An afternoon Skype with It’s Nice That

Posted inDesign Inspiration

Publishing. Curation. Events. Creative direction and talent scouting. Is there anything It’s Nice That can’t do? Directors Will Hudson and Alex Bec launched a website in late 2007 as an outlet for their creative tastes, and have since expanded their offerings to include a bi-annual print publication, a jobs board, and an online shop of favorite publications, t-shirts, and objects. Print’s Art Director, Tonya Douraghy, caught up with Bec to chat about the future of printed matter, egos, and just being nice.

How did It’s Nice That start out?
It’s Nice That’s site launched at the end of 2007, and since 2008 it’s been our main thing that we do full time. Our first publication was in April 2009. Since then it’s evolved quite naturally. It’s Nice That now covers both sides, the commercial side and the publishing side.

There’s quite a lot of competition on the internet for what you do. What do you think keeps people coming back to It’s Nice That?
I hope the content is what makes people keep coming back. There’s an honesty in what we do. We never try to be brilliant writers, and we never try to cover things that we’re genuinely not interested in. Honesty and a kind of integrity, and just being a bit normal helps.

Increasingly, there are other studios that are doing similar things, where a few young designers come together and want to integrate publishing, education, workshops, some kind of curation. Do you think this kind of integration is necessary for the future of design?
I think it’s undoubtedly necessary. I think we’ll see less and less specialists for sure. It’s really fulfilling to see the whole process of finding someone out of university and giving them a break and putting them in a magazine and interviewing them, and then working with them on a commercial brief where they get to use their work and apply it. You know, the whole circle thing is lovely, it would feel like a bit of a waste if we didn’t go the whole way around.

What specific things do you look for in let’s say, a recent graduate’s portfolio, that would make them interesting enough for you to feature on the site?
We’re always trying to cover something that has a certain wit to it, rather than the big ad campaigns and the huge budget things. A real wit and a real sharpness is very, very difficult to come by. We always look for a bit of humor, and someone we’d like to have a drink with, rather than anything else.

You went from this digital home and moved towards tangible publications. Could you talk about the decision behind expanding to the print magazine?
It’s Nice That is quite a funny little phrase, and we wanted to add a bit more intelligence, a bit more depth, a bit more process, a bit more meat to the bone to the quick posts we did online. Initially we’re print designers, there’s a love of the medium and we like sitting down and spending time with things. We don’t want to lose the idea of referencing from books and libraries and those kinds of things.

So you believe in the future of magazines and printed matter in general?
Absolutely. I think for the right things. It seems that the printed page will become more and more niche, more and more beautiful, more and more archival, rather than our only way of getting information.

Do you have any advice that you would give to young designers or recent graduates?
Just to be honest and be kind and work hard, and be polite more than anything. We see a lot of people not being so polite in the way they show us work.

Right, just to sort of check your ego.
Absolutely. All of those things make you or don’t make you want to spend time with someone. We have to sit down with people everyday, whether it’s by email or face-to-face, and if they’re not so nice to interact with, you’ll never work with them. I think it’s more important just to be a nice person, really.

I have to ask: where did the name It’s Nice That come from?
Me and Will used to live together and say stupid things in the flat, so it was one of the things we said just off the cuff. In the graphic design course that we did at Brighton, there were long, painful crits, and everyone thinks about their work a huge amount, and we were coached to conceptualize a lot, but it’s about deciding to be a bit more whimsical. But it doesn’t come from anywhere in particular. Will’s not correcting me, so I’d say that.

What’s the future of It’s Nice That?
Well, we’re changing the publication to three times a year. The key is always in the content. We always say that if we can provide great content in different ways and more of it, then that will hold us in good stead. That’s always the future of It’s Nice That.