“Nervous, excited, anxious,” is how one recent graduate now working at It’s Nice That describes how she felt on her first proper day of university. By “proper day” we mean the first time she had to step into a lecture hall, rather than spend a hungover morning in bed grappling with an existential crisis and a bout of homesickness over an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives and a bowl of Coco Pops. “It would have been great,” she says, “if independent creative practice Studio LP had teamed up with Spanish illustrator Jose Mendez to produce a series of informative and visually appealing guides to beginning life as a student in the arts. That would have been great.”
Produced for the new cohorts of the University of Arts London (UAL) who find themselves spread across various cross-capital campuses and colleges, Jose and Studio LP have been working on six guides that’ll hopefully give fresh-faced freshers a headstart to their time in the academy.
“I wanted to give a feeling that university is a fun and exciting period of your life, I wanted to create something with more personality and bringing the idea to new students that they come to university to find their own voice in any sort of creative field they decide to pursue,” Jose says when It’s Nice That asks what he wanted new students to get out of the booklets.
Keeping in line with the bulk of Jose’s work to date — which includes commissions for the likes of Spotify, Noble Rot, and The New York Times — the illustrations are bright, perky, and inclusive. Jose says, “The way I approached this project was keeping in mind that it should speak to a broader audience, to different type of students with different interests, I wanted to bring some positive vibes.”
He says that he wishes he’d had this kind of resource at his disposal when he started studying. “The first year at university is a big deal, and even more if you come from a foreign country to study to London,” Jose tells us, adding that he thinks publications of this kind make the idea of university feel that little less scary. Which, when we’re honest, it can be.
We asked him for the one piece of advice that didn’t make it into the guides that he thinks all new arts students should be equipped with, and Jose tells us that every so often you might feel like the course you’ve picked might be the wrong choice, but even in those trying moments you should, “just try to stick to your own ideas, find your areas of interest and pursue your own path.”
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