Guy Kawasaki, formerly Apple's main marketing executive and now Chief Evangelist for Canva, at a Canva tech event.

Aussie start-up Canva recently made headlines for reaching unicorn status (a private company valued at more than US$1 billion, or A$1.3 billion). Canva is an online graphic design tool that allows non-designers to create stunning layouts with its easy-to-use drag-and-drop format.

Founded in 2012 by WA entrepreneur Melanie Perkins, Canva is used today by more than 10 million users across 190 countries and about 80% of Fortune 500 companies. Recently, LinkedIn identified Canva as the #1 startup in Australia.

Canva, however, is not the only Australian company changing the graphic design game. 99designs and DesignCrowd are Aussie giants too in the graphic arts industry.

Melbourne-based 99designs just celebrated its 10th anniversary but have also already served more than 444,000 customers globally. More than $200M of its revenues were paid out to freelance designers from all over the world. On the other hand, DesignCrowd, which started in 2008 in Sydney has also completed more than 300,000 projects and generated revenues of $47M to date. Both are go-to options for people and companies looking for customized freelance work.

What’s common with all of them?

Aside from being proudly Australian global movers, all of them are hugely fueled by the same resource - talented artists based in the Philippines.

DesignCrowd has acknowledged the Philippines as among the top six countries in their number of registered designers. In fact, they keep one of their three global offices in Manila (Sydney and San Francisco are the other locations).

99designs also recognises the Philippines as one of its top five designer communities. Nearly 20% of their registered designers hail from the Philippines.

For the billion-dollar Canva, ALL of the creative designs and templates available on their website are curated by their local team in Manila, which makes up nearly half of their entire workforce (they have two other offices in Sydney and Beijing).

What’s with Filipino graphic designers?

Philippine culture has a unique blend of western and Asian influence brought about by 400 years combined of being a Spanish, Japanese and American colony.

Consider for example, the Philippine jeepney. By taking an American product (the Willy’s Jeep), and putting in European (religious images) and Asian flair, a truly unique Filipino product was born:

Filipino Jeepney

The Filipino jeepney. An example of its American, European, and Asian influences in one distinctly Filipino product.

The diverse influences that the Philippines has been exposed to throughout history resulted in a distinct culture and visual artistry that exhibits a highly-adaptable, wide spectrum of styles.

Today, the Philippines has a very active graphic design scene. Just two months ago, more than 12,000 graphic design enthusiasts attended the 23rd Graphic Expo in Manila, an annual event being held since 1996. Outside of Manila, urban centers such as Davao City have thriving graphic design communities, such as the Davao Graphic Designers Community (DGDC) which has membership of more than 2,000. It has recently organised five hugely-attended conventions and several workshops and exhibits in between.

Notable Filipino graphic designers

One of the most accomplished Filipino graphic designers is Lucille Tenazas, ccurrently Associate Dean and Henry Wolf Professor in the School of Art, Media and Technology (AMT) at the Parsons School of Design in New York. Born and raised in the Philippines, with a degree in Fine Arts from the College of the Holy Spirit in Manila, she became president of the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) from 1996-1998. In 2002, she was awarded the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award for Communication Design and in 2013, the prestigious AIGA Medal.

There are other notable Filipino artists too. Floro Dery, was the visual creator of The Transformers and The Amazing Spider Man in the 1980s, both in the comic books and TV series. Ronnie del Carmen co-directed and co-wrote Pixar’s Inside Out, and also worked on the visual designs of a number of Pixar movies, such as Up, Wall-E, Monsters University, Ratatouille, Finding Nemo, among many others.

Filipino graphic artists have also been heavyweights in the crowdsourcing landscape. A recent example is freelance artist Brian Montes, who bested 4,000 other entries and won a 99design contest to redesign the cover of the best-selling book, “The Purpose Driven Life”.

Winning book cover design for best-seller “The Purpose-Driven Life”, by Filipino artist Brian Montes. Photo from Garrett Sussman of 99designs in San Francisco.

In need of graphic designers?

Filipino graphic designers have proven to be exceptional artists. Having one on your team working remotely from the Philippines can not only be a tremendous boost, but will also prove to be a budget-saving decision for you.

Kinetic Innovative Staffing has been providing more than 200 Australian companies with professional Filipino remote staff, such as graphic designers, since 2013. Remote staffing can provide Australian businesses with the right talent, with savings of up to 75% on labour costs. Remote graphic artists from the Philippines cost, on average, about A$18,600 per year, while local graphic designers typically cost A$65,000 a year.

Get in touch here if you would like to know more about graphic designers working remotely from the Philippines.