Need inspiration? Go to Offset!

Offset 2016

As Offset 2017 is looming…we reminisce about our experience back in 2016…

Offset is one of the worlds leading design conferences, and is basically a ‘music festival for design geeks’. In 2016, I (Mandy, Creative Director) was lucky enough to grab a ticket. After the weekend I was convinced that anybody in any profession would benefit from such an inspiring event. It is not only set in the beautiful city of Dublin, but includes talks from leaders and pioneers of the creative industry, interactive workshops and activities-along with secret events and ‘designer heaven’ freebies! It is an informative, entertaining and motivating weekend.

There were many powerful talks and presentations from designers/illustrators/animators etc from all over the world. They shared an insight into their world, including a backstory on how they got where they are today. I was lucky enough to catch some of my design heroes, including Jonathan Barnbrook, Morag Myserscough and 4Creative. One common theme phrase from that weekend, that has stuck with me is: ‘do work you love, and work will follow’.

Here are some of my favourite pearls of wisdom for all you creatives out there:

‘Would anyone give a shit?’ Rothco
Rothco are an advertising agency based in Dublin. They work in commercial advertising but dedicate some of their time to social causes, and can often be found collaborating on personal projects. Their approach to every idea and concept is asking if ‘people will care’ about what they are creating. If they feel nobody will care, it’s just another ‘pretty campaign’ without substance. Rothko focus on meaning and purpose with each project. My favourite touch point in the presentation was their ‘A Shread of Decency‘ equality campaign. This saw them collect ‘anti-gay’ leaflets and turn them into wedding confetti ahead of the referendum. What a brilliant idea.

‘Start somewhere negative. Look for the wrong answer, not the right one. You’ll be guaranteed to be somewhere different.’ 4Creative
Considering 4Creative’s Chris Bovill and John Allison have created groundbreaking work, they appear a humble duo that continually challenge themselves creatively. They have strong values and are socially driven to make positive change. They discussed how to overcome the pressures designers put on themselves following success (wise words below):

Their impactful work includes the E4 election shutdown (brilliant idea to encourage young people to vote), and the recent Channel 4 rebrand in which they pushed boundaries and pulled apart the logo.

‘Make happy those that are near, and those from far will come.’ Morag Myerscough
One of my utmost design idols is Morag Myerscough. Morag’s is one of the UK’s most prolific designers. She creates and curates many types of work that is bold, engaging, colourful and impactful, resulting in supergraphic neon patterns and type. Morag talked through her eccentric family upbringing, and how it inspired her, and talked through pieces of work that have changed her career. She often works on community based projects, such as The Movement Cafe in London and the giant obscure camera in Mexico.

‘A logo is not as important as it’s association over time.’ Angus Hyland, Pentagram
Angus Hyland, design legend and partner of Pentagram, delved into ‘why not to follow trends’. He went on to discuss the importance of considered, strategic branding and the fact it results in timeless designs, adding great value and longevity to any business.

‘I stop conscious thinking to find another way of problem solving.’ Russell Mills
Russell Mills is a British Artist who creates experimental work, including iconic album covers for Nine Inch Nails. Russell explained how much of his work is endlessly open to chance, as he allows himself to explore, subconsciously, without thought: ‘This leads to unusual and metaphorical solutions that are expressive and hold feeling and emotion’. He takes inspiration from the natural world over the design world, he is very much an instinct driven artist; something that creates beautiful results.

‘Designers are falling over each other to kiss corporate arse.’ Jonathan Barnbrook
Design legend and activist Jonathan Barnbrook has worked on a number of socially conscious projects. He discussed the importance of the question ‘why’? Why are we doing this? Why are we making it? He feels the creative industry often produce things for consumption over need. Because of his strong ethics and values, he has worked on projects that challenge the status quo of advertising such as the disruptive advertising campaign, Adbusters and the Occupy Movement. Not to mention the amazing symbol work for the David Bowie Blackstar album; which includes many hidden secrets within the album artwork. For example placing it under UV light or sunlight reveals some hidden effects…

‘If you can get a really bad idea to work, it’s genius because nobody else has done it.’ Studio Dumbar
Studio Dumbar, (Netherlands) encourage all of their employees to approach a brief in their own way: ‘everyone has their own style and this should be treasured’. Sometimes, they put a really ‘bad’ idea into a brainstorming session to see where it goes. This unique way of working results in work that is very bold, brave and experimental. They talked about the importance of experimentation both on paper and on screen, to reach unique ideas. They also shared this brilliant video to show the amount of variations designers can go through in the design process before they reach the big idea. One to show clients! 

‘Make are for people, not companies’ Mr Bingo
Mr Bingo discussed his Kickstarter process, and how he used it to raise funds to be able to fund print publication for self initiated project Hate Mail. Here is the must-watch Kickstarter video (the most persuasive and entertaining one I have ever seen):

Hate Mail was a project in which Mr Bingo sent over 1000 postcards with offensive messages (at the persons request through social media). It really picked up momentum and he ended up sending over 1000 postcards. The book is hilarious. We have ours!

If you are heading to Offset 2017…we envy you, but in a ‘it’s-going-to-be-amazing-you’re-going-to-be-transformed’ kind of way. It showcases the diversity of design and so much more!

If like us, you can’t make it, and need some inspiration, Offset have an archive of over 300 hours of video from past talks. I will definitely be back in the future – Offset is worth every penny.

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