Red Dog | Marie Varley's Design Column

Red Dog | Marie Varley’s Design Column

Irish Artist Marie Varley searches the country for the very best in Irish design to bring to you here on HeadStuff. This week she spoke with the Dublin creative agency Red Dog.

Red Dog is an award winning multi-disciplinary creative agency based in Dublin 8 specialising in design, brand identity and creative communication. They have been at the forefront of the graphic design scene in Dublin for over twenty years since they opened in 1993. Since then they have diversified to work with illustrators, copywriters, animators and developers to tirelessly deliver the very best work to their clients. This week I caught up with CEO Mary Doherty and Creative Director Paula McEntee.
RedDog, Dublin. Marie Varley | Design headstuff.org
RedDog, Dublin. Marie Varley | Design                                     
1. Red Dog opened for business the morning after you graduated from NCAD in 1993 – that’s pretty impressive! How did you find setting up a creative business fresh out of college? 
We found it just dandy thanks! At that stage we were very young, very naive and full of positivity. It was a great time, trying to find our way – making LOADS of mistakes but also making lots of great industry friends which we have to this day. What probably saved our mental health was the fact that there was no big plan, no big investment and no pressure. We gave it a go and it worked.
Red Dog Design headstuff.org
Red Dog Design
2. Can you tell us about the ethos of Red Dog?
The ethos of Red Dog has not changed, ever, it’s the aspiration to do great work. Work that we are proud of but that also meets our clients needs. We also give every project our everything no matter what the size or the budget. Its sounds a little pompous but we are very conscientious about our work and very protective of our own brand therefore it drives our own expectations of ourselves through the roof. It’s not the easiest place to work in that respect – a little full on but hopefully that brings career satisfaction as well.

 

3. How has digital technology changed how you think about communicating since opening in 1993?
I laugh now about it but when we set up in 93’ we had NO:
mobile phones
internet
email
colour printer
money
Crazy to think that now eh? Technology has revolutionised our day-to-day and allowed us to create and send things very quickly. Instead of seeing this as a negative we prefer to use the time we used to spend printing out, spray mounting, packing things for couriers, (going to the Typebureau at midnight to pick up print outs!) now on ideas and considering treatments and learning about our clients.
Red Dog, Concern | Design headstuff.org
Red Dog, Concern | Design
4. You recently won an ICAD award for Concern’s ‘Someone Like Me’ book, congratulations! Can you tell me about this project and how you found working with the talented illustrator Margaux Carpentier? 
Thanks! Absolutely delighted about it, as are the fantastic Schools and Youth Programme team at Concern Worldwide! This is an illustrated book that explores the lives of children living in countries around the developing world. Aimed at primary school children, the book aims to help children learn about global development issues and what life is like for other children in challenging circumstances. When we initially got the brief, we know this subject matter had to be treated in a special way so that it would be engaging and attractive. At concept stage Margaux Carpentier was one of the first people that came to mind, with her amazing use of colour and distinctive style. And luckily, Concern loved her style too! Margaux was an absolute pleasure to work with, it was a truly collaborative process and she contributed so many ideas on how we could approach each story. We started out by having a briefing call to discuss and sent her the text. She came back with pencil sketches, and we discussed some more. When we gave the nod of approval on the pencil sketches, she set to work adding all the beautiful colour and detail, sharing visuals every step of the process.
Red Dog, Concern Someone Like Me headstuff.org
Red Dog, Concern Someone Like Me
Red Dog, Concern Someone Like Me headstuff.org
Red Dog, Concern Someone Like Me
 
5. The studio takes a multidisciplinary approach to projects working with photographers, copywriters and illustrators. How important is teamwork to your process? 
It’s all about teamwork and collaboration in the Red Dog studio! Over the years we’ve collaborated with many illustrators and photographers, (e.g. Steve Doogan, Steve Simpson, BrenB, Paul McCarthy, Peter Evers, Sean and Yvette, and Matthew Thompson, to name a few). But today the projects we work on and the solutions we present require much more diverse collaborations. We currently work with a broad spectrum of copywriters, strategists, animators, developers and production companies. Plus the bank of national and international illustrators and photographers that we work with has grown greatly. So in these instances we act as the lead agency, and assemble the dream team to deliver a project. It’s such an enjoyable and rewarding way to work as it means we have the freedom to call on the best of breed to offer their expertise and meet our specific requirements, helping deliver our vision, and make each output different.

 

6. Can you tell me about the Older & Bolder campaign?
Older and Bolder approached us to tender for a campaign with a limited budget. They had a vision of a few billboards and some direct mail – we asked them to consider making a small film as its the best medium to bring real emotion to an audience. We supported this with a look & feel for everything, great copy and a lot of hard work! We also shot some great imagery using friends and family – the budget was very tight so we brought in a lot of favours in order to make our film, which we still love.
Read more about Older and Bolder here.
Red Dog Older and Bolder headstuff.org
Red Dog Older and Bolder
7. How do you feel about Irish design? As a small country do you find that the design community is supportive and inclusive?
At present we think that the design scene in Ireland is very lively. Very inspiring. There’s some amazing stuff happening now. Especially with the quality of some of the courses. The graduates are coming out with very sharp skills and they’re doing very well globally. Initiatives like ID2015 are invaluable in really helping to celebrate, promote and ingrain the positive transformational effect of good design to businesses and society overall in the long term. Organisations like ICAD and IDI run diverse programmes, events and courses to support the needs of the creative industry. And of course there’s Offset which continues to inspire the team. Unfortunately for a designer based down the country, many of these events are Dublin based, but some are certainly worth the occasional trip!

 

8. Any exciting projects on the horizon that you can tell us about? 
Sure, we are currently working on the rebrand of Focus Ireland – an exciting, nerve wracking and incredibly interesting project. We are also about to embark on a brand refresh for a charity based in Baltimore, US. The studio is very, very busy right now and everyone is buzzing.
Red Dog | Design headstuff.org
Red Dog | Design
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