[OFFSET Dublin] 2018 Festival Round-Up

OFFSET burst into Bord Gáis Energy Theatre last month presenting a stellar lineup of the best creative talent from around the world in the heart of Dublin.

Delivering a dense programme of design talks, panel discussions and industry debate, complimented by marketplace and industry networking areas and a pop up area curated by Facebook Analog Lab, attendees at this year’s OFFSET Dublin were spoilt for choice.

It was our first time at OFFSET – and our first time in Dublin – and we had a brilliant time exploring the city, meeting new people and taking in the amazing talks.  As we return to the UK buzzing with creative inspiration and fuelled with energy for our own projects, we reflect on some of our favourite talks at OFFSET Dublin and what we learned.

Huge thanks to our wonderful hosts Lisa Haran and Bren Bryne at OFFSET Dublin.

1. Aoife Doolley

Dublin based Aoife Dooley was one of three emerging talents chosen to warm up the OFFSET audience with bitesized 10 minute slots. Hailing from Coolock on the northside, Aoife studied in Colaiste Dhulaigh for 3 years before going on to achieve a first class honours degree in Visual Communication where she studied at Dublin Institute of Technology. Aoife is best known for her ‘Your One Nikita’  illustrations which chronicle the life of a 22 year old woman called Nikita and boyfriend Anto. Combining her illustration with a side hustle as a stand up comedian, it was no surprise to see humour injected into everything she produces. Aoife had the audience in stitches from the get go, and she was a great choice to kick off the morning session. Definitely one to watch!

I think the magic of taking influence from the world around you is that you can share it with others and they relate to you – that can be really rewarding.

Aoife Dooley

OFFSET Dublin speaker Aoife Dooley

2. Moving Brands – Sean Murphy

Sean Murphy, Moving Brands

Long before joining Moving Brands,  Sean Murphy left North design to start his own studio — Value and Service — with Hazel Rattigan, had a stint in advertising, headed up the creative department at a world-famous fashion photographer’s agency, jumped back into the world of branding and — immediately before joining MB — did three weeks of freelance design work.

It’s much safer to not have a plan, because having a plan sets you up for failure.

Sean Murphy, Moving Brands

Rather than being another branding agency, Sean Murphy revealed that Moving Brands was founded on innovation and experimentation.  “It’s always been about experimenting with new things, working through problems and getting hands dirty.” Murphy, who has been creative director at Moving Brands since 2015 gave an entertaining and candid account of how he got to where he is today, trying his hand at different disciplines – from running his own studio, to freelancing for various agencies – and winging it a lot. “It’s much safer to not have a plan, because having a plan sets you up for failure.”

3. Red Dog

Red Dog on stage at OFFSET Dublin

Championing local talent at OFFSET Dublin, design studio Red Dog were an early addition to thie year’s line up. With studios in Dublin and New York, Red Dog have built a reputation for collaboration and fresh ideas. Highlights from their session included branding identity design for charity Jhpiego, who commissioned the studio to create a new identity to “communicate their mission and values with greater impact, personality and focus.” All of this with a name that some people (ok, a lot of people!) find difficult – if not impossible – to pronounce.

Brand identity design for Jhpiego

Collaboration also underlines much of their creative output, and it was interesting to hear how this approach spans across the agency, and outwardly working with freelancer producers, strategists and illustrators.  “Our vision for Red Dog is always the same” says Creative Director Paula McEntee. “Money is not the driver – although having some is nice. The thing that keeps me awake at night is “are we good enough.”

4. Ustwo Games – Dan Gray

I want to be around amazing people that i learn from every day, I want to do it in an environment I enjoy participating in and I want to release products that surprise and move people. Everything else is a bonus.

Dan Gray, head of studio, ustwo games

Dan Gray, head of studio, ustwo games

Head of Studio at Ustwo Games Dan Gray gave an impassioned talk about working at Ustwo; sharing the story and creative process behind crafting Monument Valley 2, and the challenges they faced creating a follow up to the hugely successful original. Reflecting on the challenges faced during pre-production for mobile game Monument Valley 2, he spoke about crafting a story inspired by universal themes. “A challenge we have in the mobile space it’s very difficult to keep people’s attention. They’re opening a game for 30 secs or a minute at a time before moving on to the next thing. So it’s very important to us that we surprised people at every turn.”

Inside the studio at ustwo games

“The art style was very contemporary and of the moment,, the mechanics were unseen on mobile and we knew we had the team to follow through on the idea and it was a perfect storm. As our team has gotten more experienced we’ve become better at controlling the variables that lead to magic, but sometimes it just happens out of nowhere.” The role of family in particular was discussed at length, as Dan talked about the narrative around the games central characters: a mother and her child. 

“It’s a very rare duo to see in gaming these days” said Dan Gray,“Making a mother the central protaganist in a game which has not been done before is a really unique and striking approach to game design. “We must have gone through over 200 characters trying to get the feeling right.”

Read our interview with Dan Gray here.

5. Peter Donnelly

The President’s Glasses by Peter Donnelly

The initial stage of building a career can be a baron period financially. Self belief gets you through that period. Also talent is handy as well.

Peter Donnelly

The President’s Glasses by Peter Donnelly

Irish illustrator Peter Donnelly closed out the festival on Saturday evening, recounting the challenges he’s faced both personally and professionally over the last two years. “For me, happiness and health is my definition of success. I think if you put your heart and soul into your work people react positively,” says Peter. “The initial stage of building a career can be a baron period financially. Self belief gets you through that period.”

For the last twenty years, Irish illustrator Peter Donnelly has developed a recognisable style influenced by his interest in mid century design, folk art and vintage print. Talking through the creative process behind his first author/illustrator book ‘The Presidents Glasses’ he revealed that having so much creative control over the book was very satisfying. M”y publisher gave me a lot of freedom and respect during the process so it turned out exactly as I had envisaged it.”

Read our pre-festival interview with Peter Donnelly here.

6. Chris Ware

Comics are the art of reproduction. As such, they establish a direct line of comunication with the viewer that few other drawn visuals arts do anymore.

Chris Ware

Chris Ware joined on stage by John Walters of Eye Magazine

Self deprecatory comic artist (and some would say creative genius) Chris Ware was joined on stage by Eye Magazine editor John Walters for an informal and relaxed interview taking the audience through the wonderful and somewhat surreal back catalogue of some of Chris’s most notable work to date. The result was a refreshingly honest conversation which captivated and entertained.

Read an extract of OFFSET Dublin’s director Bren Bryne’s interview with Chris Ware here.


Here’s the best of the rest – in pictures..

Festival bags hanging on the shoulders of OFFSET Dublin attendees

Badge making at Facebook Analog Research Lab

OFFSET Dublin Marketplace

The stage is set for OFFSET Dublin 2018.

Offset Dublin took place 23-25 March 2018 at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, Grand Canal Square, Docklands, Dublin, Ireland. Head here for more info.


Posted on Apr 15th, 18 by | Twitter: @lisahassell

Founder & director of Inkygoodness, Lisa is a published writer and arts journalist, focusing on creative business, graphic art and illustration and design education. Her words regularly appear in Computer Arts, Creative Bloq, Digital Arts and IdN.

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