Top design artists grace 3rd ICON Manila

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 (From left) Aaron Blaise, Pascal Campion, Kim Jung Gi, Armand Serrano and Victoria Ying

(From left) Aaron Blaise, Pascal Campion, Kim Jung Gi, Armand Serrano and Victoria Ying

ICON Manila just held its third annual entertainment design conference at the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde School of Design and Arts under the auspices of ICON for Missions. The latter is a non-profit organization based in Eastvale, California whose main purpose is to raise money to fund Christian missions and humanitarian aid in needy communities via mounting conferences all over the world.

Students as well as professionals filled the auditorium to enjoy lectures from guest speakers from around the world, which included prominent supervising animator Aaron Blaise; prolific French-American illustrator and visual development artist Pascal Campion; renowned artist Korean Kim Jung Gi; Sony Pictures Animation and visual development artist Victoria Ying; and Armand Serrano, a Filipino artist who is known for his works in animated feature film studios such as Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sony Pictures Animation.

The two-day conference highlighted various design processes in animation, film, games, illustration, fine arts, and other forms of visual design with the audience given the chance to interact with the speakers in the question and answer portion. Some of them even engaged the auditorium by showcasing their artistic skills, sketching live.

Seeking out Serrano at the end of the conference, The Manila Times learned he has has been in the animation industry for more than two decades and is currently serving as Visual Development artist for Walt Disney Animation Studios in Burbank, California. His famous works include Mulan, Lilo & Stitch, Tarzan, Brother Bear, Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs, and Surf’s Up.


Besides taking part in the conference, Serrano is also the proponent of the now annual ICON Manila event, since bringing it to the capital in 2013 after Typhoon Yolanda devastated the Visayan region.

The now annual ICON Manila brings together artists and animators from around the world to lecture to students while raising funds for needy communities

The now annual ICON Manila brings together artists and animators from around the world to lecture to students while raising funds for needy communities

“I realized there is a need to come home and do something for our countrymen,” he related. “I also recalled there’s a big response for graphic design events here since I became a speaker once for Graphika Manila. It was my wife’s idea to maybe do something similar but specifically for animation and special effects so there will be no competition.”

For Serrano, the best thing about ICON Manila is that while he and his roster of invited speakers get to impart their experiences to the next generation graphic artists and animators in the Philippines, they are also able to help different communities in the Philippines.

“Like I said Typhoon Yolanda was the catalyst for ICON Manila. This is a non-profit event so that everything we do here, whatever money we make in organizing this event go back to people in need especially victims of calamities,” he added.

The conference itself, on the other hand, is geared at inspiring students of the visual arts to pursue the varied professions of the industry.

“ICON Manila is all about keeping the ball rolling by inspiring, creating and giving back. The Philippine ethnicity is growing in the industry along with other Asians and Europeans—you cannot get a more diverse industry compared to animation. It is one, if not the most diverse industry in the world.”

Serrano is grateful he discovered ICON Missions for the organization allows him to fulfil his life’s objectives today.

“I want to teach, I want to inspire and I want the younger generation to do the same and keep that ball rolling and create. But at the same time I also want give back. I hope that when it’s their turn to be in the animation industry, they will also have the same goals in their minds and hearts.” Serrano ended.

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