About

Karl

Karl Fredrick M. Castro (b. 1986) is an independent artist and designer currently based in Angono, Rizal, Philippines.

He was a Visual Arts major at the Philippine High School for the Arts, and has a degree in film and audiovisual communication from the Film Institute of the University of the Philippines. He also served as editor in chief of the university’s official student publication, the Philippine Collegian, in 2006Beyond the university, he has further honed his sensibilities in film and photography through scriptwriting workshops under Filipino screenwriters Ricky Lee and Armando Lao, and a photography masterclass under Spanish artist-curator Nicolás Combarro.

Karl is the recipient of many awards for his design work, including several Philippine National Book Awards for Design for cultural and scholarly volumes made for the Ateneo de Manila University Press. In 2012, he was the only freelance designer to clinch an award in the agency-dominated Adobo Design Awards, winning Best Design in the Books category for Ricky Lee’s novel Si Amapola sa 65 na Kabanata.

His design and creative direction for ABS-CBN Publishing’s Vault Magazine was hailed as among Asia’s best, winning an Excellence Award for Best Use of Design, Layout & Presentation at the Asian Publishing Awards. He is also the poster designer for renowned independent films like Lav Diaz’s Norte, Hangganan ng Kasaysayan, Antoinette Jadaone’s That Thing Called Tadhana, Jade Castro’s Zombadings 1: Patayin sa Shokot si Remington, and the Philippine release of Anthony Chen’s Ilo Ilo, all of which have been seen in major film festivals around the globe.

In 2016, the Filipinas Heritage Library presented a 12-year retrospective of his book design work, Secret Lives of Books: Karl Castro, Book Designer, at the Ayala Museum. In 2014, he had his first solo exhibit, Two Things, at Silverlens in Manila. He is currently working on several bodies of work involving painting, photography, and weaving.

 

Awards and recognition

Karl’s work has received recognition both locally and regionally, among them top accolades at the Philippine National Book Awards, Adobo Design Awards and Philippine Graphic Design awards.

View selected awards

  • Finalist
    Philippine National Book Awards 2016
    Book Design Category
    for Dean Worcester’s Fantasy Islands

  • Finalist
    Philippine National Book Awards 2016
    Book Design Category
    for The Cosmic Wild

  • Winner
    Philippine National Book Awards 2015
    Book Design Category
    for The Manila Synod of 1582

  • Excellence Awardee
    Asian Publishing Awards 2012
    Best Use of Design, Layout & Presentation category
    for Vault Magazine

  • Finalist
    Philippine National Book Awards 2012
    Book Design Category
    for Almanak ng Isang Aktibista

  • Best Design
    Adobo Design Awards 2012
    Book Category
    for Si Amapola sa 65 na Kabanata

  • Yellow Trophy
    Philippine Graphic Design Awards 2011
    Publication Category
    for If I Write You This Poem, Will You Make It Fly?

  • Winner
    Philippine National Book Awards 2010
    Book Design Category
    for Palaspas

  • Black Trophy
    Philippine Graphic Design Awards 2010
    Bound Pieces Category
    for Palaspas

  • White Trophy
    Philippine Graphic Design Awards 2010
    Open Category (Offline)
    for Imagining Ronel Raguing, 25

  • Winner
    Philippine National Book Awards 2009
    Book Design Category
    for The Philippines through European Lenses

  • Best Short Film
    Art Film Festival 2008, Philippine Women’s University Independent Film Group
    for Manwal sa Paggawa ng Pelikula

  • Artistic Excellence Award for Visual Arts
    Philippine High School for the Arts
    Gold medal, 2003

Talks and workshops

On occasion, Karl has been invited to speak about his practice in the academe and in various industry conferences.

See past speaking engagements

  • Artist talk for “Social Fabric,” 2016
    Jorge B. Vargas Museum, Quezon City, Philippines

  • “Pageturners: The stories behind the books,” Moderator, 2016
    Panel discussions on independent publishing featuring Dr Von Totanes (Rizal Library, Ateneo de Manila University), Antoinette Jadaone and Chinggay Nuque (Witty Will Save the World, Co.), Karin van Orman (EducAsian Publishers/Firetree Press), Wawi Navarroza and AG de Mesa (Thousandfold), Dr Filomin Gutierrez (Philippine Sociological Society), Ricky Lee, Jake Verzosa, Ringo Bunoan, and Ige Ramos.
    Ayala Museum / Filipinas Heritage Library, Makati City, Philippines

  • Artist Talk for “Secret Lives of Books: Karl Castro, Book Designer,” 2016
    Ayala Museum / Filipinas Heritage Library, Makati City, Philippines

  • “The Reader as Designer: A two-day book design workshop with Karl Castro,” 2016
    Ayala Museum / Filipinas Heritage Library, Makati City, Philippines

  • “Online content you can actually stand to see on your own feed: Reframing Pinoy Weekly Online,” 2015
    Pinoy Weekly, Quezon City, Philippines

  • “How to make books that you’d actually want to display on your coffeetable,” 2015
    20th Graphic Expo, Pasay City, Philippines

  • “An approach to editorial design,” 2014
    Excite, Quezon City, Philippines

  • “Old things, new things: Some aspects of the Philippines through some of my work,” 2013
    Ateneo de Manila University, Quezon City, Philippines

  • “Ano’ng type mo? A forum on typography and graphic design,” Consultant, 2012
    Tipos Latinos, Instituto Cervantes de Manila, Manila, Philippines

  • “You’ve got to crack a few eggs to make an omelette (or, an approach to editorial design),” 2011
    7th Manila InDesign User Group Meeting, Philippine Center for Creative Imaging, Makati City, Philippines

  • “Basic ideas in graphic design,” 2010
    Baliuag University, Baliuag, Bulacan, Philippines

  • “Basic ideas in graphic design,” 2009
    Solidaridad, University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines

What Karl does

  • Karl’s art practice straddles different media, including painting, photomedia, sculpture, and installation. Using art, he processes thoughts and experiences that interweave the personal and the social.

  • Through design, he ensures that a publication’s message is clearly expressed in the interaction of word, image, and meaning.

  • Whether for brands, institutions, or individual projects, he clarifies concepts by gathering the necessary elements, references, and principles which best communicate the idea.

  • Through speaking engagements, he walks others through particular aspects of his art and design practice. He is also open to sharing ideas as a consultant on specific topics.