Graphika Manila 2019: Beyond Expectations

I attended the 14th year of Graphika Manila 2019 conference last 2nd & 3rd February 2019. I went to help out Michael in taking some video footage of his interview with some of the conference speakers. To be honest, I was expecting a conference with all the technical talks that I know nothing about. But it blew my mind more than I ever imagined that it gave me a whole new perspective, ignited my creative thoughts, giving my blog a sense of direction (working on it!). 


It is a Philippine-based Conference on Creativity. Every year, the event showcases talented artists of multidisciplinary creative approaches in identity, art direction, animation, web, and even designed environments. The conference focuses on the creative side of design rather than technology.

This article is entirely all about my personal experience. For some reasons (which I will share later), I am not the best person to write about what exactly happened at the conference. So, before you waste your time on me, I have actually browsed this best article you can read about the details in Graphika Manila 2019. Check this link out:


Although having to help out with the interview is fun, I kinda felt sad realizing that I wont be able to listen to all the speakers. I’m supposedly fine with that. I came without expecting myself to just sit down and listen to the talks. But when we had to get into the function halls to take some video footage, I was able to witness some speakers on stage. They were like rock stars sharing their humble beginnings, art stories and creative processes that brought them to where they are today. 

I have actually nothing to fret about. I may have not catch all speakers talks but I got a chance for closer encounters with them during the interview. With that, I was able to bring home some very insightful takeaways. The experience left me with a brighter outlook, armed with igniting words. From here, I look forward to push myself even more. 🙂

So, I can unfortunately only share with you 5 out of 12 speakers. Enjoy!

During an interview of Anthony Francisco

Interview with Anthony Francisco, Marvel Studios’ Senior Visual Development Artist,

Anthony Francisco, a Fil-AM illustrator and concept artist currently working at Marvel Studios as Senior Visual Development Artist. 

Other than passion and creativity, Anthony taught me that commitment, resilience, and organization are as important, even for artists. He reminded of how being patient in the process can help your hard work pay off. For him, it took 20 years. He also added that,“humility is good but if someone is recognizing your work out there, go for it and claim it! You worked for it, you deserve it! It is yours!”. I have asked him if it is something like the concept of “too much of something is not good”“too much goodness is bad”, “too much love will kill you” and all sorts. He does not agree to this because it only adds a bad connotation to what is already good.

“A ‘good’ should only be good, and love is always good. It is a matter of right amount, right time, right place, or right person. I’d like to believe that  too much of right love is good. Too much of right humility is always good.  – Anthony Francisco

Anthony’s work includes feature films such as Black Panther, Thor: Ragnarok, Doctor Strange, Ant-Man, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Chronicles of Riddick just to name a few. He designed Loki Ragnarok, the Dora Milaje and the Visual Father of Baby Groot.

Yeo Kaa, a Filipino Artist/Painter. We were not able to interview her because she was not feeling well. But I was able to listen to her entire talk.  My ears were all on her as she shared how she started her concept in art. They were all wild stories behind. She was criticized for being bad at drawing. She even failed in her art classes but it did not stop her from achieving her place in the art scene.

“Back in college, meroon kaming plate na ‘trapunto’ na Picasso style, tapos dun ko na realise na hindi naman pala kailangan na ‘realism’ para maconsider na magaling ka”-Yeo Kaa

I love how she transformed her ‘socially unacceptable’ impulses to her art. Her explicit themes of killing her prof who failed her thrice, and talking to her own panties can seem strange for some but this quirkiness is what kept and made her a unique and relatable artist. She has mounted a handful of solo shows in Singapore, Philippines, Indonesia and Germany.

Yeo Kaa is a the mad, quirky girl and that’s what the art world needs today. Below is my favorite painting that she shared during her talk.

Claus' Art and Creative Director, Justin Harder

Claus Studios’ Art and Creative Director, Justin Harder

Justine Harder, Art & Creative Director of Claus Studios. He was able to shed light to one of my confidence issues which is low-self-esteem. I always worry about not being so good at something compared to the others. But Justin stretched that the world is a competitive place and your creative ideas are valuable assets. Rejection is always around the corner. Learn from it, enjoy the process and grow.

“You have to be you and do not try to be somebody else. Do what you can do. Nobody else can do what you do” – Justine Harder

Justin has illustrated and designed numerous title sequences for film and television including Deadpool, Thor: The Dark World, My Little Pony: The Movie and Saturday Night Live’s ‘Weekend Update.’ Justin also is an officially licensed Marvel ‘Artist.

Next is Laundry’s Managing Director, James Sweigert. He is one of my favorites. His energy and passion to create more and inspire is burning like mad and it’s basking all on me and to the rest of the attendees! He’s got an incredible team where James never fail to highlight that  their individual backgrounds and experiences were never really a factor for their success. But instead, it was their fun and creativity to make things different and extraordinary that proved their place in the industry.

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with Michael (center) and Laundry’s Managing Director, James Sweigert (right)

“The longest journey an artist could make is from their heads to their heart.” James Sweigert

James Sweigert is an award winning creative executive in advertising and entertainment marketing over the past twenty years. He loves spending time with his dog, Duke Kahanamoku. He surfs in LA and around the world. James has also published a book entitled,“If You Say So”. I just wish I get a chance to read it.

with Aaron Draplin, founder of Draplin Design Co.

with Aaron Draplin, founder of Draplin Design Co.

Aaron Draplin made a lasting impression on  me. He is a graphic designer, author and founder of Draplin Design Co. (DDC). It has rolled up its sleeves on a number of projects related to print, identity, web development, and illustration. Priding itself on craftsmanship and quality, the DDC has made stuff for Nike, Esquire, Ford Motor Company and the Obama Administration. 

I was ecstatic to hear Draplin as he talk about his life as a designer and how he honed his craft through the years. For him, he used his skills to pay his bills, build his house, design for his family and nephew, working for friends, and most specially as tribute for his dad.

“You got to pay your bills, you got to make your money and do all that that adults do. But leave some room for some weird stuff.” – Aaron Draplin.

There’s something comfortingly sturdy about Aaron’s works. It’s simple by design, but doesn’t look cheap and made to leave a mark to the audiences.

He received a standing ovation from some of the attendees; a well-deserved feat for someone who’s made a mark in his career and published a book for himself, Pretty Much Everything’.

Watch this space for the Full Video of our interview with seven of the speakers: 3Dsense Media School