As is tradition on the last Tuesday of the month, yesterday we headed to Oval Space to hear four creatives take us through their recent projects and practices. An evening where each talk was different in aesthetic and tone from the last, we heard from illustrator and painter Alice Tye, art director and creative consultant Ben Ditto, photographer Yushi Li and one half of Swiss design studio, Dinamo.
While each talk was completely different from the one that came before it, each creative displayed how every working practice is personal and in turn causes innovative work. From how taking time out of your creative practice can actually enhance it to the power of collaboration through technology, and what can happen if you message over 300 people on Tinder, here’s what we learned at April’s Nicer Tuesdays.
Take time to reflect on your work and the results will be worth it
Over the years we’ve featured the work of illustrative painter Alice Tye countless times. However, last night, we finally got to hear Alice talk through the work in person as the first speaker at April’s Nicer Tuesdays.
Joining us to speak through her recent series Mono No Aware, Alice gave us a look behind the scenes of a trip to Japan where the project began. However, unlike other illustrators who tend to carry sketchbooks with them and etch as they go, Alice has a different approach. Preferring to use trips as a way to step away from work, Alice pointed out how she normally likes to have “a break while I’m a travelling,” she explains. As a result Alice’s approach is to naturally take photographs as any other tourist would, then translate these to paintings once she returns to the studio in London.
This experience is one that allows Alice to portray a distinct type of memory in the paintings too, reflecting fondly on the joys of travelling and even those things that go naturally wrong too, even noting how she “surprised myself by navigating through the city but also picking up hidden details”. Overall showing how sometimes the best work may develop if you make an effort to switch off too.
Collaboration and freedom to create is at the heart of Dazed Beauty
Following his work in the industry for over ten years, art director and designer Ben Ditto definitely had a wealth of experience to offer the audience at April’s Nicer Tuesdays. However rather than discuss his entire work to date, Ben spoke through his recent work towards the launch of Dazed Beauty.
A new platform launched by powerhouse Dazed Media, Dazed Beauty grew from the idea of starting a platform around “the future of identity”. Working closely with make-up artist Isamaya Ffrench and Bunny Kinney, the team began with the concept of creating a world which “reflects the way we see beauty: a bit uncomfortable and a bit personal”. Describing his aesthetic influences as “art nouveau meets sci-fi meets prog” Ben began designing a platform we’re sure audiences have never seen before.
Aside from describing design details about the logo and design process of creating Dazed Beauty, Ben also described the community in which the beauty industry and technology is excitingly facilitating. “None of this stuff is anyone on their own,” he pointed out. “It’s all collaborative”.
Creating intimate encounters with complete strangers
“I’m a Chinese woman who takes photos of western UK men,” stated photographer Yushi Li with brilliant comedic timing at the start of her Nicer Tuesdays talk.
Yushi, one of our Ones to Watch earlier this year, joined us to talk through two projects she’s completed while at the Royal College of Art, where she is currently studying her PhD. The first, My Tinder Boys is simply “naked men eating in their own kitchens” for which Yushi reached out to over 300 possible models on Tinder. Hilariously taking us through some of the responses she explained how “some replied, but wanted something more” putting Yushi in a position where she is “the violator and the desired object”. Developed from the fact Yushi is tired of seeing naked women the project shows how she thinks “female bodies are beautiful but I think male bodies are equally beautiful. As a heterosexual female photographer I’m attracted to male bodies… I want to use my work to explore ways for women to explore sexual desire.”
The second, Your Reservation is Confirmed continued this theme and saw Yushi reaching out to life drawing models and photographing them, alongside herself, in AirBnb’s around London. “By creating these intimate encounters with different male strangers, I try to use my work to play with the power relationship inherent in the gaze,” Yushi explained to the audience.
A brilliant talk, full of personality and academic references too, in ten minutes Yushi only confirmed our belief that she really is one to watch.
Type design can, and should be, experimental too
Our final speaker at April’s Nicer Tuesdays was Fabian Hard, one-half of the founders alongside Johannes Breyer behind Swiss design practice, Dinamo. Taking the audience through the many members of the Dinamo team, from the interns in far-flung countries to the permanent members of staff working with the pair in Berlin and Basel, Fabian then spoke through the studio’s approach to design.
Split into four parts, Fabian explained how the first part of the studio operates by working on client briefs for a long list of cultural pillars from Warp Records to the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. The second sees it operate more as a research field, heading into libraries and finding type from the past to reimagine. Then there’s hardware, which sees the studio design objects its many fans can buy, starting originally from one t-shirt but now appealing to non-graphic designers too. Finally, Dinamo designs typefaces too, obviously.
This led Fabian to talk through Dark Room, a tool which allows designers to test out the abilities of variable fonts, which can “help, or confuse, the modern type designer”. In releasing the potential of experimentation to a type design practice, Fabian then explained how it allowed Dinamo itself to develop Whyte, a new typeface released earlier this year.