At Nicer Tuesdays yesterday evening we laughed and learned a lot. From animator Laurie Rowan opening the event with an insightful talk on how to really go for what you actually want to do in creativity, Francesca Allen teaching the audience about how photography is far much more than just pressing a shutter, Yuri Suzuki showing us how sound can be utilised to improve communication through design (and giving us a banging DJ set in a high vis jacket ensemble) to illustrator Anna Haifisch giving a comic reading that left everyone in stitches.
Here are some of details from the comical and insightful evening.
Don’t be complacent. Do your own stuff!
Animator Laurie Rowan is a creative we know for his pastel coloured, joyful bobblehead looping animations we find ourselves staring at for far too long. But for Laurie to get to this point of having his own signature style that followers and collaborators can’t get enough of, he’s had to really work at it.
Laurie actually never studied animation but has been working as an animator for the past 12 years. In industry he learned “the fundamentals of character animation” but, “without meaning to, I divorced creativity.”
The animator was fine in the place he was at, looking at animation pragmatically and it being more of a job than a joy. This was until 2017 when he took a trip to animation conference Pictoplasma and saw how much animators really loved their practices. He then set himself a task: animating something conjured up his own mind and posting it on Instagram every Saturday morning. Likes, follows and confidence soon followed and in what proved a rather romantic full circle, he was even asked to do the branding for Pictoplasma just a year later.
In an inspiring talk that showed just what having faith in yourself can do, Laurie ended his presentation with this one key piece of advice for any creative to take away: “Don’t be complacent. Do your own stuff! Don’t spend ten years waiting to do something you like.”
Photographers should feel lucky that they can embed in a subject’s life
Francesca Allen has had a fast-paced photographic career. Since graduating from London College of Communication her mammoth project, Girls, Girls Girls including 100 images from over five years, was exhibited at The Photographers’ Gallery just a year later. Since then, Francesca has found a photographic groove from the project, creating work which “explores themes including female friendship, sexuality and using the camera as a form of intimacy,” she told the Nicer Tuesdays audience.
From the photographer we learned that for her practice to develop, “it was very natural for me to photograph with what I knew,” she says. This creates a certain kind of mood in Francesca’s photographs as her work “is a self-exploration of who I am but also who I want to be”.
This ethos culminated in Francesca’s first book released this year, Aya, a prime example of what Francesca means when she says, “I create and curate intimate moments with people I’ve just met”. Documenting her growing friendship with musician Aya Gloomy – who Francesca had only met once, for three hours, before travelling to Japan again to photograph only her – the book shows the photographer as her personable self and her best, “documenting a friendship using photography as a sole means of conversation”. Francesca explained how despite the trip resulting in her first book, the moments she’ll always remember are often the ones left not on camera; spending time at Aya’s grandma’s house for instance, or going out dancing. The experiences are the embodiment of Francesca’s feeling that “there’s so much more to a portrait than pressing a button".
How sound can enhance and benefit a design experience for everyone
“I’m quite surprised I could survive for the past ten years,” said Yuri Suzuki as he opened his talk at Nicer Tuesdays. It was a surprising comment from Yuri, a designer well known for his experimental sound-based projects and especially considering he’s just been announced as the latest – and pretty surprising – Pentagram partner in its London office.
But what Yuri meant is how it’s difficult for people to categorise him, with one publication previously describing him as some kind of design UFO. “I’m categorised in a weird way. Some people call me an artist, some a designer, some a musician,” he explained, before settling on the fact that the title doesn’t wholly matter; for Yuri, his job title is more of a communicator.
In working within communication with audiences when he’s creating instruments or with the general public when he’s working on exhibition installations Yuri’s work isn’t too far away from Pentagram’s ethos it turns out. In turn, his work there will continue to be explorative and never settle on one job title either, instead looking at communication through sound to better communities. “I believe sound stimulates us… what should our parks and cities sound like in the future?” he asked the audience. “My mission at Pentagram is to explore this.”
Brian Eno and a little bird artist = hilarious
Anna Haifisch performed a comic reading as the last act at November’s Nicer Tuesdays – a new format of talk we’ve never had before and one that will be hard to beat. The illustrator, well known for her particular character from a series of books titled The Artist, joined us from her home in Leipzig to take us through the best of her series.
With a brief introduction that showed a person in a bear suit bobbling around of which Anna explained: “This is me five years ago in a bear suit and now I’m here. I guess I made it”, before launching straight into her reading.
Broken up with musical interludes, the comic reading had everyone in the room in stitches thanks to the illustrator’s signature humour, timing and ridiculously good wit.