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Featured Designer/Illustrator

Elbert Uba

September 2019

Manila-based designer and illustrator Elbert Uba chats to us about making mistakes and getting messy at school, what steps to take after graduating, and not taking things too seriously.

Where did you study and what were some of your first jobs?

I studied Advertising Arts at the University of San Carlos in Cebu. While studying I would occasionally get small commissions such as mural painting, logo and identity design, and photography. Photography was actually my first love and the reason why I pursued the arts despite being discouraged by some peers and family. I’ve had internships and freelance work at some awesome design studios in Cebu City where I got to do the things I enjoy doing the most — design, illustration and photography.

Did you have a plan for graduation and what actually happened?

There wasn’t really a concrete plan, but I wanted to work in a design studio and/or become a freelancer focusing on brand identity projects, because that’s what I knew and what I liked doing. What actually happened was completely different, though. A few months after graduating last year, I impulsively decided to move to Manila and apply to publications and studios doing experimental and playful work. I met the badass girl bosses at Bad Student and I’m super grateful for them because they taught me a lot of new things and helped me kickstart my career here. I owe it to them. Moving here was risky and difficult but I literally got out of my comfort zone and it was hella fun.

What advice would you give students graduating in 2019?

Don’t beat yourself up if you’re still uncertain about what you want to do. Treat school as your playground, so keep on exploring and experimenting as much as you can. This is your time to get all messy and make mistakes (as cheesy as that may sound).

Don’t be afraid to reach out to your favorite studios, dream clients, or anyone you want to work with because you’ll never know what it could potentially bring, and there’s no harm in trying anyway. The worst thing that can happen is they’ll say no. It’s super important not to take things too seriously, it ain’t the end of the world and you can continue to refine your skills and chase more opportunities or try again. Chill out ✌️

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Don’t be afraid to reach out to your favorite studios, dream clients, or anyone you want to work with because you’ll never know what it could potentially bring.

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What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

I forgot where I read or heard it, but “embrace your quirks.” So simple but it stuck with me!

What's on the cards professionally and personally in the next 12 months?

Trying to hone my style/voice as a creative. Hopefully travel somewhere. Also try to keep my full-time job and do freelance and self-initiated projects on the side.

Where do you think design is heading in the next five years and how will you adapt?

I can definitely imagine graphic design heading towards the digital route. We’ll see more 3D, motion, and interactivity. But I’m hoping we’ll get to see more intersection between digital and print as well. Sounds pretty exciting to me and I am making conscious effort on adapting and just going with the flow, while still staying true to my creativity. I’m constantly trying to push myself out of my comfort zone and explore new techniques, or different mediums and applications I could incorporate into my work.

Instagram: @elbert_uba

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