Interview with GMunk ahead of Semi Permanent Portland

First participating in Semi Permanent in Sydney in 2004, Bradley Munkowitz (a.k.a. GMunk) knows his stuff. After a long and illustrious career as everything from an interior designer to a creative lecturer, he’s now speaking at Semi Permanent in Portland. We caught up with GMunk before the event to talk holographs, lectures and everything Semi Permanent.

LAEM: You began your professional career as an Interactive Designer. Can you tell us about that?
G: My first gig out of college was with the super team over at Vir2L Studios, which shipped me off to London to collaborate with some of the top international designers in the world. I was coming from a film background in college, so it was an interesting challenge to fit into the Interactive World. I ended up taking a huge interest in the Flash Technology and made a series of Interactive Films and websites, all taking huge inspiration from my surroundings in the UK. This was all back in the Dot Com boom so there was plenty of interest in pushing the medium and coming out with fresh design and animation. These experiences early in my career were instrumental in the development of my animation and design acumen.

LAEM: What is the best bit about your job?
G: Depends which job! In all seriousness, it’s tough sometimes when timelines and budgets limit the possibilities of a brief, but that’s just the name of the game with client work. I think the secret is to mix these client jobs with capable personnel jobs to help bring the vision to life in a smooth fashion. Another secret is to have a healthy serving of personal work thrown into the mix where you can express your creativity and design sensibilities within your own flavor. But to answer your question, the best bit about the job is to be able to be creative all day while using ever-evolving technologies, all while challenging yourself to improve and evolve by constantly studying the masters and being motivated by your peers.

LAEM: Tell me about the holographic content you were involved in making for the film Tron.
G: What an experience that was! Basically, myself and four other graphic superstars dropped into Digital Domain and rocked out almost 12 minutes of holographic content over a 12 month gig. In all honesty, I learned more in that one year than I had in the previous 10, mostly by watching how Kosinski and VFX Supervisor Eric Barba interacted on a daily basis. In dailies I would study how they refined shot after shot through months of work; it was incredible and a total design boot camp. For our own contributions to the film, we were given a lot of freedom to make it awesome, and I can’t thank Joe and his producers enough for the opportunity.

LAEM: You seem to draw a lot of inspiration from science and space. What else influences you?
G: I have to admit I’m hugely into psychedelics, and yes, space and sci-fi. Taken together, the cerebral psychedelics with futurism and galaxies lends to a perfect aesthetic that is so unbelievably rich with ultra-fresh awesome-ness. I strive to bring that flavor into all of my treatments; sometimes it works, and sometimes not so much. In terms of what else influences me, I’d say graphic design, interior design and architecture, illustration, concept art, photography and optical illusion art are all high on the list. I also love hipsters and fashion as I like to stay tuned into the latest and greatest.

LAEM: You give lectures fairly often. What makes you want to keep doing it?
G: I mean, you can’t complain about free flights and hotels to wonderful cities and conferences to share thoughts about art and design with some of the best heads in the world; it is a wonderful gig. Plus it was at conferences that I’ve received some of my biggest career breaks and opportunities so I feel a sense of duty to continue to give back to the community.

LAEM: What made you want to get involved in Semi Permanent?
G: Funny enough, my first involvement was 9 years ago when I was living in Sydney and I was an alternative presenter for the great Nando Costa. That was my first session with the conference and I just thoroughly enjoyed it, especially working with the two founders Andrew and Murray, who I had been in touch with previously during the Dot Com boom in the late 1990’s; Design is Kinky, oh hell yes… I recently returned to the rotation last year, giving sessions in Sydney and Auckland, again having an amazing time at both conferences. I honestly think Semi Permanent is one of the top conferences on the circuit, mostly for the quality and diversity of presenters they bring in. They also take very good care of you and are just the sweetest people; I mean, most Australians are. This year I’m very very excited to be a part of the Portland Semi Permanent as PDX is my favorite US City and I’m honored and excited to inspire my fellow Oregonian faithful.

Check out Semi Permanent for more information.

About the author

Cormack is a Melbourne based freelance writer and photographer. He loves to travel, drink red wine, and spin records. On the weekends you’ll most likely find him eating pork buns or shaking up cocktails for his friends.