Nicework turns 10

The story of Nicework’s founding happened in two parts. The first happened at 2 am at a party called Fraymentos (hosted by Adi Loveland), in a club that was literally underground. Ben, Donovan and I formed the idea alternating between dancing to bad house music and shots of Jagermeister (that was still a thing back then). Next we mapped out our master plan onto a single sheet of A4 paper at Scuzzi in Parkview. It was simple… borrow a bit of cash, buy a G4 tower, get clients and make a profit! On the 4th of February 2007, Nicework moved into a garden cottage which Don’s mom very kindly allowed us to inhabit. We spent our days designing anything legal for money and swimming in the pool at lunchtime.

After a couple of months, we decided to upgrade our fledgling company. We found the smallest office space we could (The Anchor Building in the Media Mill), bought a fax machine (we thought it was important- it was not) and went through the pain of opening a company bank account. We hired our first designer and copywriter and learnt that tracking time is absolutely necessary (not something the robot overlords demand), contracts are essential and cash flow is the most important element for every company. This was our experimental phase. The studio was filled with flash websites, colourful animations and some pretty wild design ideas. Blue Moon, one of our earliest clients gave us our first real taste of large campaign work and we got involved in all branding, presentation design and audio/video work. We were also very busy curating a series of exhibitions, designing the NICE Magazine, getting up to trouble with our neighbours Injozi, Clickmaven and Humanoid, activating the Alexander Theatre with Anikesh Ramani and renovating a building in Braamfontein (which we never moved into). The renaming and rebranding of Demographica (who would go on to becoming one of our longest standing clients) was a step towards becoming a serious design agency.

As with all business owners, we have always tried to improve and elevate our game.  As our team expanded, we moved office – the second floor of The Media Mill! The business evolved into 5 core areas of focus- Branding, Graphic Design, Presentations, Film & Video and Websites. We’ve been lucky enough to have worked on some monumental projects over the last 10 years. Ogilvy & Mather invited us to work alongside director, Leigh Ogilvie on Young Gifted and Black for Channel O. The song features a collaboration of amazing South African artists and we had loads of fun working on the design and animated elements. The campaign went on to win a series of awards. Bentel Architects asked Nicework to help celebrate 70 years in business by publishing a 120-page book showcasing their company history and work. Early players in the South African property development space, Lenny Bentel and Raymond Ackerman worked together to build the first Pick n Pays, with many malls following as our economy grew. Bentel has been instrumental in creating the landscape of South Africa’s cities. When the World Cup came to our shores, we had the privilege of working alongside Andrew Wessels and the team on Kelly Rowland’s music video- Every Where You Go for MTN’s 2010 World Cup sponsorship. Artlogic enlisted Nicework to help with on the graphics for the inaugural Joburg Artfair. Our work ouput on this project found itself in every corner of the event, from directional signage through to printed catalogues and billboards. We helped heavy engineering firm, DCD Dorbyl rename to DCD and unify their 13 companies under one flexible identity system as part of a repositioning project. A valuable fact: we got to make a sign you can see from space.

We continued our “meteoric rise” through the Anchor Building and took over the 3rd floor with Gass Architecture Studios and Gentlemen Films. Demographica had to make their honour lap and we loved rebranding Warren’s business for the second time. Foodcorp enlisted Nicework to help create presentations for their sales and marketing conference for 3 years running, culminating in a trip to Mauritius with 180 of their staff. We ran a 26-meter long screen, delivering 14 presentations in 2 days, and drinking all the rum we could get our hands on. Working with social media specialists, Retroviral, we helped create a very Jo’burg aesthetic and generate more awareness around the premier horseracing event- Sansui Summer Cup . To give back to the creative community in Johannesburg we opened our cities’ chapter of CreativeMornings – which we have run for almost 4 years. Our largest book project to date was realised in Re-imagining South Africa- 300 pages that document the thoughts of 20 iconic South Africans on the next 20 years of our country.

Our next chapter is more strategic- we’ve documented our methodology, introduced a series of facilitated strategic workshops and rebranded our company. Using this new approach, our most diverse project has been to reposition and rebrand a portion of Pretoria’s CBD- 012 central. This ongoing project sees us evolving the brand on a constant basis. Tireless work from the folks over at Cityprop – who initiated 012 central, have helped drive artists, businesses, and events back into the city. We’ve been blessed with diverse and challenging work, and with any luck the trend will continue! We’re busy on content for a micro MBA app, helping a brand make bread sexy again and inspiring business owners in the tourism industry with a series of videos.

All in all, 32 people have helped us to make this challenging, tiring, scary, fulfilling and thoroughly enjoyable ride possible, and we’re full of excitement for the next 10 years. Thank you from Ben and I, to you, our clients, friends, and family who have stood by us and made it all possible.

It is nice to be important but important to be nice.

Onwards and upwards.

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Striking Surrealism

Meet Afarin Sajedi – a bold and striking artist creating powerful and surreal artworks. She was educated at Tehran Azad University and has since had numerous exhibitions and shows. Her achievements include various titles and a Golden medal in students’ pencil painting competitions since 1992 and Multi-time Best College Performance titles 2000- 2004

Enjoy a selection of these surreal works below

 
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Heartwarming Illustrations by Pascal Campion

Fall in love with these heartwarming illustrations by Pascal Campion. Pascal captures us with artworks that all of us can relate to. Like that time in your childhood when you would hang out with your buddies and explore the neighborhood… or that time when it was really snowy/rainy when you would sit by the window and think about life.

The beauty of Pascal’s work is it’s really relatable.  It brings a sense of a kind of nostalgia. These are some fine examples of art with a sentiment.

For more of these, please visit his portfolio at DeviantART

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A lonely god

“Even with super powers, we are all alone” is a minimalist set of illustrations created by Belhoula Amir, also known as Cosmosnail, an illustrator and character design from Lyon, France.

The inspiration behind these illustrations created by Cosmosnail is to show superheroes alone doing something related to their super powers. We see Superman flying out in space, there’s Batman lonely checking his computer system and others like Ironman, Spider-man and Wolverine.

 

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The flower that blooms

Be inspired by dreamy paintings where humans and nature coexist by Japanese artist Miho Hirano. Her subjects appear unified with their environment. Striking elements of the paintings include hair flowing into flowering tree branches or strands of seaweed and adorned with goldfish, hummingbirds, and various insects. Each element carefully crafted that carries their own symbolic weight. Using hair as a female identifier in her work, Hirano portrays different attitudes and emotional interpretations of women, including her own alter-ego.

I usually paint women; because I am a woman. Each of my female characters can be seen as a self-portrait of mine in some way, such as sharing my desire to dress up. However, they are not myself in a mirror, but someone else who takes over my consciousness. One of my goals as an artist is to explore how we adorn ourselves with accessories, and how this plays a role in our identity.
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A Study in Architecture Photography

Meet Fabio Sasso, a  Brazilian product designer based in Oakland, California currently working for Google as a Staff Designer. He is also the founder of Abduzeedo, an award-winning digital publication about design and a personal project that has become the source of inspiration for millions of designers and enthusiasts. Fabio recently challenged himself to take a photo a day for a year.

On the project, titled A Study in Architecture Photography, Fabio states: “Still I am more like a beginner/enthusiast than a photographer, but one of the things that I learned is that I love to take photos of buildings and architecture in general. There’s something about the contrast of man-made structures with nature and sky that creates an eerie feeling.”

See a selection of the striking photos below

 

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Fun Black and White Murals of Friends and Family by Alex Senna

It’s not often that you walk down the street and encounter an artwork that warms your heart or brings a smile to your face, but for Brazilian street artist and muralist Alex Senna, positive emotion seems to be his visual currency. His lanky black and white characters are often found in a variety of hopeful, loving, and positive scenes from a pair of lovers embracing to a family riding a bicycle. To intensify their emotional depth Senna often gives the flat characters broad shadows that stretch out larger-than-life across urban walls. You can check out more of Senna’s work on Instagram.

 

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Monster Mash-Ups

Meet the illustrator Jasper St Aubyn West who is having monster fun with photographs and the new iPad Pro and Apple Pencil. Tailjar, as he is known on Instagram, sketched photo-cartoon mash-ups once a day for the month. Check out a selection of our favourite monster mash-ups below and see more of his work on Instagram.

 

 

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