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Graphika Manila 2023: Our Graphic Designers Attend Asia’s Most Influential Creativity Conference

Updated: Apr 21, 2023

After a crazy work week, Lit Digital’s resident Graphic Designers are off to fulfill another “prio”. (But we don’t really consider it a prio since *SPOILER ALERT* it was a great, fulfilling and inspiring experience overall). Naia Balmes, our Junior Multimedia Artist and Product Manager, and Andrey Yeung, our Graphic Designer, are two of the over 30,000 attendees that Graphika Manila has had in its existence. The event was held on February 11 & 12, 2023, in the SMX Convention Center.

The weekend began with Cookie Studio kicking off the roster of creatives. I was personally in awe of the opening credits they presented and was pleasantly surprised to see it was made by Cookie Studio as well.

It was an about 2-minute animated clip presenting all the speakers for the event. Thiago Maia, Cookie Studio’s Creative Director and Founder spoke about his experience in the Animation and Motion Design Industry. His “never half-baked” mindset really reflected through him talking about his life experiences.

A concept he presented that stood out the most to us was suggesting that artists should present 3 ideas when pitching: a gold, silver and bronze-level idea. With these in mind, as well as the client's needs and budget, they can negotiate and decide on one single idea, that all parties agree on.

Day One Highlights

While we would like to discuss every speaker’s key points and ideas, I’m afraid we do not have all day. Now, we’ll be discussing our personal faves from Day 1’s list of speakers.

Jo Malinis definitely tops that list for both of us. The Type63 founder was relatable, since she started how most FIlipino creatives started their journeys through hard work, determination and being a follower. She was humble, going into detail of her previous professional experiences and the people she met, and going into further detail of how they helped her become the great artist she is today.

In terms of being technical as an artist, she highlights the need for a balance of aesthetic and effectiveness of a design. She highlighted this concept by showing us the exact process of one of her recent projects, rebranding for Maya, previously PayMaya. Another favorite and one we were looking forward to hear from was Matthew Encina. The Director and Designer used to be a Online Educator on The Futur. Nowadays he ventures in his independent career, pursuing dreams and passions he has only wished for in the past. He talked about the financial and career risks he had to take to fulfill these new goals. Overall, day 1’s speakers were truly inspirational, mostly elaborating on experience and career timelines helping them become the successful people they are today.

Now, let’s talk about Day 2, kicked off by Comic Artist and Illustrator, Manix Abrera. It was definitely entertaining to hear about his somewhat random thought and creative processes of creating his well known and loved comics. For our favorites, Marti Romances of Territory Studio, a Visual Effects and Creative Advertising firm, is definitely up there. It was simply a mind-blowing experience to witness them discuss what they do. At first, I thought they solely created motion graphics for several films for Marvel and other world-class studios, however, they have been venturing into real-life motion graphics applications with brands like Nike, Activision and Microsoft. It almost feels like we're beginning to live that dystopian life we used to only see in film before.

Day Two Highlights

The speaker that tops our list for Day 2 would be AR Developer, Mitsuoko Ono. Not only was she such an entertaining speaker and an accurate representation of a Gen-Z artist, but she made us realize that work should be fun and our art should stay weird! She creates the craziest Social Media filters with Augmented Reality for personal and brand projects and let us tell you that they really are the craziest thing you would ever see. It reminded us that art shouldn’t be that serious and we shouldn’t be bound or boxed by limitations on technicalities or societal standards.

Mitsuoko also introduced us to more forms of XR or Extended Reality. While we only knew of Virtual Reality, now there is also Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR) and Mixed Reality (MR). It gets us excited for the future, seeing how art adapts to all these new upgrades from technology. Overall, day 2 definitely got us more excited for the future of art, given the rise of AI as well with speakers like Territory Studio, Mitsuoko Ono and Beeple. But, this day also reminded us of the beauty of more traditional forms of art like Burton Rast, Jason Magbanua and Patrick Cabral.

Now let us run through some of the key points discussed that truly struck us the most during the conference:

  • “Pay it forward: mentorship and providing opportunities to people who don't have the same privileges and background.” - Burton Rast

  • “As leaders it's our responsibility to help people grow.” - Burton Rast

  • wabi sabi: find peace in imperfection

  • obaitori: don't compare yourself to others

  • “Being strong is being creative.” - Patrick Cabral

  • “Success is earned not given.” - Dan Fajardo


The conference was closed by Beeple, worldwide renown NFT Artist. His segment was done in both an interview and demo style. It was really entertaining to see him create one of his iconic NFT’s in real time. Being our first Graphika Manila experience, we expected it to be really technical and a showcase of design works and a bit of background maybe, but it was pleasant to be able to witness everyone’s experiences and journeys through their talks. It reminded us that we are all on a similar journey as creatives. Full of wins and losses, hits and misses and approvals and rejections, but at the end of the day we all have gone so far from where we started and we should begin giving ourselves more credit for that.

Like one of the speakers, Patrick Cabral said, “You’ll make it if you’re always challenging yourself.” And that wraps up our experience as first time Graphika Manila attendees, ‘til the next one!

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