“New Harvest differs from other non-profits. It is accessible, optimistic and forward thinking.”
A longtime illustrator, Nick Counter is currently an Art Director at Thought Café. He creates motion graphics for documentaries and TV, with a focus on science illustration.
Symon Oliver is Creative Director/Founder and Bohdan Anderson is Technical Director of ALSO Collective, a design firm geared towards social justice and science work. Tucker McLachlan is a Design Apprentice with the firm who wasn’t able to join us for this interview.
Isha Datar, New Harvest: Hi Nick, Symon, Bohdan! Thank you so much for being a part of New Harvest’s rebrand. We’re eager to find out what the project was like for you guys. To start us off, Nick – you specialize in science illustration?
NC: Yes. My main love is science! I love having the chance to learn while I’m drawing. To communicate science properly, you first have to understand it fully. It’s an ideal job if you want to be constantly learning.
ID: Symon – New Harvest and ALSO Collective met up once before a couple years ago. Could you share that story?
SO: Well shortly after ALSO Collective began, you reached out. You told us about meat that was grown – which I had never heard before – real meat grown in a lab. We weren’t able to work together at the time, but I kept tabs on your work. I was so curious to see who the elusive funder of the cultured hamburger project was. When I finally found out it was Segrey Brin – my mind was blown! You were the first to introduce us to the concept. I’ve referenced that first meeting with you many times since.
ID: That’s great to hear! And then we connected with you again when our intern Meera suggested your design firm.
SO: Yes, totally circuitous!
ID: What was the most surprising thing you learned in your work with New Harvest?
NC: Not sure about most surprising – but definitely the darkest topic was the current state of our food industry. I found some deep, dark parts of the industry – particularly for milk and eggs – while trying to find good image references. I thought I knew quite a bit about it, but when you start to research further it becomes more surreal and absurd that you thought.
SO: The fact that insulin and rennet are now created using biotechnology really put this work into perspective. Also when you brought up how this technology can mean new types of products and materials… meat chips, transparent leather… it’s hard to see past what we already know, and a nice challenge to think about what else there could be. You can speculate the weirdest things ever.
BA: I didn’t realize how milk was made. I thought cows always made milk. Reading the article, I was like oh cows have to be pregnant, they always have to be pregnant. I didn’t realize that before. And that that’s where veal comes from. I never made the connection before.
ID: How did you find working with New Harvest different from working with other non-profits?
SO: New Harvest has a self-awareness we haven’t seen before. You personally put a lot of effort into the logo and brand – due to your passion and work ethic and self awareness about what New Harvest is about. It’s a good example of strong client designer relationship.
Another way New Harvest differs from other non-profits. It is accessible, optimistic and forward thinking. It is not just focused on animal rights but food security and environment. I was vegan for 9 years. I was introduced through PETA using very specific choice images to convince people about animal rights. This goes a different route. New Harvest is aesthetically strong, it creates new visual language around the issue of factory farming and could set new precedent.
ID: Did NH mission affect any of you personally? Or is it just exciting because it’s science stuff?
NC: Personally I’m excited. I love trying new foods and new ideas. It’s our responsibility to change traditions. I hear about cellular agriculture everywhere now! I keep seeing things on line, and meeting people who are talking about it. It’s everywhere!
SO: It has affected me personally. I want to play a more active role and I need to find how to do that. Right now I’m just reading and consuming, discussing this project. As things progress, as all this technology progresses – I’m sure I’ll find my way into a more active role.
ID: Would you try cellular agriculture products? Meat, milk, eggs?
SO: In a second.
BA: Of course.