Design Geeks at Graphika 20/20

Before the COVID-19 pandemic halted all travels, our brand-new designers, Neasi and Rebekah, made their way to Graphika Manila in early February. Read on as they share their experience at the one design conference that we make an annual pilgrimage to.

To be honest, we have never heard about Graphika Manila before attending this conference. We didn’t expect much about it, but we were wrong! The conference was definitely worth the hype!

12 speakers, 2 days. A range of disciplines that all boil down to one goal: expressing creativity. Graphika Manila – or as known this year as Graphika 20/20 – celebrates its 15th year of inspiring art and design professionals and students alike.

“Graphika has always been a shared experience that inspires thousands of new ideas, futures, and worlds for every person walking out of our conference doors. In 2020, our 15th anniversary, we’re celebrating just that— the manifold creative visions that emerge from every one of you.”

– Founders of Graphika Manila

Like the previous years, twelve speakers from a wide range of design backgrounds were invited to share their experience, knowledge and portfolio. The main speakers were design icon Stefan Sagmeister, master illustrator Kim Jung Gi, artist Stefan Kunz, design agency FutureDeluxe, Method Studios design group and Sony Pictures Animations’s art director, Wendell Dalit.

Day One alone really got our imagination running. This was what we learned:

Get out of your comfort zone

Art by Method Studios

Jon Noorlander, the creative director from Method Studios, had a powerful speech. The studio’s outstanding work covers clients in popular media, including video games (Halo 5, Fallout 76), television (The Boys, Stranger Things), film (Ad Astra, John Wick 3), and more.

What stood out from his talk was his encouragement for designers to have fun with their work, to keep exploring, and to always be open to learn things outside our comfort zone and more importantly, to not overthink the process.

Create art, not excuses

Stefan Kunz

Stefan Kunz’s main point was that when you’re an artist, whether seasoned or a newbie, it’s okay to suck. No one gets things perfect the first time.

It is only through hard work and dedication that one can really master a craft. It all begins by conquering step number one: create art, not excuses.

Day Two was just a spectacular end as the entire conference dove deeper into the year’s theme, Creative Vision. Speakers FutureDeluxe and Stefan Sagmeister delivered memorable talks.

Personal work matters

Personal work says a lot about the designer, according to FutureDeluxe founder and director James Callahan, who talked about exploring the creative process and the futuristic design approaches with the work he does.

His agency has pushed out amazing work for familiar brands like Converse, Verizon, Apple, and so much more. They are also the ones who helped BBC rebrand and create jaw-dropping visuals for their launch.

Instead of the typical vertical ladder or hierarchy in a company, FutureDeluxe prefer to process things in a horizontal manner, where every staff member has a voice and an avenue to share their own ideas.

A question was asked in the audience on what could capture the attention of FutureDeluxe. He said, “We wanna see your personal work, not your client work. Show us the stuff you do in your free time, the stuff you enjoy making.”

The importance of beauty

Sagmeister on beauty

The highlight of the entire conference was definitely Stefan Sagmeister! Aside from Rebekah geeking over meeting her favourite graphic designer again – her first was while studying at Central Saint Martins – this appearance was actually Sagmeister’s second time around.

This time, he shared his latest publication, Sagmeister & Walsh: Beauty. The book addresses the concept of beauty, and investigates why people felt attracted to beauty, how they dealt with it in daily lives and what positive effects beauty can have.

“Beauty is deeply part of who we are. symmetry was present thousands of years ago. There are stones erected tens of feet high and there is no functionality. I made a thing, then I must be absolutely fabulous,” he further explained. “To say that beauty isn’t important is completely idiotic”.

– Stefan Sagmeister

Graphika Manila 20/20 was one of our highlights of the year so far. The experience and insights gained has inspired us to better our craft as designers.

What do you think? Agree?

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