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Nerding out at Graphika Manila 2019

Nerding out at Graphika Manila 2019

This year, we sent Designerd (our graphic designer) to the Philippines early February for Graphika Manila, the annual design conference for designers and creators. Here, she shares her experience about what she learned at the two-day event.

Graphika Manila has invited plenty of talented and inspirational speakers, including award winners, in the creative industry from around the world over the past years. This year was no different.

I was super excited as this was my first experience at the conference. I’ve heard so much about it. Totally worth the hype!

This year’s conference had twelve speakers from a wide range of design background. Notable ones were Anthony Francisco, the visual father of the adorable baby Groot from Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy; Aaron Draplin, designer and founder of Portland-based Draplin Design Co. and street artist, Buff Monster, who also designed this year’s Graphika Manila official t-shirt.

The speakers shared learning experiences, their process, and personal stories in their design journey. It was very enjoyable and intriguing at the same time, learning how these creators found inspiration for their works. Each have their own unique voice.

Here’s what I learned:

Get experimental and have fun

Buff Monster
James Sweigertof Laundry

Inspiring works made the cut like Buff Monster’s adorable melted Minions (top left) and the distorted characters of The Simpsons (top right) by James Sweigertof Laundry, the animation and production company based in Los Angeles. They pushed the conventional and familiar into something new, playful and experimental.

They really inspired me to try out new techniques and look at things in different perspectives. As there is no limit in designing, sometimes you have to breakthrough your comfort zone in order to design something fresh and out of this world.

One of my favourite speaker at the conference was Justin Harder of Claus Studios, a frequent collaborator with Marvel Studios. He shared some of his amazing work from various Marvel movies like Deadpool, Thor and the Avengers (pictured below), where he explored different artistic ways of presenting the comic superheroes from child-like doodles to collage-style medium, and the use of bold colours.

His presentation was the most fun and entertaining. It helped that he was very funny too!

Claus Studios
Claus Studios
Claus Studios
Claus Studios

Let visuals speak emotions

Yeo Kaa

Filipino artist and illustrator, Yeo Kaa, shared some very deep, personal artworks. She talked about her depression in the past, and how she uses art to express her feelings and helped overcome depression.

Art is definitely an incredible medium. Personally, I can relate to how the artist uses art to express herself. Sometimes I draw and paint when I am not feeling the best. It does help to relax your mind!

Think like a minimalist

At some point, I thought this was an Apple convention!

Shane Griffin

Shane Griffin

Shane Griffin designs Apple’s wallpaper graphics. In his presentation, he revealed how studying light transitions through defective glass became the inspiration for this beautiful masterpiece (above).

Seeing how he was able to use a defective object to transform light into beautiful artworks really amazed me. There is beauty in something that is considered faulty and imperfect. It’s not completely useless; just the perception of seeing the flaws as perfect.

Words for designers to live by

Lauren Hom

My favourite quote (above) from the conference was from the lovely and beautiful Lauren Hom, a designer and letterer from Detroit.

As a creator, being recognised for the artwork you created is important. Sometimes others may not understand the idea you had in mind, regardless how many times you try to explain it. Rather than telling others about how great your idea is, show them your process and artwork. From now on, I will embrace this motto as a designer.

That’s about it for Graphika Manila! Aside from useful design tips and advice from the speakers, I brought home some awesome merch like the cool Buff Monster-designed t-shirt, sketchbook and visual book.


Graphika Manila is definitely a must for creatives and design enthusiasts to attend to get inspired and motivated to create!

Tags: Conference, Creative, Graphic Design

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