Blue dogs in Mumbai and David Attenborough: a look back at August 2017


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In August of this year, the women of the world were out in full force: tennis/Beyoncé music video star Serena Williams made her opinions clear on topic of equal pay for black women; Wild Bore challenged the sexist preconceptions of female comedians; and the England Women’s football team received a record high number of TV viewers.

Despite this, the month was unfortunately one of extreme natural disaster and social unrest. Houston, Texas was battered by Hurricane Harvey which caused “historic” flooding and mudslides in Sierra Leone killed hundreds following heavy rainfall. White supremists turned a peaceful protest violent in Charlottesville, Virginia and Barcelona fell victim to a deadly attack.

A ray of hope was somehow salvaged in the form of everyone’s favourite explorer, David Attenborough who spoke of his optimism for the future of our planet, even with the discovery of 11 dogs who turned blue due to manufacturing waste dumped into a river in Mumbai.

What do MS Paint, the woods and hand lettering all have in common?

They all appeared in one of our long-form features on the site in August! Here’s a bit of a recap in case they’ve slipped your mind.

We (preemptively) mourned the end of Microsoft’s MS Paint by asking a bunch of illustrators to pay homage to a program where many took their first steps with a digital paintbrush.

Noma Bar allowed us a glimpse into his unconventional “office” – London’s Highgate Woods – where he told us more about his fascinating journey to where he is now, including a stint in the Israeli military.

We took a dive into the enviable world of Annie Atkins, the visionary behind the graphic design of many a big blockbuster film, including The Box Trolls, Steven Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies, and Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel.

The news stories that got everyone’s attention in August…

Ikea released Oddly Ikea, a 25-minute long ASMR video designed to attract a student audience.

Parabella’s 60-second animation for the upcoming series of The Great British Bake Off got us excited. One half of Parabella, Mikey’s talk at October’s Nicer Tuesdays is a must-watch for anyone intrigued to know what happens when croissants holding hands and angry Twitter users collide.

Photographer, Juno Calypso shot a photo essay for Topic, titled A Girl’s Guide to Egg-Freezing. It begins with “Step One: Get Scared” and charts the injections, harvesting experience, and costs, each with a caption laying bare the reality of the process.


Juno Calypso

In the moving image world…

Animation collective Eisprung’s video told the story of Ivan, a character “obsessed with the incredible softness of the dough.”

As part of this monthly round up, we caught up with Houston based animator David Merson-Hess to find out more about how his city was affected by the storms

Typically, summer rain pelting the windows means a good night’s sleep. But 51.88 inches (1.3m) demanded wide-eyed attention. Insomnia was city-wide during Hurricane Harvey’s August visit, as Houston was inundated with roughly its average annual rainfall, in a matter of days.

What followed was a DIY water rescue operation of epic proportions. Self-appointed first responders organised via social media and messaging apps. They navigated privately owned motorboats and jet skis, canoes, kayaks and novelty inflatables, into murky floodwaters criss-crossed by downed power lines, and riddled with debris. They endangered — and some even lost — their lives rescuing complete strangers.

We were flooded into our neighbourhood, watching the bayou rise, holding our breaths, hoping it wouldn’t reach our place. We binged on post-apocalyptic sci-fi movies and shelf-stable Indian food, and helped out with boat dispatch since we were lucky enough to have functioning internet. I had just started pre-production on an animated music video with a noir-gone-Western theme (for Austin-based singer-songwriter Adam Ostrar’s Warlock). But when the sun finally came out, all I wanted to draw was rain and flooding. My producing partner and I sat down and worked out a new idea following a woman’s solitary journey through flooded streets.

Instead of merely wondering if art might play a part in the community’s recovery, Houston’s creatives took immediate, direct action. Harvey Arts Recovery Project, a collaborative effort of local creatives, art therapists, nonprofits, and community volunteers, launched a series of Harvey Healing Days. Nameless Sound took their music workshops on site to the shelter at George R. Brown Convention Centre, almost as soon as it opened. When the city got back to work, arts nonprofit Aurora Picture Show hosted a free childcare day. Animation org Rush Process launched Gif Relief, a series of free animation workshops for kids affected by the hurricane, with support from Giphy and Nick’s Table.

Houston is an international city. It’s oft-cited as a capital of consumption and unchecked growth, but it’s also one of neighbourly kindness. When emergency shelters opened up Downtown, the lines to volunteer were around the block. We ended the month sharing overwhelming feelings of togetherness, gratitude and pride in place, expressed in about 150 languages.

Elsewhere on the site…

We interviewed Ewen Spencer about his photo series Young Love and the resulting nostalgia-drenched headfirst dive into the sweaty, sticky underworld of saliva swapping and heartbreak behind every teenage night out.


Ewen Spencer

Tiago Majuelo told us about how his fascination with the “arts, philosophy, all the different kinds of gods, myths and creatures,” informs his colourful illustrations.


Tiago Majuelo

Playful and charismatic graphic designer, Caterina Bianchini explained how her dual Italian and Scottish heritage has influenced her creative abilities.


Caterina Bianchini

Funny goings on at Deep Throat studio…

Having initially spoken to Prague-based Deep Throat studio back in August to find out more about its attention grabbing portfolio (and name), we caught with up Jozef and Zdenek and asked them about some of frustratingly funny things that have happened to them in 2017.

“Imagine that one day you wake up and you do not know whether you live in a matrix or in the same place where you lived yesterday. That’s basically what we went through on a few occasions this year.

“Our studio is generally known for its graphic work, although it also develops web applications. This year, we aimed to expand our team by bringing on a dedicated developer. Some say that artists and designers are impractical, notoriously unpunctual, bad in time management or that they are over-dramatic in stressful situations. These people have not had our experience with web developers in 2017!

“Earlier this year, in January, we accepted our first candidate. Immediately after the first stressful situation, he got drunk and disappeared… For 14 days none of us saw him. He woke up in another country and even he did not know how he got there. After this unsuccessful attempt, we found candidate number two who was like a small miracle for us. Satisfied, family type of man, motivated with good references. Nowadays, there is a possibility to meet this, once successful developer, driving through the streets of Prague at his new yellow taxi. Candidate number three, however, suffered from sudden, unbelievable and unpredictable illnesses – always before the project deadlines. The last bacterial infection, literally at the eleventh hour, paralysed him so much that seems to have stopped working forever!

“Jean-Paul Sartre once said that: ‘Life begins on the other side of despair!’ So, in 2018, we will start the process all over again.”

Something to get you thinking…

Isabel Farchy of Creative Mentor Network, told us why the UK creative industry is still missing the most promising young people.


Image by Dan Wilton

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About the Author

Ruby Boddington

Ruby joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in September 2017 after graduating from the Graphic Communication Design course at Central Saint Martins. In April 2018, she became a staff writer and in August 2019, she was made associate editor.

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