Letter to a Young Designer: Offset Dublin

Stephen Kennedy


Offset Dublin was an educational experience, especially for the young illustrators and designers out there. Across the board, the message seemed to be that it doesn’t matter where you are right now, what matters is that you keep going.



While some speakers showcased their work, other creatives at the 2017 Offset Conference took a different route. They spoke about who they were when they first started; their skill-set at the time and how far they’ve come. It is refreshing to hear this as it reminds us that they’re human too. That sometimes, they sit on the couch and procrastinate before starting client work that’s due in 6 hours.

It was an insightful experience to hear these successful creatives recall their past work history. Illustrator Rod Hunt grew up wanting to be involved in Horticulture. Later in life, he jumped from painting to modelling. Now, he’s an award-winning Illustrator best-known for his retro illustrations and busy landscapes.

Illustrator and Author Yasmeen Ismail had suffered from a lot of uncertainty during her time in education; she lacked direction and didn’t know where she would end up. Running a business for four years, she shut down the company as it wasn’t where she wanted to be. She then interned in a place where people much younger than her were in a higher positions in order to better herself and get her foot in the door.  She then set herself goals, searched for agents, publishers, entered competitions, continued her education and worked to create a better portfolio for herself. She developed her unique watercolour style and a direction towards Children’s books. Yasmeen is now an award winning illustrator.

And look at these creatives now, they’re standing on the stage of a popular design event, echoing a story of perseverance to their past selves. They shared their wisdom that there’s no shame in pursuing an opportunity to better yourself and gets you where you want to go.

The thing is, as designers, we all think we’re the only ones struggling with self-doubt. We have become accustomed to comparing ourselves to others and think “Why am I not as successful?” or “Why can’t I design like that?”. The thing is – You Can! You just have to dig deeper and work harder towards it.

“There is a fear that you’ve got nothing to contribute – nothing original, but it’s all in there. It’s just waiting for you to dig it out. ” – Yasmeen Ismail

So, what can you do to take it to the next level? Draw every day, learn new software, develop a unique style and seek out ways to better your work ethic. Whatever it may be, just do it. Your future self will thank you.
We live in an age where all of the information to succeed is just a quick internet search away, so get out there!