Semi-Permanent - Foxes Blog
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At the start of the month, 2nd and 3rd of May, Semi-Permanent was back in Auckland. The design conference has now been running for 10 years (or ten yeah’s if you caught their branding). It’s always an event that I really look forward to; I always come away from it inspired and invigorated with all my projects, and this year was no exception.

The speakers who stood out for me were Ian Wharton, Matt Willey, Nat Cheshire of Cheshire Architects and Marc Smith & David Mellor of Framestore (NY). Let me tell you why…

Ian Wharton

Ian Wharton was the first speaker of the two days; his talk grabbed you with both hands and forced you to pay attention because everything he was saying, was so true and so awesome. He encouraged us to embrace the ridiculous, that youthfulness is enthusiastic, exaggerated and we fall in love with everything. Anything is possible. When approaching anything creative, we should trust our gut, creativity favours intuition and you shouldn’t second guess yourself. He also said that a brainstorm with more than 3 people is a total waste of time. By the end of his talk, you could tell the audience was struggling to not all rush towards the stage and hug the man.

matt willey

I think I liked this Matt Willey character because he was just like me, or his story reminded me of my life. He never intended to become a Graphic Designer, it “just happened by accident” Matt has 40+ magazine titles under his belt and is now the Co-Founder and Editor at Port Magazine. He is from the UK, he did his GCSE’s (like me) and then went to art college at Central St Martins in London (kind of like me, but I was in Hereford, ugh) he did Foundation Art and didn’t know where to go (like me) he chose various other crafts until landing on Graphic Design because of the building it was in. Amazing magazine work aside, I liked Matt’s talk because it reminded me that even though you have an idea of where your life ‘should’ be heading, often the best things to ever happen to you feel like a series of mistakes, but really, they are leading you to exactly where you are meant to be and the mistakes happen so you know you’ve reached a good place when you finally get there. You know?

nat cheshire

Nat Cheshire is the most passionate person about Auckland I have ever met; and it is contagious. His talk was the most beautiful of the 2 days, so beautiful, that SP have actually released his segment for you to enjoy at home (and for me to watch over and over). I bumped into him at the end of day two and took a moment to thank him for being so inspiring. He said thank you and that he liked my glasses.


Framestore is a VFX studio in New York, Marc is actually from New Zealand and was a designer at an Auckland studio that I’m about to start at (more on that, later). They began their talk with the most amazing show reel I have ever seen in my life. My heart started beating faster, my palms got sweaty and I wanted to jump out of my seat like an excited fan at a concert and jump around. Lucky for everyone else around me, I didn’t. It was like I fell in love with my industry all over again. I think what I liked most about their talk (there wasn’t a lot of talking, lots of showing of work) was that they reminded me I am exactly where I need to be; surrounded by creative, inspiring people and dedicating my life to making cool shit. If I was hanging out with Oprah, she’d tell me I had an ‘ah-ha’ moment.

I bumped into Marc at the after party and after much internal dialogue I approached him and told him how much his talk meant to me, how I’d had such a physical reaction to what I was seeing, that they had reignited my passion for the industry and confirmed I was on the right path with my life. Marc shook my hand, asked what my name was and thanked me profusely for telling him. He said it was the best compliment he’d had all weekend. I sat back down at my table with my friends, my heart beating in my ears I was no nervous about telling him. He tapped me on the shoulder and thanked me again.


I think the best thing that came out of the entire weekend, was that I need this creative industry. I bumped into so many people I know who I look up to, am inspired by, am friends with. Everywhere I turned there was a familiar face. I felt right at home.

A day or two before, I had been offered a contract with a studio who I had worked for on We Can Create and have known for the last 2-3 years, one who I had also (stupidly) turned down two years ago when asked to join their team. The same studio that Marc Smith had worked at and poured so much of his life into. I’d already accepted my new contract role at this point, but attending SP was like a giant, pointing neon arrow at my future, where I’m meant to be.

Ten yeahs! Hell yeah.

Images kindly borrowed from Semi-Permanent AK Facebook.