This was our fourth year attending Offset, which is now becoming an annual pilgrimage for our brand team. Some of us have been fortunate to attend for the last four years, but for some of the newer and junior members of our team this was their first time. Our excursion to Offset is an important part of the team's cultural calendar and a brilliant opportunity to recharge our creative batteries, bond and find inspiration through talks by graphic designers, illustrators, photographers and all manner of creative thinkers.
Beyond the wealth of talent on stage (and those who attend) over the three days, it’s always exciting to see the impact it has on our own creatives and to hear how different speakers inspire them, often sparking team conversations about new ideas or opinions.
We believe that it’s important to foster and harness these ideas and opinions, celebrating the eclectic mix of views from our creatives. Here are some of the highlights from Offset 2016 by our junior team members; Richard Pay, John Barton and Timea Balo. Enjoy!
Inspired by his rap video and performance above, this review of Mr Bingo has taken the form of my very first rap, but you must watch Mr Bingo's film first if you haven't already.
His nature’s not subordinance,
Self loathers are his audience,
They put him on a steeple,
For writing hate mail to his people.
He wrote a book about it,
Production quality’s fantastic,
The Kickstarter was massive,
Crowd was anything but passive.
Through time and dedication,
He's not only insulted the nation,
But proved that if you work hard,
Any doubters you can disregard.
The atmosphere was electric,
His short-shorts were majestic.
Mr Bingo I applaud you,
That is my rap-review.
As collective heads of Channel 4’s in-house design team, 4Creative, Chris Bovill (in the main photo) and John Allison are tasked with managing over 900 pieces of content for the broadcaster, including the rebrands of E4, FilmFour and most recently Channel 4 itself.
A ‘born risky’ attitude towards creativity has seen the channel become the most popular among young adults, with its culturally significant programmes and branding a reflection of today’s diverse society that provokes and entertains in equal measure.
The talk timelined their careers as a collaborative duo thus far, particularly highlighting their successes and failures early on in their careers. Unafraid to push boundaries and explore new avenues, their idea generation focuses on taking inspiration from more leftfield influences. As they described it, “…start somewhere negative. Look for the wrong answer, not the right one. You’ll be guaranteed to be somewhere different.” This goes some way to explaining the weirdly wonderful and innovative work emerging from the studio and should be a remit for all creatives wanting to create fresh and engaging work.
An example of this was the recent C4 sci-fi thriller Humans, in which a fake ‘own a robot’ campaign called Persona Synthetics was rolled out to the public. Overwhelming presence on the streets and social media made the hype of this sudden new product go global. Had it been real it would have flown off the shelves - instead the media attention ensured that when it was revealed as a publicity stunt, the opening episode amassed 6.1 million viewers, becoming C4’s biggest drama in 20 years.
Gmunk is a visual and design director with a decade of experience in the motion graphics industry. His incredibly versatile portfolio includes feature films, commercials, music videos, graphic design and experimental installations.
His energy comes through in everything that he does, including his presentation delivery - what we first believed would be just a glimpse into Gmunk’s world, was actually an immersive 45min speed through his portfolio, interests and the principles (which he calls ‘pearls’) that drive his work.
He approaches everything with a ‘yes-man’ attitude and believes that hard work and enthusiasm for your own craft should be the foundation of every project; and this is definitely reflected in his work, which is remarkable in its complexity and variation: 3D illustration, moving projection mapping, infrared lasers, proximity interactive LEDs and the list goes on.
He believes that as a creative you need to constantly reinvent yourself, have no expectations of how your work will be received and to make things happen, always put your work out into the world.
We all strive to push boundaries, to stay relevant, to be less fearful, more determined and spend less time in our comfort zones. Embracing Gmunk’s ‘pearls’ is definitely a step in the right direction.
You are unlikely to come across a design talk as emotionally charged and impactful as the opening speaker at this year's Offset. In what was a brutally honest and eye-opening talk, Stephen Kelleher spoke of his career before and after being diagnosed with testicular cancer. From his rise to professional prominence as a graphic artist with a varied portfolio in illustration and motion design; to his crashing personal low.
Understandably, this changed his entire outlook on life, with profound repercussions on his profession. Having worked at leading animation studio Buck as a motion designer, Kelleher moved away from long days spent on a computer, instead becoming more tactile, introducing craft elements and exploring new ways of working. Self portrait photography has become a big part of his portfolio, dealing with themes around health, masculinity and sexuality, in what he sees as a soul searching exercise, and “a reflection of how the world presents itself through my eyes”. The talk ended on a positive note and after a dark period, Kelleher appears that to have found a new purpose to his work, “I came to realise quite some time ago that the best design is never informed by design itself but rather life”.
Assemble co-founder Paloma Strelitz talked us through their desire to explore the disconnection between the public and urban spaces, a desire which they are very much fulfilling. Through projects such as The Cineroleum, Yardhouse and Folly for a Flyover they are creating surreal and playful moments that transform the perception of areas and find solutions to social problems.
I've always admired Assemble and what they're achieving with each project they work on. I have a huge respect for their culture of improvisation – they have a hugely talented multidisciplinary team consisting of textile designers, product designers and carpenters who are constantly working together to push their craft. It’s not only about being mindful of architectural surroundings, but the needs of the communities within. Their culture of learning through doing, whether that's direct action or experimentation allows them to craft playful, social and dramatic spaces that create a real impact within communities and perceptions of the areas they inhabit.
Seeing Assemble’s connection to the community and people who their work affects is inspiring. Ensuring a focus on audience should be at the heart of every project and this level of hands-on activity, research and understanding from the beginning is what produces great projects that really matter.
I can’t wait to see what they do next.
There’s a whole lot of negativity surrounding advertising and misconception of the people that choose to work in this industry (often referred to as soulless, profit-driven, ruthless, manipulative and generally horrible people).
Jessica Derby, John McMahon and Shane O’Brien from Dublin’s most awarded creative agency, Rothco, showed us the other side of advertising. They talked about their work, their creative process and how they learned to love what they do.
Rothco operates under a collective vision culture where everyone shares the responsibility for any aspect of a job and anyone can be creative. The act of putting the ego aside and acting collectively rather than individually is not unknown to me, but still very interesting. Having a collective vision allows you to embrace failure and stay mentally sane: operating under the principle of being neither right nor wrong until proven otherwise (a bit like Schrödinger's cat) takes the pressure off and allows more room for expanding your creative landscape.
Uniform employs the same principles of a shared vision and it’s great, it not only drives results but it allows you to lean into bravery, look for ways to improve and ultimately love the work that you do.