Every year OFFSET brings thousands of people through the doors of The Bórd Gáis Energy Theatre to embrace a weekend of wisdom, creativity and discussion. Among the masses hide media members from many of our favourite publications and outlets. Each one offers a unique take on their experience of the event. It’s always enjoyable to see the culmination of their responses cover the totality of what we worked to put together.

When the doors opened on Friday morning, delegates poured through for their first taste of what was sure to be an awe inspiring weekend.


Here at OFFSET we always try to showcase the best of Irish design and talent alongside our international speakers on the main stage.

Kicking off day one was Irish artist, graphic designer and musician, Peter Maybury. Peter took us through everything from publications for art clients to his audio-visual experiments.

For Eye Magazine’s, Anna Kealey, Edward Barber of Barber & Osgerby ‘gave one of the weekend’s most inspiring talks’. Edward discussed their industrial design processes from the firm’s bespoke Filo sofa to The Double Space installation in V&A’s Raphael Gallery. Concluding the talk with a captivating account of the process of designing the 2012 Olympic torch in just ten days the result was one of the most elegant Olympic torches.’

Following this pair was Neils Shoe Muelman who was a high energy shot of creative stimulation. Perfect for an early Friday talk and just what the event needed to kick things into high gear. Neils gave us a short but sweet insight into his mix of calligraphy and graffiti, Calligraffiti. Una Mullally of The Irish Times wrote that the talk ‘nudged our brains around pleasantly, with tweetable one-liners in his slides, such as why is it called a painting when it has already been painted?’.

After lunch, creative director of Boys and Girls, Rory Hamilton, gave us an entertaining insight into starting an independent ad agency. He immediately stood out and gave the crowds an insight as to why he was selected to be a speaker, especially Sharon Walsh of Edenspiekerman who noted that Rory ‘was one of the only people to speak about the importance of your brand culture as an agency.’

In the afternoon, Ian Anderson of The Designer’s Republic, blew the roof off the theatre with by whisking us through nearly three decades of work. Ian condensed 29 years of outstanding work at The Designer’s Republic into a 45-minute alphabetical list. He brought us on a whistlestop tour of projects from Autreche artwork to packaging for Coca Cola.

The value of doing personal projects without the constraint of a brief was brought to the fore by Veronica Feurte and Ricardo Jorge of the Barcelona based studio, Hey. Their bright work and exciting talk won over Kate of Brando with Hey’s ‘amazing use of vector and colour’.

Annie Atkins was one of the most anticipated speakers for day one and simply put she did not disappoint. Greeted on to the main stage by deafening applause Annie wowed the full theatre with an in depth look into her graphic design for film, particularly her Oscar winning work on Wes Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel. The detail, patience and energy in her work was a treat to be exposed to.’

And the beauty of the Offset meant that we were already swimming in knowledge but there were still two full days of talks left!


Day two began with one of the most inspiring talks of the weekend. Dutch photographer, Aisha Zeijpveld blew us away with her hands-on surrealist photography. Giving us a behind-the-scenes look at her analogue methods, Aisha’s conceptual portraits undoubtedly motivated many to step away from their screens and take a more practical approach to their work.

OFFSET Limerick speaker, Declan Shalvey, took to the stage next and gave us an insight into his remarkably successful comic book career so far. Using his typical entertaining and humorous style, Declan showed us just how passionate he is about his work and kept us on the edges of our seats throughout.

What will probably go down as not only one of the great talks of the year, but in OFFSET history, was when we were all lucky enough to witness Tomi Ungerer in conversation with Irish illustrator, Steve Simpson. With the first, and richly deserved standing ovation of the weekend, Tomi urged us to be ‘endlessly curious’ and brought us on a touching and captivating journey through his life and his work. Chloe Bolton of DDFH&B, described Tomi as a profound individual who could talk for hours and you would listen and engage endlessly and grasp at every nugget of advice he shared as though it were gold’, and we must say we wholeheartedly agree.

Veronica Ditting kept the creative passion in full swing with her momentous descriptions of what goes into running a magazine. Anna Kealey remarked that the level of design and editorial consideration is outstanding, and the creative director of The Gentlewoman magazine showed us how when designing a magazine that no detail is too small to obsess over.’

Sometimes the best applause is perfect silence, as evidenced by Steve Doogan who left 2,500 people in awe on the main stage on Saturday afternoon. Describing his career trajectory from a bad break-up to his creative epiphany, the Dublin based Glaswegian, brought his talk to an end with a video account of his trip around Asia which, silenced the audience and brought some people to tears.

Advertising is all about representing an idea and the Swedish agency Forsman & Bodenfors fit the mould and levels of excellence one would expect on-stage at OFFSET each year. Dominique McMullan of the Irish Times, commented that, ‘the agency doesn’t do things by halves, and this attitude, combined with their dry Swedish humour, made for some pretty awesome advertising.’

With the Saturday sun waning, Chrissie Macdonald made sure the show wouldn’t follow suit, as ideas and creativity popped from the stage with every slide. Showing us her ‘room of shame’ collection with everything from old cinema tickets to her Keanu Reeves folder, Chrissie demonstrated to us that with a creative head on your shoulders, a few pieces of paper and some helping hands, you can achieve mind-blowing feats.’

You never know what you’re going to get when you go to OFFSET. Each talk can vary greatly in form and style but even with those, Snask was something different altogether. Comparing the creative agency to that bonkers lecturer that we all had, Chloe Bolton describes how she was ‘inspired with their energy, quirkiness and ability to be different and create a masterpiece. Part advertising agency, part rock band it was an interesting combination, a lecture to be remembered.’


Illustrator Andrew Rae was worth bypassing a lazy Sunday morning in bed. Presenting us with his Charlie Brooker’s, Black Mirror, inspired drawing set-up, Andrew grabbed the audience’s, and It’s Nice That’s attention with his vast amount of sketchbooks ‘which show fully-formed characters as well as looser drafts of ideas.’

Next up was Dublin native, photographer, Matthew Thompson. Absolutely owning the medium Matthew provided images that your Sunday paper magazine would kill for as he showed us work from his Philips headphones campaign to his project for Dublin Theatre Festival and finally his recent series documenting black rights activist Herman Wallace at Louisiana State Penitentiary. Without access to Wallace’s solitary confinement, Matthew photographed ‘possessions he had accumulated over his time in confinement as well as the street he grew up on.’

To round out the morning, the main stage was graced by Sue Murphy, a Cork-born designer who splits time between each coast of the U.S. while she works for industry-legend studio, Wolff Olins. Punctuating her talk with comedic GIFs, Sue gave us an intimate and heartfelt account of her career so far as she ‘began by candidly discussing feeling uninspired, overworked and having impossibly high standards’.

There are always a few talks each year that appeal strongest to the die-hards of the creative arts. It can be difficult to balance technical details while maintaining an entertaining talk, but Matt Willey managed to do just that. This was specifically relevant to Eye Magazine’s Anna Kealey who commented that; ‘it was a dream presentation for print design purists as Willey spoke about bespoke font systems, grids and legibility.’

The final block of talks on Sunday was kicked off by Why Not Associates Andy Altmann; a multi-disciplinary designer who can now add, “fan favourite” and “first speaker to have a poster applauded by an audience” to his already-impressive list of accomplishments. Rounding off his main stage stint, Andy spoke animatedly about his impressive and outstanding project, The Comedy Carpet. Convincing the crowd to take a trip to Blackpool to see the vast seaside project, Andy quickly became one of the conference highlights.

Continuing what some may call our obsession with Pentagram, the penultimate talk of the event was the savvy Emily Oberman. Best known for her work on Saturday Night Live and an array of projects which surround it, Emily’s talk was driven by her compelling positive attitude and energetic approach. Joe Allam commented that throughout the presentation, Emily came across as a very passionate speaker with plenty of humorous comments and a huge amount of thanks to offer.’

And just like that, we reached the end of another OFFSET. The weekend was coming to an end but not without some creative fireworks to cap another great year. The Kilkenny duo, Tomm Moore and Paul Young of Cartoon Saloon brought the jam-packed weekend to a close a dazzling account of the immense work and patience it took to create two Oscar nominated films, The Secret of Kells and Song of the Sea.

Anna Kealey rounds up the entire weekend as having a predominant theme of dedication with ‘Cartoon Saloon’s nine-year journey to make Song of The Sea, Annie Atkins’s meticulous props and Chrissie Macdonald’s crafted set designs.’

As people filed out of the theatre for the last time, another spectacular OFFSET weekend was in the books. We sincerely hope that delegates will use what they learned as fuel to propel themselves forward in their respective lines of work. Creativity, much like rocket fuel, is very powerful and very difficult to point in one single direction. Artists of all kinds can look to their year ahead with a spark in hand to guide the way.

We’ll see you next year.


Photo by Oliver Smith

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