Te Mata: a studio visually adjusting “the still diluted Peruvian identity”

Following a long winding career path in numerous design areas, Te Mata was founded when Gabriela Maskrey felt like her creative approach couldn't fit elsewhere.

Date
15 July 2020
Reading Time
4 minute read

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Founding her studio Te Mata in Lima came out of creative necessity for designer Gabriela Maskrey. Following a winding career of studying architecture at Edinburgh, embarking on a masters in editorial design in Barcelona, and then spending ten years jumping around different creative jobs in the UK, Spain and France, Gabriela was offered her first proper design job in Peru. Moving to Lima “was weird,” she reflects now, “and I didn’t fit in, at least professionally.”

Finding that her approach of visually exploring projects “in a non-conventional way” would maybe be better suited in a freelance context, she “took a dive” and began working under the pseudonym in 2015. “I guess Te Mata was born through the circumstance of not belonging to a pre-existing mould which is exactly what the studio is,” Gabriela tells It’s Nice That. Now also including creatives Roxana and Camille, the designers have been working together for the past three years, “and we found just the right balance,” she continues. “It’s hard to explain because it shouldn’t work but it does for us.” Each are on the same page with their work and values too: “Although we don’t make much money, our goal is to create things we like, and that contributes to the development of the still diluted Peruvian identity.”

With this goal front of mind there are a fair few projects of Te Mata’s which already execute this approach. A favourite of ours is the branding for Matacuy, Peru’s first Andean elixir which brilliantly lifts its name from “the Andean tradition of drinking a digestif to revive yourself after eating too much,” translating to “kill the guinea pig”. Developed after meeting the distillery’s founder artist Ishmael Randall Weeks (the original recipe for the elixir is also created by his mother, Wendy Weeks), Matacuy’s identity took almost two years to complete “and I am very happy it took so long,” adds Gabriella. As the very first edition of its kind, “it was important to present it elegantly but also humbly,” she describes, leading the team to develop a design that is simple with its “rectangular composition with all the relevant product information,” yet with typographic and illustrative flair. Most of all however, with her aforementioned goal in mind, “we are proud that our idea of putting ‘Producto de Perú’ on the facade was approved.”

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Te Mata: Matacuy

Showing this same detailed train of thought is a totally different design application, a large format publication for the writer Julio Ramón Riberyro. Although best known for his short stories across Peru and Latin America – “making this project a true editorial gem” – the focus of the publication is his never-before-seen artistic output. Wanting the work to be front of mind throughout the publication: “It’s a simple yet indexed journey through the sketchbook of the writer, divided into chapters according to subject matter.”

Another example is Te Mata’s work with Witch, a legendary band from Zambia. Becoming close friends with Gio Arlotta, the founder of music blog Is Your Clam in a Jam, the studio incidentally ended up working on the promotion of the band’s first European tour. Working closely with creative elements of Zamrock’s aesthetics, their visuals for Witch became linked to this heritage, yet with “more colour and textures”. Gabriela adds of the result: “When I look at it, I feel that Witch is no longer a long lost African rock band, they are contemporary to me now and I like that.” Although different in their nature, each project shows a tone of voice Te Mata has adopted – one the founder describes as “humble, not-flashy, simple yet not simplistic. Bold typography always, powerful colours and unapologetic layouts when possible.”

More recently, with the current pandemic halting many projects for studios across the globe, the Te Mata team have been taking the time to organise its archive and develop its online presence. Redesigning its website recently, it has also allowed Gabriela to reassess where she’d like Te Mata to focus its gaze next, like starting its first editorial project. “We are usually hired for the concept and design of publications but we have been dreaming of working on our own,” wanting to have full control over not only the design aspects but the editorial approach too. “We believe this is our year to do this!”

As you may have noticed, chance meetings and friendly run-ins appears to be a regular kick starter to many of this studio’s projects, also leading to lengthy relationships with clients and personal outcomes in the work. And as Gabriela so rightfully points out: “Ultimately projects should be experiences, if not, what’s the point?”

GalleryAll images by Te Mata

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Matacuy

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Matacuy

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Witch

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Witch

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Supay

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A visual journey through Los Angeles by Alexandra Garguilo

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Julio Ramón Riberyro

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Julio Ramón Riberyro

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Casa Soyer

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Canteras

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Large format publication for MATE Museum

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Te Mata: Matacuy

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About the Author

Lucy Bourton

Lucy joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in July 2016 after graduating from Chelsea College of Art. In October 2016 she became a staff writer on the editorial team and in January 2019 was made It’s Nice That’s deputy editor. Feel free to get in contact with Lucy about new and upcoming creative projects or editorial ideas for the site.

lb@itsnicethat.com

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