Dan Matutina is a designer, illustrator, and all around creative force based in Manila, Philippines. He spends his days and nights creating unique illustrations for the likes of ESPN, Paypal, Wired and many more. He’s the co-founder of Plus63 Design Co., a design studio that creates brand identities, strategizes communications, design and illustrate for print & web. Dan was recently awarded the Art Directors Club Young Guns Award for 2013. You can view Dan’s complete portfolio at twistedfork.me.
Watercolor and pencils were my weapons of choice. I only got to use the computer for school projects in the latter part of my junior year.
How did you get started with illustration?
I was already into drawing when I was young. I vandalized the walls of our house with doodles and scribbles to the annoyance of my parents. Haha. I produced a comic strip from grade school until I was in high school. Eventually I enrolled for a degree in Fine Arts for college. Film was my first love in university, but since it was really expensive to produce one, I eventually focused on making illustrations. Watercolor and pencils were my weapons of choice. I only got to use the computer for school projects in the latter part of my junior year.
Who were influential people in getting your career off the ground?
I can name three: First is Miguel Mari, the Design Director of Rogue, a local lifestyle magazine in Manila. He discovered my early, then ugly (haha!), work through a website I made for a friend. He went ahead to commission me to do some illustrations for the magazine, starting my work’s exposure to the public.
Second is Cory Godbey, the guy behind the blog titled “Terrible Yellow Eyes”, a tribute to Maurice Sendak’s children’s book “Where the Wild Things Are.” I’m not sure if they were accepting submissions then, but I submitted work anyway. Fortunately, he liked my work and posted it. The Terrible Yellow Eyes blog got me a lot of attention. Design & illustration websites featured the blog with my submissions included, and I think that’s when my work really got around the internet. It really helped me a lot.
The third and the last is not a person, but a website. I signed up on Behance when it was still new and there were only a few people on the site. When its popularity exploded, the older members got a lot of exposure. I still keep my Behance account as a time capsule of my earlier works.
What kind of projects are you working on now and what do you have coming up?
Right now I’m working on some editorial illustrations for different magazines and publications. I’m also working on a web-based game for a brand, an animated video for a client, and some illustrations for exhibits. On top of that, I’m also doing graphic design works for my design studio. I’ve been writing for a personal project for the last few months now, hopefully I’ll be able to finish it soon.
What would you say to young illustrators who are just getting started?
Have fun, work hard, learn new things and be nice.
Can you take us through a typical day for you, from waking up until going to sleep?
I wake up early in the morning, usually between 6-7am. After taking a shower and getting dressed, I leave the apartment for a 10-minute walk to the studio. Upon arriving at the studio, I start brewing coffee and open Sparrow to read my emails. I usually have a lot of emails to read in the morning because most of my clients are based overseas. When they’re done for the day, I’m about to start mine.
I’m very productive in the morning because it’s very quiet in the studio. I take a lunch break at around 12 noon. Work again for an hour or two. In between work, I play video games, watch youtube videos, read blogs and news sites, or chat with friends. When I need to make sketches, I usually go to cafes. I prefer doing sketches and brainstorming outside the studio.
Work usually finishes at around 6-7pm. I do my personal projects after that. I go to bed at around 10-11pm, although some projects have been keeping me up to a later time these past few months.
Tell us about the design community in Manila?
The creative scene in Manila is very vibrant right now. People are excited to attend creative events and conferences. There are collaborations happening between different industries and disciplines. There are a lot of really good young designers and illustrators. The scene is still fairly young, but that’s what makes it exciting because people want to be part of the creative movement.
THE MEDIA TEMPLE THIRTEEN
1. What is the biggest obstacle you face to doing what you want to do?
Creative block. There are just times when you can’t move forward creatively. I usually take a break, do personal projects or play video games to loosen up.
2. If you could collaborate with anyone, alive or dead, who would it be and what would you want to create?
Walter Gropius. I’ve always been a big fan of the Bauhaus school founder. It would be really interesting if we design a building together, a bridge or any landmark here in the Philippines so we’d have more awesome buildings. I think I’d be mostly watching him be great at what he does as an architect, and probably I’ll contribute something minor. Hahaha.
4. What trend are you sick of?
To be honest, I’ve never really been sick of any design or illustration trend. But if there’s one thing I don’t understand, it’s the trends in fashion…or maybe I just don’t understand fashion in general. Haha.
5. What project are you most proud of?
The work I did for the Natural Resources Defense Council with Giant Ant. It was the first time I saw my illustration move and I was so happy with the result. Most of the credit should go to Giant Ant though. I just helped them with their vision.
6. What would be the worst possible job for you?
I think I’d suck as a bus driver.
7. What is your death row meal?
Is it a full course meal? Haha. Sinigang for soup, Kinilaw for appetizer, Lechon (Roast Pig) and rice for the main course, and Turon for dessert accompanied by really good coffee.
8. What would people be surprised to find out you are obsessed with?
I’m not sure if it’s obsession but I watch all the films of The Rock (Dwayne Johnson). I’ve been a big fan since he was in the WWE. When he became an actor I told myself I’ll watch all his films. Hahaha.
9. What is one song you always have to turn up? What is one you always turn off?
Turn up: Lali Puna “Scary World Theory”
Turn off: I don’t really hear it a lot, but Soulja Boy’s “Kim Kardashian”.
10. Space travel or underwater exploration? And why?
Space travel, because I’ve always wanted to go to space. My birthdate is on July 20, the same month and day of Neil Armstrong’s walked on the moon. I’ve always been fascinated with space when I was young. I guess it’s one of the reasons why I’m really interested in Science and Sci-fi.
11. If you could have any piece of artwork displayed in your home what would it be?
Oh wow, this is a very hard question. I would say it’s a tie between Ren Magritte’s “The Empire of Light” Series and Pieter Bruegel’s “Hunters in the Snow.” Locally, I’d love to have Philippine National Artist Arturo Luz’s “Traveling Musician.”
12. What do you love most about where you live?
The area where I live is sandwiched between two of the biggest universities in the country. There are a lot of places with good food and drinks. We have a nice bookstore, cafes, an ice cream shop, and the universities’ art museums. It’s one of a few places that has a laidback vibe that’s hard to find in Metro Manila.
13. If we came over to your neighborhood where would you take us for a drink?
For coffee, I’d take you to either Craft or Yardstick in Makati. For drinks I’d bring you to Cubao X.