From illustrating to music and working with The New York Times; we learn what it takes to create an impactful piece of work
This month, we heard from four fascinating creatives about their processes, inspirations and aspirations: Hato and Simon Beckerman, A Vibe Called Tech, Anu Ambasna, plus Toby Treyer-Evans and Laurie Howell from Droga5.
Let’s face it, it seemed like most of the world (more or less) was at Glasto this year. And we couldn’t have thought up a better way of tackling the festi-blues than by listening to some insightful talks from four top quality creatives.
Despite the inevitable hangovers, the crowd this month were full of energy – with their tequila drinks in hand and snacks at the ready, the audience keenly took to their seats to tune into some fascinating talks from four different corners of the industry. We saw an in-depth look into the makings of a deli app with Hato and Simon Beckerman; the importance of increasing intersectionality amongst marginalised communities with A Vibe Called Tech; how art can be used as a form of therapy with Anu Ambasna; and a behind-the-scenes look at a long-term collaboration between Droga5 and The New York Times, led by Toby Treyer-Evans and Laurie Howell. There really was something for everyone, no matter the brain-state. So head on below to read more about the key learnings from the evening.
Combining food, pop culture and typography, Hato and Simon Beckerman discuss their mouth-watering new app Delli
After a quick fumble at the mics, our first speakers – Kenjiro Kirton and Simon Beckerman – were a charming delight as they kicked off the evening’s festivities. Ken, who’s the creative director and co-founder of Hato, was joined on the stage with Simon, the founder of fashion retailer Depop, to discuss their love of food, pop culture and, more importantly, their latest collaboration: a delicious and sustainable app named Delli. And not only was it a mouth-watering run-through of the process behind a functional, informative and eye-catching app, the talk also showed us how effective collaboration can really be. The pair had met around half a year ago, and it’s safe to say it’s a match made in heaven – not least in their presentation compatibility but also in their goals and ethos as creatives. “I love building communities and bringing people together,” said Simon, before giving us a low-down of his creative journey and why he’s the perfect suitor for a food-based collab with Hato. “I think the next few years are going to be an interesting time for the food world,” said Ken. “People want to consume things in a more sustainable way.”
To address the broken food system, the duo told us why they decided to make a “virtual food market in your pocket” filled with tasty hot-spots, bold typography and “raw” community driven photography. They also showed us some of their key references, including the work of designers Enzo Mari and Bruno Munari, plus Katz’s Delicatessen which they visited in New York – “It has such a strong parallel to the app that we had envisioned,” explained Ken. They also included some funny snippets from films we all know and love, like the Megan Ryan moment (you know the one) in When Harry Met Sally, filmed in the aforementioned Katz’s Deli, and an energetic clip from Wayne’s World. And finally, Obama dropped his mic for us at the end. What a treat!
“We’re into telling local stories globally”: A Vibe Called Tech on addressing a lack of representation in the creative industry
When Charlene Prempeh started talking about her impactful work with A Vibe Called Tech – an initiative and creative agency that explores the intersection of Black creativity, culture and innovation – it just felt incredibly right.
A natural behind the mic, she kicked off her discussion by admitting that Covid-19 might still be having an effect on her, although we certainly couldn’t tell. “I’m still fairly excited by crowds,” she said. Then, she addressed the “elephant in the room” and told us how the name of the agency is indeed inspired by hip hop group A Vibe Called Quest, before providing some further background information about how and why she set up the agency. She’s also Ghanaian, “and I like Ghanaian culture”, she said, provoking a “woo” in the audience – “Did someone just ‘woo’? I like that.” She added: “Brands were very keen on representation and diversity in their campaigns, but they didn’t think about what the nuances of those cultures are or the stories of the cultures. We wanted to change that.” Through empowering projects with the likes of Gucci and WePresent (which she presented to us), we loved hearing about the process behind each and every one of them – the details that are not usually presented to the public. Charlene’s work with A Vibe Called Tech is filling a gap in the industry as it spreads the message of inclusivity far and wide. “We’re into telling local stories globally,” she shared. It was an inspiring talk to say the least, and the audience were in agreement too, confirmed by the words “that was really good, really really good,” muttered throughout the crowd.
Anu Ambasna on zine-making, music and how art can be used as a form of therapy
We’re all aware of the power of creativity. Anu Ambasna, an illustrator and DJ based in London, showed us the remedial strength of her discipline as she talked us through the reasons why she put pen to paper. “My work is like a diary and a response to the world around me,” she explained, although a little nervously at the beginning. Trying not to picture the audience naked, she jested, she continued to tell us how she likes to tap into her unconscious mind and feed her ideas into her work – that which transforms moments from everyday life into illustrations that are humorous, DIY and sometimes a little rude (with the occasional “tiny dick”). She said: “You’re about to enter my world; it’s going to get personal because my work is personal.”
One of the main takeaways from Anu’s talk is that illustration – and creativity, for that matter – is an apt tool for therapy. It also hasn’t been so much of an easy ride for Anu. Firstly, she “hated” university and found her first steps into the industry to be difficult. “In all of these spaces, I grew increasingly annoyed at the fact that no one looked like me, so I decided to create a space for myself.” What’s more is that, after a break in 2018 “because depression”, Anu returned to her medium and she couldn’t be more thankful. This space that she has created is undeniably her own, filled with music-related artworks, comics and zines inspired by celebrity culture. “Music and art have always gone hand-in-hand and informed one another,” she shared. “It’s something that comes very natural to me because I have such a love for these pure art forms.” She ran us through some key topics, themes and highlights of hers, including her first-ever zine and how she illustrates to music – she even played us a couple of her favourite tracks and the work that she drew in response. For anyone else feeling stuck or a little low, Anu’s Nicer Tuesdays talk was a necessary dose of encouragement. “My general happiness started to grow with my skills.”
Toby Treyer-Evans and Laurie Howell from Droga5 on their five-year long collaboration with The New York Times
Droga5 – represented by creative directors Toby Treyer-Evans and Laurie Howell – closed the evening with an awe-inspiring discussion about their work. So much so that a fair few mouths were parted open from amazement in the crowd. Although a little hard to summarise (we’ll leave the Nicer Tuesdays video article to do it justice – stay tuned), the speakers ran us through the advertising agency’s five-year collaboration with The New York Times, and how they produced a brand that addresses the issue of fake news and the threat on journalism. “The best way to do that was through truth itself,” said Laurie. Finding a creative way to tell these stories, the team looked at the “main weapon” of the The New York Times, that being its words and typography. “A lot of our weapons are embellishment and metaphor; we had to find a different way of doing that,” added Toby.
The result is an investigation into the newspaper’s subscribers and the articles they like to read, compiled into an interesting campaign that showed the most-read headlines and, in turn, painted a picture of the subscriber’s personality and life… but not in a creepy way. “Luckily for us, The New York Times has a very nice and diverse group of independent souls [subscribers],” said Toby. “We wanted to reflect these independent souls in a way that felt really fresh and disruptive.” Featuring a synonymous typeface found on the pages of The New York Times, plus a clever algorithm that takes the readers’ most-read articles and lays them out perfectly on the screen, it was a hefty project to put together – but utterly worthwhile. If this doesn’t entice you enough, then keep your eyes out for their full talk which we will be publishing very soon.
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El Rayo Tequila is transforming the way you think and drink tequila – one T&T at a time. By partnering with artists and designers, it’s building a lifestyle brand around its tequilas. Tequila & Tonic is a thing now.
We’re excited to partner with Love Corn the UK’s first crunchy corn brand as our snack sponsor. Its delicious crunchy corn kernels are packed with flavour and made with love. On trend with being low sugar, gluten-free and vegan, it’s the feel good snack so please enjoy!
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