October 28, 2014

CreativeMornings Summit 2014: A Retrospective

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A little over a year ago, Nicework was given the go ahead to open the Johannesburg chapter of CreativeMornings. It’s been an amazing rollercoaster ride. We’ve had some historical talks, some analog ones, and have even convinced a bunch of people to hang out in a bar in the morning.

Having twisted our rubber arms, Tina and the team from CreativeMornings HQ invited us to a summit in New York. We packed our bags and we were off, armed with our guides-to-Johannesburg that the team at Nicework put together to help our new friends understand why we love our city.

NW makes a JHB guide

Having traveled 12823.253 kilometers and traversed 7 time zones (granted we did spend 2 weeks in France), we arrived in New York, jet lagged and ready for the summit. One train ride into Brooklyn, later we discovered the Invisible Dog and a shiny golden arrow pointing us to all the fun and excitement inside. Ironically, the first time we got to meet  the rest of African contingent from Cape Town was in New York.

The Africans take over NY

The festivities quickly escalated. There was t-shirt printing by Real Thread

Screen printing

…tons of swag…


…and an international delivery of a Makarapa, which we have been told has since become the symbol of “leave me alone, I am wrangling my inbox symbol.”


Day 01

The first morning kicked off early with 175 Attendees, representing 59 cities, 27 countries, and Montreal even brought a dog (we love you Norbert). I always knew that CreativeMornings was driven on people power, but I never expected the sheer amount of love and passion for CreativeMornings at the summit. All of the people I met are professionals in the creative industry, and they all give up their most precious asset to organise CreativeMornings – time. Tina, Sally, Kevin and Carley have done an amazing job of finding incredible people to take the CreativeMornings message across the globe. Fresh off the back of making 30 new friends, eating a bagel or 16 and about 3kgs of cream cheese the summit began. Here is the wonderful introduction video made by Ben Derico.

Tina brought us all to tears with her story of how CreativeMornings came to life. Hosts from LA, Baltimore, Auckland, Berlin, Edmonton, Bogotá, Atlanta, Cape Town, Lima and other cities shared some of their experiences with us. (Lets just say that technical issues are prevalent around the world). We heard from the Vancouver massive, and were even rewarded with micro fibre cloths courtesy of the city. One of my biggest learnings was courtesy of Blake Howard of Atlanta, ALWAYS USE FLAME TRANSITIONS AND EPIC MUSIC. We were blown away by the Flex is Kings dancers and if that was not enough, we were lucky to have some special guests. Sarah Key an amazing poet spoke about a wonderful teacher & I was very glad to be able to see Debbie Millman.

Kick off

Photo by Jérémie Fontana

It was an honour to share the stage and share some of the experiences we have had here in Johannesburg.

A view from above

We finished this first day inside the Empire State building, at the awesome offices of Shutterstock (one of our great global partners).


Day 02

Just to show us how it was done, we attended our very first CreativeMornings/NYC with Steve Powers’ at MoMA. Yes, MoMA.


The summit

Back at the Invisible Dog, the rest of the day was filled with a Q&A with the CreativeMornings Team. As if we had not seen or done enough, we spent the afternoon brainstorming on the future of CreativeMornings, with the help of Fred Dust and his great team from IDEO. We ended the summit with a great party at the Pioneer Works refurbished factory in Red Hook.


Bas Berkhout of Like knows Like made this video on the first day of the summit.

The very first CreativeMornings Summit talent show kicked off with the (not so hidden) singing talents of Maria Linares, Sophia Moon and a touching poem by Paul Oemig. If you are from a large record company, you are welcome to reach out and give them money. The dance floor was opened by the talented Kiwi Mon, who was joined in by Sally Rumble. Drinking and a bit of bad behavior ensued.


Talent Show

Leigh-Anne gives a smack

To finish it all off, CreativeMornings celebrated it’s 6th birthday with a cake, sparklers and 300 family members!


(Image by CreativeMornings)

At the beginning of the Summit we were a room of strangers, but 3 days later I felt like I had a group of friends and family scattered around the world (expect travel soon). CreativeMornings has shifted in my mind from a series of talks in a bunch of cities around the world to a movement that is uniting the creative community across the globe. This is one of the closest communities that I have ever been part of. Everybody is giving their time, love and energy to make it happen, all united behind a common purpose. We are part of something special. It is growing around the world and it is gaining momentum. Watch this space.

If you would like to take part, get in touch.

Here are some of the weird and wonderful things we were exposed to over the 3 days:

None of this would be possible without our official partners – MailChimp, Squarespace & Shutterstock.
Without these companies, CreativeMornings would not be possible!

All these guys came on board to make the #cmsummit14 happen, a big shout out to you:
Moo, Blue Bottle, Sixpoint, 99U, Airbnb, Real Thread, Bklzr, Poppin, Pioneer Works, Great Performances, Baked by Melissa, The Confetti Bar, Lomography, Tattly, The Invisible Dog.

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October 28, 2014

CreativeMornings Johannesburg: Happy birthday to us!

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The last CreativeMornings marked our first birthday. Woo hoo! Here are some pictures of the fun that was had, and a special gift for you right at the bottom. Enjoy – and watch this space for more!





IMG_9973 IMG_9989 IMG_9991


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October 28, 2014

Introducing the Nicework Presentation Masterclass

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Hello, everyone!

We at Nicework are very (very, very, very) excited to launch project we’ve been working on for a while – the Nicework Presentation Masterclass. It’s a weekly course designed to help you use clever planning and great design to propel your career to new heights with the best presentations ever.

Here’s a quick look at what the class will offer – remember to come back every week for the next module or two.


What we are (not) covering

First off, let’s take a quick look at what this course is NOT about.

If you’re looking for tips on how to deliver presentations, this is not the course you’re looking for.

Yes, design, content and delivery go hand in hand to make a killer presentation – but we’re designers. Although our jobs at Nicework require us to structure and present our work in an engaging, convincing way, we’re not the ones to teach you how to stand up straight, make eye contact and enunciate your words. That topic has been covered time and again by people much cooler than us.

Don’t get me wrong – we’ll have to drop in a few hints here and there, because sometimes design and delivery are inextricable. The bottom line is, if you’re here, chances are you’re already on point with your delivery, and you just need a little help bringing your boring slide deck up to speed with your winning personality.

If you’re looking for basics on how to use Microsoft PowerPoint, this is not the course you’re looking for.

A few of the topics we’re going to recover require some basic knowledge of Microsoft PowerPoint, and we’ll gladly walk you through when we get there. Overall, however, this is not a practical software course – it’s a class that will help you understand the reasons why some slides work and others don’t.
We’ve selected PowerPoint as our software of choice for this class purely because it is the most widely used presentation software in the world, so chances are high that whoever takes this class will be learning on familiar ground. PowerPoint is just a tool, and if we do our jobs right, the concepts you learn here will transcend the tools you choose to present with.


So what ARE we here for?

In this class, you will learn how to use design basics to improve your presentations and help achieve clearer communication with your audience.

This means understanding what makes the visual and informational content of a presentation resonate with the audience on an emotional level – which is what you need to do to make your story memorable.

Why are presentations important?

Presenting (story telling) is an essential aspect of human interaction

Story telling is an ancient and integral part of how we as humans communicate. At its core, a presentation is just that – a story. All our exciting new technology notwithstanding, we still respond better to information that is presented face-to face.

Delivering a good presentation amplifies the value of precious “face time”

Thanks to the aforementioned new technology, there are a number of appealing communication options at our disposal, outside of the traditional meeting room. Email, instant messaging, conference calls and video chat, as well as consolidated project collaboration software, each have their merits when it comes to time and money invested.

Since it’s so much quicker and easier to touch base with any number of these platforms, many businesses are shying away from physical meetings – which means when you do have one on the cards, it’s more essential than ever to come prepared with a killer presentation that will engage your audience and sell your story.

What is a presentation?

We’ll say it again – a presentation is a story, with a beginning, middle and end. The best presentations have a clear narrative, a specific goal and a tightly woven structure. Having a well-defined idea of where your story is headed is what keeps your audience paying attention.

A presentation is an opportunity to further your agenda with people who matter

A face-to-face presentation gives you a rare chance to bounce your ideas off of the people whose input you most need for a successful project. Even if verbal feedback is thin on the ground, you can get invaluable insight by observing your audience’s body language and facial expressions. This makes it especially important to nail down the best possible execution of your story; to make your big idea the hero and get an honest, emotive response.


We can’t wait to unpack these ideas with you, and help you build the best slide deck of your life.

If you’re so excited (and just can’t hide it), you can prepare your mind by having another read-though of our presentation design secrets. Get psyched!

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October 27, 2014

Nicework is hiring!

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Hello there, talented and hardworking junior designer, junior producer or animator!


We’re looking for someone just like you to join our carefully selected team of total badasses. Think you fit the bill? Just click the button below, and answer the totally standard and not at all invasive questions. Don’t call us… we’ll call you. <3


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October 27, 2014

SANSUI Summer Cup Jozi Jockeys

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Nicework is currently working full steam on the design collateral for the Gauteng SANSUI Summer Cup – if you haven’t seen it yet, you will soon.

As part of the hype for this year’s race day, our friends at Retroviral teamed up with Spitfire Productions to produce Jozi Jockeys, an awesome short that totally sums up the experience of driving in Jo’burg. Check it out below!

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We love having the opportunity to work with awesome local creatives and brands.

To get a bit of insight into what it takes to create great video content, take a look at our free process infographic.

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October 21, 2014

The universe is not made of atoms; it’s made of tiny stories

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Another day, another post, another intern. Today’s intern is Andrea – a third year Graphic Design student at the University of Johannesburg. She loves the beautiful and vibrant city of Johannesburg, (lots of) Fairtrade coffee, and the Tiny Book of Tiny Stories.

The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories is a trilogy collection of poetic short stories, no more than a few lines long. Each haiku-like tale is paired with a thoughtful, hand-drawn illustration. It is compiled by owner and founder of the online collaborative production company hitRECordJoseph Gordon-Levitt and, one of their curators, the ever-illusive Wirrow. hitRECord is self-described as “an open collaborative production company”. Writers, musicians, filmmakers, video editors, animators, illustrators, photographers, and Photo-shoppers all work together and the profits are split 50/50 between the company and the contributing artists.


These books are pure joy. They bring together art and voices from around the world to unite and tell stories that defy size. Some stories will make you chuckle. Some will break your heart, just a little. Others simply remind you to stop and smell the roses. But don’t just take my word for it. Let these extracts speak for themselves.

Volume 1

The first of the Tiny Stories, published in 2010, contains contributions of over 8,600 submissions from 67 writers and artists.

Tiny-Stories Tiny-Stories Tiny-Stories


Volume 2

Published in November 2012, Volume 2 features 62 contributors from some 14,946 contributions.

Tiny_Stories2 Tiny_Stories2 Tiny_Stories2 Tiny_Stories2


Volume 3

Volume 3 was published on November 5, 2013, featuring 82 contributors from 35,905 contributions.

Tiny_Stories3 Tiny_Stories3 Tiny_Stories3 Tiny_Stories3

Filled with wonder, nonsense, and tiny stories, these books are a delight to page through and treasure. As Dr Seuss states: “I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living; it’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life’s realities”.

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October 20, 2014

Getting Physical

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Happy Monday, everyone!

Today, things went pear-shaped at our offices – we arrived in the morning to find that the power was out. Whilst uprooting our lives and all our equipment to temporarily move Nicework into Ben’s house (which contained three lazy cats and a lot of delicious pasta), I had fair bit of time to mull over how much easier (and messier, maybe) our jobs would be without the need for electricity and computers. On that note, take a look at some of this fun and beautiful hand-tooled design and illustration work.


Lumbürr co. by Ben Johnston and Mark Simmons




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October 17, 2014

CreativeMornings Johannesburg: Crossover | Graeme Jenner

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Happy Friday, everyone. Here’s a little nugget of excitement to start your weekend off on the right note – a speaker announcement!

The speaker for October’s CreativeMornings session is Graeme Jenner – art director, agency co-founder and owner of four excellent nipples. He will be discussing “Making Everyone Happy“, and you can see him speak on the 31st of October (spoopy!), venue TBC.


If you’d like to stay in the loop about CreativeMornings Johannesburg, you can make use of these handy-dandy newfangled social mediaz:

CreativeMornings Johannesburg on Facebook
CreativeMornings Johannesburg on Twitter
CreativeMornings Johannesburg site
or just subscribe to our newsletter!

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October 16, 2014

CreativeMornings Johannesburg: Crossover

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Good morning, y’all!

As some of our more astute followers may have noticed from our shiny Facebook banner, the theme for October’s talk is Crossover. It was lovingly selected by the Utrecht chapter, and beautifully illustrated by London-based artist João Lauro Fonte.

As always, watch this space for more exciting details!


If you’d like to stay in the loop about CreativeMornings Johannesburg, you can make use of these handy-dandy newfangled social mediaz:

CreativeMornings Johannesburg on Facebook
CreativeMornings Johannesburg on Twitter
CreativeMornings Johannesburg site
or just subscribe to our newsletter!


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October 16, 2014

Crafty Hand Lettering & Typography

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Have a look at this little piece of insight gathered and written by our handsome intern, Wade Moonsamy:

Graphic Inadequacy: The feeling I get when I comes across a hand crafted logotype or typographic treatment in a two second gif on the Internet. This is a real thing and after trying and crying, I have come to the conclusion that my hands were not made for creating amazingly slick and perfectly crafted hand lettering – just yet!

These are a few designers who are achieving greatness with a few flicks of the wrist.

Neil Secretario is a designer who lives and works in Orange County, California. He is extremely passionate about typography and collaboration.

Trademark brush pen lettering by Neil Secretario Custom Made brush pen lettering by Neil Secretario Cash Rules brush pen tracing draft by Neil Secretario


Andrei Robu is a brand designer who specializes in type lettering. He is the founder of Typeverything, Designers go to heaven and Calligraphica and boasts a client list that includes Coca- Cola, Nike and Nestle.

brooklyn map robu Under Ground Charisma robu-type1


Melvin Leidelmeijer is a Dutch graphic designer and hand letterer. His portfolio is over flowing with brilliantly designed typographic treatments and craftsmanship of the highest level.

You're the Inspiartion tumblr_nc7tspvDvE1roiwcso1_1280 Instagram Brush pen


Jennet Liaw is a 23-year-old designer who resides in Los Angeles. She is a passionate visual artist with a portfolio that consists of beautiful, conceptual and purely considered design solutions. Jennet has an exceptional eye and a skill for producing personal and considered hand lettering artworks.

Hypography Surthrive Someday


If you enjoyed reading this post, have a look at how Nicework approaches Typographic treatments:

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