At the end of Nicer Tuesdays the audience watched an animation of Santa eating presents until he exploded. It was a surreal and fitting conclusion to our Highlights of 2015 event that had seen presenters discuss the difficulties of installing industrial machinery in a Grade I listed building, “living in a slug-infested hellhole” and receiving commissions via text message.
First to present was Ben Alun-Jones, founder of knitwear company Unmade. Remarking on an eventful year that saw the company rebrand and open a pop up shop in Covent Garden, Ben was modest in his assessment of the success of the last 12 months. “We started in 2015 with a million ideas,” he said. “Now we are a real company and that is terrifying.” His presentation took us on a whistle-stop tour of Unmade’s wildly successful year that culminated in the recent partnership with It’s Nice That. “Unmade is about the relationship between designers and customers. This has traditionally always been quite separate in fashion,” said Ben. “We are using technology to bring them closer together.”
Fresh from her trip to Australia where she had launched a new fashion line with Gorman, we next heard from graphic artist Camille Walala. This year has seen Camille travel the world and deliver a diverse range of projects, from product and fashion design to architectural scale murals. The scope of commissions includes creating work for the likes of Facebook and Converse to applying her graphic skills to a school playground in Dalston. In London, she found some of her toughest clients to date. “The kids provided strong opinions,” she recalled. “They didn’t like the red triangle or the black and white lines. I had to convince them about my taste.” Camille completed her largest installation to date this year, a mural on the side of a six storey commercial building in Shoreditch, London. “It was a dream commission, but they could only afford the materials for the project. I agreed if they gave me and my team food and Prosecco to drink each evening,” she said, before hinting that in 2016 she is looking to do something even bigger.
After a short break London-based illustrator and It’s Nice That Graduate 2015 Michael Driver arrived at the lectern. In the spirit of Christmas, he gifted a signed print to everyone in the room before embarking on a Dickensian tale of woe. “I’m really happy to be here,” he announced before revealing a catalogue of misery that included an admission that he “lived under a bridge in a slug-infested hellhole”, he has been trolled by 12 year olds on Instagram who claim “they can draw better than him” and he had been roundly ignored by everyone in the room while doing a live drawing at an event organised by pixie-faced-piano-botherer Jamie Cullum. Aside from these setbacks, Michael has had a slew of envy inducing commissions for the likes of The Guardian , The Washington Post and Wired in 2015. He revealed that when not working on commissions he has been developing a set of characters and he plans to kickstart a book next year.
“We love character, we love how you can get a laugh," said Tom Judd, founder of animation and digital production studio Animade. Along with co-founder James Chambers, the talk focused on the self-initiated projects that the company had completed in 2015. Opening with a short animation called Ball Sack, the pair shared a number of projects that ranged from the whimsical and surreal like Frankensim to more practical experiments, such as a programme that aggregates information feeds and a new tool that simplifies the storyboarding process. The pair ended by showing a new animation that resulted in the untimely death of a gluttonous Santa Claus. Was it a political comment on the excesses of consumerism at this time of year? Was it dispelling the myth of Santa and our strange winter traditions? I still don’t know. It was very funny though.
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