The Semi-Permanent Creative Conference finally rolled into Brisbane last Thursday after an unfortunate rescheduling from July. It was worth the wait for the 8 talented speakers that came to share their stories, experience and advice. This was also a special year for the SP as it was their 10 year anniversary (5th time in Brisbane). Despite the disappointment of the video intro saying ‘Sydney’ (Brisbane pride!), the day was, as always, insightful and inspiring.
The first speaker was Beastman, who began by retelling his history about how his design interests grew out of his obsession with skateboarding. It lead him to buying lots of skating magazines and admiring the artwork as well as teaching himself photography to take shots of skating tricks. This evolved into making scrapbooks, combining his photos and drawings. This was the beginning of Beastman who “always drew weird stuff”, slowly forming his own style. This includes the recognisable scaly pattern used in many of his artworks.
In 2008, Beastman moved into a studio and began producing paintings for a solo show, limiting himself a small colour palette. He did more shows after this, each time adding new colours to the mix. He then took a break for a few years to experiment and evolve his style, eventually showing off his efforts in “Cosmic Nature”, with paintings inspired by the godly creatures featured in H.P Lovecraft stories. Beastman currently enjoys painting installations/murals in art galleries and exterior walls. He also discuessed the benefits of collaborating with other artists that help grow your creative abilties.
It was really interesting to learn about Beastman’s process and evolution in style. You can clearly see his love of symmetry and vibrant colours through his paintings, which are also attributes in art I love as well. I’m especially fond of his Cosmic Nature series, my favourite piece being “The Thing in the Moonlight”.
Beci Orphan grew up in a hippie family with an alternate lifestyle that allowed her to be creative, leading her to draw and paint from an early age. After dropping out a fashion degree, she took up a textile design course and discovered she was actually quite good at it. She spoke fondly of drawing in sketchbooks and noted it was important to learn how to design outside of computers. She did many various jobs including volunteering at art galleries and screen printing t-shirts while also doing freelance jobs and creating her own prints. A lot of the work she found actually came organically through connections in her other jobs. She even managed to get work overseas while on holiday, taking packet samples of her work with her on a whim. Over time her commercial work has become more illustration based and she has taken up several commercial collaborations.
During her presentation, Beci Orphan shared several creative tips from her experiences
- Learn to design outside of computers
- Get involved with things that you love
- In the start, say yes to everything
- Get some business skills or marry someone who has them
- Go above and beyond
- Keep trying new things
- Be flexible but stay true to yourself
- Working from home can be an necessary evil
- Be nice
- Work hard
I loved Beci Orphan’s talk, her style is so colourful and whimsical and I’m especially jealous of the fact she’s had the opportunity to produce designs for the Japanese marketplace. I really liked her creative tips as well and I’m sure we can all take these ideas and incorporate into our careers if we haven’t already.
Toby & Pete
I remember Toby & Pete being mentioned at last year’s conference during Gemma O’Brien’s presentation. The two tall boys from Sydney originally worked purely within the print advertising arena before putting together their “creative craft shop”, a collective of creatives that sit between an agency and a post production company. Their team consists mainly of a small core group with each person being a creative specialist within a particular field, making them consider themselves as “Specialists of General Interests”. With their creative group, they feel they can tell clients with confidence that they can get the job done.
Apart from their commercial work they have also participated in an art show which they hope to do more of in the future. It allowed them to highlight their talents around a theme without being bound to a client brief.
As the last two speakers mentioned, Toby and Pete touched on collaboration and why it is key to their business. It allowed for
- Getting the right people
- Trust – each person can do their job well
- (Respectful) Honest – able to give constructive criticism when something isn’t working
- Open Communication
Toby & Pete’s presentation showed off their talents through a variety of work from illustration to film to photo retouching and also really highlighted how a collaboration of creatives can produce amazing work together.
The quiet Bec Winnel is a self taught illustrator who has had work exhibited both locally and internationally, working mainly with pastels and pencils while also experimenting with watercolours and oil paints. Originally from the country, Winnel moved to Melbourne to seek out her creative dreams. After displaying her work in galleries, she become encouraged by the art community and her style began to grow out of this and other inspiring artists. She found that entering her work in competitions and also having her work on the internet helped her gain exposure. Her illustrations have been featured in numerous magazines including Cleo and Peppermint as well as advertisements such as the promotions of the Sleeping Beauty ballet performance being shown in Brisbane at the end of the year.
At the start of 2012, Winnel start illustrating full-time and moved back to the country, stating that she found it essential to have an inspiring and creative environment to work in. It took her a long time to charge what she was worth (something I think we all struggle with) and reminded the audience to push through the tough times of freelancing.
I’m really amazed that her work is mostly created with soft pastels and coloured pencils, the details in her art pieces are just beautiful to admire. I wish I hadn’t stopped drawing when I was university so I could’ve be at least a 10th as good as her (though I guess it’s never too late!).
@Radical Media started off with a bang, showing a show reel of their work with the keywords ‘Create, Produce, Distribute’ before going on to talk about some of their projects.
Many of you are probably already aware of their work The Wilderness Downtown, an interactive music video that highlighted the capabilities of the Google Chrome browser and HTML5. Other projects I particularly loved included The Johnny Cash project where users could draw one frame of his last music video before being all collated together to make a new video and the Sting ‘appumentary’, an iPad app with a multi-demensional experience including music, exclusive interviews, performances, images and a timeline of his 25 years in music.
We were also treated to two video interviews from Jon Kraman and Evan Schehtman from the companies New York branch discussing their views on the future of the industry. Both stated we needed to be prepared for the changes and interactions with new mediums and embrace those changes when they come.
I found @Radical Media’s creative approaches really clever and I can definitely see how the role of story telling is at the core of all their projects. It’s great to see a company also embracing new media and making the most of it.
Paul Davies is a visual artist from Sydney, originally inspired by his parents and pictures from his childhood to take up a creative career. Working with stencils and acrylic washes, a lot of his skills were acquired from working in a collaborative space with other creatives, particularly graffiti artists, and seeing their approach to the medium.
Davies discussed his art process, which always begins with a photograph. From this they’re printed out in black and white before the negative space is manually cut out to create the stencil for the work. Many of the paintings have an architectural element which Davies enjoyed finding and learning about. You can see from his paintings that there’s a lot of layering of stencils in the background, which came from wanting to avoid the the dreaded ‘blank canvas’ and spurred him to start layering old stencils to create a vibrant texture.
The used stencils, covered in layers of paint from multiple uses, have also been featured in his art shows. Davies even had a bronze sculpture made from one to put on display. While I wasn’t sure about this work from the previews on the Semi-Permanent website, I found the paintings shown in his presentation really lovely to admire and his take on architectural buildings.
Not many of us have photographer uncles who give us a camera when we drop out of a design degree, but that’s exactly how Andrew Quilty started to learned the craft. He was lucky enough to be offered work experience at Fairfax and while learning on the job he also photographed things he did in his spare time such as surfing. This lead to his first major photo journalism of the Cronulla riots. Originally not thinking much of the photographs, he sent them off to publications who ended up running the photos in their magazines. He continued to work his day job while pursuing more personal projects, carrying a camera around where ever he went. He even saved up to travel the world for a year just to take photos – that’s dedication!
Quilty has also shot natural disasters for international newspapers and shared photos and stories from Black Saturday bush fires and the recent Brisbane floods, noting that his more recent photos were now becoming less documentary and more social comment. He also had his fair share of collaboration, whether it’s with other photographers to escape attention and ‘vandalise’ a Louis Vuitton store or a writer helping him get into places to record the scene.
I can see a Henri Cartier-Bresson quality to Quilty’s photographs with the way he seems to work with line and shadows despite him saying he shoots for the colours and not necessary for the composition. I found his photos were very alluring to look at, not confronting as other photographers work on similar subjects.
Our last speaker of the day was Justin Drape from The Monkeys, a Sydney based creative ad agency. Originally working in a small one window (and one fake picture of a window) studio over the harbour, the company got it’s first break after creating the intro for Andrew Denton’s Enough Rope before approaching the man himself about some of their own creative ideas. 30 Seconds was the result of this meeting, and allowed them to produce other TV concepts like Family Feast on SBS.
TV shows aren’t the only things they’ve had their hands in and many clients come to them for their different thinking and approach. The agency was responsible for the the creation of the Sun Sound, a musical tune played on beaches to remind people to re-apply sun screen as well as the Ship song, originally made to promote the Sydney Opera House. It became much more than just an ad with the signature song being played across radios and available to download from iTunes. Drape noted it was important to the agency to create not just content, but stories in their work that were powerful and effective.
The Monkeys work was amazing and I loved all the creative approaches, whether it was client work or personal projects. I even felt a little emotional watching The Ship Song video, it’s just so beautifully put together.
The Semi-Permanent Pack
Ah yes the goodie bag as it were! The staple SP book this year was again a hard cover and surprisingly there were several different covers floating around. Mine is all black however I saw others that were all white (with a different cover image) as well as ones that were half and half. What did you guys get? For the 10 year anniversary, the book contained highlights from the conferences over the last 10 years along with the usual artist submissions.
Apart from the SP book, the bag also included postcards for The Loop and No Cure Magazine, an AGDA Membership Application, the SP Day Program and a Whirlwind Print pen. The tote bag itself featured the lettering work of Jessica Hische.
So now we wait for next year’s Semi-Permanent! If you attended – who was your favourite speaker and if you didn’t attend – why the hell not?!