Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Creating My Own Lessons from GraphikaManila2013

Attending Graphika Manila 2013 wasn't part of my plans — especially budget-wise. I also was hesitant: Why should I bother listening people talk (or brag) about [their] creativity? [insert semi-bitter tone]

But yeah, against financial practicality (and after really praying about it — I'd need some divine intervention to get the funds), I decided to go. Amazingly, a friend provided the much-needed amount for me to afford it... in FULL! I was pumped.

I arrived at the venue at roughly 9:30AM, thinking "Hey, delegates are probably mostly artists — they're most likely to be late."

First Lesson of the day: Be EXTRA early on the next Graphika Manila conference.

After almost one and a half hour (thank God for my Coby Kyros — had something to entertain myself!), we finally managed to get inside the hall. One of the advantages of going solo on a conference is that picking seats was easier – not having to worry about the number of seats or location preference. Unless someone's really an early bird who can sacrifice themselves to reserve your seats.

In a nutshell, the conference was awesome. I wish I can translate all the talks into a blog, but I'm too lazy for that. Instead, I'll focus on one of the most interesting (yet underestimated/under-appreciated) talks during the conference was by Benjamin Seide of Piximondo.

Lesson 2. Anybody can talk, but learning requires attitude. 

I felt embarrassed. I was starting to yawn as Benjamin Seide labored on some complex-sounding details on how his company works. Part of me wanted to go out, grab some food, or doze off. I was bored.

So yeah, maybe he wasn't as rocking flambouyant as James White of SignalNoise, or as fun-crazy as the Devil Robots duo (still trying to imitate their Naruto-Fu, will post as soon as I succeed), or as titillating... err, imagination-inducing as Jessica Walsh, or Ryan Honey's chao-psychedelic BUCK presentations (oh God, I still wanna rinse my brains from that video with the UniPegaCow - and that perv Sock Puppet), our very own animator Armand Serrano who now works at Sony Animation, and Benja Harney's messy paper trail (yeah I wonder who had to pick up all those paper airplanes after the conference).

But hey, I wanted to get my money's worth (or my generous sponsor's money's worth — to be exact). I realized that the problem isn't with the speaker, but with me.

It was easy to ask, "What the heck does all those graphs and charts have to do with creativity? Isn't THOSE exactly what we're trying to avoid on the path to creativity???"

So I mentally kicked my brain into submission, concentrated on what the Piximondo guy was saying, and subconsciously asked myself: 

How the heck does this guy manage, coordinate and lead 650+ creative minds???

(God knows how much of a headache it is to handle one or two, including one's own.)

Lesson 3. Creativity is not in the mess but in the message.

Sure, creativity should be about fun. Creativity should be about merging play and work. Yet, as almost all the speakers said — there is beauty in limitation.

Especially when you're talking about, not just a creative team, BUT an entire army of creatives (a platoon consists of 21, so it's not an exaggeration to call 600+ people an army). I rarely work with someone, and when I do I often get into an argument on how the design should go. It's not a joke to bridge different cultures and teams to work together as one — especially when these teams are located on separate locations around the globe.

Setting a creative direction takes more than just a diploma or a title. It's not about barking orders or mind-controlling puppets. To be an effective creative director, one has to be able to visualize the entire long-term process, imagine ways to make it work and possible, communicate the vision and passion, continuously come up with improvements along the way, segregate and delegate tasks that will seamlessly hinge together upon completion, find the kinks and solve problems... and after the entire journey, to celebrate and recognize everyone's contribution.

And yeah, this guy Benjamin Seide does that — with simultaneous big projects.

It all reminds me of a simple lesson I read from a book: "Being creative is not the same as being artistic." One can be artistic without being creative. But a truly creative mind is unshackled by one's artistic skills; rather, I believe that the most creative people are not those who are in full control of their own potentials, but are those who are truly aware of other's giftedness, talents, abilities and limitations — yet is able to harness those, develop them, and create something that is impossible to do alone.

So yeah, don't be surprised why "Game of Thrones", "Hugo", "Amazing Spiderman" and other animations created by Piximondo were awesome. Blame that guy Benjamin Seide.

Lesson 4. Save for the next Graphika Manila conference, and sponsor a youth.

Why? Because I think it would be more fun and radical. And I need someone to watch my stuff when I need to run to the CR.



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