OFFSET 2013 review

Rachel Hegarty reviews the creative festival that took place in Dublin last weekend

The sea of beards, sharpies and skinny jeans may have brought confusion to Dublin’s Grand Canal last weekend. No, it was not festival season - they were hungry brains seeking insights, revelations and elevations from OFFSET 2013.

This was year number 3 for this gathering of designers, photographers, illustrators and videographers and they needed no support act or filler – there was something to be gained from every speaker.

Dublin’s creative Mardi Gras offered a choice of two rooms to stimulate one’s boots. The main theatre room housed presentations, the second smaller floor delivered relaxed interviews and “Routes Into” sessions. OFFSET brought plenty opportunity to gather advice, encouragement and counsel for those involved (and hoping to break into) the creative business.

While speakers offered valuable tips, trivia and tactical advice, the most engaging were those who shunned a generic PowerPoint pitch in favour of Q&A’s, anecdotes and off the cuff remarks.

Avoiding trends

Ben Boss urged his audience to avoid trends – by adopting this practice he maintains his work has been used over decades. Additionally, he summarises that the best tool we have is our mind, not our computer - something that we all need reminding of in today’s speedy online age.

A lady who utilises trends would be Kate Moross, as music videos and Top Shop t-shirts are some of her latest assignments. Having just turned 27 it could appear that Kate herself may be a passing trend. She silenced her critics with both her impressive presentation (where she tells us to think past creative blocks as “there is no wall”) and her unique body of work. Kate’s projects may be à la mode - but her talent and energy is relentless.

Bob Gill is everything you would expect from a New York City adman. Mr. Gill was loud and brash but anxious to give us maximum ‘Bob for our Buck’. No applause was allowed until the end (it’s time wasting he said) and by limiting slides in favour of taking questions from the audience we got a unique flavour of Madison Avenue life.

Working by their own rules

In typical Oliviero Toscani style his presentation ran way over time – I image this is a man who savours every opportunity. Toscani is a man filled with contradictions. While he blasted the fashion industry with his controversial 'No Anorexia' Nolita campaign, he still continues to work within the industry (he had just wrapped up shooting a glossy fashion cover pre-OFFSET).

While discussing another slide he berated the marketing world – this coming from a photographer who found fame with his Benetton advertisements. I suspect Oliviero recognises his conformity, but is someone who fights smaller battles rather than taking on the larger establishment. Toscani works by his own rules and, with a talent such as his, it is allowed.

Unlike Toscani, Louise Fili doesn't do contradictions. She has two simple pleasures - food and illustration. Her Italian heritage has heavily influenced both her work and her palate. Fili’s wonderful career began drawing book jackets (interestingly she always read her books before designing, and knows when a designer has failed to do so). Her work then naturally veered into the restaurant and food branding business – where she encountered some colourful Mob bosses. 

Louise puts her success down to "dumb luck and good timing." This canny lady always strikes deals with her clients, meaning her New York studio is always filled with delicious goods. Softly spoken but colourful, Louise is in favour of hard, intelligent work, proclaiming “you don't have to be loud to make a cover.” And I’m guessing the gelato on tap will always help deliver inspiration.  

A natural highlight

Hvass and Hannibal embody the soft approach to work, and their adorable presentation was my personal OFFSET highlight (I have tiny love hearts drawn around their presentation notes). The Copenhagen design duo may not have been the slickest of presenters but they were definitely the most natural.

The ladies talked us through their design process (their tennis method where they pass work back and forth to each other), their mishaps (an Efterklang album photo shoot that was ruined by rain) and gave us tips on maintaining creative control. They urged the audience to experiment, keep making mistakes and work harder (not necessarily smarter). Hvass and Hannibal are too cute for words - do be sure to catch this recording when it hits the OFFSET archives. 

Ji Lee certainly embodies the concept of working harder. He urged creative’s to take on personal projects – you don’t need a client brief to get things done, he proclaims. A renegade marketer and artist (look up his Bubble Project), Ji Lee was refreshingly honest. Don’t feel precious about ideas he says (some will take off, some wont) and most importantly embody your craft – “ideas are nothing, doing is everything” is his mantra.

The success of OFFSET remains the same as a great design – it’s functional, exciting and most importantly delivers great beauty in the details.