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OFFSET 2020 Feature: Exclusive Interview

As the country’s largest creative conference of its kind, OFFSET is well and truly a prominent fixture on the global design calendar. In its 11th year, McCann Dublin are once again very proud to partner with OFFSET 2020 and invite world-class industry professionals to share their stories and passions. Here, we sit down with its founders and dig a little deeper to find out how far the creative conference has come and what people can expect.

Q: So Bren, OFFSET has passed the decade milestone and is now in its 11th year! As someone with extensive creative experience, have you seen a big difference between the artistic community then VS now? Has it changed massively? If so, how?

 A: In terms of our local creative community? Ironically one of the biggest changes is how we value our participation in global culture. In the last 10 years as an industry our ambition has been matched only by our confidence. Thankfully both are completely justified when you see the work being produced There are Irish people who are absolutely killing it creatively in every major city in the world and, just as importantly, here at home. It’s exciting to see so much co-operation between practitioners. It’s become less isolated and silo-based. This generosity may be a generational thing, but it’s very exciting to see ambitious projects happening on both grand and small scales and with a multi-disciplinary nature, which is exactly how we have always curated OFFSET.


Q: When OFFSET began, it was very much about the individuals, whereas now it’s about agencies. What are your thoughts on this?

A: The focus from the beginning has always been on celebrating and showcasing the craft and the execution in the creative process. We chose speakers who’s work we loved and were inspired by. In the early years, as we were all professional creatives ourselves, those choices probably reflected our own practice and interests. Over the years, while those values still remain, the curation has evolved as our interests have. The internationalisation of the design sector in Ireland with companies like IBM, Accenture and Deloitte both installing large design departments and in some cases acquiring established agencies, is having a positive effect but the possible knock on for the more traditional creative businesses regarding attracting staff and completing for work is one we are very aware of.

Competition for talent is naturally the growing challenge along with the gap between education and industry in producing the next generation of ‘ready to go’ designers. As well as the wider sector, the role of individual designer has evolved hugely since then too. In most cases, designers and agencies now have to offer skills across a much wider range of disciplines and we now programme with this in mind. If you look at the programme for OFFSET 2009 there was almost an even split between graphic design and illustration but over the years this has grown much wider. Excitingly even within those ‘traditional’ definitions we are seeing graphic designers who code and work in advertising, illustrators working directly in branding and motion… it’s become very fluid.


Q: The diversity of attendees is something that adds to the OFFSET experience. What do agencies get from attending?

A: OFFSET represents an opportunity to enhance skills, to learn new methods and processes, to engage and interact in discussions and debates on relevant industry issues, to network with fellow practitioners and re-ignite passions essential for the development of the creative industries. But we can’t underestimate the impact of feeling like you are part of a vibrant community, so much of the practice of the industry we live in is spent with our direct colleagues and clients. Being present with 2,500 fellow creatives from all over Ireland and the world is an inspiring experience on its own.

OFFSET 2020 takes place from April 3rd – 5th in The Bord Gáis Energy Theatre. Professional, Recent Graduate, Student and Group tickets are now available at