OFFSET Sheffield 2016

Last week, we headed to OFFSET for two days of pure inspiration - and inspiring it was! Usually held in Dublin, the festival often breaks out into different venues across the globe; this year, hosted in Sheffield. You may have seen us getting excited on Twitter over the past few weeks, and the event didn’t disappoint - we would absolutely recommend anybody in the design industry to go along. The two days were jam-packed with fascinating talks, so we just picked out our favourite three to share with you…

Steve Simpson

One of the first on stage, and an OFFSET regular, Steve is an illustrator and graphic designer based in Dublin. He is charismatic and a great speaker - captivating and engaging, explaining his way of working in detail without being patronising.

What captured our attention further was that he designed the packaging of one of our favourite hot sauces - Inferno Sauce. Look at those bar codes! The attention to detail is impressive, and Steve explained that this is what makes all the difference to his work. When you’ve created a beautifully unique illustration for packaging, you don’t want to slap on a standard-issue barcode or a nutritional traffic light bar - so why not make it your own?

“When somebody’s gone to the effort of making something, that’s when I feel warmth for it.”

Steve spoke passionately about illustration, and how important it is for everybody to have and express their personal likes and dislikes. When you’re invested in your work and your craft, that’s when it really matters.

Arguably Steve’s most impressive case study was his involvement in the Unreal Candy brand; it’s growing a serious reputation in America for it’s unique offering of junk-free candy; and their beautiful look and feel, lead by painted candy skulls. 

Aaron Duffy

One of the most engaging speakers we’ve witnessed, Aaron is a creative force to be reckoned with! Humble about his work and happy to genuinely share the process behind it, he shared some incredible pieces from his advertising portfolio.

“Do it for the meal; or Do it for the reel.”

He shared his top 12 bits of advice for aspiring creative directors, including this gem. Essentially, he tries to close the gap between doing work for money, and doing it purely for creative opportunity.

Another great piece of advice from Aaron was ‘Ease up on personal style’. Just because a brief doesn’t seem to fit with your personal style, or if you are trying to develop a style, don’t turn opportunities down. He shared with us a story of how he turned down a brief as it wouldn’t suit the work he wanted to focus on, but took on the project after much persuasion from friends and family. The project? An advert for Google – which you have no doubt seen already, but can watch again here.

“Consider illusions”

An interesting piece of advice – which makes sense (but will also blow your mind) when you see this music video Aaron created for OK Go.

Laura Carlin

Laura is an illustrator and ceramics artist. We just had to include her in our top three speakers of the festival, because of her candid style of presenting her work and hilariously dry delivery! She also really made us think differently about the role of illustration in story telling.

Typically, editorial illustrations visually repeat written text; they take a scene and represent it in a style. However, Laura tries not to do this. She reads the narrative, imagines the scene, thinks about the mood, and then goes from there…

“Your imagination goes on to complete the story.”

Photo credit: Laura Carlin

Laura shared her beautiful work with the room, including a self-initiated book documenting an inspirational trip to Japan, called Ten Days in Tokyo. She produced this at a time when she was putting a lot of pressure on herself to develop a style; this piece was a learning curve for her, to not put too much pressure on yourself to define a style too early. Which is an interesting point, as Laura is clearly at the top of her game now with a wonderful style you can see play out successfully across print and ceramics.

Although there was no defined subject for speakers to follow throughout OFFSET, we recognised some common themes cropping up throughout the talks. Most importantly, don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Developing a style, a confidence, and a portfolio take time – embrace creativity and experiment whenever you can, in whatever way you can.

Secondly, almost all of the talks included personal work – don’t limit yourself to the day job, if you have heart for another style or craft. Even when you have fame and fortune through your work, it’s important that you feed your personal creative needs with self-initiated projects.

Need more creativity in your life? Check out the latest design jobs in Leeds and Yorkshire here.

Header photo credit: OFFSET