Our favourite talks from Offset Dublin 2019
Ever inspirational, the three-day design conference returned to Dublin this month with a host of graphic designers, illustrators, animators and makers taking to its stages to talk about their work and offer some words of wisdom.
The event marked its 10th anniversary with an impressive line-up of speakers, including political illustrator Edel Rodriguez, illustrator/activist Joe Caslin and animator and director Anna Ginsburg. Here are some of the highlights from the design extravaganza.
JOE CASLIN – STREET ARTIST. ILLUSTRATOR.
“Don’t worry if you don’t feel like an ‘activist'”
Born in Roscommon, Joe Caslin is a street artist, illustrator, art teacher and activist. Best known for his beautifully rendered drawings which manifest as towering murals, his highly accessible work engages directly with the social issues of modern Ireland.
He was the recipient of the Association of Illustration award for New Talent in Public Realm Illustration 2013.
Rather than leaving current societal needs to government the aim of his current project entitled, ‘Our Nation’s Sons’ he aims to spread a solution by persuading entire communities to address the very real problem of young male apathy and mental wellbeing.
You don’t have to class yourself as an activist to make work with a strong message. “I don’t know if I’m an activist,” says Rodriguez. “I’m just telling the truth. It just happens to activate people. For an activist I’m not very active.”
Joe Caslin – a street artist and illustrator who is known for his political street art (see video above) – didn’t mean to become an activist either. “I never went out with the mindset of being political, things just f**ked me off enough,” he says. “As a young teacher over five years of working, I lost five of my kids to suicide. I use my drawing as therapy.”
EDEL RODRIGUEZ – ARTIST. ILLUSTRATOR.
“A lot of the time, when you’re fair, you make crappy art as you have no point of view,”
© Edel Rodriguez
Edel Rodriguez is one of the top illustrators in the world right now with his work dotting everything from exhibition floors to protest rallies as well as magazine covers. The visual artist dubbed “America’s Illustrator-in-chief by Fast Company, has been at the forefront of trying to help Americans, and the rest of the world, make sense of the Donald Trump presidency.
© Edel Rodriguez
Born in Havana, Cuba in 1971. He was raised in El Gabriel, a small farm town surrounded by fields of tobacco and sugar cane. In 1980 Rodriguez and his family boarded a boat and left for America during the Mariel boatlift. They settled in Miami where Rodriguez was introduced to and influenced by American pop culture for the first time. Socialist propaganda and western advertising, island culture and contemporary city life, are all aspects of his life that continue to inform his work.
The illustrator spoke about using his work to fight for what he believes in, taking to the streets to put up posters or disseminating illustrations on social media, which people often print to use at protests. He shared an anecdote about two plain-clothes police officers in New York reprimanding him for sticking up political posters, before one asked if he could have a signed poster.
Regarding his Trump campaign, he wondered how far Time editors would let him go with his covers, in case the images angered people to the point of cancelling subscriptions in Republican states — but many of his covers were not only accepted and published, but also went “viral”.
As to whether he was afraid of consequences, Rodriguez said: “I do what I do. If I can’t exist and make my work, then what is the purpose of being here?”
© Edel Rodriguez
AILBHE KEANE – DESIGNER
“You can customise your phone case or bags, so you should be able to customise your wheelchair,”
© Sarah Doyle
Ailbhe is the founder and creative director of Izzy Wheels, a brand of stylish wheel covers for wheelchairs. Izzy Wheels collaborate with artists from all over the world to transform wheelchairs into a piece of fashion and self-expression. Their tagline is ‘If you can’t stand up, stand out’.
The concept began as Ailbhe’s final year project in NCAD in 2016. She noticed her sister Izzy’s wheelchair didn’t reflect her bright and bubbly personality. Together the sisters designed a range of stylish wheel covers to bridge the gap between disability and fashion. After going completely viral online Izzy Wheels quickly grew from a college project into a global brand.
They have since collaborated with 50 famous designers on their limited edition wheel cover collections. They have been the top story in some of the world’s biggest publications including Vogue, Teen Vogue, Elle, Forbes, TechCrunch, Vice, Oprah Magazine, Good Morning America, The Late Late Show, and BBC Three Amazing Humans. Following viral online success, and 14 national awards, Izzy Wheels are now selling in 35 countries. Both sisters were both named on Forbes 30 Under 30 Europe 2018.
Keane spoke about some of their special commissions made to order, which included a bride who wanted her wheelchair to match her wedding dress and professional “parapoler” who ordered a customised wheelchair cover to compete in a disabled pole dancing contest.
“As designers we all have a huge responsibility to be inclusive in the work we do and products we make,” she said. “It is up to us to make that change”.
Offset Dublin 2019 ran 5-7 April at The Point Square, East Wall Road, Dublin 1 Dublin, Ireland.
Images courtesy of Offset AND designweek.co.uk