remix talks to semi-permanent dierctor simon velvin

Simon Velvin - Director of Semi PermanentIn the lead up to the annual Semi-Permanent creative conference in Auckland at the end of May, Remix will interview several of the headline speakers who are spreading their art and design inspiration at this year's event. To kick off, this week Steven Fernandez spoke with Semi-Permanent New Zealand Director Simon Velvin about what it takes to put on what has become the largest creative conference, exhibition and workshop of its kind.
 Can you tell us a bit about your role as the New Zealand Director of Semi Permanent?
There are three directors in the Semi Permanent brand. My day-to-day role is to curate and direct the Wellington, Auckland and South East Asia shows. I’m basically a glorified salesman! How do you choose the speakers that appear at Semi Permanent each year? What are the criteria? Every year we try and blend a unique mix of creatives across all disciplines so that audiences can learn and be inspired by a wide range of experts. More often people get more out of hearing from other creative fields. Every city is different so no specific criteria, we do aim to deliver relevant and current speakers with a few old school rockers!! How do you feel listening to established creatives helps others? What is some the feedback you get from audiences at Semi Permanent? Things don’t happen unless you put them in play.  Semi-Permanent Auckland is 1600 enthusiastic creative’s from all over the world coming together. Bound to be some interesting collisions! Thoughts become things! What advice can you give to young artists or people wanting to develop a career in a creative field? Create more, experiment more, interact more, play more. Of all the Semi Permanent conferences you’ve been involved in, which one stands out? Any favorite speakers? They all have a special place for me. You learn that the better speakers know how to engage an audience. The late British graphic designer Storm Thorgerson placed cut pieces of kiwi fruit under everyone seats and got people to place them over their eyes as “4D goggles”. He then took a wide format shot and called it “Fuck Avatar”. That spins my wheels! What about any awkward or disaster moments that sometimes happen with these events? Where do I start? I’ll give you one example – [American graphic designer] David Carson misses his plane to New Zealand, misses his taxi from airport, then brings slides from the 80’s to present in digital set up, starts drinking 60 minutes prior to talk and goes walk about 30 minutes before his talk… Do you guys have any dream subjects that you haven’t yet tied down that you’d like to get one day? If you mean subject matters, then no, because we don’t brief speakers on what to share, it’s totally up to them. But if you mean speakers themselves, then yeah. We’re currently talking with Shepard Fairey, Wes Anderson and Spike Jones, who are all amazing! Who are you personally really looking forward to seeing and/or listening to this year? Niklas Roy, a crazy fun German inventor. He’s an awesome playful tinkerer with a great atheistic. Outside of your job, what do you like to spend time doing? [Laughs] It’s not really a job! I love what I do. But when I’m not doing Semi Permanent stuff I do a lot strategy work with clients, develop new ideas and products and help get them to market in interesting ways. Other than that, just hanging out with friends and family, eat, sleep and wear lycra!