It’s Nice That’s Ones to Watch shines a light on 12 emerging talents who we think will conquer the creative world in the coming year. Our selection for 2019 has been chosen from a global pool of creative talent for their ability to consistently produce inspiring and engaging work across a diverse range of disciplines. Whether in photography, art or graphic design, each of our selections continually pushes the boundaries of what is possible with their creative output. Ones to Watch 2019 is supported by Uniqlo.
We caught up with each of our Ones to Watch to find about more about their career so far, and what they have planned for 2019.
It’s often tempting to admire a creative’s portfolio for the breadth of output and media it contains. When it comes to designers, we speak of (and often expect to see) publications, websites, identities, typefaces, posters, moving image, AR and VR – the list goes on. But the strength of Ones to Watch 2019 Jacob Wise’s portfolio is that he does (pretty much) one thing really, really well. Jacob is a typographer through and through. And that’s not to say he couldn’t do all those other things; he just chooses not to most of the time.
Born in London to parents who are both designers , it was during his final year at Kingston School of Art that Jacob decided to hone his practice. His decision to “delve into typography” was taken both out of love for the tradition and as a backlash to the ever-growing uniformity of design courses. “The term ‘multidisciplinary creative’ was bandied around art school a great deal whilst I was there. I don’t have an issue with it as I think anyone creative is inherently able to understand other creative disciplines, but I do see the danger in design courses becoming too homogeneous,” he tells It’s Nice That. “Obviously it’s good to have that sense of freedom but with the creative industry becoming more cut-throat and competitive, I think the value of becoming a professional within a niche area should not be overlooked.”Accompanied by a childhood snap, Jacob tells us what it was like to grow up in such a creative household: “My parents are very creative so of course that rubbed off on me and my brother when growing up, but we never felt like we were pushed in a particular direction. I always knew I wanted to do something creative in life from a young age but it wasn’t really until I was introduced to graphic design that I was able to really focus my interests. My parents are no strangers to offering constructive critique but they are incredibly supportive of the work I do and I hope to think I make them proud!”Since graduating in 2017, becoming a professional in a niche area is exactly what Jacob’s been working on. What started as an internship in September of that year at revered Munich-based design studio Bureau Borsche turned into a job, one which he stills holds today. “I’ve lost track of what I’ve worked on,” he explains of his time there. “It’s great because everyone dips in and out of projects – you’re always doing bits and bobs from day-to-day which is fast-paced but refreshing. Since my primary focus is typography, I naturally end up working on much of the type, lettering and logo design for clients,” he adds.
What’s it like living in Munich? There’s good and bad, Jacob explains. “Pros: Swimming in the Isar river is a real joy in the summer months. The same can’t be said for London – good luck swimming in the Thames without catching dysentery.” The cons, on the other hand, include “commuting to work during Oktoberfest, which is a right pain in the arse”. And for anyone planning a trip to the Bavarian capital, the designer recommends Asams Church, which “I often take people to when they visit. Its interior has outrageously exaggerated baroque embellishments which adorn every inch of the place. It’s got some serious bombast.”Despite volunteering to dedicate his time specifically to typography, it’s clearly an area in which Jacob has innate, natural ability. Not limited to one aesthetic, his letterings are as sophisticated as they are expressive. Although accomplished as a technical designer, in the years since he acquired a spare copy of InDesign aged 14, his process has developed into something intuitive and instinctive. “I’m spending far longer refining bézier curves and on the precision of my typography than I was a couple of years back,” he remarks, but no matter how complex the type, he’s resolute about one thing: “I always start by sketching.”
Imagine a world where architects use algae as a sustainable building material, where textiles can be dyed, not by toxic chemicals, but by brightly coloured microscopic microbes, and where leather can be artificially produced without harming any animals or using plastic-based materials. Finding it hard? Well, luckily for the rest of us, Natsai Audrey Chieza is doing all of that imagining for us.
Regular It’s Nice That readers will be no stranger to Jee-ook Choi’s enigmatic illustrations. We have written about her so many times, it’s hard to know what else to say about the Seoul-based creative. But with the help of a rather poetic Korean translator, we discussed the ins and outs of the artist’s creative process. From a young girl in the countryside whose imagination grew out of sprawling nature to a successful illustrator in Seoul striving for personal growth, Jee-ook tells us about her life and an artistic practice that constantly strives towards an “unrealistic beauty”.Jee-ook is one of those illustrators whose personal projects and commissioned work don’t stray far from one another. Whether she’s doing a magazine, book cover, poster or simply a sketch for her own enjoyment, Jee-ook’s work always possesses an element of sublime intrigue that makes us do a double take. Otherworldly and surreal, her illustrations often flit between stark realism and vivid imagination. Small idiosyncrasies reveal glimmers of personality, showcasing the artist’s process and causing us to look again and make sure we haven’t missed anything within the dense layers of composition.
“One thing we always talk about when it comes to cannabis consumers is that people are multifaceted. No one’s just one thing,” states David Weiner, one half of Gossamer magazine (alongside friend Verena von Pfetten), as we chat over the phone. The duo, who are based in New York and have known each other for over ten years, is talking me through what exactly it is that makes Gossamer, well, Gossamer. Now in its second volume, with a third on the way, on the surface Gossamer is a niche magazine that speaks to those who smoke weed. But, in reality, it’s a publication that tells stories anyone can connect with; it might make you laugh or teach you something new, but it will definitely change your perspective on the world.David and Verena met while both working at Huffington Post and have remained friends ever since. In 2016, however, they both found themselves freelancing at the same time, “lamenting the state of media and how everything felt the same”, over a cup of coffee . The conversation drifted to how the pair could do something in a different way and David suggested cannabis. “I went home and was like, ‘Absolutely not! A cannabis media company… that’s insane,’” Verena jokes. “But the more I thought about it, the more I realised how big an opportunity and how exciting that was.” This opportunity was in no small part down to the fact that cannabis has, over the past few years, been legalised in states across the US, and has become not only big business but also culturally more mainstream.
No matter if you’re a well-versed gallery-going Londoner or a visitor to this city we call home, there is one mistake we bet most have made at some point: travelling to the wrong Tate. Despite differing collections and their close proximity, the Tate Modern and Tate Britain are susceptible to being mixed up. For most, this means trundling back over the river to the correct gallery, but for photographer Andrea Artemisio, this mistake provided a photographic turning point.
“With Tinder, if we have a date and it doesn’t work, that’s fine. I get ten matches a day,” says Yushi Li as she splashes milk into a still-steaming cup of tea in a busy Soho cafe on a Thursday afternoon that’s edging into the stolid chill of a Thursday evening in January.
A graduate of the Royal College of Art’s postgraduate programme in photography, Yushi is now studying at the august institution for a PhD in arts and humanities. Inspired by photographers and practitioners like Jeff Wall, Jemima Stehli, and Sophie Calle, Yushi thinks of her chosen medium as one that is “intrusive and penetrative,” imbued with the power to make everyone involved – photographer and subject alike, as well as us, the gallery-going, book-reading, website-skimming audience – consider what exactly what power is.
Back in July 2017, we spotted the graphic design portfolio of a recent Royal College of Art graduate, Tom Finn. We got in touch, wanting to write about his work, and an hour later we heard back: “As it happens, I’m launching a collaborative practice with Kristoffer Halse Sølling… Perhaps it will be interesting to feature the launch of this.” We agreed. It sounded like an article that would interest our readers – two new designers from the RCA launching a business together – and asked Tom and Kristoffer to have everything in for an article to be published on the following Monday. Almost two years later, the pair admit to us that the studio they formed, named Regular Practice, didn’t actually exist until we sent that first email.
The first article we published about Regular Practice, mere minutes after its formation, was in July 2017, just a few weeks after the pair had graduated from the Royal College of Art.You see, Tom and Kristoffer saw an opportunity. “You emailed Tom about covering a project and then it was like, maybe let’s do it about our work,” Kristoffer revealed to us when we chatted again in early 2019. “But we didn’t know what we were going to be called, or have a website. We didn’t know what it was going to be.” Tom chips in, laughing: “You emailed us on Monday and said you wanted to post it the next week, so we were like, ‘OK, let’s get our arses in gear.’ It was a good deadline.” And, in the week that passed, completely unknown to us, this pair of designers collated their work, thought of a name, built a website, and Regular Practice was launched on this very site the next week. Since then, with clients such as their alma mater, Serpentine Galleries and the publication Tinted Window under their belt, we’re very pleased to say Regular Practice hasn’t disappointed, making it a firm member of Ones to Watch not even two years after its formation as a studio. We should mention here, however, that it wasn’t as if Tom and Kristoffer magically decided to work together just because of It’s Nice That. Over the two years while they both studied at the RCA the idea was slowly coming together.
Buddhism; 90s computer games; Japanese tradition; and photographic theory. These four disparate topics are some of the fundamental concepts that underpin Kenta Cobayashi’s philosophical creative practice. The Tokyo-based artist uses photography and film to examine the meaning of truth – a lofty statement, but one that’s quickly borne out by his thought-provoking creations. However, to fully understand Kenta’s images, you have to first look at the Japanese language and how the artist exploits its nuances and ambiguities to question notions of veracity.
Gourmet chocolate, swanky timepieces, and an unwavering commitment to total neutrality when it comes to matters of foreign policy: these are just a few of the fabulous things that Switzerland is known for. Here in the creative world, there’s something else, something more important than Velcro, cellophane, or the humble potato peeler, all of which are superb Swiss inventions that each and every single one of us is grateful for.
It’s a long-appreciated fact that art has a revelatory quality. It can skew perspectives, broaden opinions and uncover hidden truths. But Ones to Watch 2019 member Yuko Mohri takes this notion one step further by making visible the intangible. Through her installation works, forces like gravity, sound, magnetism and temperature have a discernible presence, filling gallery spaces through her constructed ecosystems.
Micaiah Carter is a man in a hurry. The 23-year-old Brooklyn-based photographer has barely been out of college a year and already he’s landed some astonishing commissions. Over the past year, he’s shot Serena Williams for the cover of Adweek, Ciara for King Kong, Afropunk portraits for Vogue, and advertising campaigns for Nike, Converse and Thom Browne. We first spoke to him back in October and since then, his portfolio has already grown to include shoots for Vanity Fair and Playboy.
All in all, it’s an impressive haul for someone so young. Perhaps even more striking than the quantity of work he’s been putting out, though, is the originality of voice his photographs possess. One aspect of Micaiah’s work that sets him apart from others – even from far more experienced photographers – is his ability to capture his subject’s character, whether they’re a huge celebrity or someone outside of the public eye.
It’s something Micaiah picked up early when he was doing an internship at a local newspaper, The Daily Press, in his small southern Californian hometown. “The news there isn’t the greatest, so I would go out and shoot a mum who lost her son, or another week I’d go out and shoot this guy who was 110 for his birthday party,” he says. “It meant that when I came here to New York I wasn’t like, ‘I just want to be a fashion photographer, that’s my only thing.’ Instead, I just thought I really love photography and capturing images in my viewpoint, no matter who the subject is. I think it can be relatable no matter what.”Asked what he wasn’t expecting when he moved to New York from sunny California, Micaiah says: “The rats… Oh, the rats… And the slush when it snows.”Still, building a rapport with a celebrity, often when you don’t have much time with them, is a tricky business. For Micaiah, the secret is often music. “I try to have music on set as part of my process when I take photos,” he says, “because I feel like people can connect with music a lot, and you can find commonalities with it. Like with Taraji P Henson – she really liked my playlist and that kind of brought us to taking some really different photos, because it made her feel more comfortable and she got a glimpse of who I was a little bit.” During shoots, he gives his subjects lots of references for gestures, poses and facial expressions. “People like to be directed a bit. They feel more comfortable that way.”
In fact, according to Micaiah, she was “really vibing with the music”. At the end of the shoot, “she ended up downloading my playlist”, he recalls. We thought you might be interested to get your ears around that playlist too, so you can check it out here. It’s really good, by the way – Travis Scott, Busta Rhymes, Aretha Franklyn, Ashanti, Burna Boy, Kendrick Lamar, Missy Elliot (we could go on) all in one place. The images that are born out of this process convey the personality of his subjects in a powerful way, and this tone is garnering Micaiah commercial clients, too, as advertising shifts away from sell, sell, sell and towards something more nuanced. “Advertising people want to have a more personal approach,” says Micaiah. “Something that’s becoming more important is that relatability in photography – instead of having a glossy picture of something they’re trying to sell you, it’s the most natural way possible.” Just look at his campaigns for Nike and Converse and you’ll see what he means.
Another way the industry is changing is that photographers are now being asked to be in front of the camera. For instance, Micaiah was recently approached by a US eyewear brand asking if he’d be interested in featuring on their social media channels. “I just don’t really like photos being taken of me, which sounds weird, but I get really nervous in front of the camera,” he says, with a chuckle. “Maybe because my parents were kind of strict with me, I’ve never been that social – even in college, I had to force myself to go to parties and talk to people. I’m actually a very shy person at the heart of it.”
This goes to the heart of how his art is changing. Thanks largely to Instagram, photographers are no longer able to operate anonymously behind the camera; increasingly they are personalities in their own right, celebrities even. How does the naturally shy Micaiah feel about that? “It’s so different for me because I’m not used to being in front of the camera. So I’m just trying to get used to that whole other side of it,” he says. “The older I get and the more I get into this, the more I realise it becomes about your identity.”
When it comes to his own social media presence, he describes himself as “reclusive” – he doesn’t allow much of his own personality to come through and prefers to focus on the work. But he’s excited by the new challenge posed by the shifts he’s seeing in the industry: “I think it’s going to be cool, that people are excited to see the person behind the camera as well as the photos they take.” (We have a feeling that, if his career continues on its current trajectory, he’s going to have to get very used to that.)A little insight into the person behind the camera here. Asked what he likes to do when he’s not shooting, Micaiah says: “I used to play football growing up, and currently, I love to just meditate when I’m not shooting, turning my phone off and taking time to get inspired for my next ideas. But that’s only rarely when I get a chance lol.”Looking at that trajectory, it’s clear Micaiah has big plans for the future. He wants to ease up on the editorial work and focus on just shooting for bigger magazines (his two shoots towards the end of last year for Vanity Fair are certainly a good start). He’s also keen to build on something else he explored in 2018: film. “I did two music videos last year and now I want to start working in a more personal space with video,” he says. “Because the videos weren’t so commercialised but they weren’t as personal as I wanted them. So this year I think I can really blend all my worlds together and create a visual space, a visual language for that in video form as well.” Watch this space.
Although, when asked if there is anyone Micaiah dreams about shooting, he replies instantly: “I would love to photograph Erykah Badu in her studio, and just shadow her for a couple of days.”Yet, among all the editorial and commercial commissions, and among the new films he wants to work on, there’s one personal project Micaiah is keen to devote a chunk of time to this year. “I’m trying to finish my book that I’ve been working on for the past two to three years,” he says. “It’s kind of a monograph about my dad and the air force in the 1970s, and how his experiences are opposed to my experiences.”
Micaiah’s father was in his twenties when he was posted to Vietnam and, during that time, he took photos and filled a scrapbook that has now been passed down to Micaiah. “I think a lot of the same things I’m going through with discovering my blackness, he was going through, but in a different space and time. There are still similarities that I can pull from his old scrapbook.” Later in our conversation, he describes his father as “one of my biggest inspirations”.
Even though Micaiah’s father was never a professional photographer, Micaiah points to one important thread that runs through both of their images. “That ability to connect in a personal way,” he explains. “His eye and his composition and, I think, the warmth of the subject too, the fact that they’re open to being photographed, open to being vulnerable. He really connected with his subject. I think that shows in both of our work.”
Micaiah is hoping to have a preview of the book ready before the end of 2019. And while we’re looking forward to seeing what this prolific and prodigious young photographer does next, editorially and commercially, it’s that book that really can’t come soon enough.
The idea at the heart of all of Uniqlo’s clothing is LifeWear – clothes that make your life better. Style doesn’t have to be superficial; it can keep you warmer, cooler, drier. Uniqlo creates LifeWear by evolving the ordinary, producing innovations big and small that benefit you every day.
A technically competent animation is no mean feat, but a technically competent animation that’s also hilarious is a rare find. For the Sydney-based animator Haein Kim, the combination of skill and humour is seemingly effortless. In her latest short film Peepin’, Haein brings her personal experiences to life through an entertainingly expressive animation. Beyond its laugh-out-loud comedy, Peepin’ also reflects the race-related issues that overshadowed the Korean-Australian’s childhood. While it was this impressive animated short which solidified Haein’s place in 2019’s Ones to Watch, we’ve long admired her other work which includes commissions for the likes of MTV, countless hand-drawn illustrations, and, she’s even a self-described “amateur ceramicist”.
One of the unique strengths of young American photographer Micaiah Carter (who we picked as one of our Ones to Watch earlier this year) is his ability to conjure a rich mood, an evocative atmosphere, in a straightforward studio setting. His shoots often feel like a heady distillation of the last days of a long summer – there’s a lot of warm sunlight on skin, deep blue and purple-hued skies, and clothes that flow breezily off radiant bodies.