Offset – Creative communities at play

Wall Graffitti by Maser

Wall Graffiti by Maser in Dublin

It’s sometimes hard to explain to people who aren’t involved in the Creative industries just how much this industry affects the lives of those who work in it.

As a graphic designer, I am beyond lucky in that I am one of those people who does work in the creative space, in an industry that rewards me for playing, for being imaginative, while presenting challenge after challenge in my daily life.

It’s possibly one of the few industries that insists that we, as practitioners, constantly add to it, feed off it and react to it in a ferociously demanding manner, when we are asked repeatedly to create new.

To create informative. To create clever. To create appropriately. To create beautifully. To create intelligently.

It is far from being an easy job, but its rewards are huge.

By rewards, I am not necessarily talking about financial rewards (welcome and all as they may be), but I am talking about the other, less tangible rewards that we get.

The one that I would most like to chat about here here is the sense of community that we as members of this creative collective have, where even though many of us are in direct competition with each other, we share, we collaborate, we inform and we enjoy each others work, and we celebrate it together.

Last month the design & creative industries in Ireland (and our fellow creatives worldwide) celebrated in the finest of fashions, at Offset 2014 , held in the Bord Gais Theatre in Dublin, which we in the design department of Fuzion attended.

Offset, for those of you who don’t know, is every designer’s Christmas, 21st birthday and no-homework from the Lord Mayor, all rolled into a three day non-stop conference, where some of the best known superstars (and a few lesser ones) of the creative world come together and share.

They share their wisdom, their passions, their successes and failures. They share the things that make them laugh, that inspire them and that drive them up the walls in despair! Its both exhausting and bum-numbing but its the closest I’ve come to being set on fire (despite actually having been set on fire-creatively of course!).


Well its taken me almost 500 words to get here (this is why I am rubbish on Twitter!!), so I’m going to illustrate it with some of the genius I have had the privilege and pleasure to witness. Without going through each and every session that I attended, here are some of my highlights:

Neville Brody

Neville Brody managed two hours without mentioning one of the defining publications of my youth, The Face magazine, of which he was the art director from ’81-’86, but illuminated a room with a passion for non-text based typography.

What am I on about?  Have a peep …

Neville Brody - CirclesIt may look like a bunch of circles, but it’s part of a new thinking on communication (with a message close to the hearts of all designers).

It is code, it is form, it is system. His approach towards design was almost more concerned with the beauty and delivery of a message, where the aesthetic becomes the message.

He also had strong words for the state of design education – something that, as a lecturer in design, resonated deeply with me, especially when talking about the needs of  Technical v’s Thought-Based education, a notion that most practitioners will attest with.

Paul McBride & Brian Nolan

Paul McBride and Brian Nolan of Dublin studio Detail gave a wonderful insight into how their studio runs, showing us some beautiful work from the Science Gallery, and a rather disturbing lasting image of Mr Tayto. Its on my twitter feed (@jlm_cork) but I am warning you, you’ll never eat crisps again without feeling a little uneasy.

Jon Burgerman

Jon Burgerman was undoubtedly my highlight, with an entertaining talk full of his unique approach to his art and design work, ranging from Nokia to Nike. It was his doodle based work that first caught my eye some years ago.

Jon Burgerman Burgerdoodles

His latest project is creating a nice movement of discussion about the acceptable levels of violence that we are exposed to daily. A very clever way of showing the power of design for a more political message.

Jon Burgerman poster


Finally, Maser, a Dublin born graffiti artist came and blew everyone away with a presentation full of surprises and this video presented with poet Malcolm London showed us that writing on walls is not simply writing on walls.


Maser’s lack of pretentiousness and incredible sense of achievement (esp working for the Simon Community and the Umbrella foundation in Nepal) was refreshing and so positive that you couldn’t  possibly leave the room without feeling moved. His “Don’t Be Afraid” wall graffiti was featured at the start of this blog.

So what did we takeaway from this conference?

The common thread running across all of the disciplines was “play“.

This was not an instruction to ignore our jobs, but one that reminds us of how lucky we are to be creative designers, and that we have got here by never putting the colouring pencils away and that our challenges are the things that keep up alive as designers.

You know something? …I love my job.


Jonathan Leahy Maharaj leads our creative Graphic Design Department in Fuzion with offices in Cork and Dublin, Ireland 

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