Over the past three years, we’ve taken the opportunity on International Women’s Day to devote It’s Nice That to the brilliant women who impact and inspire the creative industry. Each year the women we speak to span wholly different creative worlds. Whether they’re a photographer or an animator, someone who has worked in the industry for decades or a wide-eyed graduate, they represent the voices so often ignored but that we want to hear more from.
Even though the past year has seen a record-breaking number of women elected to the US House of Representatives, Ireland repeal the eighth amendment, the RA announce its first ever solo show by a female artist in its 250-year history, and Cardi B redefine what a strong female is by breastfeeding in a music video, female representation still falls short of the mark.
Today, in a takeover illustrated by Sara Andreasson we give our little corner of the internet over to stories about, or written by, the women that we (Lucy Bourton, Ruby Boddington and Jyni Ong) admire, aspire to be, and just generally think are fucking great.
How kids will solve tech’s gender imbalance: the story of Tech Will Save UsBethany Koby —
Tech touches nearly every facet of our lives, and there aren’t many in today’s society who don’t come into contact with it on a daily, if not hourly, basis. As an industry, however, tech is far from representative of today’s society. Instead it remains a male-dominated sector. But why is that? And how can we tackle this issue?
From Patti and Selma Bouvier to the mum from About a Boy, Liv Siddall on the unsung heroines of pop cultureLiv Siddall —
Let it be known that whittling down a long list of unsung heroines was painfully difficult. Like ants, you may not see unsung heroines in plain sight but when you look closely, there are bloody thousands of them.
Learning to trust journalistic and humanistic instinct with New York magazine's Jody QuonLucy Bourton —
While on the phone with Jody Quon, the legendary photo director of New York Magazine, the first thing she teaches me is how to staple a document correctly. (It has to be horizontal, a quarter of an inch from the top of the page and an eighth of an inch from the left edge). You’re probably wondering how we ended up down this organisational rabbit hole – there are admittedly far more interesting topics to discuss with the woman who sent a helicopter into the sky for a photo after Hurricane Sandy, and gave the women assaulted by Bill Cosby a voice when no one would listen. But as you’ll see with Jody Quon, the devil is always in the detail.
Nadia Lee Cohen on how she became Nadia Lee CohenJyni Ong —
Rather than contributing to the inundated bank of imagery produced by perfectly proficient photographers shooting perfectly beautiful women, Nadia Lee Cohen offers up something different. Known for her cinematic photography that combines high glamour with the surreal, Nadia’s forceful body of work sees strong characters shot through an otherworldly lens. Delivering image after image with panache, she fulfils every commission (not to mention her personal work) with magnetism. And though some may wonder “what on earth is going on in this image?” here is a photographer executing her originality from all corners, regardless of whether that may or may not fit in with modern standards of beauty.
Natasha Jen, Liza Enebeis, Rachel Dalton and Hezin O discuss the state of graphic design – over WhatsAppRuby Boddington —
Look. I know you’re tired of hearing about the gender divide in the graphic design industry, but the fact of the matter is, disparity exists. And it’s not falling in favour of women.
Don’t let fear or excuses dictate your opportunities: tips for presenting in the creative industryEllen Turnill Montoya —
I have always found the typical creative career path a bit odd. In the first part of your career, you’re expected to keep your head down and get stuck into grids and layers. Then, a shift happens, and you’re expected to stand-up, lead, inspire, win that pitch and headline that conference. But what if you don’t feel ready yet?
More anxious, more focused and much more tired: returning to work after maternity leaveJenny Brewer —
As I write this, my daughter is asleep in her cot. Apparently there are people who write entire books on their maternity leave, which I’m now eight months into. Those people’s babies must nap longer than half an hour, because I’ll be lucky to finish this article, especially since our nights are still an exhausting scattergun of two-to-three-hour sleep stints meaning my sentences take a little longer to form. So my book will have to wait. In the meantime I’m lapping up the last few months being a full-time mum. It’s gone quickly (and painfully slowly at times), but now returning to work is on the horizon, and with it comes a tidal wave of emotions including excitement, trepidation and guilt.
Glasgow Women’s Library talks us through their favourite books for International Women’s DayJyni Ong —
Glasgow Women’s Library (GWL) is the only accredited museum in the UK dedicated solely to women. Based out of Glasgow’s east end, the cultural institution was nominated for ArtFund’s Museum of the Year last year, losing out to Tate St Ives at a close shave. As well as a lending library, GWL houses an impressive archive of artefacts from women’s history. From Suffragette memorabilia to records detailing a history of female immigrant experiences in the UK, the library come archive come museum is one of Scotland’s most-prized cultural landmarks.
Laura Coombs designs a book highlighting women's contribution to the photobookJyni Ong —
How We See: Photobooks by Women is the photobook of photobooks. Designed by Laura Coombs and published by 10×10 Photobooks, this comprehensive documentation of photography by women from 1843 to 2018 illustrates the prolific impact that women have contributed to the medium.
Hannah Buckman creates “feelings of self-acceptance and belonging” in her illustrationsRuby Boddington —
Hannah Buckman’s illustrations, with characters all out of proportion, often featuring multiple narratives happening within a larger frame, are instinctual and honest. A Camberwell College of Arts graduate, she depicts the world as she sees it, opening up about her joys and worries through fine-line work, a mixture of media and lavish use of colour.
Cristina BanBan combines anime and neoclassicism in her depictions of the female figureRuby Boddington —
For Spanish artist, Cristina BanBan, the body and, in particular, the female body, has always been a central figure in her practice. By combining her traditional, academic arts training with her teenage love of anime, Cristina is an artist with a distinctive style, employing neoclassical aesthetics and using the female body “as a channel that allows [her] to articulate certain narratives”.
Illustrator Laylah Amarchih keeps inspired by setting herself a brief each weekLucy Bourton —
The medium of illustration has always been a regular feature in London-based Laylah Amirchih’s life. From a young age, Laylah and her older brother would make comics together, and gradually, “the idea of images having meaning and conveying a message began to interest me”, culminating in her realisation that “illustration was what I wanted to do”, while studying a foundation at the University of Arts London’s CCW campuses.
Sawako Kabuki's latest nonsensical animation tells the tale of one girl addicted to octopus ballsRuby Boddington —
Animator and illustrator Sawako Kabuki is not known for her conventional storylines. What she is known for, however, is producing surreal shorts that make you laugh, even if it is out of discomfort at times.