Plus63

We had a chat with Dan Matutina — Co-founder, Designer, Illustrator of Plus63 / Hydra Design Group — who shared with us the importance of sharing experiences and lessons he's learnt from starting up/running a studio, helping to build and educate the community of Manila. Not only that, Dan heads up a design team and does his own solo work as an illustrator!

When did you fall in love with design and how did you get started?

I didn’t fall in love with design and illustration right away, because back in university, my first love was film. And at that time in 2001, it was really expensive to make films—and a few persevered. Fortunately, I had a schoolmate whose brother was an awesome graphic designer, and his work inspired me to pursue that as an alternative to film.

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

I studied Visual Communications at the University of the Philippines — College of Fine Arts.  After graduation, I wanted to work in design or film, but because I needed a job I said yes to an offer in an advertising agency. I worked as an art director for telecommunications, pharmaceuticals and snack brands. After three years in the industry, I decided to quit and  start a small design studio with friends. It was very hard running a design studio as young creatives, but on hindsight it was worth it.

Design work by Plus63 The Design Kids interviews Plus63 work-2

Give us the elevator pitch on what you do.

I’m a designer and illustrator. I run a design studio called Plus63 (which is part of the Hydra Design Group). We are involved in a lot of things: from developing business and brand concepts, to designing brand identity, objects, print and digital work. I also still keep my own illustration practice. I like the balance of leading a design team and working by myself as an illustrator.

Are you involved in any teaching and if so how it shapes your practice?

I think it’s important for senior designers to be involved in mentorships, not just to young designers or creatives, but also to entrepreneurs who need a lot of help. Here in the Philippines, we have MSMEs (Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises) that need a lot of support in branding and packaging their products and services. I’ve donated time in giving talks and workshops on how design can make their products stand out in the market and help their business grow.

I try my best to be of help to the design community. I share what I know about starting and maintaining a design practice to young and mid-career designers alike. Exchanging experiences and lessons with others helped me grow and learn as a designer. It gave me a wider perspective of what’s happening in the country, and how design can help and give back. Together with some designers, we established Communication Design Association of the Philippines (CDAP) to formalize our support to the community.

Design work by Plus63 The Design Kids interviews Plus63 work-4
Design work by Plus63 The Design Kids interviews Plus63 work-4

Exchanging experiences and lessons with others helped me grow and learn as a designer.

Any passion projects/collabs you would like to share?

We just recently finished working with Anonymous (a design studio based in Singapore) in creating images and graphics for the launch of Uniqlo’s Global Flagship Store in Manila. The images we made were also animated by our frequent collaborators, The Acid House (also part of the Hydra Design Group).

Check out the project here

What advice would you give students starting out?

It’s especially hard to stand out as a designer or illustrator when you’re starting out. But the most important thing you have to do is to put your work out there. Have patience. In the beginning, it can be very frustrating because people might not notice your work. Opportunity doesn’t come often, or you might not even take that chance because you’re afraid you’re not ready. I believe that hard work and a little bit of luck will get your work noticed. Continue learning, keep honing your skills and putting your work out there. So when opportunity knocks, you’re ready.

Design work by Plus63 The Design Kids interviews Plus63 work-6
Design work by Plus63 The Design Kids interviews Plus63 work-6

Where to find Plus63 online.

Website: plus63.com & wistedfork.me

Instagram: @twistedfork

Twitter: @danmatutina

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