• 37

    The crowd at Selfridges

  • 10

    The crowd at Selfridges

  • 23

    Fraser Muggeridge

  • 24

    Fraser Muggeridge

  • 51

    Sara Fanelli

  • 41

    Sara Fanelli

  • 56

    Andy Altman

  • 71

    Andy Altman

  • 32

    The crowd at Selfridges

  • 12


  • 36

    The crowds at Selfridges

  • 4

    The Ultralounge library, Selfridges


Words as Images review

Posted by Maya Davies,

We were buzzing last Thursday after another evening of talks for our Words, Words Words programme at Selfridges’ Ultralounge. Examining the relationship between words and images in various contexts were designer and founder of Typography Summer School Fraser Muggeridge, illustrator Sara Fanelli and Andy Altman from award-winning design agency Why Not Associates.

Fraser Muggeridge, donning some very dapper clobber, took us on a whistle stop tour of how well-executed typography can transcend words to become powerful images. By using the space of the page inventively, he demonstrated how writers and designers can create suitably considered visual compositions. Referencing concrete poetry, Fraser cited Bob Cobbing’s acclaimed Square Poem as how to do the aforementioned with aplomb.

He showed one of his own projects exploring the possibilities of language without text. By replacing words with “readable” images, he created a new language as visual code, which he tested out on us. To finish off he discussed his recent experimental typeface project with Giorgio Sadotti, exploring the notion of transparency.

Constructed by layering letters within letters, you glimpsed both elements and their new sculptural form. They also took this further with embedding pictures within letters – a true interplay between word and image.

The wonderful Sara Fanelli offered another take on the theme. As an illustrator she often faces the challenge of encapsulating and condensing a whole book or concept into a visual, using her book Sometimes I think, Sometimes I am. It was great hearing her talk with such passion about the research and background preparation she carried out. For anyone that hasn’t flicked through it, I highly recommend having a read – it’s a rich, beautifully-crafted collection of writing and illustrations broken up into thematic chapters such as Devils and Angels, love, colour, mythology and the absurd.

Its various sections are peppered with big ideas and celebrated quotations from notable historical and philosophical figures from Descartes to Calvino, translated through Fanelli’s imaginative drawings. One of the favourites (circulating on Twitter) was Alan Fletcher’s frank but romantic statement from The Art of Looking Sideways: “The person you love is 72.8% water”.

Andy Altman from the veteran design agency Why Not Associates , charmed the room and convinced us (without trying) that we had to visit Blackpool to see the Comedy Carpet. The combination of charisma, real belief and genuine enthusiasm for the project, won us over. The sheer scale of the endeavor became clear when he admitted the five year collaboration with artist Gordon Young – at a cost of £2.6million – involved setting up their own factory, and “nearly killed them.”

The result is a 2,200 square metre public art installation on the promenade, celebrating the history of British humour and Blackpool’s position as a mecca for comedy.

Featuring over 1000 comedians and comics catchphrases, the sea of type is a feat of construction and a testimony to human patience. Each letter was dyed, cast in concrete, laid out in position by hand, then set into the granite surface in sections. Pretty mind-boggling! No wonder Andy finds it infuriating when people mistakenly think it’s printed.

Interestingly, Andy pointed out that the difference between this being considered “art” rather than graphic design was that they had complete freedom and weren’t expected to conform to client expectations/demands.

The variety and range of work across the talks was great. It felt we got a real sense of their personalities and the way this influenced their working process. All in all, another fantastic evening well-spent.

Posted by Maya Davies

Maya joined It’s Nice That in 2011 as our first ever events manager as well as writing for the site, in particular about architecture. She left in the summer of 2013.

Most Recent: Events View Archive

  1. Pmu-int-main

    People in the graphic arts world have got an infernal problem with Pick Me Up. It’s the Taylor Swift of illustration events: everyone claims they’re not into it but when it comes on the radio they know all the words and are happily singing along. My opinion on it has undulated for years, but going to the private view last night made me realise that all this time I doubted it and listened sceptically to the rumours surrounding it, I was totally wrong.

  2. Elcaf-int-list

    The East London Comics and Arts Festival (ELCAF) has just announced its 2015 dates, and after the storming success of last year this year it’s doubling up! Not only is the one day extravaganza growing to fill a full weekend across 20 and 21 June, but it’s also going to be filling two different venues with its trademark workshops and talks, and a new series of masterclasses held in collaboration with the House of Illustration.

  3. Offset-2-int-list

    Dublin’s terrific creative festival OFFSET is back this weekend and having now confirmed the full line-up, 2105 looks set to be another cracking three days of creative inspiration.

  4. Iam2015-bluebaby-cover-list

    We’ve long trumpeted the exciting, eclectic creative scene in Barcelona and now a new event talking place in March will harness this energy with an array of international speakers. The Internet Age Media, or IAM Weekend, promises to connect “the ecosystem that is shaping the future of design, fashion, technology, visual arts and music, from a media perspective.”

  5. List

    Dublin’s OFFSET festival is undoubtedly one of the highlights of the creative conference calendar, and early indications suggest that 2015 is all set to be another cracker (or craic-er, if you will). For three days in March the Irish capital is taken over by a brilliant line-up of art and design speakers (and a fair bit of socialising) and we’re looking forward to going back this year for another hefty dose of inspiration and enlightenment.

  6. List

    When we post work on It’s Nice That we don’t really know what that can lead to, but it’s always terrific to hear that creative collaborations have sprung from an article on the site. It’s even more terrific to hear of a coming together like this between Wild Beasts and animator and illustrator Mattis Dovier as part of The Jameson Works.

  7. List

    Last month we held an evening of talks at Mother London to showcase some of our favourite creative projects made possible through crowdfunding site Kickstarter. Since it launched in 2009, it’s no exaggeration to say the organisation has changed the way the creative world works and it was great to hear from some of those who had made the most of the new opportunities Kickstarter offers.

  8. Main1

    Just over a week ago It’s Nice That’s Jamie McIntyre and I took a train from London to Glasgow to the much-antiticipated Graphic Design Festival Scotland. We had been invited by Beth Wilson and James Gilchrist, two students who had recently graduated from Edinburgh College of Art. During their degree the two had found themselves working best when together, and decided to form Warriors Studio as a duo. They began thinking about the climate of graphic design in Scotland, the need for something new and exciting and – most importantly – what the hell they were going to do when term ends and they were turfed out to fend for themselves.

  9. List

    The House of Peroni is back and as bold as ever, this time celebrating the dizzying cultural diversity of Rome, the birth place of Peroni Nastro Azzurro. Combining the worlds of food, drink, design and film, contemporary Rome has been brought to London for one month only via a transformed townhouse; a four-storey exploration of how Rome’s rich heritage is being interpreted by a new wave of creative talent in Italy.

  10. Kickstarter_list_image

    Few things fundamentally change the way the creative world works, which makes the rise and rise of crowdfunding site Kickstarter all the more remarkable. Now five years in, it’s one of those brands that’s become a verb and “to Kickstarter” is an increasingly common way of launching a project.

  11. List

    Back in the spring, The House of Peroni took over a central London townhouse with a celebration of the retro 1960s inspired creativity which so influenced Peroni’s founders. Next month it’s back and this time around it will be a feast of food, drink, art, design and fashion that reflects the cultural diversity of Rome.

  12. List

    As one of the most fundamental visual tools, creatives use colour in a multitude of ways. It’s Nice That is excited to be partnering with G . F Smith for three evenings exploring how an eclectic mix of visual practitioners think about colour and harness its power. They will take place across the UK and each evening will also feature an exclusive screening of the Colorplan film Bright Red. The exciting line-ups we have helped curate for the events are:

  13. List

    An elegant townhouse in central London has been transformed into a multi-storey, multi-sensory celebration of Italian style and culture. The House of Peroni, which opened last night, boasts a host of retro-inspired creativity – inspired by 1963, the year Peroni Nastro Azzurro was launched – and it brings to life a stylised version of la dolce vita.