For those of you who missed it. Semi-Permanent came to Melbourne last week bringing with them a plethora of interesting and awesome speakers including:
Jessica Hishce, Nicholas Felton, Seb Lester, Julian Frost, Moffitt&Moffitt,
Studio Hunt&Co, Ant Keogh, Glendyn Ivyn, Lilli Waters Nicole Reed,
Magdalena Wosinska, Ben Briand, and Miso – Stanislava Pinchuk
The conference took place over two days at Melbourne Conference and Exhibition Centre, a good venue to facilitate a big audience but unfortunately located in one of the least inspiring areas of the Melbourne CBD. With a set of 7 speakers per day presenting for 45 minutes each the schedule was quite tight and unfortunately left little to no time of Q&A’s at the end of each talk. The speakers came from a range of backgrounds from designers, art directors, illustrators to film makers and photographers. As there was no particular theme set for the conference, the talks were focused on giving deeper insight into the speakers work, methods and journeys.
Here are some of our highlights from the two days
Kicking off day one was creative twins Andrew&Mark from Moffitt&Moffitt (Sydney) who are also responsible for the rebrand of Semi-Permanent. Starting off with photos of the brothers as kids in their Mickey Mouse outfits, they took us on a journey through the ups and downs of their life and work together. The twins captivated the audience with cocky silliness and insights into their highly polished work, which ranged from photographing 6 metre flames in someones questionable garage for an album cover to pushing the boundaries of briefs with clients such as global company GE (see project here). The part that most resonated with us was their “Success of Failure” story. It started out as a story about a fashion magazine with the generic name Girls&Boys targeted at “trendsetters” using big 3D letters “because it was cool” until they realised how, as they put it, “self indulgent and shit” it was. They threw the giant 3D letters off their balcony the same night and started from scratch. Their solution became highly acclaimed music magazine Demo which grew from the idea of capturing a a video clip on paper covering emerging Australian artists. The key thing they took away from this experience was that the best type of self promotion is to promote someone else, and to always start with the question: how can we help?
Demo Issue 01 by Moffitt&Moffitt
The Verses Album Seasons by Moffitt&Moffitt
Definitely the highlight of day one (if not the whole conference) was Julian Frost: animator, illustrator and director behind the hugely successful Dumb Ways To Die animation for Metro Trains Melbourne. Julian enjoys drawing silly characters and if his illustrations result in a chuckle he is very happy. His black humour and wit comes through in his work, as well as in his presentation, giving the audience a giggle more than a few times throughout his speech. He gave us a crash course in how to make an animation funny and how he uses Tom Hanks’ “what’s fun about that?” line from the film Big to test this. He also took us through the process of creating the Dumb Ways to Die animation from sketching characters through to creating the smartphone game. Frost gives credit to the client for taking “a giant leap of faith” and almost completely staying out of the project for most of the time – their only feedback in the end was to make the deaths of the characters hit by trains more violent.
He also told us that when Dumb Ways to Die took off on YouTube his brain overloaded and he promptly got a cold. Dumb Ways to Die picked up more awards than anyone ever at Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity this year and has, according to Frost, been viewed for over 273 years on YouTube (I’m sure you’ve seen it by now but here’s the link anyway). Some examples of Frost’s other work are below.
Kid on diving board by Julian Frost
Pooploop by Julian Frost
San Franciscan Nicholas Felton (one of the lead designers of the Facebook timeline and creator of Daytum.com) wrapped up day one telling us about the process of creating his hugely popular personal Annual Reports. The man is a genius, and the amount of effort and detail he goes into to create these explicit infographics of his life is mind boggling – almost too much to take in on a Friday afternoon. Felton describes the Annual Reports as stories expressed in numbers, and he says that numbers play a big role in how we communicate today, and should be considered as tool to use along side typography and imagery.
Thomas Williams from Hunt&Co (Melbourne) kicks off day two of the conference. Thomas is the man behind internationally loved publication Process Journal and Made. He told us about growing up on a vineyard and failing art class. He revealed some of his early work as a designer and how back then he thought he was pretty awesome… but later realised he wasn’t. As he was challenged with working within the boundaries of normal office hours he eventually decided to start his own studio. The very humble beginnings of Hunt&Co seemed to have been a mixture of playing XBox in his underpants and working really fucking hard as he puts it. Engaging throughout his presentation, Williams was well considered and well structured, and probably involved the most amount of swear words – something he told us he almost regretted having included since another acclaimed speaker had said the night prior that this was un professional. We thought it was absolutely appropriate. He also gave us some well written and spoken words to take with us and share including “Leonardo DiCaprio does not make bad movies. Ever” and “Don’t do a lot and achieve nothing” and eventually parting with the words…
Who better to wrap up a conference the Jessica Hische? Seriously. She was everything we thought she would be… and more. Master of improvisation and a seasoned speaker she engaged us with little anecdotes and even cross referenced the presentations of the previous speakers as she went. Amongst other things she spoke about her wedding invite and website and how it had been bagged out on a news site as the most hipster invite anyone’s ever made. She didn’t deny it wasn’t (we think it’s stunning, check it out here.) She also gave insight to the process and research that went into designing the Penguin book series. By the end of her presentation she had won everyone over with her charm and probably made sure everyone was coming to the after party. As a finishing touch to the talk she surprised everyone by showing a polished version of photographer Magdalena Wosinska’s logotype (who spoke previous day) that she had whipped up overnight! This was in no way meant as a slight, she was only offering her professional help and I think Magdalena and Jessica will for sure become great ladybro’s as a result. For anyone who is interested in lettering she also an excellent class up on skillshare!
Lettering Jessica Hische