It’s a Friday morning in the Dublin docklands. Spring is managing to break through the piercing cold, as is the gathering crowd. Excited little groups of people huddle outside the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, coffees in hand and anticipation in the air. Even with the hipster beards, fancy brogues and quirky personalities, an innocent kind of joy is blooming. It is a feeling that will last the whole weekend. For what, you ask? – in a word, Offset.
Offset is a design conference going strong since 2009, with names like Michael Beirut, Louise Fili, Paula Scher, Milton Glaser, David Carson, JR and Jonathan Barnbrook lending themselves to the stage over the years. Catered to students, professionals and anyone in-between, it is a three-day event showcasing the best of contemporary art and design practice, from sole trading veterans to fresh-faced creative entrepreneurs. You have a choice of speakers each day, all of them coming from traditions such as fine art, crafts, interior design, graphic design, illustration, sound design, photography, architecture, and the rest. On that rare occasion where you don’t find something to your pleasing, the conference runs a mini market of prints and art books. As well as the opportunity to talk to major design companies looking for fresh recruits.
Having attended the conference of 2016, I was pleasantly surprised by what I found. I expected myself to be leaving early, as you sometimes do as these types of extra-curricular activities, maybe suggesting to classmates that we head off for food at some point and not return. My ticket had been a birthday present, too, so I wasn’t as invested in the weekend as my friends. Long story short, they practically had to drag me out of the place.
There is something very different about hearing a designer speak about their work in person. Sure, you can look up online portfolios, watch a talk or an interview about the person from your living room and maybe it was because it was my time invested into this long weekend, but being in the room made me tune in more than I do during regular class time. Maybe it’s the nervousness in their voice you can identify with, or maybe it just feels good to be part of an audience with like-minded people. I left Offset 2016 with a refreshed motivation to keep going, to face the coming assessments I had to jump into as soon as I was home.
Based on my experience of Offset 2016, I can safely say that you’d be a fool not to attend the conference at least once, certainly before it loses its momentum in the future, as these fresh ideas often do over time. Go while the line-up is still promising a great experience. An example of a speaker, who I am dying to see, is a popular title designer. Dan Perri is the typographic designer responsible for titles such as the iconic Star Wars intros, the Exorcist and Taxi Driver. Another speaker, who Game of Thrones fans will enjoy in particular, is Gavin Little. He is a sound designer well-established in his sphere by now, having done work for the series, as well as films like Interstellar, Mad Max: Fury Road and the Martian.
For those more print-based, the conference also showcases photographer Jean-Paul Goude. An acclaimed photographer and graphic designer, Goude is known recently for his infamous Kim Kardashian Paper cover. He has worked in editorial photography with celebrities like Katy Perry, Grace Jones and Oprah over his long career, and it would sure be a great inspiration to see such a lively personality talking about his life’s work.
If you are more on the illustration side, you might want to see Yasmeen Ismail talk about her children’s storybook work. Since Offset is this diverse, no matter how few speakers you want to see, a weekend ticket will free up your time and your willingness to hear about practices outside of your immediate creative field.
Offset offers a student discount upon request, with tickets priced at €115. For those who would rather get a taste of the conference instead, day tickets are also available for students at €50. The main stage line up is available on their website, so it’s easy to pick a day best suited to your tastes. For those going in a group, Offset offers a discount to groups of five at €165 each. To get the full experience, a weekend ticket is worth the expense. When people go to Offset, they’re ready to push themselves further in their work than they have before. This could be your first chance to learn about the struggles of successful people with the same passions as you have. There is a buzz in the whole venue, no matter where you end up. The goodie bag helps a little, too, as well as the after-party if you’re not too bamboozled to have a drink with the speakers themselves!
If you would like to get to know the conference and see who else they’ve featured over the years, check out their archives. With over 36 hours of content, you’re sure to run into your newest life goal.
Offset 2017 is taking place on February 17th, 18th and 19th this year at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, Dublin. Tickets are on sale now on iloveoffset.com.