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It’s not often that a Facebook advertisement can bring a person into the global stage. For Filipino artists Dana Asahan and Louise Nichole Santos, however, that was all it took to showcase their design prowess to the world.

Dana Asahan (left) and CTRLD (right) with their shirt designs for UTGP 2019 Pokemon collection

Asahan and Santos were two of the three winners from the Philippines of Uniqlo’s annual shirt design competition, UT Grand Prix 2019.

This year’s edition, which called for design entries from around the world with the theme “Pokemon,” has drew a record-breaking 18,000 submissions. Only they and 20 other winners from various countries share this victory.

“Graphic design was only a hobby”

Dana Asahan and her winning shirt design at the launch of the UTGP 2019 Pokemon collection

For 23-year-old Asahan, the win came as a total surprise as graphic design was only a hobby for her, an escape of sorts from her daily grind as a local government employee in Cavite and as a student pursuing her master’s degree in Public Administration.

For her entry, she took inspiration from Pokemon’s most famous character, Pikachu.

“My design is an incorporation of Origami and Pokemon since both of them originated in Japan,” she shared in a brief interview portion at the collection’s launch in Uniqlo’s flagship store in Makati. “[The print in the shirt] is the step-by-step procedure of how to come up with a Pikachu origami.”

Asahan even sent a video to Uniqlo Japan to prove that the design will truly result to a Pikachu Origami. She followed each of the nine steps illustrated in the shirt.

“Better try than never”

Louise Nichole Santos, also known as CTRLD, with his winning design at the launch of the UTGP 2019 Pokemon collection

Meanwhile, Santos, also known as CTRLD, proved that it’s better to try than not at all with his entry. The Bulacan-based freelance artist, who mainly do murals, submitted his design at the last minute.

“I already saw it in Facebook before but I hesitated because I don’t have the resources to make designs digitally,” he shared. “My friend who is a digital artist is the one who insisted for me to join in the contest.”

With the tools lent to him by his friend, CTRLD worked on his design for about four hours on the same day the submission officially closed.

Knowing that Pikachu is the anime’s most prominent character, Santos thought of choosing another Pokemon for his design—Jigglypuff.

Kung maaalala natin sa anime si Jigglypuff, bigla siyang susulpot at kakanta and anyone who hears it will fall asleep,” he explained. “When they fall asleep, Jigglypuff will get angry, and he or she will scribble around their faces, hence the random scribbles around the shirt.”

Pinoy pride

On what it felt like to find out that their designs won, both Asahan and Santos said they were beyond ecstatic.

For CTRLD, to be recognized by a judging panel composed of Tsunekazu Ishihara, President and CEO of
the Pokémon Company; Ken Sugimori, Character Design and Art Director of GAME FREAK Inc.; and NIGO,
Creative Director or UNIQLO, Merchandise Department of the Pokémon Company and UNIQLO UT Design
Team is an honor.

Napakasaya nung nalaman namin,” CTRLD shared. “Kaso nga lang ‘di mo pwede kaagad ipagkalat so pigil na pigil ‘yung saya mo dahil ‘di mo makuwento kaagad sa kaibigan mo na nanalo ka at ang mga pumili pa sa design mo ay mga idolo mo.

For Asahan, being one of the winners among the volume of artists who gave the competition a try was unreal.

“Hindi pa rin po kapani-paniwala dahil sobrang dami po ng entries,” she said. “We’re very lucky to be chosen.”

Both Filipino designs, as well as the rest of the shirts in the collection, will be sold in Uniqlo stores around the world. In the Philippines, it retails at PhP 790 for men and women, and PhP 390 for kids.

The UTGP 2019 Pokemon Collection is now available in all Uniqlo stores nationwide. 

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