In his Offset presentation, Jeff Greenspan speaks movingly and wittily about how crucial it is to find an authentic voice. “I’ve been in professional adverting for about 17 years; nearly all of those against my will,” he tells the packed Bord Gáis Energy Theatre in Dublin. “What’s kept me interested is my side projects, and they help me deal with my fear.” The turning point was when he was held up at gunpoint: “I’d highly recommend it.” Realising that life is pretty short, Greenspan came out, and also started making those side projects his main work. “I was speaking in society’s voice and that really diminished you. Find our own authentic voice and speak with it very loudly.” Malcolm London, a Chicago-based poet, elegantly picked up on this point during a cameo appearance in Maser’s presentation: “The richest man in the world can never purchase yesterday; it’s never too late to love yourself enough to purchase a new beginning.” Brown Bag Films took the difficult decision to jettison its advertising department, worth 50 per cent of its turnover, to focus on producing children’s animations. Now it is Europe’s most successful creative-led animation studio. Its success is down to “concentrating on your audience, not on making something for producers or tax breaks”.
Jon Burgerman points out that, as illustrators, “we fashion a little world around us that’s totally believable. Create your own world for others to engage with.” He describes how his niece had stickers of various characters he had drawn, and invented names and characteristics for all of them.