Katrina Romulo didn't always know she'd become a designer. Born in the Philippines, she's been based around the Bay Area for the past 18 years; here, she studied at university and attended a student-run class called Intro to Illustrator and Photoshop.
Sparking inspiration, Katrina went to UC Berkeley and majored in Sustainable Environment Design. This was for two reasons: "I've always been interested in sustainability," she says, and "It was the closest thing I could find to any sort of design program (I'm not very close to graphic design at all, I spent time stressing over ArcGIS and calculating sun angles)."
Spending much of her free time designing, Katrina's love of the medium quickly evolved – especially in the realms of brand and packaging. "I would make up these conceptual brands in my head – a wide and random selection of beer, tea, socks, plants, stationery and much more. There is nothing as satisfying as taking an idea and turning it into something that looks super real and applying it to different physical, print and digital mediums," explains Katrina. What really kickstarted her career, though, was when she started posting her designs on Instagram; the freelance commissions were flooding in. She has been self-employed for two years and also works as a creative lead at Hyper Skin, a company she rebranded.
Besides being colourful, poppy and eye-catching, Katrina's work is undeniably functional. "I love bold and bright colours and try to evoke positivity and encouragement in my work," she adds. So much so that design is a powerful tool for Katrina, who often uses the medium to channel her emotions. "If I'm feeling sad, mad, anxious, happy or excited, I just put it out there in a typographic post or illustration (or, if I'm feeling extra bold, a brand)."
This incredible energy can be seen throughout her wide-spanning portfolio, filled with various projects and assignments for Hyper, which she's perhaps better known for.
Looking at her smaller projects, Katrina is proud of a recent commission for Halia, a period care brand based in the Philippines. Working with founder Alexa to create a brand that goes against the idea that periods are taboo, the outcome is an anarchist but typically positive branding story. It also shows that beautiful things can happen when you align yourself with brands with similar ethos and interests. "I love being able to use vivid colours and bold illustrations, and this branding project had a lot of that," she shares. "I always enjoy working with brands that share the same values as me, so bringing to life an environmentally conscious brand that offers organic pads made from bamboo and corn fibres was a dream come true."