Semi-Permanent Perth, the review:

Semi-Permanent Perth ticket no. 16

The venue, the Bakery was a little crowded, with seating for some 300 people it was tight to say the least. 250 would of been more comfortable, 200 would of been my preference, but it all had to do with being a commercial success. If the only way to bring Semi-Permanent to Perth was to be crammed like sardines in the dark to listen to speakers brought from the other side of the world, I would suffer to be inspired, because that was what I looking for from Semi-Permanent Perth, inspired in what I was not sure, I just needed to be inspired.

Anyhow* An interesting if slightly rambling presentation the story of two guys who started small in the rag trade, went big quick, then back to earth even quicker and their continuing adventures. Message “Stay small, do what you do well, do what you are passionate about, even if they are very different”. Miles would of would of bought these guys a beer for more insight.

King Brown, the story of King Brown issue one and as I do not share the same passion for skateboarding and the urban art scene as the King Brown team, their story did not have a great impact on me. I found some of their story interesting, others parts less so. Still I went out and picked up a copy of the King Brown magazine and I am enjoying it.

Stormie, was the least engaging speaker, constantly reading from his notes. However, he has the potential to be a great speaker, he just needs to get some confidence, memorised his notes and get out from behind the podium and connect with the audience. One thing you need to be a good speaker is to be a good story teller and Stormie is that, his personal story was interesting, particularly the career move from urban street artist to police crime scene videographer. But, what got me was the visuals of his showreel, for the first time I got inspired, I need to get myself a small digital camera and take it everywhere.

The first three presentation where given by inexperienced presenters telling their personal stories and all where too long. They could all be better packaged, to provide a better punch in a shorter time frame. I found three all interesting to some degree and found a little inspiration, but not enough inspiration and I was wondering if the next presentations would follow suit.

Toko, where added to the Semi-Permanent bill at the last minute and I don‘t even think the Design is Kinky crew knew what they were in for. With four days preparation a pair of dutch backpackers came up and delivered a brilliant presentation, funny, with good stories and best of all some stunning work. When took was added to Semi-Permanent Perth, I visited their website and was impressed me was their work with logos. What got me about their presentation, other than the dutch really do have a sense of humour, was their work creating visual identities without logos or images. It was one of those lightbulb moments for me.

Design is Kinky, slipped back into the personal story mode and for me the least entertaining and interesting presentation. I was expecting more from Andrew Johnstone and Murray Bell. They are decent presenters, but they did not have any real content, we got a brief potted history of DiK, a couple of interesting stories and that was it, nothing to inspire, nothing to ponder.

Josh Davis, the first ten minutes was a case of deja vu, I saw Josh at the iDN fresh conference in Singapore in 2002, and other than a couple of extra “fuck yeahs” for the Perth audience, it was suprisngly similar. But why should it not be, it was his personal story. The tale has evolved over the last four years, in 2002 Josh was trying to explain some of his programming and mathematical equations to designers. By 2006 Josh had decided that trying to explaining programming and mathematical equations concepts to designers was a bad investment of his time. Which was now better spent explaining some of his design choices, including how he selected his colour palates. Including the tale of how red, gold and death palette required for the Tool intro page started from the cover of the Disney DVD “Sleeping Beauty”.

In truth I was a little disappointed with Josh Davis, the first time I saw him speak he blew me away. This time I was hoping for more of the same, I did not get what I hoped for. However, that was me, everybody I spoke to had just seen him for the first time were amazed. Looks like the first time you see Josh Davis present, you will change how you work, I did. The second time round is less dramatic, you will learn and be inspired, but it is nothing compared to the first time.

So was spending seven and a half hours, packed in a dark room with 300 other people worth it. For me yes, I went to Semi-Permanent Perth needing to be inspired and I was. The sources of inspiration surprised me, the showreel of an urban street artist and the identity work of a dutch design duo, along with Josh Davis.

Will I be back next year in the words of Josh Davis, “fuck yeah”. I will be probably be looking for inspiration then and hopefully there will be a Semi-Permanent 2007 to inspire me. My only hope is that any inexperienced presenters be given less time for their presentations and if possible copies Toko‘s and Josh Davis‘ presentations on video. And bring the dutchies back!

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