A permanent mark: our Semi Permanent recap

January 23, 2023
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In search of creative thinkers, artists, designers and a fresh perspective, Beans took to one of the largest creativity and design festivals in the Southern Hemisphere, Semi Permanent. Over the three days, award-winning business owners, thought leaders and creatives took to the stage to share their ideas on perspective. From sustainability and history to angles and light, we were left impressed, inspired and challenged by the way people are thinking about, creating and shaping their industries. 

To share some of our experience with you, we’ve put together a snapshot of the first two days of the conference, featuring six speakers who left a lasting impression. 

From The Inside Out

Kicking off the creative festivities was Dave Hartmann, Strategic Partner for the well known Sydney-based creative agency, Special Group. Looking to inspire creative thinkers and strategic masterminds alike, he looked left of field to provide insight into what would be a message of meaning for the masses at Semi Permanent. 

“It’s often the people in life that you think you have the least in common with that you have the most to learn from”. 

Hartmann spoke initially about the conception of the typewriter and telephone. Both tools were built to aid the blind and deaf respectively. By giving the disadvantaged a power, humanity was gifted a superpower. 

It was from this premise the overarching theme of Hartmann’s talk stemmed. He exclaimed the importance of looking to the edges, as that is where lessons are learned. If, when marketing a product or service, we only look at the masses we will all get the same answers and insights. However, by shifting our focus to the peripheries we discover new meanings, uses, and ideas about the products and services we sell. 

Hartmann detailed the ideologies of preppers and dungeons and dragon fiends, two cult-like groups in the minority among the many. Searching for meaning, Hartmann unveiled the prepper’s need for control and the dungeon and dragon gang’s craving for radical freedom. Looking beyond the simplicities of what they do, he found the inspiration. 

After more discussions of nudist colonies and bronies (we’ll leave that to you to Google), an encapsulating message was formed - “It’s often the people in life that you think you have the least in common with that you have the most to learn from”. 

Delightful Insight

Before the first break of the morning, renowned photographer and creative, James J. Robinson, gave an insightful monologue on light, the meaning of it, and what its uses are. Delving into the history of light, Robinson spoke eloquently of its origins through to the multitude of present day uses before reaching a pinnacle point; “light is the greatest tool to care for one another”.

Speaking of light’s meaning, Robinson touched on the stereotypical perceptions of light and dark and their correlation to good and evil. Light, the good, gives life, hope, care, and joy. Dark, the evil, brings death, horror, despair, and tragedy. Robinson continues with the idea that light and dark are not good nor are they evil. They simply just are. They exist, and it is how we use light that defines space and shapes the world around us, inside and out. 

Make Your Meaning

Rounding out the day, last-minute call-ins Campbell Walker (Struthless) and Bryce Mills (Triple J breakfast host), creators of God is Dead podcast, provided the crowd with a light-hearted, comedic presentation of the worst the internet has to offer. The tandem highlighted how each point in ‘the creative process’, a diagram found on Google images, was used in a related (yet terrible) graphic or video from the world wide web. While funny in their approach, their presentation had a great underlying message. They were able to assign a meaning to the downright dreadful, senseless, and seemingly non-creative, offering the idea that meaning is merely a perception. We all define our creative works through our own meanings, yet others’ may differ just as much as their lens to ours. 

More Than Materials

Heading into day 2, Sam Elson, the Founder of Sea Forest, took us down a surprising route by talking about his newfound purpose for seaweed, specifically Asparagopsis.  

Operating from a hatchery in Tasmania, Elson is investing in this unique product and turning it into a supplement for livestock. By adding low quantities of Asparagopsis into their diet, methane emissions greatly reduce, leading to a cleaner and more sustainable future. 

While certainly unexpected, Elson’s ingenuity has challenged us to explore other purposes of materials and how they can be used to build a future everyone can appreciate. 

A Thoughtful Frame Of Reference

Next up was the Award-winning photojournalist and reporter, Mridula Amin, who welcomed us into her world of image-based storytelling, delving into themes of inequality, migration, identity and social justice. While her work is often captured in a simple frame, it quickly became clear that it’s the result of a manifold of conversations, research, exploration, patience and belief in the story. 

Without claiming to have the understanding or knowledge of a photographer ourselves, the beauty of her stories comes from the rawness and vulnerability she captures. Every story is told as it’s experienced and without apology or timidness.  

The results are both moving and challenging and have the unique ability to evoke a deep understanding, compassion and respect for the people behind the stories. 

While Amin’s talent and skill extends well beyond this quote, it perfectly encapsulates her approach to storytelling which is to “just [put] their stories out there” and let them be heard. 

Creating A Future That Was Made In History

Since 1983, the Indigenous Creative Agency Balarinji have been using design, branding and creativity to connect with and share Australian Aboriginal culture, art, stories and identity. Managing Director, Ros Moriarty, gave us a glimpse into this story.

By incorporating their legacy into every aspect of design, Balarinji are creating works of art that speak to their history and help extend an understanding and appreciation of Aboriginal culture into the future.  

One of their many pieces of work that speak to the richness they’ve managed to capture includes the redesign of Austrades new Nation Brand. As well as featuring our iconic kangaroo, the emblem embraces Australia’s 60, 000+ year old history in the design and chosen style. 

Three different types of boomerangs were used to create the silhouette of the kangaroo, including percussive, hunting and foraging boomerangs for the head, body and tail. Dot painting was incorporated into the tail which represents the songlines of their ancestral journey. Through a careful and thoughtful design process, Balarinji have created a logo that recognises the rich culture and history of Australia. 

Gaining Perspective

Perspective really is a clever thing. It changes the way you create, think and design and helps open our mind to the extent of possibilities the world has to offer. While the event has wrapped up, it’s left us with a long-lasting impression and excitement for what we’re creating here at Beans. 

In final reflection and with acknowledgement that the previous two conferences were cancelled, we are grateful to have attended this event and have the opportunity to learn from leading thinkers across the creative world. 

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