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Mags Ocampo

Mags Ocampo

Meet Filipino graphic designer, stylist, and creative director, Mags Ocampo.

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m Mags Ocampo, a juggler of creative endeavours. I style clothes and sets; I conceptualise and execute brand campaigns and editorial content; I design graphic; and I create collages and illustrations. I write sometimes, too. I don’t really know what to call myself—multi-hyphenate feels pretentious, creative is vague. All I know is that at the end of the day, my main goals are always to solve problems and tell stories.

I like bold colours, playful concepts, and grunge aesthetics and I do my best to always have at least one of those things present in my work.

 

Describe the city you’re living in and what it’s like to live there.

Manila is filled to the brim—with ideas, with people, with adventure. It’s a hotpot of creative energy, a diverse cornucopia of talent and vision.

While this city gets a lot of flak for being congested (and I won’t contest that it is), I’m still head over heels in love with it. It isn’t the easiest city to live in but the people that thrive here are some of the most inspiring individuals I’ve ever known. Grit, moxie, confidence, and resourcefulness—these are things Manila teaches you as soon as you arrive. Here, you hit the ground running.

 

I like bold colours, playful concepts, and grunge aesthetics and I do my best to always have at least one of those things present in my work.

What is the best and worst thing about living in your city?

The best thing about Manila is Uncle Moe’s chicken kebabs. The worst thing about Manila is godawful traffic and the blatantly gaping class divide.

 

Give us 3 words that describe what it’s like to be a creative in your city.

Tough. Promising. Exhausting (in good ways and in bad).

 

How did you start your career in art?

I did a bunch of design internships while I was still in college but I guess it all really started when I got my first job at L’Officiel Manila. I was an editorial assistant but because the team was very lean, a lot of our roles overlapped and I ended up doing a lot of art direction and graphic design for our digital platforms. Under the guidance of the digital editor at the time Andrea Ang and the title’s creative director Miguel Mari, I refined my taste, honed my skills, and developed a solid work ethic. From there, everything just fell into place. I met a lot of creative heads from different industries while working in publishing and a lot of them ended up being people I work with or for now that I freelance. In fact, my first boss, Andrea, is still my boss now at Homeroom Creatives which she co-founded with Marga Buenaventura. They’ve both been such great sources of inspiration and motivation.

 

Not a lot of people really understood that design is in everything—it’s what makes the world go ‘round.

Were the people around you supportive of your decision on working as a creative?

Earlier on in life, it was harder to get people to be on-board with my decision to go into design. My parents, teachers, relatives, and even my peers questioned my college application choices because they felt like I’d be “wasting” my intelligence on design. Not a lot of people really understood that design is in everything—it’s what makes the world go ‘round. My mom is still a bit wary about me being a freelance creative now because it isn’t a traditional job. But that’s fine, I know she’s just worried for my future. It’s just a system she doesn’t fully understand yet. We’re all getting there, I think—to a point where design and the arts are seen in the same light and with the same value as any other job.

 

What are some goals and ambitions you have for your future work?

One of my biggest goals is really to do a handful of book and album covers. I also want to end up working as the creative director of a magazine or fashion house someday. We’ll see.

 

One of my biggest goals is really to do a handful of book and album covers. I also want to end up working as the creative director of a magazine or fashion house someday. We’ll see.

If you could collaborate with any person in the world who would it be?

Right now, it would be Hayley Williams of Paramore. I love her personal aesthetic and her body of work. To do something for her band’s music or for Good Dye Young would be amazing. A book cover in collaboration with Durga Chew-Bose or Zadie Smith is way up there, too.

 

How would you describe the women around you?

The women around me are fiercely independent and brilliantly creative. They are strong and supportive. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them. My mother has been the breadwinner of our family for a while now. I think I get my ambition and drive from her. My older sister has always been a source of both brutal honesty and unwavering support. My aunts who’ve helped raise me are thick-skinned and quick-witted. My best friends, my inner circle of women, are all passionate and hardworking. They understand and encourage my need to do good work—in all senses of the word “good.”

 

The women around me are fiercely independent and brilliantly creative. They are strong and supportive.

Were there any local female creatives that you looked up to when you were growing up?

Growing up, I really can’t think of any women who aren’t popstars or actresses that I really looked up to. It wasn’t until I was in high school, I think, that I found women in design and advertising to look up to. There was Paula Scher, Jessica Walsh, Jessica Hische,  and Barbara Kruger. I may have outgrown the two Jessicas in terms of preferred aesthetic but I’m forever grateful for the paths they forged for our generation. I’m not sure if it was a fault on my end that I knew very few female designers—it could have been, really—to if it was because they didn’t get that much exposure back in the day. Now, I find myself worshipping creative women left and right: Zadie Smith, Lisa Hanawalt, Margaret Zhang, Greta Gerwig, Ada Limon, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Phoebe Philo, Raxenne Maniquiz, Mika Bacani, Andrea Beldua, Cru Camara, Paulina Ortega, Krizia Lim, etcetera etcetera. The list goes on and on covering women from all over the world with different crafts and expertise.

 

Are there any challenging aspects of being a female in your industry?

To be quite honest, I haven’t really encountered any difficulties directly linked to my gender. I’m lucky to have worked and to continue working with people who do not discriminate based on sex, race, or class.

 

Find your voice and stick to it. Don’t lose your nerve. Don’t apologise for who you are.

Do you have any advice to young women who are aspiring to work in your field?

Find your voice and stick to it. Don’t lose your nerve. Don’t apologise for who you are.

 

 

Photos courtesy of Mags Ocampo.

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