On the last Tuesday of every month, It’s Nice That takes over Oval Space in east London to host an evening of creative talks. Four speakers from across the creative world take to the podium to share insights from a recent landmark project, showing the ideas and processes behind its making. Fun, candid and ever-eclectic, the talks are a source of inspiration for creative people of all types.
Our monthly talks event Nicer Tuesdays had humble beginnings but its motivation was simple: invite exciting creatives to share short, sharp insights to recent projects, aiming to inform and inspire. Each year it’s grown and evolved, but this spirit has always remained at its core.
Matthew Jones, the creative director of Accept & Proceed, left the designers in the room squirming with jealousy after giving insight into the studio’s work for Nasa during his talk at last month’s Nicer Tuesdays. Accept & Proceed is a graphic design agency based in East London’s Hackney Downs but as a team, Matthew told us, “we come from all over the world”.
Our final speaker at April’s Nicer Tuesdays was Fabian Harb, one half of Swiss design duo Dinamo. Fabian stressed the importance of acknowledging the many people who make Dinamo’s practice possible, from those working with the permanent team in Berlin and Basel to those who completed internships with them. He then took us on a tour of the team’s current studio spaces in Barcel and Berlin, and gave us an overview of how the design agency was founded.
The final speaker at March’s Nicer Tuesdays was DIA Studio’s creative director Mitch Paone. Brooklyn-based DIA has cemented itself as the go-to studio for kinetic identity systems and type, and counts the likes of Squarespace, Nike and producer A-Trak as clients.
Our final speaker at February’s Nicer Tuesdays was renowned British designer, Craig Oldham. With a portfolio that spans film, television, art and retail, Craig has experience in a wide range of fields. But it was his most recent project, They Live: A Visual and Cultural Awakening that Craig chose to speak through.
David Lane is an art director known for multiple magazine titles such as Freize and The Gourmand which he co-founded. But other than these publications taking up David’s time, his studio Lane & Associates also looks after the art direction (which even he admits “is a broad term”) for advertising campaigns from high fashion brands to musicians too. David Lane is very busy.
Joining us from her home in Rotterdam for October’s Nicer Tuesdays was Liza Enebeis, creative director of the renowned Studio Dumbar.
Superimpose, a global but fully independent studio based in London (and soon LA), were the second to take the stage at September’s Nicer Tuesdays.
Giving his first talk as a Pentagram partner and newly relocated Londoner, German graphic designer Sascha Lobe joined us at Nicer Tuesdays August. “I’m totally new here, and I have to adapt,” Sascha explained to the audience. “I want to use this talk to say goodbye to something, and say hello to something new.”
Atelier Brenda is a graphic design studio, but no one is quite sure who Brenda actually is. Joining us from Belgium at Nicer Tuesdays in June, the studio’s real-life designers, Nana Esi and Sophie Keij, dispelled many of the myths of the studio through a frequently asked questions type talk which revealed who Brenda actually is.
Zurich-based graphic design studio Offshore is one of It’s Nice That’s Ones to Watch 2018 and with good reason. Founders Christoph Miler and Isabel Seiffert are behind the design of Migrant Journal, for which the duo created a bespoke typeface and visually arresting design. Politically conscious, sensitive and striking all at the same time, it sums up the designers’ capability way beyond their years.
Creative director Veronica Ditting is best known for her landmark work in the publishing industry, including the design of The Gentlewoman, and her art direction of Fantastic Man and Cos Magazine. At Nicer Tuesdays she spoke about her London-based studio, which is surprisingly compact for its impressive output, at just six people.
Twin sisters Marta and Eva Yarza have gained quite the following for their graphic design capabilities and vision. Known as The Yarza Twins, with a studio of the same name based in London, the pair took to the Nicer Tuesdays stage to tell us about their identity for Oia Council, a Spanish municipality in Galicia.
Anna Gerber and Britt Iversen founded Visual Editions with the aim to be “a traditional book publisher making very untraditional books”. This notion is truly brought to life in its imprint, of sorts, Editions At Play – a collaborative project with Google Creative Lab that “brings magic and delight into digital books”.
Our final speaker at Nicer Tuesdays November was Leipzig-based illustrator, Anna Haifisch. After seeing Anna speak at Eike König’s After School Club in Offenbach during July this year, we quickly realised the illustrator was a must to speak at Nicer Tuesdays before the year was up, also doubling up as the first comic reading we’ve had at our monthly event.
Joining us as the first speaker at April’s Nicer Tuesdays was London-based painter, Alice Tye. With her signature illustrative style, Alice recasts photographs as paintings, creating compositions which linger on single, transient moments captured on her camera. Her talk focused on a recent series of paintings exhibited earlier this year at Mother’s Redchurch Street offices titled Mono No Aware, a project which came out of a three-week trip to Japan in spring of 2017.
Illustrator Grace Helmer joined us from her south London studio for Nicer Tuesdays October, discussing how keeping her practice personal has encouraged herself, and her client base, to grow.
Joining us from Germany for the last Nicer Tuesdays talk of 2018 was the renowned illustrator, Christoph Niemann. An illustrator celebrated for his endlessly-brilliant portfolio of books and spot illustrations for publications, Christoph joined us to talk through a larger project: a mural.
There are lots of reasons why creatives become fans of illustrator Alex Jenkins. His illustration style for one always grabs your attention, but it’s the ensuing narratives – which always follow a gross but very relatable storyline – that really hold your focus. To discuss how he developed this signature style and process of working that always makes us laugh, he joined us at February’s Nicer Tuesdays.
“I don’t remember when I began drawing exactly but it was a long time ago”, explained illustrator Olimpia Zagnoli, opening the evening at Nicer Tuesdays September. Joining us from her home of Milan, the beloved illustrator spoke through the numerous forms her illustrative work can take, from illustrated plates and pillows to collaborations with fashion brands to children’s books.
Charlotte Mei is an illustrator and artist known for wearing various creative hats. Some fans adore her ceramics or attend her classes; brand art directors commission her illustrations; and a variety of international mags are often filled with original Mei’s. Her working process is one that varies in terms of application and point of view, and she took the Nicer Tuesdays audience through how she gets it done at the August event.
Nadine Redlich, a German cartoonist and "a very stable genius” joined us at Nicer Tuesdays July to give us an insight behind her comics and her hilarious illustrative process.
Robert Rubbish, a founding member of the iconic illustration collective Le Gun, took to the Nicer Tuesdays stage in June to discuss his latest project, Spiritus Soho.
There’s no mistaking the handiwork of illustrator and animation director, Kyle Platts. Vivid and cartoonish compositions filled with strange, wobbly characters, their ballooned foreheads in profile bearing enlarged eyes, are his forte, and a long-time favourite of the It’s Nice That team. Here, he speaks about his recent dabblings in animation and the increasing desire to make his characters move, making utterly brilliant and hugely popular gif artworks.
The idiosyncratic brushwork and hand-drawn typography of illustrator Marion Deuchars is instantly recognisable, and have charmed children and grown-ups alike in her many books. Recently, Marion has been both educating and inspirational in her books about the art world, particularly in Bob the Artist, which aims to teach kids about well-known artistic techniques while also encouraging individuality. The new follow-up Bob’s Blue Period is about expressing emotions through creativity, and is loosely based, she explains, on Picasso’s story of loss.
If you’ve not seen Alex Norris’ hilariously relatable panel comics then where have you been? Readers of It’s Nice That will recognise the “badly drawn blob” character of his series Webcomic Name for his punchline “oh no”, and the inevitably disappointing situations it gets itself into. At Nicer Tuesdays, Alex took us back to the beginning of his comic work, and the ideas and inspirations that led him to where he is now.
French, London-based illustrator Marie Jacotey is known for her coloured pencil works depicting the familiar truths of relationships and intimate emotions. At Nicer Tuesdays, she delved more into her inspirations and obsessions. “Everything that people would prefer hidden – that’s what I’m trying to talk about,” she explained. “The cringyness of relationships is what interests me!”
A self-described “Chinese woman who takes photographs of naked Western men”, photographer and PhD student at the RCA Yushi Li had April’s Nicer Tuesdays audience laughing as she discussed her recent series, My Tinder Boys. During her talk, Yushi gave a frank account of what the project entailed – “I photographed different men I met through Tinder eating naked in their own kitchens”.
Taking to the stage at last month’s Nicer Tuesdays was London-based photographer Bex Day. A 26-year-old, self-taught fashion and documentary photographer, she began by explaining: “My work focusses on identity, diversity, freedom of choice and gender equality. I’m interested in challenging rigid beauty ideals and stereotypes within my work.” She continued on to say that “I essentially want to take people out of boxes constructed by society which tend to enhance narrow-mindedness,” before preceding to introduce to project she was here to talk about: Hen.
At Nicer Tuesdays August we had the absolute honour of revealing a new project by photographer Luke Evans. A firm long-time favourite of ours Luke took to the stage at Oval Space to introduce his work to those who may not of known him, but they definitely love him now.
Photographer Vicki King joined us at Nicer Tuesdays in July to take us through her eclectic career from the very beginning.
Natalia Stuyk is a video and digital artist who creates surreal, warping imagery in vivid saturated colours. Her commercial work often sees her collaborate with brands such as Kenzo, Nike and Stella McCartney, making fashion films, music videos and everything in between. Much more at home in the digital space, Natalia spoke at Nicer Tuesdays about her recent move into the physical space, collaborating on installations for Galeria Melissa in New York over the coming summer.
During the beginning of Mahaneela’s talk at October’s Nicer Tuesdays, the multidisciplinary creative showed a slide listing all of the job titles she’s adopted over the years. “Photographer, director, writer, digital strategist, consultant, communications manager, event curator, music manager, producer, project manager, make up artist, stylist, public speaker,” it read, and the rest of Mahaneela’s talk went on to prove how being a jack of all trades may be the best way to put a foot forward in the creative industry.
In her portraiture, photographer Sophie Harris-Taylor has a knack for capturing personality and dynamics in a beautifully natural way. This is exemplified in her series Sisters, which saw her shooting 80 pairs and groups of sisters over two years, and in turn depicting their unique and intimate relationships.
In its collection of nearly half a million found photographic slides, Anonymous Project has captured something familiar to everyone. “We found amazing scenes in these little windows into our past,” says co-founder Lee Shulman. “All aspects of daily life, all the more fascinating and arresting because of their unpolished nature. These are the stories of all our lives, a diary of their eras.”
Joining us at November’s Nicer Tuesdays was photographer Francesca Allen, a creative who has had a fast-paced career full of memorable moments, of which she creates just as many behind the camera as she does in front of it.
Writer, photographer and filmmaker Yumna Al-Arashi treated the audience of March’s Nicer Tuesdays to a thought-provoking and nuanced discussion of representation in photography, while also presenting several of her projects which challenge and complicate stereotypes of Muslim women.
Self-taught creatives were on a roll at March’s Nicer Tuesdays – our second speaker, animator Caitlin McCarthy, only turned her hand to motion work just two years ago, after graduating from illustration at Camberwell College of Arts.
Despite admitting that he was “slightly queasy” about being stood in front of the Nicer Tuesdays audience last month, Johnny Kelly went on to give a blinder of a talk, detailing the process behind his recent series of ads for Cheerios.
Joining us at February’s Nicer Tuesdays was Swedish animator, Anna Malin Mantzaris. Based between London and Stockholm and represented by Passion Animation Studios, Anna works mainly in stop-motion animation. One recent project in this medium that massively caught our attention is a short titled Enough, which sees her characters do all the things we wish we could do in our daily lives – from slapping the phone out the hand of someone talking too loudly on the bus, to screaming and running out of the office workplace we’re sick of.
Laurie Rowan, an animator based in Brighton, was the first to take to the stage at November’s Nicer Tuesdays a few weeks ago, talking us through his career trajectory and how he found his own groove in the animation scene.
Journalist and filmmaker Roxy Rezvany began her Nicer Tuesdays talk last month by explaining her creative journey. Roxy grew up “loving art and stories and films but I never went to film school,” she says. Despite this, her career in the creative industry has developed through “jobbing” and the result is a personable approach to the work she makes, leading on to her most recent film Little Pyongyang.
Rob Slater, one half of design studio Flat-e joined us at Nicer Tuesdays July to talk through his studio’s practice, particularly focusing on its new work visually interpreting Daniel Avery’s record, Song for Alpha.
Animation director Sophie Koko Gate took to the Nicer Tuesdays stage last month to take us through her personal practice, but also give us a sneak peek at her new short for Adult Swim’s series Off the Air before it was seen by anyone else!
Animation director and It’s Nice That One to Watch from 2017 Nicos Livesey never takes the easy route on a project. His latest film, the BBC’s promotional video for the 2018 World Cup, was one of his most extravagant works to date, embarking on a mammoth task where each frame would be embroidered, and then animated.
If you stopped to admire the incredible graphic details in Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs, you were most likely admiring the work of Erica Dorn. As the lead graphic designer on the film, Erica was responsible for bringing together everything from the Japanese woodblock-inspired artworks to printed documents, product packaging and signage, which added beautiful intricacies to the dystopian future world Anderson was creating for his canine stars.
Fresh from a Bafta nomination and winning best short at the British Animation Awards, animator Will Anderson spoke about his much-lauded film Have Heart. In a captivatingly simple aesthetic, the animation tells the story of a weary animated gif stuck in a loop on the internet, on the cusp of an existential crisis.
Animator Steve Warne has an impressive list of credits to his name, having worked on Isle of Dogs, Kubo and the Two Strings, My Life as a Courgette, and Frankenweenie. However it’s his own film, Pombo Loves You which Steve spoke about at Nicer Tuesdays – an incredible feat of stop-motion animation that uses a live-action approach to create its cinematic feel.
Animator I Saw John First looked to an eclectic bank of references for his music video for Mr Jukes. “I’m into obscurity, Japan, imaginary worlds, heads with feet, ghost stories and spirits,” he said, showing sketches, development animatics and excerpts from the final animation. Colourful, fantastical and hypnotic, the visuals for the track Angels/Your Love feat. BJ The Chicago Kid are also synced with the beat, meaning every detail of the frame-by-frame animation emulates the song.
Art director, designer and creative consultant Ben Ditto joined us at April’s Nicer Tuesdays to take us through his art direction that led to the launch of publishing powerhouse Dazed Media’s new digital and print platform, Dazed Beauty.
Kirsten Algera, editor-in-chief of MacGuffin magazine, joined us at May’s Nicer Tuesdays to talk us through the biannual design and crafts magazine’s seventh issue: The Trousers. “MacGuffin is a design magazine that is not about design,” Kirsten announced. Rather, the publication was born out of “a desire to combine in-depth research and visual appeal”. Inspired by the MacGuffin technique, a term popularised by Alfred Hitchcock, which assigns significance to an object according to its effect on the characters and their actions, MacGuffin magazine is likewise a platform that is less about objects and more about the stories they tell.
In past lives, Sam Conniff was the founder of creative network Livity and media platform Don’t Panic, but recently he’s gone rogue with a new mission: to encourage everyone to Be More Pirate. Born from research into the radical strategies of Golden Age pirates, his new ethos and book of the same name (with an added explanatory strapline “Or How to Take On The World And Win”) adapts these strategies for 21st Century work and life, and aligns them with modern day innovators or “rebels” like Elon Musk and Malala Yousafzai.
Max Siedentopf is a creative working in advertising, who on the side creates a myriad of brilliantly oddball and original personal projects. But it is this eclectic output that can sometimes confuse people, he admitted at Nicer Tuesdays. “I’m pretty sure that no one here has any idea who I actually am,” he joked, and attempted to clear things up by telling us about his work at KesselsKramer – where he recently became partner – as well as his latest passion projects including a sticker book, gif series Instructions for World Peace, and Ordinary magazine.
A landscape architect by training, Nicolas Bonner moved to Asia in 1993, settling in Beijing. Since then, Nicolas has become a self proclaimed graphic hoarder of ephemera collected across the border in North Korea, recently releasing his findings in Made In North Korea: Graphic from Everyday life in the DPRK, with Phaidon.
Joining us at Nicer Tuesdays November was Yuri Suzuki, shortly after the designer’s slightly surprising announcement that he was the newest Pentagram partner. Even Yuri notes how the decision for him to join the design partnership was a surprise to himself, recalling how when the initial conversation began his first question was “Why!?”
Joining us at Nicer Tuesdays September was creative director and filmmaker, Margot Bowman. Speaking through the process and reasons behind the creation of her short, Common Misconceptions made in collaboration with Lynette Nylander and Boiler Room, Margot highlighted the misconceptions of men’s attitude towards women in club culture.
Set designer Gary Card’s Nicer Tuesdays talk took the audience on a quick tour of his eclectic career. Starting by showing us his “more successful projects to begin with — so you know I’m legit,” into his more “fashionable, young, collaborative situations,” in particular his work with designer Charles Jeffrey.
The work of London-based artist Lucy Hardcastle can be described in many ways, but “digital, real, physical and virtual,” is how the artist described her practice, opening her talk at February’s Nicer Tuesdays. Best known for creating visuals that “appear and feel digitally native,” Lucy took us through projects which define this and display her ability to represent technology in a tactile way.