Illustrator and t-shirt designer Dan Fajardo on his journey and earning his due

MANILA, PHILIPPINES — Graphic designer Dan Fajardo‘s talk on Graphika Manila “Earned, not given” put a spotlight on his journey as an illustrator and shirt graphic designer.

“As an artist you must set your goals to become successful in your career,” he said. Not only does it save time, but also allows focus and concentration. His first shirt design in 2011 was a product of curiosity, joining an online contest that reminded him of poster making competitions he used to join as a student.

When Dan started out as a junior graphic designer, he said that he did not know much about digital arts. The first years of his career were spent mastering the pen tool by tracing kettles, electric fans, and appliances for the promotional materials of the company he used to work for. Little by little, he learned how to conceptualize posters and face clients.


Habits played a role in his success in his field. Everyday, he kept making designs, submitting here and there to websites like Design by Humans, unknowingly improving his style and gradually building his confidence.

However, it got to a point where he had much volume of designs without having his own identity as an artist, and so he took that challenge and started developing what we know today as his signature style: negative space.

Dan favored negative space because of how it utilizes the shirt and canvas to create an illusion; in most cases, he takes inspiration from nature as it brings ease during the editing process. “I always start my series or personal artworks using animals and nature as an element.”

When asked how does one discover their own style, Dan said, “Kailangan mo lang talagang mag-explore at magpractice.” (You really need to explore and practice.)

For him, he used to stick to his process of sketching on paper, scan to digital, and color his illustrations on Adobe Photoshop.

Create the way you love, not how you think you should.

Through his ways, Dan earned his place in the design community, making a career through print-on-demand, freelancing, and getting his works commissioned worldwide. His reach and network broadened so much that his reinvention of the Harry Potter book series covers caught the eye of a publishing house.

“Earned, not given” is a full circle moment for Dan, 10 years in the making, and a manifestation of his younger self’s dream who was then an audience at the conference on creativity.

As the takeaway from his talk, Dan said that dreams can be achieved as long as it is fused with due diligence: The most important thing is learning and growing.

adobo magazine is an official media partner of Graphika Manila 2023 

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