The Graphika Manila Experience

I feel everything inside of me exploding, and I can’t quite find how to express it. Only those who were there would get it immediately the way that I do—this is my challenge! I want YOU—yes, you who is reading this now to at least feel the same stoke that I did however that meant for you.

Graphika Manila wasn’t something I would generally attend back in the day because I never considered myself a creative. The season of unblocking my creativity started last year, and I promised myself to continue unblocking and just accepting that like music, the written word is also art.

It was a crazy weekend with rockstar speakers that just blew my mind off each and every time. I thought I’ve seen it all during the first day but no! This year marked Graphika Manila’s 13th conference with an incredible two-day event with a total of 12 speakers.

The event kicked off by showcasing this year’s title sequence created by James Sweigert, Managing Director of the animation and design production company Laundry LA. Calling themselves a group of misfits, the company spurred their creativity with the line—”We make it rad.”

James shares to us that their individual backgrounds and experiences were never really a factor for their success, but instead, their desire to put fun and creativity as a priority to make things different and extraordinary that created proved their place in the industry.

What I distinctly remembered from James was always to challenge the process and to never settle for what’s in front of you.  James also showcased their animation studies and works for music videos for Pharrell Williams, and their latest pitches and work for The Grinch, and The Simpson,  like the rest of the attendees, we were asking for more as they unveil their process including the OBB for this year’s Graphika Manila.

My favorites were Anthony Francisco, a Filipino-American illustrator and concept artist at Marvel Studios who worked on known titles and characters like Thor: Ragnarok’s Loki, Black Panther’s army of female warriors, the Dora Milaje and Guardians of the Galaxy’s Baby Groot, to name a few.

 Then we had the founder of award-winning creative agency Middle Boop, Gordon Reid who has led his team to help brands grow through innovative ideas, strong art direction, and fantastic design. I ended up supporting one of his creations, the Weird World Cup by buying the whole collection of beermats!

Another rockstar I greatly enjoyed is Ivan Dixon, an independent animator, illustrator, and designer based in Melbourne, Australia. His signature traditional and pixel art style has led him to produce content for big names like Childish Gambino, Gotye, Cartoon Network, Fallout 4 and so much more.

Then there was Buff Monster! Glad I finally met him in the flesh. I knew his work looked so familiar because I saw it way back! I may not remember when or where I saw his work, but I knew I’ve seen it before. Buff Monster is the NYC street artist uses bright colors, bold lines, and funny characters to make the world a better place. Never photographed without his trademark pink heart-shaped sunglasses, he names heavy metal music, ice cream, pop art, Japanese culture, and graffiti as significant influences. For over 15 years, he’s worked with leading curators to paint murals all over the world and is included in Banksy’s Oscar-nominated documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop.

Tune in next week as I continue this story and my takeaways from the two-day conference!