. Just recently, we launched a new site for Revolver Studios: http://revolver.ph, we love how the mix of imagery and typography came together.
You’ve taught at colleges and provided a few workshops. What is one thing you try to instill in those that you mentor and talk too? Has that one thing changed over the years?
Dan: Every design & illustration work should have a strong idea & story behind it.
I know you’re a fan of Asian films and Anime! Could you pick out one of each and tell us why that particular film had an impact on you?
Dan: One of my favorite films of all time is Rashomon by Akira Kurosawa. I first watched it when I had my internship at the Mowelfund Film Institute. The institute director at that time was explaining the film scene by scene, and I was really amazed at how good it was. Every time I watch it again, I see something new. It’s that good.
My favorite Anime film is Princess Mononoke. I love the drama, the characters & the action sequences. As for the weekly mainstream Anime, Naruto is my favorite. I don’t like the fillers though [smiles].
What are the main challenges designers face when designing for mobile?
Dan: It’s always a challenge to put things together on mobile since you have a small canvas to work with. It challenges designers to make their work more efficient & simple. I’m currently designing & illustrating a mobile app and I try my best not to make things look cluttered. It’s really hard [laughs].
2011 is about to wrap up, did you consider it a successful year for yourself?
Dan: It was a blast. I was blessed with really nice clients and projects. I’m looking forward to 2012!
What can we expect in terms of growth, from Plus63 design studio in 2012?
Dan: We just started five months ago, so there’s a lot of room for improvement. Client work has been steady and fun at the same time. We have a good mix of big and small clients, so we’re thankful for that. Here’s to hoping that we get more clients next year!
Design is like technology, it needs updating every few months. What specifically about the old aesthetics and methods do you find appealing that you try to carry over into your new designs and illustrations?
Dan: I guess the look of the old aesthetics make things look warm and lively. I also think it’s a personal bias of mine, because when I was in art school most of my works were done by hand. My preferred medium at that time was watercolor. I was never good with oil. So yea, in terms of training I did a lot of handmade stuff. I only started using a computer for design was at the second half of my third year in the University.
Lastly, any advice for any creative out there?
Dan: Take risks! Take risks with your design and career decisions. Don’t be afraid to share your works with others, collaborate with them. Especially now that everybody can easily be connected through the net, use it to your advantage. Be open to criticism because you can only improve from them. And more importantly, have fun. Yey!
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