Sitting on the cold stone edge with feet dangling over Dublin’s sun-sparkled Grand Canal Dock our lunch was stimulated by Offset’s morning speakers. Over the past five years the Offset team has managed to replicate an conversation-evoking, festival atmosphere across the 3 day creative conference. About 2,500 like-minded people sprawl across the open courtyard over lunch discussing the best of Irish and international creative professionals. Over the weekend many interesting ideas and perspectives were presented. Below are four common threads of the weekend that should resonate with every creative.
On Friday, Annie Atkins beautifully illustrated how her research informed the playful touches that enhanced the delicate authenticity of The Grand Budapest Hotel. The imperfect kerning in the poster’s font was inspired by Cairo’s historic Shepheard’s Hotel sign. With only 37 hours to produce and deliver an identity for UN’s Global Ebola Response initiative, Emily Oberman’s Pentagram team found the best design solution in an old African Andikra symbol meaning ‘BOA ME NA ME MMOA WO’ which translates to ‘help me and let me help you’. The Academy Award nominated Cartoon Saloon not only stressed the importance of research but also on getting out of the studio and spending time sketching in their scouted locations. The significance of staying informed was best summed up by Graphic artist and author Tomi Ungerer, who received a standing ovation for his interview on the second stage: “People ask me what my inspiration is. The most important thing to anyone in life, particularly creatives, is to be endlessly curious.
Play was a strong narrative that permeated through last year’s Offset; stop trying to separate work and play and treat work as play. In 2014, Jessica Walsh said “We’re made to believe that play is a waste of time as we get older. Don’t forget to play when you’re job is to be creative. Be experimental, put yourself in unusual situations. This year’s speakers not only spoke about playfulness as a means to creative experiment but also dialled up the humour as an integral component of their design approach. Snask’s entire performance embodied a brash rock and roll parody while the ‘epic’ Volvo adverts by Forsman & Bodenfors received rapturous laughter. Subtle examples in designs included Hey Studio literally playing with fire to create a unique identity or the cheeky, hallowed ‘O’ of Oberman’s ‘On Being’ logo.
Meticulous craft and mastery of hand skills such as sketching and modelmaking always command respect from the Offset speakers. Tomm Moore from Cartoon Saloon displayed the most beautiful swift watercolour paintings from their behind the scenes preview of ‘Song of the Sea’, their enchanting upcoming feature. Chrissie McDonald, among others, showcased her intricate papercrafting skills for Orange adverts. Atkins revealed that The Grand Budapest Hotel fonts were all impressively hand drawn before being digitised.
The most common thread of the weekend was about surrounding yourself with talented people. Most speakers thanked their collaborators extensively through their talks whether they were partners, tight knit teams or a connected network of experts. Andy Altman believed that two people will always take an idea to a place where neither could take on their own. Forsman and Bodenfors spoke about hierarchy being ‘expensive and boring’ and that a flat structure put’s everyone’s creative value on an even keel. These positive sentiments of the collective conscious were best summed up by what Milton Glaser said at Offset 2014 about creating true social value. “There are very few geniuses – but we only need a few – what we need more is people working together”.