Semi Permanent Part 4: Who are you?

Anna Cernis - 30 August 2019

In the previous three parts we were advised to consider our society and planet, listen to other people’s perspectives and be aware of our physical surroundings. Now, it’s time to look inward, as all of this can only be achieved if you

Be yourself, know your purpose and follow your passion

Artist Shantell Martin opened with the question “Who are you?”. But the tricky part was - can you answer the question without saying where you’re from, what you do for a job and what roles you play?

She encouraged people to embrace what’s unique about themselves. A lot of speakers iterated the importance of working on things that interest you, suggesting that bigger projects or paid work is often born out of proactively following your passions. For Matt Jones of Accept & Proceed, three personal space-themed projects led to a real-life brief from Nasa!

Shantell warned “Don’t play the ‘if’ game - if I had more money, if I had more time…”. Instead, work with what you have and own the opportunities that you do have access to.

Perhaps no one lives this sentiment more than Brad Smeele, former world-champion wakeboarder, now living as a quadriplegic following an accident five years ago. He now understands that happiness is all about perspective, saying only when he decided to ‘own’ his new life, did he find purpose, opportunities and happiness again. It turns out he is extremely good at free diving, or as he calls it ‘free sinking’; being able to hold his breath for over 5 minutes.

The sentiment of knowing your purpose extends beyond individuals, and applies to businesses and brands too. At Accept & Proceed, their design purpose is to resonate, not just decorate. They want to add layers of meaning to everything they do. Levi Slavin from Colenso BBDO insisted the importance of a brand having a purpose and knowing the answers to: “What is the uniting principle for everything? What is the contribution to the world beyond profit?”. This allows everyone to align behind who you are - including the fundamental audience that is your staff.

In some final, wise-words from Shantell: Don’t be anyone else but yourself – take who you are inside, to the outside.

Semi Permanent ended with a Dutch artist on top of a cherry picker, which I can’t quite match.

Instead, I wish you a society improving, environmentally aware, collaborative, diverse, hands on, purposeful and happy, creative future.