Welcome to Review of the Year 2023, a look back at the past year on It’s Nice That where we showcase the best and most popular articles of the past 12 months. This annual series is always fun to put together, because let’s face it, the creative world is constantly moving and we’re always looking ahead. So it gives us a chance to stop and remember some of the incredible work we’ve spotlighted this year and curate it in a neat little package for you, our readers, you lucky things.
This year our two most read articles of the year explored brand design on both sides of the looking glass. One looked at rebrands for the commercial sector and, contentiously, questioned why they’re starting to all look alike. The other divulged the fascinating realm of entirely made-up brands for films and TV, sharing insights from top-class experts including the graphics team of 2023’s monster hit Barbie.
In our most read graphic design stories, some of the world’s most talked about rebrands topped our charts. Facebook had a subtle refresh, while Twitter had a complete identity change (despite everyone still calling it Twitter) with the bird kicked out in favour of the user-submitted X logo. Then Threads came along, and we spoke to the creative team behind its @ logo and identity inspired by the app’s “spontaneity and candour”. Meanwhile the Premier League and Team GB all had vibrant, modern refreshes, signalling major shifts in design for the sports sector. However, some of your favourite identities looked to more nostalgic muses, like this cafe branding inspired by Excel spreadsheets, and a lovely rebrand for Norwich Castle based on Post-its.
Our most popular illustration piece this year was Maisie Cowell’s hilarious comic exploring the guilt and shame of a bird-killing dog. Apparently you loved her blue-hued dark humour as much as us. Also super popular with you lot was Oyow’s beautifully naive and textural work; Noa Goffer’s fun sketches of all the stuff she really wants but can’t afford; and Gomatsu’s satisfyingly neat and charming images of cats. From the ethereal work of Evelyn Tan to Anny Peng’s striking and uncanny drawings, there are so many wonderful artists to explore, bookmark and follow in this list.
Our most popular photography stories in 2023 mostly held one common theme – they were all about people. Portraits of myriad characters and communities around the world drew our audience in above all else, exemplifying the breadth of humanity. Some are raw and personal, such as James Barnett’s 15-year-long documentary series of his own parents, and Ruizhe Hong’s photographs aiming to encapsulate intimate relationships. Others are more constructed, creating a feast for the eyes – see Salomé Gomis-Trezise’s experiments with portraiture and AI, and Emily Stein’s staged portraits harking back to 1980s school show and tells.
This year we’ve added a new list called Team Picks, wherein the It’s Nice That editorial team has highlighted some of our personal stories from this year. These ones didn’t quite make the Most Read lists, but we think they deserve more time in the spotlight.
Also if you fancy sitting back with a cuppa and taking your inspiration in video form, check out our Top 15 Talks from 2023. Here you can watch some of the most popular talks from our Nicer Tuesdays events in London and New York, from the comfort of your sofa!
Lastly, before you go and explore all these great stories, a quick shout-out to the completely brilliant Can Yang and Monika Adamczyk for creating our Review of the Year 2023 visual identity – helping us celebrate a year of outstanding creativity in shimmering, holographic glory. Enjoy!
About the Author
Jenny oversees our editorial output across work, news and features. She was previously It’s Nice That's news editor. Get in touch with any big creative stories, tips, pitches, news and opinions, or questions about all things editorial.