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Failure won’t foil your plans, says The Acid House’s dynamic duo Ivan and Pauline Despi at Graphika Manila 2024

MANILA, PHILIPPINES — Graphika Manila 2024, one of Asia’s biggest and most influential conferences of creativity, returned on February 17 to 18 at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City. 

Boasting a lineup of stellar creatives who showcase their best works at every conference, an unwavering passion and excellence for art, design, and creativity constantly resonate among the audiences.

However, for Ivan and Pauline Despi, the dynamic duo behind motion design and animation company The Acid House, the lessons they imparted were candid and unexpected but certainly nothing short of inspiring.


As the duo mentioned failure and inexperience as vital ingredients to one’s eventual success, all eyes in the room lit up, now more eager to listen to their backstory.

Lesson one: Start before you’re ready

“The first piece of advice we usually give is to start before you’re ready,” Ivan prompted. 

He cited their own experience of pitching to big companies and brands while simultaneously launching their studio all within a month. Despite feeling unprepared for the opportunities they have in store, it did not stop the power couple from not only landing projects with mainstream clients such as Rappler but also beginning a shift towards the craft of motion and video art.

Lesson two: Small things lead to bigger things

After featuring an exhibit that sprouted from a sketch in their notebook, the couple encouraged the audience: “Keep your sketches and mini doodles. You don’t know when you’ll use them for something bigger.” 

Small things can lead to bigger things — this was emphasized by Ivan as he presented some works he created for 36 Days of Type, an online creative challenge prompting artists and designers to create visually stunning type. His participation in this challenge eventually led to his work being featured as splash screens on Adobe Muse in 2018 and Adobe Creative Cloud in 2019.

Additionally, the couple encouraged embracing hobbies and explorations during moments of idleness, as inspiration can strike even in the most unexpected moments.

Lesson three: Keep an ‘Experience Library’

We are built upon the small things we do every day, and the results of our efforts are no more than a byproduct. 

Pauline emphasized the importance of keeping an “experience library,” an archive or compilation of all of the works you’ve done, regardless if it’s a work in progress or a completed project, an accomplished artwork worthy of a slot in your portfolio or a rejected piece destined to retire in your trash bin. She explained that it can still serve a purpose despite how one views one’s work. “Everything is part of your research, and all the things you do will build up to something meaningful.”

Ivan echoed his wife’s statement, adding that all the experiences they gained eventually evolved into convergence points in their creative journey.

Perhaps the highlight of their talk was when they defied the norm of showcasing one’s best works in the conference by premiering a showreel of all their failed, abandoned, or rejected works.

The “fail showreel” certainly inspired audiences to keep their work and document their progress. 

“Execute your plans. If you’re going to fail, fail faster,” Ivan emphasized. “Each failure is just a learning step to your eventual success.” 

Ivan and Pauline Despi concluded their talk with a final and encouraging lesson: “Start something; make things happen. You’re probably not ready, but they better be ready for you.”

adobo Magazine is an official media partner of Graphika Manila 2024.

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