Offset 2015 – Part 1 of 2: Always Be Curious

March 23, 2015 – Art, Cultural events, Festivals
Deep in the lumbersexual capital of Ireland, Dublin’s Docklands, Offset returned for its 7th consecutive year. One of Ireland’s most internationally renowned festivals, and easily one of its soberest, the 3 day festival earlier this month hosted a plethora of successful names and companies who gave talks on life as a creative. The inspirations, the late nights and the sessions of cognitive dissonance were all on the chopping board. Here is part 1 of our round up of some of our favourite speakers from this years Offset.

Peter Maybury – image by Sarah Moloney


First to take the stage was the multidisciplinary Maybury who boasts photography skills, book production, sculptural work, video art displays, music recordings to suit and a large back catalogue of monochromatic typographical insanity. Although credited simply as a ‘graphic designer’ on Offsets website, Maybury discussed how each area influences and improves one another. His study of sound, for example, and that of the first ever sound recording (created by the printer Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville), led to layout and fragmented text designs inspired by the rough gray scratches on a thin strip of black carbon.

Maybury claims ‘Graphic Design is a joint venture. You draw heavily on the experience and insights of others. It’s an exchange. Graphic Design is not a good description. ‘Graphic’ seems to be only about surface, and, beside it ‘Design’ sounds like superficial arrangement. Communication Design is slightly better, but aligns more with ‘information’ and instruction, while Visual Communications only concerns the visual, but what about all the other sense? It’s important to frame what you do. Description is increasingly relevant.’


Annie Atkins – image by Sarah Moloney

Offset’s embodiment of unexpected design employment opportunities took the main stage at the end of the first day. Annie Atkins, who recently received part of an Oscar (probably one of the arms) for her work on the winning art direction of Wes Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel, spent little time discussing how she got job in the first place. The thought of combining a buttoned up denim shirt designer job with the glitz of Hollywood has Atkins regularly hounded by students, but ultimately, her only advice was to study and to network. On entering into her second degree, this time in film, her professor asked ‘who here wants to be a director’ and everyone put their hand up. Her professor promised that by the end of the year they would all find a niche area that they’d rather work in and even though her first thought was ‘yeah whatever’, Atkins fell into production design and back into graphics.

Although doing graphics for a film can be anything from movie posters to the visual saturation of an Anderson film, Akins admits that much of it is really background design, out of focus posters and props and minor glimpses of something that could have taken hours to make.

Using perspex to fake glass panes, tea bags to fake aged paper and picking up tips like, ‘if it’s made by hand at the time, make it by hand now’, Atkins’ ultimate job high is nothing more than a few seconds of screen time on a hand-made map.


Tomi Ungerer – image by Sarah Moloney

Ungerer, at 83 years old, was easily one of the oldest and most experienced speakers at Offset 2015. He’s an illustrator and writer with over 140 published books ranging from children’s books to erotic literature. Growing up in Nazi occupied France much of his work later became fueled with anti-war, anti-establishment ideals.

‘Every artist is a package deal,’ he said, ‘if you’re only doing illustration in only one style you’re not using all your potential.’ Ungerer talked excessively about the need for drive, for determination and for constant evolution to succeed as a creative. He also discussed how he is constantly brimming with various ideas which he tries to keep documented to come back to another time. ‘Never stop developing your feelings’ and to be endlessly curious. ‘The most important thing is to be curious – you’ll keep collecting information and that’ll lead to imagination.’


Forsman & Bodenfors – image by Sarah Moloney

One of many international speakers of the weekend were the multi-award winning advertising agency, Forsman & Bodenfors. Mostly known for their viral Volvo Truck ads, one involving Jean-Claude Van Damme doing the splits between two moving Volvo trucks to the soundtrack of Enya’s ‘Only Time’, F&B discussed the extreme amount of research they do for each client/product and claim it is one of the main reasons for their success.

While education plays a huge part, their ability to play on media speculation, like the sudden release of the first volvo truck video before a new truck was even anounced, was a major advantage. Time and time again they’ve prided themselves on their simple videos that go viral which spreads the ad further while costing less- a clients dream.

They also have an interesting work structure in that there are supposedly no creative directors at F&B. The pitch is invented collaboratively by those in the business, all the ideas are put on the floor in the middle of the room and they all communally brain storm. ‘If you are creative you are also good at judging other people’s work. We try to let the best creatives, create.’

More in part 2.

Words: Azzy O’Connor @azzyoc

Images: Sarah Moloney