Semi-Permanent – Brisbane 2011

Semi-permanent 2011 - Brisbane
Semi-permanent 2011 – Brisbane

Last Friday I attended the Brisbane Semi-permanent Creative Conference – an annual event with speakers from all fields of the Creative Industries. This is the third time I’ve had the chance to go and I always look forward to listening to the artist’s and designer’s stories and presentations. I come away feeling inspired and ready to take on any design challenge ^o^. Getting the SP Pack is always a nice touch too (beautiful art book and freebies!) but more on that below.

This year we had a jam-packed day with eight speakers, ranging from designers to artists and photographers. I think all of them showed that obsession, passion and persistence are key qualities to bettering your craft and getting you places in the industry.

Gemma O’Brien

Semi-permanent - Gemma O'brien
Gemma O’brien

I think Gemma O’Brien has officially won me over in loving typography artwork. Such amazing talent. I’m in awe at how much detail she manages to put into her work. Gemma discussed her initial lack of interest in typography in university, explaining how it all seemed very ‘rule based’, however a while after she soon found she had turned and become obsessed with it. She began uni research in typography history and started her blog “For the Love of Type“, posting about her typography finds and experiments. Then “luck happened” and soon Gemma’s blog was gaining her a lot of attention in Australia and intentionally. She also spent time explaining some of her work, her love of merging type and illustration together, the process in creating various projects and how she often recreates type over and over until she’s happy with it. She currently has a job at The Paper Mill giving walking tours around the city looking at type! How lucky!

Sam Leach

Semi-permanent - Sam Leach
Sam Leach

Sam Leach is an artist who surprisingly started out in economics at the Australian Taxation Office (see, ANYONE can be a creative!). Over time he slowly moved into painting and studying fine art part-time and in 2006, he won the Metro5 prize enabling him to paint full-time for the next year. Since then he’s gone on to win numerous awards and has been a finalist in the Archibald Portrait Prize. Leach explores minimalism and formalism as well as looking at the relationships between humans, wild-life, the environment and space. I don’t think I could sum up his work myself so I think I will quote the artist –

“I propose that painting can be used to deepen our understanding of the history of science by making works focussing on how major scientific developments in the period since the 17th century have changed the relationship between humans and the non-human world.”

For a full explanation, head over to his website About Page.



Eddie Zammit is the founder of T-world – the only magazine in the world dedicated to the artists and designers of T-shirts. The man owns over 2,200 t-shirts himself and I could tell from his presentation that this was his passion. He has spent around 6 months in New York during the year gathering information and interviewing artists for the much anticipated and completely revamped issue of the magazine (due out in October). During his speech, Eddie gave advice on what he had learned while in the business which I think hold true for any creative:

  • Take risks, especially when you’re young
  • It doesn’t matter where you’re from or what skills you have
  • Networking is exactly that!
  • Find your thing (for Eddie, it was T-shirts)
  • Initiative – one of the most underrated assets anyone can have
  • Roll with the punches
  • If you don’t ask, you don’t get
  • You’re only as good as your last project
  • Rock the boat
  • Go with your gut instinct

Kelly Thompson

Semi-permanent - Kelly Thompson
Kelly Thompson

I had heard about and seen Kelly Thompson‘s work before so I was excited to learn she’d be speaking at the Brisbane SP Conference. She’s just as wonderful and inspiring as I thought she would be! Kelly is originally from what she describes as a ‘small, smelly town’ in New Zealand where she initially started drawing girls, rubbing out and redrawing their faces to give them different make-up looks. After finishing a uni degree in photography, she spent a lot of time pestering CEOs of her favourite magazines and studio, hoping to catch a break into the industry. She also elaborated on her process combining illustration and photography and the importance of having a personal style, because that’s what people will remember you for and will hire you on.

Toby Dixon

Semi-permanent - Toby Dixon
Toby Dixon

Toby Dixon is a photographer who believes in shooting what you’re interested in. His initial interests were in landscapes and he spent time photographing the eery stillness of the Mojave Desert and minimalist concrete structures – the latter enabling him to receive work for advertising campaigns. Toby has also done a few portraiture series. He told us the stories behind getting the permission for shoots and the colourful characters in each image. I think my favourite series was The Lure, a series based those who frequent a greyhound races.

We Buy your Kids

Semi-permanent - We Buy Your Kids
We Buy Your Kids

We Buy your Kids is the combined talents of  Sonny Day and Biddy Maroney who together create the art and designs for numerous gig posters. They originally started because they found many music posters in Australia were boring or just ripped from the album cover artwork. With backgrounds in illustration and design, they began to work on new creative posters for bands and have been growing since. Their jobs allow them to create both the promotional posters for the gig as well as special screen-printed posters for selling at the event. Looking over their portfolio, I’m impressed by the sheer amount of work they’ve produced as well as the cool quirkiness of each poster. I really need to try out screen printing at some point. Anyone know where you can do a class or something?


Semi-permanent - Supervixen

Supervixen is design studio that creates motion graphics as well working on illustration and design jobs. They shared with us the Supervixen philosophy which included

  • Technical ability should not dictate the execution
  • Artistic ability over technical ability
  • Smart and simple is key
  • Artificial limits keep the creative interesting
  • Give credit to those we work with
  • Keep doing work for the soul

They went on to talk about some of the fun projects they had worked such as the Wrigley’s Extra Campaign (remember these cute little critters?). My favourite project was the Elan skateboards with the wonderful illustrations on the back. They were even generous enough to give out one board of each design (which at one point resulted in the first Semi-permanent fight!). If I had been closer to the stage and into skateboards I might have gone and grabbed one for myself ๐Ÿ˜›

Reg Mombassa

Semi-permanent - Reg Mombassa
Reg Mombassa

Most of you have probably seen Reg Mombassa‘s work  at some point. Apart from once being in the band Mental as Anything, he’s also known for the numerous artworks he’s created for Mambo (particularly in the 90s). His paintings have been exhibited internationally and some of his work has been bought by celebrities (Reg told us about the day Ewan McGregor came to his house :P). During his presentation, Reg discussed a variety of his work from the humble paintings created when first arriving in Australia to the crude and amusing posters and graphics from the mambo collection. I really enjoyed how he explained the stories of his pictures; definitely kept it interesting.

The Semi-Permanent Pack

Lastly, I thought I’d share some of the goodies from the Semi Permanent pack. This year the SP book was a nice hard cover edition which was a pleasant surprise . As well as the book, there were some nice postcards to creative news sites Design Montage and Strutten, a program guide book and strangely, a wrist sweatband O_o.

Semi-permanent - The Pack
Contents of “The Pack”
Semi-permanent - First Edition of 2011 SP Book
First Edition of 2011 SP Book
Semi-permanent - Inside the book
One of the Guest Artists
Semi-permanent - Artist Submissions
Artist Submissions
Semi-permanent - Wrist Band
Wrist Sweat Band?

Semi-permanent is held in most Australian capital cities, Auckland and some selected international cities. For details on upcoming events visit their main website.

Did you go to Semi-permanent? What did you think of the speakers? The event? the after party? Who was your favourite speaker?

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