Held over a long weekend and part of a global series, the art and design event Semi-Permanent is a bit of a big deal to Melbourne’s design community, or to anyone who has an interest in graphic design, film, art, illustration, web design, stop motion, animation, photography and visual effects.

Reaching a diverse range of industry professionals both here and further afield, Semi-Permanent sits comfortably between the often disparate worlds of diverse and niche interests. The event is diverse because it covers such a variety of creative mediums, and niche because it only showcases exceptional talent. As the event organiser, Design is Kinky’s Murray Bell, contends, “Semi-Permanent is a live experience to start with, but something that will stay with you for years. It’s an experience that you will draw on for inspiration and direction.”

Across four countries and seven cities, Semi-Permanent has become a leading international event of its type – a creative confluence that provides a platform for talented speakers to share their ideas. This is a vast contrast to the event’s first two years, when Bell and co-organiser Andrew Johnstone ran Semi-Permanent out of Johnstone’s bedroom. “My desk was my knees on the floor,” says Bell. “We’re in a great office now, but for the most part it’s still just the two of us.”

The 2010 Semi-Permanent exhibition will again focus on inspiring and educating its audience while featuring top-shelf artists. Bell is looking forward to seeing Melbourne visual artist Leif Podhajsky, who designed artwork for psychedelic rockers Tame Impala. Leif’s “style of design is being referenced on blogs all around the world,” he notes.

Locally, there’s also Claire Martin, a social photographer who uses her photos to make insightful commentary of people and communities. Retail architect Kelvin Ho, who has designed over 50 boutique stores around Australia (including Incu, Willow and Sass & Bide), will also feature in the Australian pack. And internationally, the big drawcard is Pixar. “Regardless of whether you want to grow up to be a special effects freak, this will be amazing no doubt,” says Bell.

And yes, this design event is a conference. However, to discount it as just a design conference would be doing it no justice. There’s myriad side events that stem from the Semi-Permanent umbrella, including exhibitions, competitions, workshops and parties. These side event programs will also include fashion workshops, live art jams, events and an exhibition space designed by installation gurus Moth Design, with a pop-up gallery housing the works of 15 leading international artists including Stanley Donwood, Banksy and Shepard Fairey.

“Our side events give Semi-Permanent a festival-like atmosphere with a number of different events running throughout the week,” says Johnstone. “These exhibitions, along with opening and after parties, add extra depth to the overall event, giving attendees a variety of activities to choose from.”

Past speakers over the years have included the Art Director at George Lucas’s world-renowned visual effects agency, American photographer Charlie White and Weta Digitals’ Christian Rivers.

Semi-Permanent is on at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre on Friday September 17 and Saturday September 18.

www.semipermanent.com