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Regulars / Review of the Year 2017

Vogue’s new editor and a typeface for pride: a look back at April 2017

In April, MTV scrapped their best actor and actress categories at the MTV Movie and TV Awards, opting instead for one gender-neutral acting category open to all. Gorillaz released their first album in five years Humanz with Damon Albarn commenting at the time that it was “a response to the world going nuts” when Trump was elected. And Lena Dunham’s sitcom Girls finished after six seasons.

In the UK, prime minister Theresa May announced a snap election to try to unify the government, and plans for Thomas Heatherwick’s Garden Bridge in London were scuppered when mayor Sadiq Khan announced he wouldn’t provide vital financial guarantees needed for construction to begin. Prince Harry brought mental health into much-needed public discussion by openly discussing the counselling he had following his mother’s death; and Vogue UK announced the appointment of Edward Enninful, its first male editor and notably the first black editor of a mainstream UK fashion magazine.

It’s Nice That hit double figures

It’s Nice That turned ten years old in April, after starting as a university brief back in 2007 to “put something in the public domain to make people feel better about themselves”. 16 million visitors and one Apple ad later, we’re proud to still be championing creativity in all its forms. To mark the anniversary, our founders Will and Alex took the opportunity to look back at their personal highlights from the decade, from their long friendship with Paul Smith to designing a Selfridges window, and shooting the Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared stars.

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Lecture in Progress launched

To coincide with our tenth birthday, our founders launched Lecture in Progress – a new platform offering advice about and insight into working in the creative industry. The site features interviews, podcasts, videos and more, aiming to inspire, inform and empower emerging talent with information and first-hand accounts that demystify the day-to-day workings of the creative world.

Since its launch, Lecture in Progress has grown into a valuable resource, chock full of advice, stories and vital information for anyone looking to further their creative career.

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In the news…

Briar Levit premiered her documentary Graphic Means, charting the evolution of graphic design production. It features interviews with Steven Heller, Ellen Lupton, Ken Garland, Malcolm Garrett, Cece Cutsforth and Adrian Shaughnessy, among others, and has spent the year touring festivals and raising funding for general release.

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Pepsi ended up pulling its controversial “protest” ad starring Kendall Jenner, which alluded that Pepsi had the power to unite police and protestors. Many critics said the ad diminished the dangers risked by protesters in a heated political climate, and Martin Luther King’s daughter Bernice tweeted: “If only Daddy would have known about the power of Pepsi”.

Also, a typeface was released to honour LGBT activist, artist and rainbow flag creator Gilbert Baker, who had recently passed away; and Huffpost was rebranded by Work-Order.

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Conxita Herrero shares her most recent comic

Back in April we discovered the vivid and charming work of Spanish illustrator Conxita Herrero. We got back in touch to see how her work has progressed since then, and asked her to share a recent piece.

“I’ve chosen this image because for me, it means the beginning of a new series of short stories that I’m excited about,” Conxita tells us. “I would like to make a book with all these short stories, about objects, places or maybe animals that talk to each other. After having worked on more narrative projects, I’m very interested in the idea of observing, contemplating and imagining what all these objects around me have to say.”

With this in mind, Conxita’s latest comic stemmed from an everyday event she became enamoured with. “Last Christmas I saw my grandfather peel an orange and I realised that this action had left me hypnotised. So I figured I would make a comic about that, and I asked my mother to peel an orange; I recorded it and then I made it into drawings with the help of the video. I like that the hands that appear in the comic are my mother’s hands and then we eat the orange together. The fruit is very important.”

Alongside illustration commissions and this potential book idea, Conxita continues to produce fanzines, poems, songs and occasional photographic series “depending on the moment or desires”.

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Conxita Herrero

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Conxita Herrero

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A catch-up with Yes & No mag

Also in April, Pentagram’s Domenic Lippa and Jeremy Kunze (who has now left to start his own practice, Studio Kunze) unveiled the first edition of Yes & No magazine. We caught up with Domenic and Jeremy to reflect on the launch.

“Working with Cassius Matthias (the founder and editor) was a complete joy,” Domenic says. "He was really open to trying new things, to push the design content. I suppose my favourite part is the name and masthead. For me the relationship between those three small words and the magazine frame best reflects the whole magazine philosophy, from the smallest text on the first issue to the larger text on the second, and I hope it will continue to move around the cover. I’ve always had the belief that the three words will have different relationships with each other and the edge of the cover.

“I think the general reaction was positive. We tend to just get on with the next job. It’s hard to be objective about our own work. The major thing that has happened is that Jeremy has taken over complete responsibility for the project now that he has set up his own studio. We have worked together for over seven years on some amazing projects and I’m pleased Yes & No will be handled by him as he’s one of the best designers I’ve ever worked with. Cassius has a vision for not just this publication but with other ambitious plans so we’ve stayed in touch – I hope the three of us will continue working together in the future.”

Jeremy adds: “From the outset we always envisioned that the design would constantly evolve. There were a couple of reasons for this: firstly, the magazine covered a broad range of topics. Secondly, Cassius, the editor and founder wanted a magazine that embraced individuality, confidence and creativity. Lastly I think we wanted to challenge ourselves, have fun with it, make it interesting for us going forward so it never becomes stagnant.”

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Yes & No issue 01:03: Sandy Powell photographed by Brigitte Lacombe

Elsewhere on the site…

We saw commuters from a totally different angle via Louis De Belle’s Cartographies series. The Milan-born, Berlin-based photographer visited New York, and aimed to capture the people on the subway in a style inspired by sculpture and painting, and how folds of cloth are depicted in these media. “We all travel to appreciate masterpieces (think of La Pietà di Michelangelo!) but we often ignore what’s in front of our eyes everyday.”

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Louis De Belle

We chatted to Paris-based illustrator Vincent Mahé whose beautiful Ligne Claire style editorial works have adorned the pages of The New Yorker and The Washington Post. Drawing inspiration from Edward Hopper, Vincent says he enjoys depicting “lonely people in big cities” and the passing of time.

And we spoke to animation director Soshiki Hakase about his studio Furifurisoshiki’s music video for Awake, which sees household objects such as a hairdryer, toaster and toothbrush come to life as a menagerie of creatures.

In Bookshelf, Spin founder Tony Brook shared his covetable collection of first editions, featuring inspiring covers designed by Günter Grass and John Morgan.

And at Nicer Tuesdays, Jon Burgerman took us on a whirlwind tour of his brain and Instagram Stories, citing the power of doodles. Still one of our most popular talks ever, if you haven’t watched it yet – now’s the time.

We released a very smiley Printed Pages

April was also the month we released our SS17 edition of Printed Pages, emblazoned with a smile by illustrator Ted Parker. One of a series of smiles we commissioned specially for the issue, the artwork aimed to champion the joy and power of creative endeavour. The mag also featured interviews with William Eggleston and Thomas Heatherwick, among others.

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Supported by Google

Google is proud to support It’s Nice That in championing a broad and inclusive creative community with its annual Review of the Year. We believe that design is critical to building great products and experiences, and we’re committed to fostering best-in-class results with efforts like Material Design, a unified system combining theory, resources, and tools to help designers and engineers craft beautiful, digital experiences, as well as through our cooperative efforts at Google Design.

From producing original articles and videos, to hosting creative and educational partnerships and events, Google Design’s goal is to connect, support, and inspire designers and design thinkers. Sign up for the Google Design Newsletter to learn more.