Meet Dexter Fernandez, the Filipino Artist Behind This International Streetwear Collab

Meet Dexter Fernandez, the Filipino Artist Behind This International Streetwear Collab

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Discover the artistic soul of Dexter Fernandez as his captivating street art finds a new home in the world of fashion with H&M and DBTK

As street art and streetwear continue to shape the cultural landscape, a riveting fusion of these worlds is poised to captivate us all. Meet Dexter Fernandez, the Filipino artist widely recognized as Garapata, whose vibrant street art will soon be at the forefront of an exciting partnership between local streetwear brand DBTK and international fashion giant H&M. In an exclusive interview with MEGA Man, he takes us on a journey through his humble beginnings in the art scene and offers a glimpse into this thrilling collaboration.

RELATED: Local Art and Streetwear Collide in This New Collection

The artistic roots

Dexter Fernandez's roots

Fueled by an insatiable thirst for artistic expression, Dexter attended the Technological University of the Philippines in Manila to study fine arts and major in advertising. “I thought I [was] going to be a graphic artist all my life, but painting is my first love. So, I pursued my art career after a short journey in the graphic design world,” he shared.

The moniker’s meaning

While the artist has dabbled in a wide variety of techniques and approaches throughout the course of his career, he has maintained a constant brand identity under the moniker Garapata. As he explained, the origins of this branding can be traced back to when he became a member of the Manila-based graffiti collective Pilipinas Street Plan in 2008.

Dexter Fernandez's moniker

Dexter Fernandez explained that the origin of his unique artist name stems from a frightening incident that occurred during his childhood, when ticks carried inside by the family’s dogs caused widespread panic throughout the house. He remembered it clearly years later and now uses that experience as the main inspiration for his artwork.

“Since then, the concept has grown and expanded; ‘infestation’ became the core concept. The narrative could be from my personal journey or from the people I’ve met. So the contexts are [mostly] local.”

The streetwear surprise

Dexter Fernandez x H&M x DBTK
Dexter Fernandez x H&M x DBTK

The talented Filipino artist conveyed his appreciation for the brands that truly grasped his artistic vision and provided him with the chance to showcase his creative prowess. “I want them to see the local narrative we have; we’re colorful, playful, and funny people with a good sense of humor, also being adaptive in many aspects,” Dexter mentioned.

The artist’s vow

Dexter acknowledged that his accomplishment would not have been attainable without the support of his dedicated fans and supporters. He emphasized that something as simple as purchasing his merchandise is already a powerful means of amplifying his brand’s reach.

“The local audience must be proud of themselves because it’s their story—it’s us.”

Dexter Fernandez's Garapata coral reefs

In addition to exhibiting paintings at gallery shows and selling merchandise, the artist also creates environmental art installations that assist in the recovery of the Philippines’ natural ecosystems. For instance, he has recently placed two Garapata artificial coral reefs on the sea floor in separate areas of the country to aid and sustain marine life.

The collab highlight

Dexter Fernandez's Paneks

Dexter shared that one particular design from the H&M x DBTK collection is his favorite. It’s called PANEKS,” shortening or slang for “Pa-next naman.” He elaborated on how this particular phrase was a frequent utterance during his formative years, reminiscing about the good old days in his small hometown. “I feel nostalgic whenever I hear this. We [say] this word to the person playing the brick-game or video game whenever we want to be the next who would play when his or her game finished,” the artist added. 

The global art endeavors

Dexter Fernandez x Agnes B

The Filipino creative claimed that his experiences working with major international brands were easy and fun because they were receptive to ideas. The H&M and DBTK partnership is not the first time Dexter’s artwork has been seen outside of the country. For the exhibition Agnes B organized at the La Fab gallery in Paris, he contributed canvas paintings depicting the interior of his childhood home, complete with garapatas strewn about the composition in a graphic art manner. “I’m super proud of it. Imagine the picture of my parent’s house in Caloocan being featured in the Parisian brand.”

The artistic ambition

Dexter Fernandez's goal

As his artistic prowess continues to captivate audiences both near and far, Dexter expressed his desire for Garapata to act as an invitation to individuals worldwide to ignite their curiosity and delve into the depths of our collective narrative. As our chat drew to a close, it was evident that the Filipino artist yearned to initiate a new and important conversation, one that would resonate with profound meaning and purpose.

Photos: GARAPATA (via Instagram)

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