The return of storytelling.

Jaheed Hussain
Jan 22 · 3 min read

Reading It’s Nice That’s year in review, showed me why storytelling should be at the heart of my own practice this year. Stories, telling, creative expression and everything else in between included. And actually, despite what you do, it should be at the heart of yours too.


Well, out of the top 10 most read pieces of the year from It’s Nice That, at least half are featured projects inspired or influenced by a story and purpose. In other words, there’s a meaning to why and how it was made. Beyond that, the most read article, a campaign by Lacoste for endangered species, created urgency among readers by use of clever but simple, introspective design. Both storytelling and design merged into one, to create something that people felt engaged with. Obviously, some would say “we can’t solely use It’s Nice That as a basis for what’s trending, right?”

Fair point. So let’s look at Creative Review too. Despite the arguments of subjectivity, towards the end of the year, Creative Review showcased their favourite 2018 book covers, film posters, magazine covers and everything else in between, with Time’s ‘In Deep’ magazine cover and Janet Hansen’s analytical cover of ‘Cherry’ being the ones to stand out from all. Even by stepping away from traditional design and art, storytelling is and always was an abstract for last year, with Childish Gambino’s ‘This Is America’ video causing conversations everywhere. Whereas, compared to over here in the UK, it’s all about the nonsense that is Brexit. Funnily enough, it seems as though you can’t write this up.

So, why am I saying ‘return’? Is it a prediction? Is it because, personally I’ve not given it much thought?

It could be.

Creating to tell a story is something I’ve tried to use in and out of my current projects, with Murakami’s Norwegian Wood being the most recent. It’s been a work-in-progress for about a month now and with it being so close to fin, so far, it’s been one of my more enjoyable projects. I think the reason for that is because I’ve create a few pieces that have a personal aspect, emotion or memory attached to it. In my post where I explored the book, I touched on the fact that it has a relatable, nostalgic feeling to it —which is why I found it to be a good book. For a project like that, a book cover, to go well, you have to interpret the book for yourself in some distinct way and then express that on paper. Going back to the cover of Time, This is America and others, the reason they became successful, is because it became interpreted widely across the world whilst the creative side also reflected a creative thought, a personal aspect, a tangible emotion. To me, that’s storytelling.

And that’s something I want to be good at. The creative world doesn’t revolve around anything I say but, I think storytelling is something where there’s a genuine desire to perfect. From a student’s perspective, I want to see more storytelling wherever I Iook. More adaptability and more purpose from all sides of the creative process. From research, to initial concepts to the final developments – it’s what makes a project work better. Reminding myself to be more curious to find more stories, is just the start. Asking around, listening to other people’s thoughts is the next and so on. Whether or not it happens, is up to us.

Design, this year is very exciting. Some creatives will be talking about their own practice on some digital platform you’ll stumble across on twitter. More will be expressive (hopefully) and take theirs to the next level it can be. Most will tell a story, whether they realise it or not.

Jaheed Hussain

Written by

A freelance Graphic Designer based in Manchester, England who likes to talk about stuff. Get in touch!

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