Before attending Graphika Manila 2011, I did not know what to expect. I’ve been to several big conferences (Game Developers Conference, Flashforward) and I did not know if Graphika Manila could match the quality and breathe of them. Graphika Manila was that and much more. It rocked my socks and inspired me to push my creativity to new heights. The speaker lineup was amazing with awesome local and international talent. I will breakdown each speaker and provide takeaways from their presentation, but I wanted to talk a little bit about an overall theme that seemed to resonate with each presenter. DESIGN
The presenters from 27+20 hit on some really core concepts and perspectives that made me re-evaluate my design process. The most important point that I got from Graphika Manila is that “Creativity is not the pursuit of art. It’s solving problems”. This one really hit me hard, because ever since school I always thought the main purpose of design was to create something groundbreaking and to create art, but as I become more seasoned and veteran I realize this is not the overall case. Since I started working at Glimpses Advertising, I realize that being truly creative is when you are presented with a problem from the client and you find an ingenious way of solving it. This problem can be something as simple as TOO much copy for the layout, to creating the mechanics for a giveaway program that involves customers, vendors, and a super awesome prize wheel.
Nico also touched on another important concept “Look at content first before style”. As artists, we are always looking for the cool new style, but sometimes that style just doesn’t fit the project. Even worse, it can make the content/copy not readable for the end user. 27+20 gave an example of a documentary they created in where they researched and got statistics first, then they came up with the design and style to display those statistics. This process allowed them to create a really slick typography treatment for the content and allowed for awesome motion graphics.
Dan Matutina had some very interesting topics and an overall design craft. He was able to bring his native Philippine culture into his designs and create worlds and landscapes that were unique and inspiring. Dan talked about not being afraid and to add what your passionate about into your design to create unique worlds or elements.
Ideas < Stories < Experience
Another important concept I got from the conference is that great ideas come from great stories, and great stories come from your experiences. Allowing your personal stories to effect the design is not a bad thing. It brings that personal touch and adds uniqueness to the design. This concept of not being afraid of letting your personal experiences infuse into your design is something that should be done more often. There are so many times when I try and distance my own personal stories away from my design, I realize that it is unhealthy and stagnant to always design for you and your own style and opinion, but in moderation infusing your own characteristics with the overall project will allow for more unique design.
Allowing design to effect your strategy should happen and does happen because we unconsciously use design in the prototyping, brainstorming phase of a project. Before anything is created or visualized, it needs to be designed or imagined to execute what it is built to do. When you bring design thinking into that strategic discussion, you join a powerful tool with the purpose of the entire endeavor, which is to grow. We as designers/developers need to step out of our shoes and experience the product or campaign as the consumer or audience. When we are able to empathize with their experience and interactivity, we can produce genuine and ingenious ways to elevate the project or product.
Since I started Mobile Development, I make it a crucial part of the design and strategic process to observe an everyday user and the interactions he or she does with the app. This allows me to create new UI or interface features that are more natural and intuitive for the user. By allowing the end user to effect my train of thought, I can elevate my ideas and concepts of the project and fine tune the strategy and direction of the overall campaign.
Don’t make design a second-hand citizen to technology or strategy. Allow them to breath freely and move around in an organic manner.
Seph Mayol is a designer/developer based in Cebu, Philippines. He creates digital sceneries on and off the web for interactive agencies and creative studios, local and abroad. It was refreshing to see a designer that focuses on interactivity. Some of his projects and concepts can be translated and refitted for Guam clients. The motion tracking and particle project could be a fun project for a local client event. I can envision some sort of consumer driven event where their body movement and language can drive the visuals displayed throughout the event. This can create a more engaging and memorable experience (new product line event, store grand opening, redemption sites).
Twenty seven twenty is an independent multidisciplinary design agency from Quezon City, Philippines. They specialize in visual communications through graphic design, photography and film/video for print and broadcast. Their approach and brainstorming/conceptualizing of their work was very impactful. 27+20 really focuses on the design of the project and I feel it’s these little brainstorming sessions that can really help elevate the project.
Dan Matutina is a designer and illustrator based in Manila, Philippines. His illustration style is a mix of handmade and digital, clean and dirty, old and modern aesthetics. Dan was able to inspire me to never be afraid and in fact strive to integrate my own culture, my own experiences into my design. Allowing for more personal stories and experiences to drive the conceptualization can produce campaigns and projects that really strike an emotional cord in the consumer. It is through these genuine experiences that we can connect with them.
Laundry! is a design and animation studio based out of Los Angeles, California. They focus on design, animation, live action and vfx with work for television commercials, music videos, experience design and interactive. PJ Richardson showed some really impressive Motion Graphics work. I like their approach of creating a “Library” and a “Visual Language” for a project. By creating these elements in the beginning, they are able to lay down a common visual language that everyone working on the campaign understands and can look to see if anything added to the project fits the visual language. By having this common understanding, this allows teammates to create a cohesive piece or experience.
Mike Friolo is based in Portland, Oregon and has worked as a senior designer in Nike, Inc. He is responsible for some of Nike’s best designs including the concept and design of the Manny Pacquiao gear, logo and crest. The crest Mike created for Manny Pacquiao was so deep in Philippine culture. The way he used everyday items and culture references to create every piece on the crest was impressive. I feel we can do the same here on Guam. We can look deeper and find items or references that do more then scratch the surface of life here on Guam and use those in our design.
Weta Digital is a world leading visual effects company based in Wellington, New Zealand. They provide a full suite of digital production services for feature films and high end commercials, from concept design to cutting edge 3D animation. Kevin Smith presented on behalf of Weta Digital and gave a cohesive breakdown on the different jobs it takes to create a 3D movie and the path and skill set required to fill those positions. His presentation was a little bit too technical for my taste, but seeing the product (Avatar) go from start to finish was AMAZING!
Graphika Manila was such an awesome experience that I plan to attend every year while I am here on Guam. It is crucial to get away sometimes and be engulfed in a conference with like minded people focused on creativity, expression, and creation. Graphika Manila was so inspirational that I encourage any creative professional or student here on Guam to attend. The wheels will start turning and who knows, you might make some contacts that will benefit your career here on Guam.