Jayne Montgomery

Thoughts on being inspired – Semi-Permanent Wellington 2022

Writing is uncomfortable for me.

I work better in the visual sphere, that’s my jam. That’s where I feel at home, with all things creative.

But I’m going to take a deep breath and give this a crack.

I’ve been inspired by several of the talks recently seen at Wellington’s Semi-Permanent. It’s a design symposium that gathers creative leaders from across the globe, and locally, to talk about their ethos and the pure joy they have for their work.

Their businesses have been born from their passion, gaps in the market, or the need to connect with their community. They are the risk-takers, the connectors, the cultural signifiers and the fan-obsessed.


Here are five of my favourite take-aways from the two-day event 

1. Embrace the uncomfortable

Be comfortable in your uncomfortable-ness. New things are scary. So are things we don’t understand.

By actively putting ourselves ‘out there’ we learn so many skills. We can seek to put ourselves in someone’s shoes and get a better understanding of where they’re coming from. We increase our capacity for empathy, and hey, maybe connect with someone we wouldn’t normally converse with.

Learning a new skill or wrestling with new media or technology we can cross barriers and even generations. We can see what all the fuss is about, appreciate it for what it is and either continue on the road with it or simply thank it for its time and send it on its way.

Afterall, we are life-long learners and we should be looking for opportunities to extend ourselves. Being uncomfortable also sparks conversations, maybe some tough ones. In a world that crazily seems to get more divided it’s good to don that uncomfortable sweater and put yourself out there. Being uncomfortable is a great catalyst to being dynamic; it makes it impossible to sit back and relax or be passive. Give it a go, do something you wouldn’t normally do, what’s the worst that could happen!


2. Work with your community

Find others that share your values and collaborate. Connect with organisations in the community that can benefit from your expertise. Build something bigger than just you.

Revel in the local; we have cool ‘shit’ here. We don’t need to look far to find amazing people already doing amazing things. Let’s make our cool little city/country/business etc thrive.

Let’s build something awesome.

Choose a charitable organisation that aligns with your values and donate time and energy into helping them get their voice out there. Work with local artists to produce something new and inspiring. Bring the knowledge to a new community of people.


3. Be a fan-girl, guy or person

I love this.

Just being unashamedly proud to be a fan.

Be it some teenage pop star obsession to some nanna-ish craft, just own it! You never know where it might get you.

You might one day build a successful business from your love of 90s Brit pop. Run your own skate shop.

Having outward passion also draws like-minded people to you. You’ll be a magnet to people. You will build a community. Remember, you’re not alone in your fandom – there’ll always be people out there as super-passionate as you.


4. Save the world (for real)

Sounds like a big ask, but there are some incredible companies out there helping to do their bit for the planet.

And not tokenism either.

Truly building businesses where ‘green’ is at the forefront of their business, sitting alongside other major goals. Use good design to push ‘green’ into our lifestyles to create ‘want’ as well as ‘need’.

Good design is inspiring and sought after and can make the difference between a memorable product or service. Be informed about businesses that green-wash. Join online communities that make a stand against global brands that aren’t compliant.

With global networks we have the power to demand transparency. We are always bigger than ourselves and we can make a difference. We can hold people and brands accountable.


5. Celebrate (and understand) cultures

Embracing our culture makes our lives so much richer. Learn the back-stories and history in order to go forward. Understand why things work or don’t work for different cultures or people.

Ask, don’t assume or guess.

Get the right people involved in projects or ideas right from the start. Create meaningful stories. Know that people have different ways of understanding and receiving information and that there may be many solutions to an idea.

Work to bring foundational beliefs into a new and exciting medium or space and get people excited about learning.


There were so many inspiring talks and themes that came out of Semi-Permanent. It’s been a couple of years since the last one was held in Wellington and I think we’ve been a little starved of such inspiring talks.

I could feel a real tangible buzz in the air that was quite electrifying. The challenge now of course is to translate some (hopefully most) of these themes into practice, both professionally and personally.

Baby steps or big steps, just to make a start is often the hardest part. It’s making me feel a little uncomfortable, but that’s ok.

The Importance of Visual Design in Learning Design

Professional insight on the importance of visual design in learning design and tips on how learning designers can best collaborate with visual designers. 

Read more

stay in the loop

Sign up with your email address to receive news and updates.