The Nice Hour: Eric Hu’s advice on how to meaningfully use typography

Next up in our series of advice events we’ll be discussing how best to use type with the New York-based creative director and designer.

28 July 2020


Welcome to The Nice Hour, a series of advice-led events from It’s Nice That on Adobe Live, offering you the chance to receive some creative guidance from the industry’s leading practitioners.

Over the next few weeks (on the 3, 10 and 17 August) we invite you to join us for a series of discussions of creative work over on Adobe Live. An online community of creative practitioners, Adobe Live holds sessions each weekday sharing ideas and topics across illustration, graphic design, motion design and photography. Not just helpful for practical advice within these disciplines, the sessions are also full of conversation and live chats between audience members and hosts.

Each Monday at 12pm (BST) It’s Nice That will be sitting down with a creative heavyweight from a specific discipline to go through portfolios, offering advice on the specific work at hand but also on the creative industry as a whole.

Joining us for the second session of The Nice Hour will be none other than Eric Hu. During the session, which will be hosted on Adobe Live on Monday 10 August (12pm BST), Eric will be focusing on the typographic element of his practice, offering advice to any budding graphic or type designers looking to hone their use of the medium. He’ll also, of course, be sharing more general career advice and insights as well.

Since founding Nothing in Common with his partners in 2014, Eric’s knowledge and unique eye in typography have seen him reshape numerous identities and graphic approaches. Across holding impressive roles such as the global design director at Nike and director of design at SSENSE, it has been Eric’s ability to utilise unlikely typographic references – and make them seem entirely natural – that has always had us creatively blown away. In this session we’ll be on the lookout for creatives who already use typography heavily within their practice, either in creating identities and campaigns, or as type designers themselves.

Ahead of the event and entering your portfolio, Eric advises taking the time to think about format, ahead of any creative flourishes. “The reality is, in this day and age, people will access digital imagery through many different types of screens – large, small, landscape, portrait, and you can’t assume that your work will be viewed in the most optimal of conditions,” he says. In a piece of advice useful to anyone applying for roles or submitting their work for this event, “try your portfolio on the smallest cellphone screen and see if it’s legible,” says Eric. “Maybe you’ll come to the conclusion that trying to fit as many spreads of a book you designed into a single image won’t be a good idea, for example.”

Aside from practicalities, the creative director also states: “In general quality always trumps quantity.” When putting together your work, extract the gems and remember that “It’s okay to show fewer pieces and save time to talk about them, or to show more depth in your thinking. I remember when I was a student I had this insecurity that made me feel like I needed to show as many projects as possible. It always ended up being hard to talk about in the end for many reasons… Show the work you’re excited to show!”

This enthusiasm for your work is also a key factor for Eric. “Ask questions. Try to be engaged,” he adds when we ask if there’s anything he’s keen to see. “For me personally, I tend to match the enthusiasm of the other person. It’s a lot of work for me to try to care about someone’s work if I don’t get the sense that they care.” Without forgetting that this is a two-way street, “hold me accountable too!” he says. “If something I say doesn’t make sense, or doesn’t feel like I’m adequately addressing something, let me know! It’s also a privilege for me to review your work.”

Looking back, it’s this mix of enthusiasm and confidence Eric wishes he’d had when he was first starting out in the industry too. “I was too shy to ask for help or look for a mentor when I was younger. I felt, for whatever reason, that I should keep grinding until other people wanted to reach out to me instead of me reaching out to them,” he explains. Describing his reasoning as both a “combination of a lack of confidence in my own work and a self-absorbed and rather narcissistic stance,” his best advice is to not “treat interactions as transnational,” and remember: “Everyone’s trying to grow and improve.”

Whether you’re planning to submit work or not, be sure to tune in to Eric’s session on Monday 10 August (12pm BST) to join a wider conversation on creative work. You can also already connect with other members of the creative community on Adobe Live each weekday at 12pm, including further events with guest artists.

To submit your portfolio to be discussed please upload a PDF of your work and your contact details here or by clicking the link below. Please ensure your uploaded portfolio is a downloadable PDF up to 10 MB, or you can share a website link. Unfortunately, we will not be able to open WeTransfer links, Hightail or Dropbox folders. If you are keen for a particular project in your portfolio to be discussed please make a note of this in your application. We look forward to seeing your work!

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Adobe Live is an online community where creatives can share ideas on topics such as illustration, graphic design, motion design and photography via live streams and live chats.

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