Artist Profile: Dan Matutina

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Coming back to the Philippines last December opened my eyes to a world of amazing local talent. Designer + illustrator Dan Matutina is a shining example of this discovery.

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Dan hard at work in his studio.

I was first introduced to Dan’s work through my dear friend Chesa. His designs are incredibly detailed, often splashed with pop fiction, and carry a style uniquely his own.

I was thrilled when Dan took time out of his very busy week to chat with me about what he’s been up to these days. I hope you enjoy his insights and awesome images.

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Cat JL: Hi, Dan! Can you share with my readers what exactly it is you do?

Dan Matutina: I’m a designer and illustrator. I love doing both. I love the challenges and process involved in design work. I also love illustrations because you can push your own particular style and voice in every work you create.

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How did you get into the world of design and art? When did you know this is what you wanted to do for your livelihood?

I’ve always been into cartoons, animation and comics. When I was in grade school, I really loved drawing. But I never knew I could make a livelihood out of it. Back in the province (Tacloban City), our exposure to design and art were Jeepney signages and the movie billboards, which were handpainted at that time. I only found out about the possibility of a career in the creative industry when I read an article featuring a comic book artist who took up a degree in Fine Arts. That’s the reason why I applied for a Fine Arts course in UP.

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What mediums do you like working with the best?

Right now I work mostly with digital. I still do wood sculptural pieces and airbrushed works from time to time with the help of the boys (craftsmen). Before that I was into watercolor, pencils and ink.

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What exactly is Design Co.Mission? How can people get involved?

Design Co.Mission is a passion project of our design studio, Plus63 Design Co. Basically, it’s a platform for designers to “think out loud”. We wanted a venue for us and other designers to create design solutions for different problems and present it to the target agencies/people. For the first Design Co.Mission event, it was focused on government so we invited people from the government to attend it. They enjoyed it and they liked the insights of the design solutions. It’s a good first step in introducing design to the government. (Here are links to a couple of articles with sound bites.)

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Tell me about some of your other recent projects. What’s been keeping you busy these days? 

I’ve been doing a lot of illustration works for different brands  here and abroad. In the studio, we’re doing a number of brand identity projects, so that’s keeping me occupied as well. I’m also working on some personal projects for exhibits in the coming months. Lastly, we’re currently developing the next issue of Wander. 🙂 Quite a lot of work to do, but it excites me.

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What it is about the Philippines that inspires you as an artist? 

I don’t know if it can be classified as patriotic, but I do like promoting the Philippines and its culture in some of my works. A lot of my passion projects (either individually or with other people) usually involves the Philippines because I really want to share the good things about out country. As a citizen, it’s our responsibility to promote our country. I’ve always wanted to work here not because I don’t want to work abroad, but because I want to do my part in making the Philippines a better place. I don’t know if I’ve achieved that (because no individual can), but little by little I think I’ve made a difference. 🙂

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What kind of clients do you enjoy working with?

I love working with most of my clients because I work on very diverse projects. It makes every work challenging and exciting.

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Whose work do you admire: locally and internationally?

A lot really. I love the works of the old masters: Vicente Manansala, Arturo Luz, HR Ocampo, Ang Kiukok. I also like the work of Eyvind Earle, Jon Klassen, Nate Williams, Mar Hernandez, Syd Mead, Charley Harper, Erik Nitsche, Hayao Miyazaki and a bunch of other artists, designers and illustrators. I also admire the work of my designer and artist friends. They’ve always been an inspiration for me to work harder in my craft.

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What are your goals for yourself this year and next? 

Hmmm… This is a hard question. Haha. I don’t really plan a lot of things. But I was thinking it would be cool to finish the picture book I’ve been writing for the past months. I also want to take another long vacation and travel. I love travelling. 🙂

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Tell us about a usual day for you: what’s it like? 

I’m a morning person. I wake up at around 7:00 am. I take a shower and then walk to the studio at around 8:00 am. I love breakfast! I order a sandwich in a cafe and brew coffee for myself in the studio. The whole day is mostly sketching, brainstorming, doing the actual work on the computer, surfing websites, chatting with friends, walking, reading books, answering emails, coffee again in the afternoon, listening to music, playing video games. It’s just the normal “creative person” kind of day.

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When do you find yourself your most creative?

I’m most creative in the morning. Sun and coffee makes for a very good combo.

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What advice can you offer people who want to get into art and design?

You should always challenge yourself and take risks. It’s great to be comfortable at times, but if you get too comfortable you become stagnant. It’s always good to challenge yourself and try new things.

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For more information on Dan, check out:

twisted fork | plus 63 | Facebook | Twitter |Tumblr | Wander IG

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