Aaron Duffy is co-founder of SpecialGuest and specialises in communication and visual experimentation. I love learning about anything that deals with communication so I was very excited to see how he combines visual experimentation with communication in an effective way and I was not disappointed. In Duffy’s presentation at OFFSET Dublin in 2019 he talked through several really cool and effective campaigns that he worked on while incorporating 10 confessions around what he struggled with during the projects and what he felt he could improve upon. I thought this was a really brave approach as it was so honest. I think that it is great to hear the success stories but little reminders like Duffy presentation are very important to reflect on now and again particularly in our current culture which is prone to presenting a ‘glossy’ version of life with plenty of Instagram and Facebook posts to back it up.
My favourite campaigns that Duffy spoke about during his presentation were for the Audi Q5 and google. Probably some of his less experimental work however I love their simplicity. For me finding a clever, engaging and simple way to communicate a message visually is genius and probably what I strive for most in my own work. I feel this was achieved in both advertisements.
In the Audi advertisement see above, the majority of the ad consists of an illustrated man moving around his box canvas shaping and folding the box into a shape of a car to the soft, folk, child-friendly song, Riding in My Car by Woody Guthrie. Finally, the Audi Q5 is revealed and the text that follows playfully reads “We’ve unboxed the box”. Duffy attributes the success of the advert to its contrast to other cool and mechanical Audi ad’s at that time describing the above outcome as warm and playful. It’s also very well paired with the Q5 which is probably one of the brand’s vehicles suited for use as a family car an audience which I feel is particularly well-targeted in the ad.
The Google search ad, Parisian love is really simple and maybe a bit cheesy but I love it. I love the minimalist feel and almost feel that Duffy underplays what he achieved with this ad. It came across as sincere and heartfelt no small feat for an advertisement for a tech a company.
Duffy describes Parisian love as not one of his favourites and a little soppy however concedes that dues to the ads massive success being used as Google’s first TV ad and even being played at the super bowl that he may not know what is good. I think of all the confessions that Duffy makes this is the one that really hit me the most. It’s difficult to distinguish between good work and what we as designers preserve to be good. I think therefore it’s important to actively seek out work within our field such as Parisian love to figure out what made it so popular and find a way to apply these techniques to our own work particularly if it’s outside our comfort zone. It’s really important to make work you’re proud of and that you love however if no watches it or it doesn’t get the traction it should as Duffy admits to in his Why can’t we get along? advertisement for Rag & Bone, it’s not really fit for purpose so it’s really important to strike that balance, particularly in commercial work.
Lance Wyman is described as one of the greatest graphic designers of our time. Wyman is an American graphic designer best known for his work on 1968 Summer Olympics and the application of the logo, see Wyman’s original compass sketch below.
In his Offset interview, Wyman talks about how he became involved in the 65 Olympics through his connection with Eduardo Terrazas who had been called back to Mexico to work with Ramirez Vazquez on the graphics for the Olympics. This got Wyman in the running for the job and he along with a number of designers travelled to Mexico to stay there for 2 weeks and then pitch their design idea. At that point, Wyman speaks about his lack of knowledge around Mexico in relation to design and the culture but describes his excitement around the project. I think this is a really inspirational as I feel that as a designer I can’t quickly fall into worrying about how I’m going to complete a project especially if there are unknown elements. I think pushing on and appreciating the challenge as exciting rather than concerning or frightening is a great way to approach new challenges and learning experiences.
Wyman also discusses how he developed into the role he holds today and the impact of his poorer background which he describes as being more helpful than hindering. Wyman also describes being elected class president and how this helped to develop his speaking skills, skills that are essential to Wyman now.
Below is the poster he made when running for class president which was amusingly presented alongside his most recent political poster design at the time of the Offset interview.
What I find particularly interesting about Wyman is how he was able to draw inspiration from time spent on fishing boats with his father and in factories and how he was able to find beauty in the notes and compasses helping to define what he describes as his no-nonsense approach to design. I find this particularly evident in his Obama poster shown above the right. The strong reference to repeated line and pattern appears to be a common theme in Wyman’s work which I find to be used very effectively, creating beautifully crafted and intentional outcomes.