Semi-Permanent 2013 in review

Semi-Permanent 2013 in review

As with last year’s Semi-Permanent, collaboration remains a recurring theme this year. But another piece of advice was reiterated during the two-day design conference, that true magic happens when you let go of a fear of failure.

Kicking off the conference on Friday morning was Sandra Dieckmann, an artist and illustrator from Germany, and self-titled womanimal; because she’s a woman, and she trusts her instincts.

Her surreal, animal-themed pieces are inspired by an awe for nature. She says, “we have heaven on earth” and you really just have to look around you.

Dieckmann was also very popular in the twitterverse, especially for this quote about that moment when inspiration strikes:

“It’s like taking a sh*t, it just has to come out!” — @sandradieckmann #spakl
Design Assembly NZ (@DsgnAssemblyNZ)
Engage, play, collaborate, enter competitions/projects. Don't look for your style, you already have it you just need to create more #spakl
A Little Ink (@ALittleInk)

Michael Lugmayr from Toko shared some of their impressively simple design work for Ten Days on the Island, a Tasmanian art festival. As well as examples of their involvement with the Venice Architecture Biennale, which incorporated New Zealand wool, prompting one tweeter to comment:

Dutch design and New Zealand wool represent Australia? #spakl
Lindsay (@lindsnz)

After the morning session Beck’s Beer introduced us to their Edison Cylinder, based on Edison’s original phonograph design, a single by Ghost Wave was engraved into a thin layer of acrylic on a Beck's bottle, and played live on stage. A beer bottle, a record, and a clever little marketing stunt.

Music on a beer!! This is so rad. #spakl#beermedia pic.twitter.com/gMlGhkVChg
Hemi(sphere) (@simplexcity)

Niklas Roy (birthday boy) of Royrobotiks, a self-styled single-member collective, gave us some details about himself, including his age (39), which he said was very precise information because it was in fact his birthday.

A theme of his talk, and of others, is that sometimes you just need to have a stupid idea and make it a reality. His work My Little Piece of Privacy was an “intelligent” curtain that interacted with passers-by using image recognition software to permanently obscure their view inside his workshop.

I want to be an inventor! Inspiring. @royrobotiks#spakl
​Pretty Little Things (@prettythingsnz)

Sam McIntosh, editor of Australian surfing magazine Stab, was the most controversial speaker of the two-day event. He revealed all the lines they had crossed trying to get shots that would set them apart from their competitors, which naturally led to some passionate responses on twitter:

#spakl Stab Mag: where's the cliché-breaking action photos of women with their clothes on??
Carol Green (@carolgreen)
It's a surfer girls OBLIGATION to do sexualised shoots to be successful, according to Stab Magazine - meanwhile the boys just surf #spakl
Redluam (@redluam)

But others still thought his work was “amaze”:

Sam McIntosh is so flippin cool. Amaze typography. Seriously considering taking up surfing. #bluecrush #spakl 
Leah Surynt (@leahsurynt)

Our very own graffiti-artist Askew One was one of the most popular speakers at the event. He gave a humble, funny and honest speech about his part in graffiti culture in New Zealand, and the legal obstacles he faces getting his art out there.

“I’m just not scared of failing at things,” he said. An attitude that gets you far in the creative industry, if the other speakers at Semi-Permanent are anything to go by.

MC Te Radar was quick to prompt Curious Films to run their show reel at the start of their talk, because sometimes the people behind great work often aren’t recognised, despite their ads and work being well-known in popular culture.

They showed a clip of one of their earlier projects, an ad for Telecom that introduced “texting”. Yes, it hasn’t been around forever. And clearly this was pre-texting etiquette, because one phrase that floated through their ad was, “it’s over between us”. A text break-up? Really?

Rodney Eggleston and Anne-Laure Cavigneaux of MARCH Studio (as well as being unspeakably cool), were poster-kids for design restraint, emphasising what children have known all along, tremendous things can be achieved with cardboard boxes.

They said that good clients are important, and that you should select them as much as they select you.

Loving march studios experimentation with materials #spakl
KaanHiini (kaanivorous)

Day two kicked off with another talented female illustrator, Kelly Thompson, originally from Rotorua, and now based in Australia.

Her talk involved some very important business advice for young artists, including establishing your terms with a client before starting work, such as the number of revisions and what the work will be used for.

She also emphasised the importance of hard work and not giving up, “You don't deserve success in the creative industry, you've got to work for it.”

It's important to be inspired by others, but you'll never be as good at their style. Find your own way. Push yourself @kellythompson1 #spakl
The infographers (@theinfographers)
What's your social currency? What's your brand and what can it do for my brand? Great words from @kellythompson1 #spakl
*experience (@real_experience)

Daan Lucas from Random Studio showed what can happen when an advertising agency throws its fear of failure out the window and shows their clients that they can do something really interesting.

They also have a strong culture of R&D, reinvesting profits back into the company and having a weekly “R&D night” on Thursdays.

He also shared that by doing the projects that they love, they can get picked up for the paid projects that give them the money to continue doing what they love.

"Fear is paralysing - not inviting" — @random_studio #spakl
Design Assembly NZ (@DsgnAssemblyNZ)
Random Studios. My faith in Digital has been restored. Amazing talk. Mind-blowing work. #spakl
Lolly Morris (@laurenjmorris)

Mark Bashore of Digital Kitchen, who are the creators of the visceral opening titles for True Blood, revealed a lot about the processes involved in developing an idea into a final edit.

Be the problem maker! Experiment, generate, push yourself and make yourself uncomfortable. A Little Inspired #digitalkitchen #spakl 
A Little Ink (@ALittleInk)

They also created Stanley, the interactive piano, which people could text requests to and enjoy real time:

The work of Perks and Mini or PAM left a lot of people, including myself, wondering what to think.

The pair runs a fashion label, but it was very difficult to tease much out of their presentation regarding their work, their processes and their style.

They had a pretty great goat video though.

The response on twitter was vitriolic, with a few expressing that their favourite part of their talk was seeing PAM's daughter Odette trotting around the stage.

Are we getting trolled? #spakl
Kerrin Meek (@kerrinmeek)
Just need some Comic Sans to top off that 'Little Friend' video from PAM #spakl#UnsureOfFeels
Dawn Everitt (@divinelimits)

Ouch.

More kindly:

Huge contrast between the quietness of Pam on the outside to the loud, chaotic ideas obviously bubbling away in their brains #spakl
Tanya Smith (@totaltanya)

Fortunately, enough of the audience stuck around for the talk by Dominic Hofstede of Hofstede Design, who brought some real honesty to the conference, and reinforced that vanity projects don’t always pay the bills. He also shared that he finds creativity excruciatingly difficult, emphasising that a lot of work and effort is involved in creating great design.

"Everything's been done before, it's your take on it that's important". #Dominic Hofstede #spakl
Hannah Dear (@D_E_A_R)
@hofstededesign Thank you Dom for being so honest an real. Enjoyed hearing a more business angle too - you're awesome! #spakl
Laura Cibilich (@designstein)

People wanted to be hired:

New addition to the Dream Employer / Mentor list in Dom from @hofstededesign #spakl
Leah Surynt (@leahsurynt)

Production designer Annie Sperling was the second person (after Sam McIntosh) who showcased work done with seemingly limitless budgets, prompting Te Radar to say that instead of less is more, she made it seem like more is… not enough.

Her projects as a production designer have been as varied as outfitting each room of a millionaire’s house in a different style (including a Maria Antoinette room, a black light room and an art nouveau room) as well as extensive work with photographer David La Chappelle. The cover of his book Heaven to Hell featured a Courtney Love Pietà pastiche, and when they were finished with the set… they set it on fire, naturally.

Behind every famous man - David la Chapelle - is a super super talented woman! - Annie Sperling #spakl
Stefanie Young (@steffyoung)

Aaron Rose and Brian Roettinger are a director/curator and artist/designer respectively, who gave their presentation together due to their regular collaborations as a pair.

A highlight was their Gallerina video which parodied intense art-speak. They had a caveat that it was supposed to be a comedy; apparently it had been taken very seriously elsewhere.

The Gallerina - Art Speak "A labyrinth of discourse...such a muscular gesture" -hilarious#spakl
Hannah Dear (@D_E_A_R)