The month’s Nicer Tuesdays lifted the curtain on the interactions and relationships that make a great project come together.
Jack Hudson started the evening with a bang, showing us the research, sketches, emails and pure hard work that went into his latest project. The illustrator created around 100 illustrations for The Earth and I, a book by scientific visionary James Lovelock, with essays from some of the world’s leading science writers, and art directed the entire thing for publisher Taschen.
“I had to get my teeth into all these subjects like cosmology and geology and water cycles, and convince Taschen I could draw supernovas, nebula and cell structures,” Jack explained. “My work is quite figurative but it advanced over the two years of the project. It was surprisingly hard to find inspiration in modern science books, so I looked to the works of Charley Harper and Fritz Kahn. I drew everything from animals to quantum physics, and I think my naivety helped sometimes. I thought, why not represent a human cell as a microscopic factory with security guards minding the precious nucleus?”
Next was Gemma Germains, author of It’s Nice That’s recent article on privilege in the creative industry, titled Work hard, be nice to people and have rich parents. Gemma was as honest in real life as she is in her writing. “I usually do a lot of pisstake talks but this one is light on lols,” she began.
“I’m one of 3-11% of women in a leadership capacity in the industry. I spoke at International Women’s Day, where lots of inspiring women spoke about the issues we’re facing, but 97% of industry decision-makers weren’t there. Since the article on It’s Nice That I’ve received a lot of emails from people using it as a reason to start a conversation, and I’m trying to use my small Twitter following to kick start conversations too.” She is pushing her studio to engage and make a difference to the problems holding back progression for inclusivity, by taking four steps: “Do an audit [of your approach], change your algorithm, give your money and give your time.”
After the break was the turn of Madeleine Penny, a photography director who recently worked on issue four of Avaunt magazine, but started out as picture editor at Eureka. She showed a fascinating series from her time there which saw her visit a nuclear power plant, a “quiet and graphic” place. “Photo-journalism like this is about giving the photographer the resources to do a great job,” she explained of her process. “Every shoot that turns out well is about good planning.”
Among her tips for budding photography directors Madeleine said “there’s only so much you can learn over email, so I meet a photographer every week”. She also showed worked from Avaunt and other mags, including shoots by Laura Pannack, Alexander Gronsky, Owen Silverwood and Daniel Stier. “It’s important to mix it up and change pace in a magazine. I can really showcase a photographer’s work that way.”
Last to the lectern was Jamie Clifton, editor of UK Vice.com, who gave intriguing insight to the workings one of the best known media outlets. “There’s eight of us writing and no art directors, so we all do a bit of everything,” he explained. “We have a pool of de facto illustrators and photographers we often go back to, like Chris Bethell, Krent Able, Sam Taylor and Dan Evans. They have the Vice aesthetic and we trust them so inherently.”
Jamie showed how Vice visualises its themed weeks, where all articles and films are dedicated to a certain subject. One example explored how half all the UK’s nightclubs have shut in the last 10 years, including the article I sleep where you danced, for which photographer Jake Lewis shot former clubs in their new guises. Another focused on mental health, and used illustration to reach its audience. “The whole point is to stir conversation, so we needed the visuals to stand out.”
Supported by Park Communications
Nicer Tuesdays is supported by Park Communications one of London’s eminent, most friendly and approachable printers.
Nicer Tuesdays is a monthly event curated by It’s Nice That held at Protein Studios in London. Tickets for the event sell out quickly, to buy tickets ahead of general sale please sign up to our newsletter.