Graphic Designer from Bolivia, with a strong focus on lettering. Super Smash Bros competitive player.

LocationLa Paz, Bolivia
DateOctober 20, 2018
The meetup

I met Mathew in La Paz in the University he is currently teaching at. We sat down in a classroom, I asked him to show me some of his best sketches and then we did the interview. 

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I'm really focused on the style of letters. What I want to accomplish is that the message is always perceived before the word itself.
Chapter 01
About the designer

Hola Mathew, thank you for inviting me to your classroom where you teach! Can you tell us a bit about yourself? 

I'm Mathew Prada from La Paz, Bolivia. I'm a graphic designer and everything I do is about letters. I teach typography, and I do calligraphy, lettering and type design.


Mathew sketching in his classroom

What led you into design?

I realized it later, but I really liked everything visual ever since I was a kid. For example, I wanted to finish my math exams early so I could ask my teacher to draw. When I became a teenager, I kept drawing and started doing graffiti as well. I've been pretty lucky to know early that I wanted to learn about graphic design. When I took my first typography class, it blew my mind, and I chose to focus on that.

I wanted to finish my math exams early so I could ask my teacher to draw.

What is your style? 

I don't really want to have a style because I just want to fulfill the communicational needs of my clients. They all need something different, and I can’t stick to one style. For some personal pieces, I really like bold and funky letters.


Too many ideas, not enough time

Who are your clients and what kind of projects do you work on? 

I have many kind of clients. Mostly, they are small businesses that need custom logotypes. For example, my last 3 clients are wedding photographers, an organization called "saving knowledge," and some posters for


Do your best and let go of the rest

What is your favorite part of your job? 

Drawing letters for sure. What I like is to understand what my clients need and make sure they get something they like in the end. I never use existing fonts so they are sure that their brand is unique. 

What is a skill that you really want to learn? 

I'd love to work on my illustration skills and get better at type design because I would like to sell fonts later on. 

I try to teach them which typography conveys which message along with many other correct type usage.

You are a teacher as well, so what do you teach? And, what does your weekly schedule look like? 

I don't teach type design but more how to use typography. I try to teach them which typography conveys which message along with many other correct type usage. In this University we have two semesters; for the first half, I teach 3 hours a day for 4 days a week, and I freelance the rest of the time. The second half of the year, there are less classes so I do more freelance. 

Why did you become a teacher? 

I had a couple of teachers that were super inspiring, and I think I became a teacher because of them. Also, I really love letters, and I don’t want to teach anything else than that. I always thought that a good teacher is someone that really loves what he teaches and does that in real life.

What did you learn while teaching? 

I used to be really shy, but I got better talking in public and breaking the ice with people I don't know. 

What project has made you the most proud? 

It's probably being a teacher because it's like an ongoing project. Other than that, I don't really have one. I have some pieces that I really like but it's hard for me to choose only one. What comes to my mind now are the invites and other designs for my own wedding and a sticker pack I made recently. 


Mathew's wedding invite

Where do you find your inspiration? 

Anything visual that I can see in the streets, internet or really anywhere inspires me. Lately, I've seen a lot of 80s movies, and it inspires my work.. Strangers Things style!

What I want to accomplish is that the message is always perceived before the word itself.

What do you do when you start a project? 

I pay a lot of attention to the brief; what their brand needs are and what their target audience is. As you can tell, I'm really focused on the letter style, so what I want to accomplish is that the message is always perceived before the word itself. 

Where are your clients from? 

A bit everywhere. Out of my latest 10 clients, about 3 were from Bolivia and the rest were from Canada, Australia and the USA. 

Where do they usually find you?

On Behance, Instagram and Facebook. Lately I've been working on Upwork as well.

It's like that Bruce Lee quote that says "It's better to practice one kick ten thousand times than ten thousand kicks once".

When you can't find inspiration, what do you do to get unstuck? 

I would do graffiti sketches most of the time because there is a lot of freedom there. I would just start sketching whatever, and I usually get unstuck because it keeps my creativity going, and I can explore and play with any form of letters. 

What is a good advice that you gave to your students?

From my perspective, I think it's good to focus on one thing. It's like that Bruce Lee quote that says "It's better to practice one kick ten thousand times than ten thousand kicks once". I really like this mindset. 

What is the best advice you’ve ever received? 

I think the best advice I got is to keep practicing, and if you find what you really like, never stop doing it; Always make that your main focus and be very persistent.

How do you keep learning and growing as a designer? 

I used to read a lot of typography books, but now I spend most of my time practicing and studying the work of people I look up to.


Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia - © Robin Noguier

Chapter 02
The design industry in Bolivia

How would you describe the design education system in Bolivia? I'm sure you know how it’s like being a teacher here.

There are two sides of graphic design in Bolivia. First is the "operators" side, the people who only know how to use the softwares. The other side is the bachelor degree where you learn more about the creative process, concepts, theories, and skills to be an art director or a professional graphic designer. 
There are way more "operators" than people that study the bachelor degree. We have more and more universities teaching graphic design, which is a really good thing. The quality of designers is also improving, and we will be better overtime. 

What do you think the students could do to be more prepared to work when they graduate?

They should study more by themselves. There is no University that will teach you everything you need to know. If you want to stand out, you need to practice, research and study by yourself. The more you work, the better you will be. Side projects are a good way to work on things you like and improve. 

How would you describe the design industry in Bolivia? 

The design industry in Bolivia is still in development. There’s always been a constant fight between professional graphic designers, software operators, and printers without actual design studies. I think this will never end. Because of the economic situation of the country, there are tons of really small businesses that can’t pay for pro design. The good thing is that people are starting to realize the actual difference between bad and good design nowadays.


Believe in Yourself

You grew up in La Paz, Bolivia. Did you think you could become a designer?  

I didn't know how the industry worked before, I just wanted to do what I loved. I didn't really worry about making a living at that time, but opportunities came to me because I kept doing it.

What is your advice for someone who wants to become a designer in Bolivia?  

They should really ask themselves if that's what they want to do with their life. I know many people who studied something for many years but don’t really follow through as a career. I really advise people to really think about what they want to do. 

Who are some of the people you really look up to?

I love 123Klan, Herb Lubalin, Ivan Castro, Frazer Adams, Hydro74, Ale Paul, Gabriel Meave
In Bolivia, I like the work of Oscar Zalles and Salvador Pomar


Reach out to Mathew

Spread the word

Final boarding call

Where do you
want to go next ?

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