Semi Permanent was started in Sydney in 2003 by Australians Andrew Johnstone and Murray Bell and has since become an international annual conference, spanning across 5 counties and 9 cities including London, Los Angeles and Stockholm. Semi Permanent is now synonymous with assembling industry leaders from all creative fields to present their work, inspirations, processes, insights and to simply share their creative journey with fellow peers over two jam-packed days.
As always, there was an impressive showcase of amazing work that spanned across Graphic Design, Film, Animation, Motion Graphics, Architecture and Visual Effects. Illustration, Photography and Graffiti. Photographer Max Doyle showcased his diverse talent by entertaining us with a live jam of one of his songs. And of course it wouldn’t be a design conference without the guys from Stab Magazine firing t-shirts into the crowd from a canon.
As diverse as the speakers were, what struck a chord with me at Semi-Permanent 2013 was the underlying message about collaboration, following your passion, waiting for no-one and doing your own projects. The speakers do what they love, with the majority starting their own projects, throwing themselves into the deep and unknown. Learning and making mistakes along the way, and always being genuine and true to one's style. Getting involved with other people's projects was also a common thread, giving back to the community and one another because it’s cool to be involved and have fun collaborating with fellow creatives.
For those who missed out on attending the Sydney conference, here are a few of the speakers' inspirational insights and a selection of their work.
Photos courtesy of Semi-Permanent website, with copyright to their respective owners.
"The Hours came about when me, Numbskull and Marty Routledge decided to join forces, like Voltron”
The mural-creating mates at The Hours (Sydney, Australia) facilitate community initiatives such as exhibition space and 'Boring Walls' a campaign that calls out to the community to identify boring walls that need some love. Their collaboration with international artists that want to come to Australia to paint murals has been dubbed Spraycations.
Mandy Shadforth aka Oracle Fox (Queensland, Australia) started her travel, lifestyle and fashion blog that showcases her illustration and photography. Billabong loved her style and reached out to Mandy to collaborate with her on a clothing line.
"Blogging is a great way to collaborate with other artists. It can also lead to remunerated collaborations”
- Mandy Shadforth
For the surf lifestyle brand Saturdays NYC (NY, USA) “Collaboration is about finding people who have a similar vibe and creating something with them as opposed to finding someone who has a skill you haven’t got and require".
Artist Aaron Rose (LA, USA) discusses the joy and also the potential pain of collaboration if you do it for the wrong reasons. Further demonstrating his belief in the power of collaboration, Aaron teamed up with graphic designer Brian Roettinger (LA, USA) and they discussed their individual projects and collaborative works created together. Aaron has devised a successful philosophy for his magazine ANP Quarterly when working with the creative team: “If everyone isn't into an idea, it doesn't go”
On the Value of Self-Initiated Projects...
Artist Sandra Dieckmann, ‘Mama Wolf’ (London, UK) is a firm advocate of what she calls “passion projects” – getting out there and doing your own thing or getting involved in projects. "If you are genuine, then people will come to you whatever you create. Art is catharsis and escapism”. Exhibiting her artwork on Etsy lead to sales, commissions for book illustrations and illustrations for Moment Skis
With a day job at The Australian Financial Review, photographer Andrew Quilty (Sydney, Australia) pursued his passion for photography outside of work hours, embarking on his own personal explorations that lead to his first editorial break from a series of black and white observations he captured of the Cronulla Riots in Sydney’s South. The photographs were published by TIME Magazine after a colleague encouraged the submission.
On Taking Risks...
Saturdays NYC (NY, USA) opened a surf shop in the middle of the global financial crisis in an unlikely market. Surfing isn't something you'd associate with New York. But Colin, Morgan and Josh were firm believers in 'Do something niche and special, and people hold onto it'.
Their instincts proved right, with Saturdays NYC now in four locations, including Japan, and with a fashion range and an accompanying high-end lifestyle magazine.
Surfer Sam McIntosh of Stab Magazine (Sydney, Australia) had a dream to start a surfing magazine. As a start-up with limited cash and the challenge of making an impact in a saturated space of surfing magazines, Sam knew the only way to go was big. ‘Our philosophy was always simple: big names, big ideas and not taking no for an answer’.
Armed with a fresh idea of photographing a surfer from above in shallow waves, Sam needed a big name pro surfer to add clout to Stab Magazine's first photo shoot. Sam managed to convince pro surfer Taj Burrow, to put his credibility on the line for an unknown magazine. Sam gambled 25k on hiring a helicopter for the shoot and held his breath. The risk paid off and Stab has enjoyed a loyal following since.
P.A.M Perks and Mini (Melbourne, Australia) on making stuff yourself; ‘Never over-produce, keep distribution small. It’s possible to have a good life being independent’.
Rodney Egglestone and Anne-Laure Cavigneaus of March Studios (Melbourne, Australia) still like to roll their sleeves up and get involved with building some of their architectural designs.
"You see and get other ideas when you make things yourself with your own hands”
Their presentation of their retail design for ‘Baker D. Chirico’ and ‘Aesop’ was one of the most innovative of the day.
On Giving Back...
"It's good to do work that goes in public spaces, lots of people see your work and you're giving back to the community”
– The Hours
"Grow by helping others grow”
– Sandra Dieckmann
Moving Picture Company (London, UK)
Ben Siezer explained that “Sometimes the technology can lead to the creative concept and the execution inspires the idea”. This was the case with the making of the cinematic ad for Women’s Aid, ‘Blind Eye’.
“What made the ad particularly effective was the appropriation of the technology, positioning it as central to the campaign's message, and inviting the viewer to interact with it, effectively turning the idea of the one-way communication of the cinema ad on its head”.
"I still have Photoshop 3. Tools are just tools. It doesn’t make your art great, you make your art great”
– Sandra Dieckmann