In 2009 Offset was launched in Dublin to fill a hole in the creative sector. Over the past 10 years it has become renowned worldwide as one of the most important design conferences annually. Designers, creators and students from the world over come together to share their processes and insights, growing and learning together.
Last weekend we were fortunate enough to experience the full extent of Offset for the first time. We not only got the chance to take part but also to hear from some incredible creators. We found that when listening to people who are passionate about what they do, no matter what medium they use, their energy is infectious and their wisdom invaluable.
One week on we reflect on some of our highlights and key takeaways from Offset 2019;
The Irish are a creative bunch
Getting this one out of the way at the beginning because it might seem obvious or self congratulating to say coming from an Irish base. However, the standard of Irish creative talent exhibited, projected and discussed during Offset this year was incredible. We are definitely making a shift in the right direction from the island of saints and scholars to the island of doers and makers.
Something important that came up during a panel on exporting creativity was that Irish people lack confidence. We often think of ourselves as a small and insignificant island at the edge of Europe without much to offer on the world stage, but we have so much to give and it’s time we stand up and make ourselves and the incredible work we’re doing seen. Remember you don’t have to join a large multinational firm to work on international projects – stepping up and taking chances will help you go far, even from Ireland.
Designing the perfect story is a craft
Our CEO and founder Jack Murray gave a talk on the final day of Offset about designing the perfect story. Stories are what we work with everyday here in MediaHQ, in many ways they are our bread and butter. Everyone should consider how they can build stories into their work, they make people connect with an idea or symbol more than anything else does.
According to Jack, the key things to remember when crafting a great story are;
- Perspective: Who is telling this story and who is it aimed at.
- Structure: Story structures have existed in some variation of “beginning, middle and end” for hundreds of years. The reason for this is that structure is effective and as a result shouldn’t be shunned. Find your turning point, your climactic point and your finale and embrace them.
- Your magic slice: What is the key difference about you or the story you’re trying to tell that stands out from all the rest? That unique nugget is your magic slice.
Exercise your freedom
During his talk Edel Rodriguez said that sometimes you have to stick to your own point of view without compromise or else you’ll end up making crappy art.
I think this is a really powerful statement. Not to say that we should all start shouting our opinions so loudly we drown each other out, but more that we all have opinions and lived experiences that shape us. No matter what you’re doing, don’t let your work (be it paintings, press releases or accounts) turn beige by trying to conform to everyone else’s standards. Be yourself, hang on to your beliefs and that way you will do your best work.
Love what you do
Victo Ngai–an awe inspiring illustrator, spoke a lot about professional versus personal work during her talk. She spoke about how for a long time she felt that there had to be a divide, that what she enjoyed doing personally couldn’t possibly become what she worked on professionally. Following on from Edel Rodriguez’s piece on freedom of creativity, Victo Ngai made the point that conforming to what is expected of you will make you miserable and uncreative, it’s important to do what works for you–find your niche and excel at it.
We discovered through listening to artists like Ngai that sometimes you can’t just wait for opportunities to fall into your lap–you have to go and create them yourself. Find something you love and don’t worry about how good you are at it, consider how good you want to be and work towards that goal.
I’m sure this one is a no brainer for anyone who has worked with a team but collaboration is an essential part of bringing any big project to life. Anna Ginsburg brought us through the process for creating her animation “Private parts”, after getting the go ahead to produce it she realised she had bitten off way more than she could chew and wouldn’t have the time to do all the animating herself and so she reached out. Ginsburg contacted some of her idols in the animation world and was astounded that so many got back to her and were on board for the project, and so together they made a collaborative and stunning piece of work.
As idyllic as that sounds it took a lot of grafting, communication and hard work to bring the work of 10 artists together to create that piece. Workgroup–a Dublin based design agency said similarly that working in collaboration with both their clients and within their team is essential to doing good work. If they weren’t working together on projects their pool of ideas and range of skills would be greatly diminished.
The takeaways? Follow Anna Ginsburg’s example and don’t be afraid to ask for help–work collaboratively like workgroup do, sharing ideas and processes with others instead of pushing against them. Embrace your own style and ideas like Victo Ngai and Edel Rodriguez, push against the mould to find your own unique place. Design stories that help shape how others understand the world and most importantly be brave enough to put yourself out there and challenge yourself even if you are only from a small island on the edge of Europe.