Moustache twirling and coffee drinking are essential to your work — what else do your days consist of?
Most days you will find us surrounded by books and a pot of coffee researching our next pocket guide to Irish literature, sketching ideas, storyboarding, working on illustrations or writing new drafts. We could also be moustache twirling while brainstorming and researching new products or working on a commission. Other days, we are out and about attending events, festivals, workshops, meeting prospective clients and delivering our products to retailers.
What are your backgrounds?
Niall trained as a professional hand-drawn animator in Ballyfermot in Dublin and worked in the animation industry for over 15 years in the USA, Germany and Ireland. He is also a gesture drawing teacher for animation students and professionals and a lecturer at the Institute of Art, Design and Technology in Dún Laoghaire in Dublin. He gives workshops in animation studios and animation schools in Ireland and Europe.
Maite has an MA in theatre studies and also trained as a life and business coach. During her varied career in theatre, translation, online marketing and retail she acquired a variety of experiences and skills that come in handy for the business side of At it Again! She also mentors creatives at the Entrepreneurs Academy in Dublin.
How would you describe your style and products?
Our products are colourful, engaging and fun.
We bring Irish literature to life with our pocket guides. They are easy-to-use for the beginner but also contain insider titbits for those familiar with the writers and the stories. Our literary pocket guides capture the essence of each book and are both a literary and city guide to the authors, their books and the places that inspired them.
Are you inspired by other artists or designers?
We are inspired by mid-twentieth century illustrators and designers like Sasek, Gruau and Saul Bass. Other sources of inspiration are design, especially from Scandinavia, classic books and the city of Dublin with its strong literary heritage. We love to travel and get inspiration from exhibitions, local designers and artists. For the tone of our books, we turn to films like the "Carry On" series, screwball comedies, Film Noir, Weimar cinema and many more. We are also inspired by our fellow creatives in Design Ireland.
Can you pinpoint some key turning points for your business to date?
Being accepted to Showcase Ireland in 2015 gave us a platform to show our products and brand to a wider audience and to get feedback from fellow creatives and retailers. Being mentored by Eddie Shanahan who pushed us to bring our branding, product and packaging to a whole new level. Working with Ciaran from Plus Print in Glasnevin in Dublin who, being a creative himself, helped us achieve a higher quality of products through his ideas and solutions.
What is your best selling product?
Our first pocket guide, Romping through Ulysses, continues to be our best-seller with up to 2,000 copies sold per year. We think its popularity is due to the fact that we have made Joyce’s epic novel accessible and fun. It gives readers who have tried and failed to read Ulysses an insider look into the book with illustrations, maps, titbits, things to do and see and the best quotes with which to impress your friends. Our new Irish Writers Collection of cards is also proving very popular, with James Joyce and Samuel Beckett leading the pack.
What is your favourite piece of work right now and why?
Our Irish Writers Collection of cards and Irish prints have taken us in a new direction. They really capture the essence of our style with their strong shapes and colours. This has given us fresh ideas on how to bring At it Again! forward with opportunities to strengthen our brand. It has also allowed us to highlight that our products are made in Ireland and that the authors are 100 percent Irish. We surprise both visitors and locals alike with the fact that the authors Bram Stoker (Dracula) and Jonathan Swift (Gulliver’s Travels) were both from Dublin.
Why do you love most about what you do?
We love what we do because there are endless opportunities to bring literature to life and to new audiences. We love playing the detective as we search for clues about the authors’ lives and find places connected to them and their books. We love putting At it Again! humour into our books and illustrations. We love the feeling of holding a finished book in our hands after months of work and the thrill of seeing someone chuckle as they flick through them. Finally, we love that we are able to create and print all our products on Dublin’s Northside.
If you weren’t doing this what would your dream jobs be?
Topiary sculptor in the finest gardens of Europe, clown, environmental artist, natural cosmetics blogger, world traveller, film projectionist, magician, world changer, city manager or actor!