ONE OF THE MOST DIVERSE EVENTS YET BY GRAPHIKA MANILA 2023
With a diversified 14-speaker roster from the creative industry, Graphika Manila, the largest and longest-running creative gathering in Asia, has returned to its original two-day format. The SMX Convention Center in Manila hosted it on February 11 and 12.
The Conference of Creativity's keynote speaker was digital artist Mike Winkelmann, known by his stage as Beeple. His $69.3 million 5000-digital-image collage titled "Everydays: the First 5000 Days" propelled him to the third-highest market value among living artists in 2021. International creative studios Marti Romances of Territory Studio in San Francisco, Thiago Maia of Cookie Studio in London, and Super Bonfire in Beijing are joining him.
The Graphika Manila conference this year was expected to be one of the most thorough and varied yet, covering a range of topics from Mitsuko Ono's exploration of experiential art in Augmented Reality in Osaka to Burton Rast's investigation of the psychological effects of working in high-level design roles at Google in California to Matthew Encina's guidance on managing your creative process in Los Angeles. Two ASUS completed the group featured artists, Jason Magbanua and Kevin Eric Raymundo of "Tarantadong Kalbo" fame and the Philippines' King of Same-Day Edit Video, respectively. Local creatives with diverse backgrounds and distinctive styles, such as illustrator Soleil Ignacio, type designer Jo Malinis, paper sculptor Patrick Cabral, clothing designer Dan Fajardo, and comic book artist Manix Abrera, offered their experiences and insights.
Being the storyteller
Storytelling is the heart of all art, said Thiago Maia, the founder and creative director of Cookie Studio. He described how they investigated the beach to obtain information and textural references for their character designs. In his address titled "It's OK not to be OK!" Maia advised being mindful of your emotions. The sense of success comes only if the captured emotions are conveyed to subsequent generations through art. He acknowledged himself as a member of the therapy generation who used to hold back on expressing their sentiments. Cabrera has a gift for humor and joy, but paradoxically, agony is the best storyteller.
Similarly, Manix Abrera's metaphorical "Kikomachine Komix" urged the audience to head to the highest point of where they are to become observant transmission receivers of stories nearby, whether they be challenges in the corporate world or Filipino folklore. Super Bonfire's co-founders Jason Kirby and Kaism Lim created an excellent demo reel on merging the client's messaging, ambitious light production, and timed drone shows.
Patrick Cabral, a well-known paper and wood sculpture artist credited his success to his accessible stories. He claimed that telling your narrative via art is an implicit method of pleading for assistance in order to survive. Cabral described how his enduring love with the popular company Starbucks came full circle while visibly crying. It all began when he was younger and would seek refuge at Starbucks in order to find an internet connection. He has now delivered elaborate, large-scale wood sculptures to the company's Seattle headquarters. Starbucks supported him and related to his story, which led to this successful cooperation.
The Territory Studio's three-part foundation is Design-Story-Technology, according to Marti Romances, a co-founder of the company. Territory Studio created the visual effects for movies including Pacific Rim, Ready Player One, and Guardians of the Galaxy. They are better able to combine the designs when they are familiar with the characters' backstories and the circumstances around them. They translate visual effects into more heartfelt visuals, whether they're enhancing Lebron James' leap in Space Jam or enclosing Scarlet Johannson in a neon sign universe in The Ghost in the Shell. Although moviegoers would only get to see the results of their labor in a brief scene or on a small screen, actors getting a firsthand look at the design enhances their acting, much to the delight of the audience.
Following the same road of embracing imperfections, or the Wabi-Sabi idea that Maia had previously discussed, local illustrator Soleil Ignacio embraced flaws, even physical stretchmarks, with her self-portraits and artworks highlighting the positive aspects of women's bodies. The core subject of her lecture, which is peppered with references to the Bondee app, is taking a step back to accept the suffering that has shaped her into a better artist. Her professional trajectory has also been marked by burnout and rejection.
Burton Rast, UX Design Lead at Google and photographer of the Internet-viral mobile photography series of San Francisco architecture, demonstrated that being creative is difficult in one of the many heartbreaking turned hopeful moments of Graphika Manila 2023. He had the guts to admit his drug addiction, impostor syndrome, hedonic treadmill run, and the death of his chosen family. Rast considers the use of pain in the art to be productive. But one can only give totally to others once they have forgiven themselves.
Giving back endures longer than artistic accomplishments. Burton Rast, UX Design Lead at Google and photographer of the Internet-viral mobile photography series of San Francisco architecture, demonstrated that being creative is difficult in one of the many heartbreaking turned hopeful moments of Graphika Manila 2023. He had the guts to admit his drug addiction, impostor syndrome, hedonic treadmill run, and the death of his chosen family. Rast considers the use of pain in the art to be productive. But one can only give totally to others once they have forgiven themselves. Giving back endures longer than artistic accomplishments.
Matthew Encina, a filmmaker, designer, and provider of productivity material, presented his methodical method of analyzing possibilities by rating his benefits and losses and the compromise to close the gap. He postulated that an artist always has multiple options available to them and may make a decision when navigating a creative journey.
The Pandemic Challenge
Super Bonfire, a multi-media event management company that caters to well-known clients, was not immune to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Larger-than-life light projections, real-time coordinated drone performances, and augmented reality executions are some of the enormous firm's technical specialties, which have suffered considerably since its mainstay live shows were eliminated. Super Bonfire, however, embraced the challenge to press on and, via the creation of concerts and virtual event launches, finally saw the light at the end of the tunnel.
The COVID-19 response of the government in the Philippines, or lack thereof, and the heated political environment leading up to the presidential elections caused the local cartoonist Kevin Eric Raymundo to go from everyday life shenanigans to more status quo disruptor comics. By changing the narrative of the fist bump gesture of former president Rodrigo Duterte to show people with fists taking a stance for justice and truth, his viral artwork "Tumindig" launched an internet movement.
In the meantime, COVID-19 is put into perspective by Matthew Encina, who states that the pandemic is a gift of time to stop, think, and ponder. Change occurs, and accepting change is now the norm.
Jason Magbanua, a well-known wedding videographer, feels that boredom is his worst enemy. However, rather than wallowing in self-pity, he used the opportunity to advance himself and pick up new post-production skills that guaranteed his place in the wedding photography market for the following five years. He was able to create one-of-a-kind wedding videos because of his commitment to learning technology and fusing it with creativity.
Dan Fajardo, an illustrator and clothes designer, is proud and outspoken about the fact that he did not grow up in an affluent family. Dan earned his place in the industry via ongoing style innovation. Be fixated on bettering yourself, he advised. The secret, in his opinion, is to commit to continuous learning.
Following the same direction, local graphic and type designer Jo Malinis treasures the value of education. From a serial apprentice attending online typography master classes, she is now an educator and founder of the Type63 community dedicated to understanding the shared identity of Philippine types.
Cabral explored different media as he transitioned from paper to algorithm-heavy digital platforms. Not only did it unchain him from the creative block and self-imposed restrictions, but it also allowed him to accept the most complex artistic challenges to survive.
The inspirational talk of Encina is nothing short of gratitude to his mentor, Chris Do. But only after he uncovered how capable he is, he overcame his limiting beliefs. He let go of his scarred past and updated his "operating system." Hinting at Fajardo's earlier sentiments on self-improvement, Encina sees the same obsession as an opportunity magnet. Now, the world is ready to see his brainchild documentary Generation NoCode.
The speakers did not limit themselves to the boundaries of graphic design. While Ignacio unlocked her wall-climbing skills, Encina enjoyed woodworking and mechanical keyboard building—developing these variants of themselves even landed them brand-new collaborations.
A Whole New World, the Metaverse
As a prologue to the highlight of Graphika Manila, AR developer and multimedia designer Mitsuko Ono helped the audience understand the metaverse amidst the misconceptions. She attempts to fill in the lack of imagination and information on extended reality with what she believed were weird antics at first. Ono invited everyone to explore the extended reality without being intimidated by the programming codes and head-mounted displays. She is optimistic that while metaverse development is still in its infancy, its fruition will pave more practical applications. She believes the art in the metaverse and physical reality will still co-exist because art inspires and does not destroy.
The leading man, Mike Winkelmann or Beeple, who shot to prominence in the metaverse with his daily project of posting digital artworks that started in 2007, acknowledged he might not end up with great artwork for the day throughout his routine. Still, what matters more is how he keeps the momentum rolling. With his unwavering focus, 20,000 "everydays" more is a reality on the horizon.
Laughing at the thought of him being the hero the irrational exuberant metaverse deserves, he explained art has always been susceptible to the hype because art has no ceiling value. Alluding to the other speakers' history of client work, at the end of the day, or his "everyday" instead, NFT is simply a new payment method. Instead of building a larger audience for NFTs, his priority is honing the craft, especially with the imminent emergence of artificial intelligence art. Humans and machines will vie on how to make art super interesting.
Beeple closed the convention with his live demonstration of constructing an artwork for the day. With the help of the audience and his ingenuity in political satire, Mike Winkelmann lampooned former Philippine president Duterte seemingly in prison.
Graphika Manila had another successful year under its belt, it has continued to further its mission of fostering a community of thinkers, collaborators, and creators while inspiring fresh perspectives.
valid feelings of burnout, the design conference challenges the artists to take control in pushing boundaries and changing the art forms. Life goes on and is meant to be continued.
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