The importance of nostalgia and joy in embracing your creative identity, according to Graphika 2024 opener Jethro Olba

MANILA, PHILIPPINES — Embracing one’s creative identity can be daunting for any creative, but its importance was underlined by Graphika Manila 2024 opener Jethro Olba, who also designed Southeast Asia’s biggest conference of creativity’s visual identity this year.

Characterized by squiggly lines, retro colors, and smiley faces, Jethro’s body of work can be recognized, whether it’s in the form of art prints, skateboards, sneakers, or packaging. This is one of his lessons: to strengthen one’s style throughout. For him, this came by finding what sparks his joy, welcoming the impact of external influences, and establishing your elements.

Your creative style is a unique reflection of your story, experiences, and personality.


What started as one collaboration from Dont Blame The Kids (DBTK) grew into a rich portfolio with brands like Krispy Kreme, Khao Khai, Crocs Philippines, Vans, Fujifilm, and more. He also shared the importance of passion projects, an effective outlet for him during the pandemic, which manifested into a Nike collection two years later.

More than a show and tell, a huge part of Jethro’s talk encouraged embracing one’s journey, and he did not shy away from telling the valleys of his own. He shared about the time in his life when he stepped up to become the breadwinner and reached out to brands for further projects. He said, “Trials are opportunities for you to be faithful.”

Through the trials and challenges, Jethro found that what he did everyday was beneficial to his evolution as an artist, and he looked to nostalgia to keep going. “I rediscovered joy,” he said.

From the likes of Pablo Picasso, Keith Haring, and Jim Henson, he took lessons on consistency in one’s style, making compositions more dynamic and elevating his art into something bigger. He also shared one of his favorite lessons from Kobe Bryant: “The results really don’t matter; it’s the figuring out that matters.”

Accepting external influences made Jethro realize that it’s alright for his style to change as long it’s not drastic. Comparing his current style to his past works, he recognized his core while acknowledging his growth as an illustrator, designer, and visual artist.

As his parting words, Jethro advised to believe in one’s creative spirit, be authentic, and “dedicate yourself to being the best at what you can do.”

adobo Magazine is an official media partner of Graphika Manila 2024

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