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Q&A with Dan Matutina

Designer and ilustrator from Philippines

I'm Dan Matutina, I'm a designer and ilustrator. I run Plus63 Design Co., a design studio based in Manila, Philippines. Plus63 is part of the Hydra Design Group, which I founded together with friends from The Acid House, Inksurge and KM Interior Design. It's like a design collective—we work together on design projects that require our diverse skillsets. Apart from running my own design studio, I also work as an illustrator, represented by Agent Pekka and Visiontrack.

What are the peculiarities of working as an illustrator in the Philippines? Are you satisfied with everything there?

Working solely as an illustrator in the Philippines is not yet a sustainable career, because local clients don't use illustrations on projects as much, compared to photographs. It has changed a bit in recent years, we now see some local clients opting to use illustrations in their branding and marketing materials. Also, the budgets for illustration commissions here are smaller than budgets from international clients. Undoubtedly, we have a lot of very talented illustrators in the Philippines. We just need more opportunities.

Why do you prefer local brands over foreign ones? What are the drawbacks of the Western approach for you?

It's good to have both. Foreign clients tend to have bigger budgets to work with. The projects are also more challenging because of the scale and scope of the work. Growing up in the Philippines, we've always been exposed to the "West", and adding to that, we have English as one of our major languages. Because of that, it makes it easier working with international clients.

I also find it exciting to work with local clients because it's rare for them to spend on illustration projects. So when they do, most of these projects are special.

For design projects, more local clients are starting to invest in design. While we still get international clients, we work mostly with local clients.

Are you more interested in working with studios, agencies, brands or individual clients? Or are you in favour of diversity?

I'm more in favor of working with a diverse range of clients. It's always a great learning experience working form different sets of people / clients.

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WIRED: Between Us

What area do you mostly focus on now (print, digital or animation)? Could you tell us about your recent projects?

A mix of those three. As an illustrator (and even as a designer), it's always nice have a different mix of projects.

I recently worked on the illustration for Tokyo Midtown Design Touch with Masaki Hanahara of Shiseido. It was a fun and challenging project. My studio (Plus63) also recently worked on the launch of the Uniqlo Manila flagship store. As Hydra, we finished working on a digital project for Nike Shanghai.

What are the aspects of working in digital if we compare it to the analog approach? What do you lean towards in illustration?

Digital is good for client-based work. It gives you the flexibility to easily edit and implement changes based on client feedback. I do however mix some analog elements in my work. The textures, brush spatters and other elements I use are scanned images of actual brush strokes and ink.