Hi, I’m Anjo G. Bolarda. I’m a 21 year-old illustrator based in Manila, Philippines. I studied advertising and public relations here in Manila. I was not that into graphic design when I was a sophomore, because it was not a part of our course. A senior introduced me to Photoshop and I found it to be really cool (really, really cool), so I learned it by myself. I don’t have a computer at home to learn it on, so I have to rent computers at a nearby net-cafe. Here in the Philippines, we have a lot of internet cafes; you’ll find one anywhere you go (they appear like mushrooms). It took me months and thousands of pesos just to pursue my interest in Photoshop. I checked on design blogs and inspired myself. When I was a junior, someone asked me if I knew how to use Photoshop and could help him create a flyer for his friend’s business. I grabbed [the opportunity], and it started my career as a graphic designer. I started earning cash when I was in my second year at college.

At that time, I was introduced to freelancing. I was 17 when I first met different kinds of clients and people in the creative industry. After months of freelancing, an advertising and public relations company hired me as a full-time graphic artist, while I was still studying. Because of that, I was introduced to the real business; I got to meet clients that were hard to persuade, as well as stressful corporate businesses. I was 18 at the time. I was studying while building my image and portfolio. The company that I was in lacked training, and my willingness to learn more forced me to apply as an intern at some of the more renowned advertising agencies here, namely BBDO Guerrero Ortega and Publicis Jimenez Basics. I learned a lot about technique in graphic design and art direction, and I got the chance to meet great people in the advertising industry. I resigned from the advertising company after a year. I was a bum for one month until I entered the fashion industry. It made my life more exciting. I was 19 when I started designing shirts. I am now a designer of a renowned fashion brand here in the Philippines, and am still freelancing.

When it comes to inspiration, everyone draws theirs from a unique area. Where do you find yours, and how have you applied it to your work?

Before, I based it on my emotions, or what I felt: If I was mad or happy, if it was hot or cold. The music that I heard and the things I encountered in a day [also influenced my designs]. In short, [it came] from anywhere. A creative director from Campaigns and Grey, Philippines, told me that I was a freestyle artist. He told me that I draw my inspiration from the emotions that I feel before I start an artwork, and that my concepts are from observations and stock knowledge. I found what he told me to be true. He told me that it’s a great thing that I draw inspiration from my emotions, but that I will have a hard time creating design if I just base it on what I feel. I have to create a concrete concept first, so I won’t be lost. I practiced developing concepts first.

What is the most important lesson you have learned since you started design? How do you apply it to your work now?

Here are some of the things I learned when I got into the design business. I learned some of them from mentors and bosses, and even co-artists. I’ll share them as a top-ten list:

1. Don’t limit yourself. Always think that you are a student.
Try to learn a lot of things. ‘A lot’ may mean everything.
Try to open your mind and explore things that you haven’t
discovered yet. You may find inspiration from things you
haven’t yet seen or learned.

2. Have a goal; it can be short or long. If you don’t have
one, your life will be sooo boring. Having a goal and
reaching it is very fulfilling.

3. Don’t look for money, look for opportunity.

4. Be proactive. Don’t just sit there; look for work, and more work.

5. As Paul Arden has said, “If you want to be the best, be
the best in the world.”

6. Establish yourself. No one will know that you design if
you don’t show and tell the world you are a designer.

7. Start a network. Make friends. Meet people on the internet
in design communities like Behance, and others.

8. Astonish your audience, impress them. They are the ones
who will decide if you’ll survive in the creative world.

9. Always be fresh and new. Remake yourself when you
think your work is not sellable.

10. Be aware of deadlines.

You seem to be a well-rounded designer. Which area of design do you think is your strength? Which area needs improvement, and why?

Hand-drawn illustrations and art direction. I wanted to learn motion graphics, but I guess I’m still too busy to learn it. I’m striving hard to find time.

What is your favorite type of project (whether it is branding, political campaigns, advertising, etc…)?

I like advertising and marketing projects, because they are projects that need creative juices and will really enhance your creativity.

What influences your work and thought process?

All of the people that I meet influence me in different ways. All of the artists on the internet have taught me things and inspired me. Everything that other artists share affects my thought process. It hones my skills and ways of thinking, widens my knowledge, and gives me great inspiration.

Where is graphic design going in the near future?

Graphic design is immortal, and it is going anywhere. It will find you anywhere you go! Graphic design will grow as long as new business occurs. We are experiencing a crisis now, and we all know what’s up. The market
behaves badly and the banks need us to keep them afloat. Graphic design can make the economy spectacular. Artists and designers are the culture’s problem solvers, and we’re needed now more than ever! I envision that we will lead the nation to live better, with increased functionality and style. We will conserve to improve our lifestyle, value and document our history, learn more comprehensively, and communicate more efficiently. We will smile more, love more, and be more to each other and the culture we are responsible for!

Check more of Anjo’s work here