Featured artist: Rob Wapaño, winner of #UndeadIdeas

You’ve already met the winner of #UndeadIdeas People’s Choice Award, Iraida Bearlala, and her blackboard-style food posters. This time, we present Rob Wapaño, winner of the Jury’s Choice Prize, with his illustration “Age of Strife.”

Once again, we’d like to thank everyone that submitted their client-rejected work to be resurrected by Freepik. The contest and campaign were a great success, and it was all thanks to YOU!

Since Rob Wapaño won the Jury’s Choice Prize, we asked him to create a unique collection for Freepik as a Featured Artist. But before we show you his fabulous creations, let’s meet Rob and get to know him better.

Featured artist: Rob Wapaño, winner of #UndeadIdeas

Freepik: Hi Rob, please tell us a bit about yourself.

Rob: Hello, I am Rob Wapaño, a Graphic Designer/Illustrator with almost a decade of experience. I’ve worked at a creative agency for three years and a fast-growing tech startup for nearly two years. My design expertise includes social media graphics, diverse digital illustrations, whitepapers, infographics, brand visual development, iconography, and related visual design matters. Much of my influence in design comes from the esoteric, the occult, and mysteries of the old world.

Freepik: What is the origin and rejection story of your client-killed illustration, Age of Strife?

Rob: I once took a job from a contract-work platform to create an illustration for a technology company’s landing page hero section. Initially, the client liked my illustration style, but later they wanted something more “modern and corporate.” The project managers loved my pencil draft, but the higher-ups found it too juvenile and colorful, requesting a more “professional and minimal” approach. Sadly, the situation escalated, and they eventually sought another illustrator for a new iteration.

Despite this setback, I was paid for my work. However, it was disheartening to see the illustration not make it to the final version after investing so much time and effort. Ultimately, I kept the illustration for my portfolio and named it “Age of Strife,” as it was a challenging period in my career.

Freepik: Was their final design very different from what you presented?

Rob: Honestly, I never really checked up on that company after the job. I felt like I wanted to dissociate myself from that contract. But a couple of months later, I checked on their website. It amused me that they took a whole different approach on their landing. There were no illustrations, just text and copy with a bit of gradient to make them look like their design direction is part of the trend. The landing page looked exactly like any other website in the past year.

Featured artist: Rob Wapaño, winner of #UndeadIdeas

Freepik: Do you have any tips on overcoming rejection to share with fellow designers?

Rob: Throughout my career as a graphic designer and illustrator, one principle has remained close to my heart:Learn the rules, master the rules, then break them.” I firmly believe that, after years of honing our craft, it becomes essential to develop our unique style as designers or illustrators. While anyone can utilize standard tools like Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator, it is the creator’s individual taste and vision that employers or clients seek.

Focusing on a particular style is crucial, in my view. We should strive to perfect and refine the style we’ve cultivated while also remaining adaptable and versatile enough to explore other artistic approaches. In my honest opinion, this flexibility is the true measure of greatness for a graphic designer, illustrator, or creative. 

Freepik: How would you describe your work and style?  

Rob: In my design philosophy, I firmly believe that “nothing is truly original.” Every creative endeavor, whether it’s a design, artwork, or illustration, is inevitably influenced by the work of others. Living in this contemporary era, where design trends often dictate what’s deemed acceptable (or marketable), I find it absurd. Instead, I place great importance on establishing a genuine connection between the client and the designer. The process can sometimes feel like a playful dance with the client or employer, trying to find the best direction for the project.

When taking on a new project, I immerse myself in studying and researching its nature. Armed with this understanding, I propose a specific visual direction to the client. While they may not always agree with my vision, I’m not afraid to defend my ideas.

My style is centered around abstract, surrealist, geometric, and modern art deco elements, and I take pride in infusing these influences into my work.

Freepik: Tell us about your experience as a Freepik contributor.

Rob: Recently, I began my journey as a contributor for Freepik, and within just a few months, I’ve uploaded a handful of assets to my collection. However, my vision extends far beyond this modest start. In the future, I am determined to expand my portfolio significantly by adding more illustrations, icons, and templates that cater to various use cases in both print and digital media.

Featured artist: Rob Wapaño, winner of #UndeadIdeas

Freepik by Rob Wapaño

Now it’s time to share the collection Rob curated specially for Freepik as part of his prize for winning the Jury’s Choice during #UndeadIdeas. To see the entire collection and download the pieces, visit the collection page on the Freepik website

Freepik: Please tell us about your new collection, “Freepik by Rob Wapaño.”

Rob: Within my Freepik collection, I’ve thoughtfully curated a series of artworks that delve into the profound allegories and mysteries of our reality. These pieces convey messages of hope, birth, death, grief, acceptance, and the comforting presence of a benevolent eye watching over, all depicted through my unique perspective. The abstract lines gracefully intertwine throughout the illustrations, symbolizing the subtle interconnectedness that binds all living beings and inanimate objects.

To elevate the visual impact, I’ve skillfully applied a faded gradient effect to select shapes, infusing the artwork with depth and texture. This deliberate artistic touch enhances the overall experience, inviting viewers to delve deeper into the mesmerizing world of each illustration and contemplate the rich symbolism that unfolds before their eyes.

Featured artist: Rob Wapaño, winner of #UndeadIdeas

Freepik: How do you imagine the designs in your collection being used?

Rob: The illustrations are versatile, finding their perfect roles as evocative posters for creative events or captivating web illustrations tailored to suit the essence of each website. My intention behind creating these artworks is to go beyond aesthetics – I aspire to instigate contemplation and ignite curiosity in viewers. Delving into the metaphorical realms of our shared human experience, these pieces are meant to strike a profound chord within individuals, inviting them on a meaningful journey of introspection and exploration.

Freepik: We love your collection and can’t wait to see what’s coming next from you. Please share where people can follow your work and upcoming projects.

People can follow me on Dribbble, Instagram and my website.

Thank you for this wonderful opportunity to share my work and philosophy. It has been a privilege to have been chosen for this. I am very grateful!

Freepik: Thank you, Rob! We look forward to seeing what new designs you add to your contributor page.