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Isabel Gatuslao: Voice of design

MANILA, Philippines - The free-spirited Isabel Gatuslao, a self-proclaimed delinquent student, once didn’t know her place in the world. That was until she found her voice in the typefaces and visual designs she created that allowed her to speak volumes. 

After graduating with a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of St. La Salle in Bacolod, Isabel thought that the corporate world would hold the key to her identity. But after working as a public relations manager for a hotel for two years, she found the drudgery of office life unbearable. (Isabel dabbled in amateur boxing as well, winning herself the title of light featherweight champion. But “boxer” as a title never really fit her well.)

Because Isabel couldn’t be chained to an office desk, she decided to venture on her own and pursue what truly made her happy — graphic designing.

“Designing is the only thing in the world that doesn’t feel like work. I know it’s my calling because time passes without me knowing,” Isabel shares, recalling a childhood doodling on every piece of scrap paper she could find and fiddling on her brother’s computer.

“Graphic design engages me,” she continues. “I solve the problem of my clients’ visual identity and assist them on how their brands, the personality of their brands and their history are told using typefaces. It’s a cross between art and problem solving,” she says.  

Isabel has successfully created new brand identities for renowned brands like National Book Store, Medicard, Dove and School of Fashion and the Arts (SoFA). 

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For a time, despite her success as a graphic designer, Isabel was plagued by uncertainties. “I wasn’t formally educated and so I only wondered how I fared with others who really studied.” So, in another leap of faith, Isabel sent an e-mail to Michael Beirut, considered the Steve Jobs of the design world and the multi-awarded creative mind behind Pentragram, a multi-disciplinary design firm with offices in London, New York, Austin and Berlin. In her letter, she asked him point blank, “Do I have what it takes to be in design?”

The probability of Beirut replying was nil but Isabel was willing to take the chance. “I said to myself, I’m just gonna go to the king and not go through all the pawns. I wanted to know.”

The next morning, after a long night of waiting, Beirut replied. She recalls, “He said I was as good or even better than some of the professionals out there.” It was a long reply and Isabel savored every word of praise — and criticism — Beirut told her. She cried for three hours knowing that she found her validation and finally, she knew where she was needed.

Now, Isabel gives others a stronger voice through visual design. All this she can give because she has become sure of her own.

Photography by MAU AGUASIN • Creative direction

by LUIS ESPIRITU, JR. • Styling by MIKKA VELASQUEZ • Makeup by RIA AQUINO • Hairstyling by AVRIL SEGUIN • Light blue drape cotton dress by CHRIS DIAZ for MYTH

(2nd Level, Greenbelt 5); ecru electro pleated cotton dress

by JOEL ESCOBER for MYTH (2nd Level, Greenbelt 5) • Jewelry by MILADAY JEWELS • Shot on location

at the DIAMOND HOTEL PHILIPPINES • Special thanks

to the management and staff of Diamond Hotel Philippines

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