The perfect logo, according to Hanuman Capital’s Senior Designer Emerson De Pasion, is instantly relatable, recognizable and unforgettable. The 43-year-old Manila native has watched the graphic design industry evolve over his career, and he knows what he likes.
“The simpler the better,” he said. “A great logo is also extendable, meaning it works in different situations and formats. Before you could say it should be ‘timeless,’ but companies now tend to change their logo every three to five years, whether it’s a redesign or just tinkering.”
De Pasion is Old School: he believes the basics make you better. He started in the visual arts in grade school, entering drawing and painting contests. He later wanted to be an architect but hated math. He ended up enrolling in advertising design at the University of Santo Tomas, one of the top schools in the Philippines and the oldest university in Asia.
“We were purely taught in manual methods: airbrush and painting, etc. But understanding the fundamentals of design is very important. You should remember this even when you use computers and 3-D,” he said. “And your subordinates won’t be able to fool you. You can say, ‘Come on, we were doing that before computers.”
New Tech vs, The ‘Big Idea’
De Pasionremembers the days of scanning books of images and teaching himself Photoshop 3.0, which was released in 1994. In his words, there were few tools, few layers and you could have watched a movie in the time it took to save your work. Even so, something must have clicked: Before joining Hanuman, a crowd-sourcing website ranked De Pasion as the No. 1 graphic designer in Cambodia.
“Now everything is faster and easier to access, especially with the internet,” he said. “The problem is everyone knows it’s faster, so deadlines are like ordering fast food.”
Creative design in advertising is a delicate dilemma, according to De Pasion, a fine line between what you know works as an artist, what the client wants, and what works in the market.
“For me, it’s not the tech that makes something work. You can have a plain piece of paper, a simple object and five words — and you could win an award,” he said “It doesn’t matter if you use new technology, it’s still the thinking behind it, the Big Idea.”
‘Crazy Ideas’ Welcome’
When creativity runs dry, as it does, De Pasion has a simple solution: “I talk to the ducks. Get outside. Get a breather. Watch some cartoons, drink some beer. Sometimes, actually most of the time, in the Philippines the most awarded ideas come from hanging with your advertising friends and drinking beer.”
That’s not to imply that graphic design in advertising is an easy career path.
“There’s a lot of bright, talented artists nowadays and the industry is becoming saturated,” De Pasion said.
“My advice to someone starting out in advertising is what my one of my mentors told me. He said, ‘Come up with ideas and concepts that are not safe. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and don’t be afraid of making crazy ideas. Don’t be afraid to fail.”