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25th June 2017

Here London 2017

Picture the scene: it’s a beautiful sunny day at London’s Royal Geographic Society, a Sandows cold brew is at hand (a conversation with one of the company’s lovely founders somehow makes it taste even better) and you’re surrounded by over 700 creatively-minded individuals. Add to that the wisdom of ten keynote speakers, screen printing courtesy of Risotto Studio, hand embossing from G . F Smith and New North Press, chair weaving from The Conran Shop, and Brooklyn Beers in the garden to close.
 
On 9 June, It’s Nice That hosted the sixth iteration of its annual symposium, Here. As usual, the line-up was sterling: an elective offering on creatives specialising in numerous disciplines spoke intelligently, hilariously, candidly and sensibly, and opened our eyes to new perspectives and approaches floating around the creative world. 
 
Here’s a full list of the speakers: Jasper Jensen of Adobe Stock; photographer Juno Calypso; fashion designer Christopher Raeburn; toymaker-cum-illustrator James Jarvis, Astrid Stavro, co-founder of graphic design agency Atlas; Marguerite Humeau, artist and self-professed “Indiana Jones in Google times;” Triboro, a Brooklyn-based graphic design agency; illustrator and graphic designer Noma Bar; animator and filmmaker Anna Ginsburg, contemporary artist Ryan Gander; and graphic designer George Hardie.
 
The event was opened by Jasper Jensen of Adobe Stock (Here’s event partner) who had some handy titbits of advice. In a nutshell: don’t over-brief, nothing motivates like creative ownership, and discuss problems before you discuss solutions. Above all we rated his musings about hovering as a means of learning from each other: “Care about how well you hover, it means you’re collaborating.”
 
With advice, anecdotes, and tales of career failing and triumphs flying in all directions, we’ve whittled the day down into a list of absolute highlights. 
James Jarvis.
James Jarvis 
Illustrator

“All my work was like this…. but now I’m bored of it and I asked why.”
 
What a straight talking session. On a particularly self-reflective day a couple of years ago James looked back at his portfolio of work and questioned why? “Before my existential crisis… my work was concerned with surface and facade,” said James. Now he has a different outlook: “I’m not a drawing, I’m a situation,” he said. “‘I’m re-building myself”. Today, all of James’s images ask questions about thoughts and reality. Describing drawing as “a bodily function,” James uses his work to question his experiences. 
Christopher Raeburn
Christopher Raeburn 
Fashion Designer
 
“There’s so much stuff already. The exciting thing for me is to go out there and find it.” 
 
We love Christopher Raeburn. We also loved the three minutes that we got to watch the Wombles – their sentiment of “making good use of the things you find” providing a huge inspiration for the designer. Christopher spoke eloquently about the importance of family and how dynamics of the past can manifest in functional and practical design. He went on to drive home the importance of encouraging creativity in childhood, recalling how as a child he would create technical drawings during the week and, with the help of his Dad, would transform the them into models at the weekend. He also urged us to ask our families more questions. He founded his studio in 2008, yet it was only three years ago that he discovered his Grandmother made her wedding dress out of parachutes. Total genius. 
Atlas studio, Mallorca.
Astrid Stavro 
Co-founder of Mallorca and New York-based design consultancy Atlas
 
“At university I was taunted by the phrase ‘The train of knowledge is leaving and you’re not on it’”
 
We’re dying to visit the Atlas studio in Mallorca! The design consultancy was founded in 2013 by Astrid and her husband Pablo and four years down the line it sounds like a dream. The studio is made up of a multi-cultural team – there’s five languages at work – and they even have a plant called Tina Turner, naturally the studio mascot. Atlas are super talented and boast a substantial body of amazing work. We were particularly delighted by Astrid’s Royal College of Art  project Art of the Grid –  a series of notebooks comprising blank grids. The studio is also keen collaborator with Elephant Magazine, the current issue being the last in a series that Atlas designed. Astrid’s love of  the process of printing, and the smells and sounds that go with it, particularly resonated with us. 
Marguerite Humeau.
Marguerite Humeau 
Artist and self-professed “Indiana Jones in Google times.”
 
“Imagine a world … where elephants, not humans, could have developed thoughts.” 
 
We didn’t know much about the thought process of an artist until we saw Marguerite’s mind maps. Marguerite takes prehistoric, and sometimes invisible, creatures and brings them to life in the form of monumental sculptures. Her work explores wildly imaginative concepts such as “Imagine a world … where elephants, not humans, could have developed thoughts.” Last year saw Marguerite exhibit solo shows at the Palais de Tokyo and the Nottingham Contemporary. Each show is a highly designed ecosystem, created to put the audience in conversation with the work: “I think I design relationships between people.” Marguerite also makes Liquid Humans or Human Liquid recipes: a concoction of all of the chemicals that make up a human being. 
 
Anna Ginsburg 
Animator and filmmaker
 
“Animated documentary is easier for empathy as people are less judgemental.” 
 
It’s Nice That has always excelled at supporting women’s issue and the presence of Anna Ginsburg  at Here is a glowing example. Taking to Here’s stage Anna discussed giving herself her first orgasm as a teenager and the shame she felt when she told her friends about it. Her work tackles issues such as these, often exploring the juxtaposition between the shaming of women and the egging on of men (typically in the context of masturbation). She loves to create animated documentaries and makes the interesting point that it’s easier to evoke empathy when using illustrations as people tend to be far less judgemental (check out Private Parts below, if you haven’t already). She also highlighted HappyPlayTime, an app designed by Tina Gong that, in an effort to tackle the stigma surrounding female masturbation, taught women how to masturbate. The app was later banned. 
Ryan Gander.
Ryan Gander 
Contemporary artist 
 
“Being alive is pretty ace.”
 
“It’s awkward standing in front of a giant clock in an auditorium full of people.” We like funny people and Ryan was hilarious. Ryan is a contemporary artist famed for his quick-witted and conceptual work that playfully questions the everyday. He also scooped up an OBE this year. No big deal. 
 
We had a lot of respect for Ryan’s frankness. He listed his New Year’s resolutions – exercise more, have empathy (his daughter recently won an award for having empathy towards others, something he says he seems to be lacking at the moment), and slow down. He also spoke about his addiction to social media and recalled the time that he was checking Instagram whilst feeding his baby and ended up ploughing baby food into his daughter’s face. He realised at that point he should probably put his phone away! 
 
He finished with one or two cultural recommendations that are definitely worth checking out: 
 
- The Idea of Japan on BBC Four - “It’s amazing watching an ecosystem of kids cleaning a classroom in Japan.” Watch it here.
- Chris Lewis’ book Too Fast to Think: How to Reclaim your Creativity in a Hyper-Connected Work Culture. 

Find more highlights from the day over on It's Nice That's round-up.
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