Thursday, 11:30am
3 April 2014

Offset 2014: day one

Sarah Mazzetti, Golden Wolf, Marina Willer, Mike Perry, Detail, Serge Seidlitz, Jessica Walsh and Mother take the stage. Pam Bowman reports from the Dublin conference.

This year was the fifth anniversary of Offset, with 24 speakers across three days. Again, in the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, Dublin, with around 2000 delegates, writes Pam Bowman.

The audience was young and international and tickets more affordable than most events of a similar nature. The atmosphere was relaxed and speakers were accessible and often to be found dotted throughout the audience.

This was my third visit to Offset and I’ve always been impressed by the curation of the speakers, the level of organisation and great timekeeping by the Offset team.

Sarah Mazzetti showing her book Pick-A-Land: A Collection of Characters Coming from 24 Countries of the World made with by Cristina Spanò and Giulia Sagramola for their publishing company Teiera.
Top: slide from Jessica Walsh.

3 mazzetti pick a land

Sarah Mazzetti was a slightly nervous but utterly charming first speaker, an Milan-based illustrator with work reaching far beyond the Italian borders – she stated that she could not make a living from local clients alone.

Mazzetti was commissioned to work on the Green Man Festival project 2012, thanks to YCN (You Can Now, formerly Young Creative Network). She took us through the project, showing sketches, talking about her initial anxiety at having roughs rejected and revealed the final outcome. Mazzetti also expressed her gratitude to YCN for trusting her, saying how difficult it is as a young illustrator to gain trust from clients.

Another aspect of her work is a self-publishing collaborative project she co-curated with Cristina Spanò and Giulia Sagramola. Teiera Publications has made Ten steps in the city, produced with half Italian and half international illustrators, and Pick-a-land, a children’s book illustrated by Spanò, Sagramola and Mazzetti.

Ingi Erlingsson from Golden Wolf.

4 Golden wolf-dog blood

Next was Golden Wolf, an animation and design studio that developed, firstly within I Love Dust, then independently. Ingi Erlingsson’s talk revolved around the ‘10 Golden Rules of Golden Wolf’: ‘Dive in at the deep end’, ‘surprise’, ‘one good thing leads to another’, ‘always over deliver’ and ‘invest in progress’.

Erlingsson said that many in the studio had come direct from University and had little or no other industry experience, which has led to developing their own techniques and approaches to work. Much of the work can be seen on Vimeo.

At noon Marina Willer took the stage and entertained us with a presentation titled ‘Out of control’. Sho also showed work from her thirteen years at Wolff Olins and since her move to Pentagram, where she is the company’s first female partner in London. She finished with two short films for Richard Rogers, Ethos and Exposed.

Illustrator Mike Perry.

mike perry2

Last before lunch was Mike Perry, a New York-based illustrator. Perry talked about his love for, and appreciation of, Kickstarter as something which can not only be used to fund projects, but also create communities. His own Kickstarter project, which raised $31, 560, was successful and allowed him to rent a studio / exhibition space, a community space for workshops, exhibitions and projects.

Illustrator Serge Seidlitz.

serge-rough and finished christmas card

The afternoon began with Detail, a Dublin-based graphic design studio, that talked through some of their branding projects before speaking about their efforts to support Irish graduates entering the industry through their Three x 3 internship programme. Detail are also involved in the 100 Archive, a design community initiative aiming to ‘record the past and future of visual communication design in Ireland’.

Serge Seidlitz stepped in for Wieden + Kennedy Amsterdam, who could not make it. Having been asked to speak on Wednesday, prepared on Thursday and delivered on Friday, Seidlitz could be forgiven for looking a little shell-shocked. He talked about a huge number of projects, often showing roughs or pieces rejected by clients or art directors.

Jessica Walsh.


Jessica Walsh described herself as an art director, designer, illustrator, partner at Sagmeister & Walsh, teacher and player. She began by talking about the value of play for designers and creative practitioners in reference to Dr Stuart Brown’s book Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul. Walsh suggested that in order to have effective play we first need confidence, time, space and a sense of humour. She went on to talk about her early years, learning HTML and CSS to build websites for her Kacheek character and creating tutorials and resources for other kids. She had huge numbers of hits per day to her site and large cheques through the post from Google Ads.

Following this success, she attended the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), worked at Pentagram and began to art direct Print magazine before going to Sagmeister Inc. Walsh talked through a series of the practice’s brand identity and advertising projects before returning to her personal work. Forty days of dating was an experiment between herself and friend, Timothy Goodman, for which Warner Brothers now own the film rights. Walsh packed an enormous amount of material into her slot (including Sagmeister’s ‘The Happy Show’).

Mark Waites from Mother, London.

mother2-jim jaramush

The last speaker for Friday was Mark Waites of London ad agency Mother. Waites focused his talk around restrictions, which – whether financial, about time or imposed by a client – can encourage clear thinking and creativity. ‘Sometimes “No” is the answer that you need’, said Waites.

In conversation with Jim Jarmusch, Waites talked about the restrictions they worked with for a Mexican beer commercial. He continued with other projects, including a pitch for Eurostar that spawned the film Somers Town with director Shane Meadows.

Other elements of day one included: ‘How To Get Into Advertising’, ‘The Nobrow Story’ and interviews with Willer and Walsh.

See ‘Offset 2013: day one’, ‘Offset 2013: day two’ and ‘Offset 2013: day three’ on the Eye blog.

Offset 2014, Bord Gais Energy Theatre, Dublin.


Pam Bowman, typographer, lecturer in typography and joint course leader for graphic design, Sheffield Hallam University

Eye is the world’s most beautiful and collectable graphic design journal, published quarterly for professional designers, students and anyone interested in critical, informed writing about graphic design and visual culture. It is available from all good design bookshops and online at the Eye shop, where you can buy subscriptions and single issues.