We Can Create

Taika Waititi’s presentation at the We Can Create design conference yesterday didn’t start out so well.

He’d lost a very important piece of paper, the sound tech wasn’t working, and the relatively famous creator of BOY looked dazed in the auditorium full of design and creative professionals.

“Hello, I don’t know why I’m here or what I can teach you”, started his promising keynote, paraphrased slightly.

“I’m not a designer like the people that came up before me. Maybe I should have created my own font. HelveTAIKA anyone?”

I wasn’t sure if he was confused, unprepared, hung over, or just Taika.

Then he took off his shoes, sat down, and gave one of the best presentations I’ve seen at an event like WeCanCreate.

Taika was right, he wasn’t like the designers on stage before him. He just told stories.

He just took the audience through his inspirations (his artist father, and naive painter Henri Rosseau), his pet peeves (cancer, Kiwiana), and his adventures.

Stories like his obsession with drawing swastikas as a kid wasn’t uncommon (don’t worry, he felt so guilty about it he’d turn them into little windows).

Neither were doodles and paintings of mechanical bunnies, and an assortment of families and strangers riding dolphins.

All the while regaling the audience with his different side projects in acting, writing, directing work that he enjoys so much

It might seem to some that he was just rambling and filling time with ADHD-fuelled anecdotes, but to me he was giving these graphic designers, advertising creatives, professional artists and students hope that success doesn’t have to equal money.

“For me success is getting to do projects with my friends,” says Waititi.

“Success isn’t money, I think people know that by now but forget sometimes.”

His presentation was an excellent way to end a thought provoking day on design. We Can Create had a German duo of art psychologists, advertisers mixing art and science, a font creator with an affinity for swear words, an illustrator obsessed with the female form, and political activists with no regard for an artist’s hard work.

It was tumeke choice bro, but Taika Waititi says he hates Kiwiana so maybe I’ll just say it was pretty cool. A++++ would recommend again.

source and photo credit: Aucklandia.com

That’s the first account I’ve found about Taika’s presentation at We Can Create in Auckland yesterday. And here are two more. I emphasised some information which made me particularly excited.

If you’ve seen the above, you’ve basically seen Taika Waititi’s talk. He dicked around for five minutes in some inexplicable combination of awkward comedy and flat-out awkwardness – to the point where people walked out – then finally got into it and provided the most laughs of the day. The main new material was hysterical examples of the drawings he’s been doing for his Kickstarter rewards (famously delayed in delivery, as noted in the papers lately; “Never do a Kickstarter”, advised Waititi), and some clips from his new vampire film shot in Wellington and co-written with Jemaine Clement. The presentation space wasn’t very forgiving to the darkly-shot material, but it seemed like his signature mix of cleverness and stupidity, much less polished than BOY. He’s self-funding the film and will own it at the end; I got the impression that BOY was a bruising process, and that this is a retreat to safer, more nurturing creative environment.

source: Circle of Quality

Taika’s presentation started off awkwardly and continued on to be a mash-up of his Ted Talk and his talk at SemiPermanent in 2006. Despite seeing his talk six years ago, I still really enjoyed his presentation. Waititi is a likeable down to earth kiwi guy, even taking his shoes off and sitting casually on the couch. He had the audience in hysterics when sharing new material – his ongoing sketches for people who kindly pledged his Kickstarter campaign to get Boy distributed in the USA. Although, I did wonder what the international speakers were thinking during this… as without knowing his full accomplishments (and appreciating the kiwi humour) it could have come across as an awkward ramblings.

Like fellow New Zealander Sarah Maxey, Waititi strongly admires self-taught artists, proudly sharing his father’s work. He loves that his father paints what he wants to without any concern for what others think or outside influences, sharing that his father doesn’t want to sell his painting, preferring to keep them himself so he can continue to appreciate them.


He didn’t know why he was at WCC or what he could teach us. I disagree, and believe his presentation (despite what you thought of how it was delivered) displayed a strong theme of passion and the desire to be in a position to produce self-initiated creative projects that are financially viable, all while ‘being your own boss’.

by Corinne Smith at design assembly
We Can Create #2 in Photos

Taika Waititi – Rousseau as Inspiration for Kiwi vampire B-movies

While being the most risqué of the speakers in terms of the bag of jokes that he brought on to the stage with him, Waititi managed to coax the loudest laughter from the audience, which was a welcome departure from the fiery discourse of the Cannucks. Following a chaotically loose structure, which included spinning the hypno-wheel on stage for more times than was probably necessary, his presentation touched on almost everything, from being artistically obsessed with Robocop as a child to his fascination with Rousseau in later life and a preview of his new lo-fi vampire flick, which was produced together with Jemaine Clement of Flight of the Conchords fame.

The perennial piece of wisdom Waititi imparted on his viewers (apart from being careful about what you pledge to your investors when raising money on Kickstarter) was that all artists experience failure at one point or another and that this shouldn’t stop one from continuing to experiment.

Idealog: Review: We Can Create by Dennis Kibirev

Were you at Taika’s presentation? What did you think of it? And more importantly, what did you think of this fresh new material which will become his next feature film?


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