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It’s only January and so far, 2017 has been full of firsts for me. This includes going to Graphika Manila, a two-day conference on creativity that I’ve been meaning to attend since I heard about it a couple of years back; for a college kid, it was so damn expensive.

Thankfully, I landed a job last year—my first!—so I was able to save up for the P1,950 early bird ticket for this year’s edition.

It happened last weekend, Jan 21-22 at SMX Convention Center with Benjamin Ang, Daryl Feril, Jonathan Kim, Marcel Ziul, Gary Baseman, Thang Le speaking on Day 1; and John Ed De Vera, Rizon Parein, Kerby Rosanes, Rocketsheep Studio, Stanley Lau, Mr. Bingo speaking on the last day.

I’ve been waiting for this weekend, and now that it’s done, I’m still as thrilled as ever. Below are a few things I learned:

1. The earlier, the better
And I don’t just mean coming to the event, though this comes as a given. Graphika Manila is a free-seating event, so to get the seats that you want—those that will get you IG-worthy photos—come early.

Avail of the earlybird ticket prices—it’s for the best, trust me. I paid for my ticket two months earlier than the event and it saved me the hassle of lining up and tons of monies, too.

Graphika Manila Ticket
Graphika Manila Ticket

2. Patience is a virtue—overrated but true
This is true in too many levels. Once you arrive at SMX Convention Center, a line will greet you depending on the time. We arrived at 9am and got inside the build about 10:30—not the actual function hall, mind. It took another hour and a half of waiting to get inside the main hall. So a pro-tip: bring a friend. It will lessen the tedium of the wait, and make for a fun uzi session on the lunch buffet (which isn’t free) and on the merchandise table.

And we even came early!


Books for sale outside the function hall

3. Everything comes with a price
Really it does. We mean, check out SM’s overpriced water (P45 ang tubig, mga bes!). But seriously, hearing the speakers, all 12 of them, was really worth the money. Imagine, learning from a dozen international artists who shared tips and insider’s info and everything? Priceless.

Freebies from Tokidoki and Graphika Manila
Freebies from Tokidoki and Graphika Manila

4. Listen to and learn from great people to become one yourself
I’ve been to free seminars, university talks, and such, but the things I picked up in Graphika Manila opened a new perspective in art. It lets you believe in strong, fancy dictum again like “do whatever you want, it’s your life” (not #yolo, though) or “you don’t have to follow what other people are saying” (without being rebellious!). Their words have started to build a strong wall of confidence around me, one that would take time for others to take it down again.

Few speakers from Graphika Manila


Speakers having a meet and greet with the audience. Plus signing, too.

5. Stick to reality

“Don’t listen to others.”

“Do what you want.”

“Draw again.”

“Be a different person.”

“Take risks.”

These pieces of advice exploded in my mind right after the whole talk. I feel like I could be the future Michelangelo or Da Vinci, that I could quit my job and start my own exhibit. But let’s be honest: It’s not going to happen—at least not so soon.

Being involved in the art community is fun on the outside but really aggressive inside. All you need to do is to remind yourself that there are other artist struggling like you. That it’s okay and carry on. That is the last thing I learned from Graphika Manila. And even though it’s fun and exciting to dream big for yourself, for you to keep it real. sAnd lastly, like all of speaker said, don’t forget to always have fun.

All the speakers gathered on the stage for a photo op.


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