Nicer Tuesdays always spans an eclectic mix of topics, but May’s edition was a veritable smorgasbord of creative inspiration. Taking to the podium at Oval Space, Offshore Studio’s Christoph Miler discussed the “missing voice” of the discourse surrounding the migrant crisis, before Kyle Platts explored character design and animation; then graphic designer Erica Dorn shared the intricate research undertaken for Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs; before Sam Conniff taught us about the Golden Age of Pirates. Here, we pick out just some of the learnings from last night.
Independent publishing has the power to impact history
Christoph Miler, one half of Swiss graphic design studio Offshore, joined the line-up to take us through the creation of Migrant Journal, an important independent magazine focused on the migrant crisis. The anticipated next issue is due out later this week, he revealed, and themed Dark Matters, it explores the invisible and illegal aspects of the crisis, such as human and drug trafficking. On the magazine as a whole, Christoph commented on why it was created in the first place. “We were irritated by the discourse surrounding the migrant crisis. It was polemic and one-dimensional. There was a missing voice, more true to the complexity of the whole theme.” After explaining the ideas behind its design, layout and the bespoke typeface the studio created for the mag, Christoph signed off: “I hope in 20 years time, it becomes an archive of the current decade of migration, and reflects its challenges.”
Childhood passions can have lasting creative influence
Illustrator and animator Kyle Platts started off by sharing a brief history of his life in illustration, showing hilarious doodles from his school days. “I started drawing when I was a kid… my influences were Duke Nukem, Metal Gear Solid, Die Hard, The Matrix. I wasn’t that into school work so I would accompany it with illustrations. Jumping forward a few years, now I’m a professional I guess.” Kyle shared insights to his characters, which he says are “graphic and controlled” yet have “an element of humility”, and his move into animation, which was a natural progression from working on panel comics. His first was an ident for MTV about beans, his next was much darker humoured ident for Adult Swim titled Furniture Sale. He then shared his latest, a recent commission from Giphy to make a series of animated sticker gifs titled Heat Wave, starring a non-plussed sun character that pops up in lots of his work.
Isle of Dogs is packed with crazy details you’d miss in a blink
Erica Dorn gave a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at her role on Wes Anderson’s stop motion feature film Isle of Dogs, on which she was lead graphic designer. With two years of material to show, Erica elected to focus on a few scenes from the film and explore how graphic elements were designed for those sets. What stood out was the immense amount of research, reference material and intricate design work that went into every detail, regardless of its size or time on screen. “Wes Anderson is a director that cares a lot about the authenticity of the details,” she said. “Even though it’s fantastical, it’s always based in reality.” Erica showed the smallest graphic the team designed, a 1mm x 5mm sticker on a phone, and other elements such as the labels on bottles of detergent and sake. “The dogs live in a hovel made of bottles,” she said, “but I bet you didn’t know all the bottles have labels on them. Screen time can be disproportionate to how much time is spent on a scene.”
Pirates were the pioneers of equal rights
As founder of Livity and Don’t Panic, Sam Conniff knows a thing or two about shaking up the creative industry. Sam finished off the evening with an invigorating talk around his recent research for new book Be More Pirate, which analyses the radical strategies of Golden Age pirates and aligns them with modern day cultural leaders. He first got everyone’s attention by “calling bullshit” on the business model of the 20th Century, growth for growth’s sake, and said “our work will ultimately be judged on its impact”. Therefore it’s our responsibility, he said, to challenge the status quo and ask the difficult questions of our bosses, clients and colleagues to rebel against this current state of affairs. Pirates, he said, were the first to have social insurance, to have equal pay and diversity, and universal suffrage. If we follow their example, he suggested, we can rewrite the rules. “Pirates come out of abject market failure… it’s a time for those innovating in the shadows to come forward.”