Review of the Year 2018: Back to Back with Joey Yu and Olimpia Zagnoli


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“Two of our favourite illustrators talk about the things that really mattered to them this year - memes, animation, and more”

There aren’t many things we enjoy doing more at It’s Nice That than bringing like-minded creatives together. Whether we’re able to sit them down in the studio, or join digital dots in the depths of cyberspace, there’s nothing quite like hearing synapses snap into being.

In the spirit of collaboration, we decided to gather a couple of our favourite illustrators together to talk about everything from Joey Tribbiani to the merits of making fresh pasta. Joey Yu was sat in her flat in London, and Olimpia Zagnoli in hers in Milan. It’s Nice That were sat in a little cupboard in Haggerston.

You can’t have missed either Olimpia or Joey’s work on It’s Nice That over the last 12 months, and for good reason. Both produce the sort of heartwarming, bright, bold, beautiful images that make us happy to be alive.

Somehow, they’d never met. After their brief virtual congregation, we reckon they might just become best of friends...

New Talent

OZWho did I discover this year who really impressed me? I really liked this series called The Catalogue of Imaginary Beings by Johanna Goodman. Her collages are really fun and thoughtful. Let me show you one...

JY I’m Googling her now...WOW! This makes my heart leap! This is SO juicy. I want it huge and on my wall.

OZ Good isn’t it? She also makes them animated with little gifs ying all over her characters. What about you?

JN There’s one illustrator who is KILLING it at the moment: Alvin Fail. The way they use pencil is like a spell.

OZ Wait, I Googled him and a lot of Chipmunks images appeared...

OZ Wow, is that pencil?

JY I think so? I’ll have to check but it looks like such intricate layerings of colour. And the mood is just right.

OZ It looks like his illustrations were made and then cooked for three hours


Johanna Goodman


Alvin Fail

Meal Of The Year

OZ Joey, please go first. I’m Italian so I only know pizza and pasta!

JN Those are wonderful too! One memorable moment is a trip to the Noryangjin fish market in Seoul, around it’s 10pm closing time. It’s like a huge warehouse selling all different kinds of live seafood. You pick what you want and they take it upstairs and cook it for you. I tried all sorts of fun things, like huge spider crab, and a live octopus. It was still wriggling around.

OZ Uuuh sounds delicious! I’ve never been to Korea and there are hardly any Korean restaurants in Milan where I live. I tried Korean in New York and it was soooo interesting.

JN New York! What did you have?

OZ A huge boiling bowl full of crazy things. I know it’s a bit vague but it looked like anything could emerge from it. Like a woman’s bejewelled hand.


Noryangjin fish market


JN I’ve listened to Tirzah a lot this year; she’s incredible!

OZ I don’t know her. What should I listen to?

JN She released an album this year called Devotion. It’s basically like rough, loose, experimental pop.

OZ I’m listening now. Oh well, I’m old inside. I hardly listen to anything published after 1979. So I really enjoyed Jonathan Wilson’s latest album called Rare Birds<.

JN I love new music for the videos too, Rosalia has insane visuals for a couple of songs directed by Canada!

OZ Have you ever worked on music videos?

JN I’ve done some work for my friend Lucy Lu. He came out with an EP this year. Very jazzy, very nice lyrics.

OZ I curate my boyfriend’s project visuals. His name is Andrea Poggi. We worked with directors Karol Sudolski and Giorgio Calace to make his videos for his album.


Tirzah - Devotion


Jonathan Wilson - Rare Birds<.

Staying positive in 2018

JN Memes kept me happy this year.

OZ I only indulge in astrological memes. I don’t really know much about signs and their characters so i only check mines. And they look pretty on point. Also, I’m quite impressed by how BAD memes look.

JN Yes, I love the copy and paste aesthetic.

OZ You do? I nd it hard to digest. I mean, i’ve always loved fanzines, DIY aesthetics and such but sometimes Instagram stories and memes o end my eyes.

JN It’s one of my favourite things in the world. I might pack it all in and just make memes. Sensory overload!


Astrological Meme


JY Ooh TV! I’m watching Little Drummer Girl right now. Park Chan Wook directs. It’s seductive.

OZ I haven’t seen that! I’m learning so many new things. I’m watching The Bisexual right now. The director is Desiree Akhavan who also stars in the show. I’ve only seen a couple of episodes but I’ll keep watching despite the intention of watching less TV shows and more movies this year.

JY I have that intention too, TV shows are a commitment!

OZ And also, i tend to forget everything about them once they’re over. I slightly remember the flavour of them but I don’t retain much else.


Desiree Akhavan - The Bisexual

What makes a good year?

OZ LOTS OF MONEY. I’m joking. It’s good to have some money though, especially as an artist.

JY Very true!

OZ It gives us the freedom to experiment and keep doing what we're doing.

JY It also means that personal projects aren’t completely overruled by client work.

OZ Totally! It gives you the space to think and explore what it is we want to say and we want to say it. And even IF we want to say something! Sometimes it’s nice to be quiet.

JY Not regretting stuff. That makes for a good year. Not wishing I had done something rather than just grabbing life and going for it.

OZ “Grab life”, - that’s such a good slogan! Hey, have you ever been to Italy, Joey? I’m asking because now I want to have real coffee with you.

JY Yes I have! But this is a great excuse to go again. Next year, perhaps...

OZ My hope for the year ahead is to be a bit more messy. Experiment with different techniques, get my hands dirty with some crazy material I've never tried before, stay up late in the studio and learn how to make fresh pasta.

JY I want to be messier, too!

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