Eddie Opara on leaving London for New York and tackling tricky client relationships

Ending this week’s podcast, our most recent Nice Note comes from artist and illustrator Jocelyn Tsaih, recorded in the sunny land of Oakland, northern California. She leads us up the secret staircases scattered around the streets of her neighbourhood, explaining how the hidden places they lead to offer a new creative perspective on her hometown. For listeners looking to hear a longer version of the interview with Eddie, you can do so by signing up to Extra Nice, It’s Nice That’s membership programme. To find out more, head over to the Extra Nice pages of our website.
Moving to a whole new continent to pursue your creative dreams is, for many, both an exciting and absolutely terrifying prospect. This week, we’re joined by a creative who knows this feeling all too well, designer Eddie Opara. As well as working independently from his own studio, Eddie is a partner at Pentagram, a senior critic at Yale University of Art and has taught at Rhode Island School of Design and the Columbia University School of Architecture, among others. A resume that would blow anyone’s socks off, for the ninth episode of the It’s Nice That Podcast, we’re delving into the ups and downs of Eddie’s creative journey so far, tricky client relationships and his love for Tottenham Hotspurs.
A “born and bred” Londoner, this week’s episode begins with Eddie telling our editor-in-chief Matt Alagiah about the (very stressful) experience of getting into a masters program at Yale. With his interview taking place in a time before Zoom, he humorously explains how the logistics proved to be pretty complicated. The designer also gets candid about the trials and tribulations of making a name for yourself and starting your own studio from scratch; the late nights, and very early mornings, all fuelled by multiple packs of bacon. But he also offers insight into how exciting the whole process can be, recalling how an unsuspecting meal turned into a job offer from Pentagram. It’s a partnership that has led to some pretty major projects, which Eddie and Matt dissect in the episode, alongside a sneak peek of an upcoming one to boot…
Being such a prolific designer doesn’t come without its difficulties, and Eddie has dealt with his fair share of tricky clients. In the episode, Eddie offers some stellar advice on how to recognise the warning signs early on, and how best to make fruitful and collaborative working relationships.