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6 things we learned at OFFSET London 2015

Dublin-based design conference OFFSET (opens in new tab) came to London yesterday for the first time, bringing with it an exciting speaker lineup – including Seb Lester, Morag Mysercough, Tomi Ungerer and more.

Here are six things we learned on day one of OFFSET London 2015 (opens in new tab). Keep an eye on Twitter for more tips and advice from the cream of the design world, during day of the event two today…

01. Mistakes are very important - but not for the reason you think

"It's not so much about learning from your mistakes," KesselsKramer (opens in new tab)'s Erik Kessels told the London audience. "It's more about deliberately going towards your mistakes to change your creative process. Confusion is crucial."

He advises making an idiot of yourself once a day. "If no one hates your work, no one loves it." Have a look at the short ad above. Needless to say, a number of animal rights charities took issue (spoiler: the poodle wasn't harmed).

02. Calligraphy can be addictive

"I now think of type design as a gateway drug to a more dangerous, hardcore drug like calligraphy," said Seb Lester (opens in new tab) during a charming closing speech.

He started calligraphy "almost by accident" when his partner became seriously ill, but it has changed the trajectory of his career. Today he has nearly a million social media followers, after a series of videos of him drawing well-known logos went viral.

03 Work with nice people

"A project can succeed or fail based on how well the people get on," pointed out Nexus Productions director Johnny Kelly (opens in new tab). His animation for Chiptole, Back to the Start, was "incredibly difficult but incredibly enjoyable at the same time".

Kelly credits it with leading to a lot of exciting career opportunities and says it's all about working with the right people.

04. Learn on the job

Kelly also had advice for ensuring pitch situations are always positive. "I try and learn something new with each pitch," he said, adding that this way he can walk away with a new technique or tool, even if he doesn't win the pitch.

"I'm also quite good at keeping ideas and using them again for something else," he said.

05. Force accidents to happen

llustration by Aisha Zeijpveld for Sir Edmund Volkskrant about cryotherapy

llustration by Aisha Zeijpveld for Sir Edmund Volkskrant about cryotherapy

Surrealistic photographer Aisha Zeijpveld (opens in new tab) creates atmospheric images, mingling fact with fiction through modern media and exquisite craft.

She likes to surprise herself: "Persistence and stumbling in the dark are the ingredients when you're searching for inspiration," she says. "And sometimes you're rewarded."

06. Read everything

Let's Go Find a Tiger was written and illustrated by Yasmeen Ismail

Let's Go Find a Tiger was written and illustrated by Yasmeen Ismail

On the subject of inspiration, illustrator Yasmeen Ismail (opens in new tab) advises reading everything. "If you're looking for inspiration, read everything. The papers, about politics, news, fiction, non-fiction."

"There's no reason why not to absorb yourself in everything. Read. Draw everything. Fuck around with some cardboard for a while."

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Julia Sagar
Julia Sagar

Julia is editor-in-chief, retail at Future Ltd, where she works in e-commerce across a number of consumer lifestyle brands. A former editor of design website Creative Bloq, she’s also worked on a variety of print titles, and was part of the team that launched consumer tech website TechRadar. She's been writing about art, design and technology for over 15 years.