Article Archive

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    For the past couple of weeks our Behind The Screens feature has been exploring the world of online publishing, paying tribute to some of the best sites around by talking to the people that make them what they are. From Dezeen to Booooooom, Pitchfork to NOWNESS we’ve been thrilled to hear so many insights about an area we believe doesn’t get the credit it deserves.

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    Joan Cornellà is nothing short of a master of his form. He’s got the gruesome comic strip down to a fine art, creating complex and hilarious narratives and then expressing them in no more than six bright panels, from one man with a poo on his head googling “who loves me?” and being given the answer “nobody,” to another man riding a bicycle made out of a suffering friend.

  3. Pentagram-list

    Pitting black and white photography against block colour, Pentagram’s new identity work for Queens Theatre in New York is slick, bright and strong; with as much vibrancy and grace as the performers that tread the venue’s boards. Designed by Paula Scher, the identity is based around a logo created from simple, geometric shapes alluding to the theatre’s architecture; which can be pulled apart and rearranged across various different applications to demonstrate the theatre’s broad and diverse programming, and appeal to an equally diverse audience.

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    Mark Lazenby is the go-to guy for collage that just works. We last featured the artist two years ago and since then his portfolio of pieced together artworks has exploded with even more impressive works and a real exploration of materials and collage techniques.

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    Wild Beasts frontman Hayden Thorpe vividly remembers coming across Mattis Dovier’s work. The band had been approached to take part in The Jameson Works, a project which focuses on how creativity happens and the insights and stories picked up along the way that are as much a part of the creative process as the final outcome. Searching for some reference material, Hayden came onto It’s Nice That and saw this post of Mattis’ GIFs. “It was pretty confrontational,” he remembers. “You could see Mattis’ hand behind the work and that reflects the way we now work too.”

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    In the past couple of years we’ve featured hundreds of great creative projects in our Annuals but rarely have we heard from those who’ve made an impact on the art and design world – until now. For 2014, we’ve interspersed the Annual with short Q&A interviews with 50 creatives who have impressed and inspired us over the past 12 months.

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    Some things change, while some beat on ceaselessly, boats against the current and the Studio Audience podcast falls firmly in the latter camp. This week we looked at apparent plans for new-look, hipster-fied KFC restaurants here in the UK, we discussed the final instalment of Monument Valley and we discussed Tate Modern’s extraordinary new war photography show Conflict. Time. Photography, touching on this review from The Telegraph.

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    There’s not a pie in the cultural world that James Franco isn’t ready and willing to stick a finger into, and to prove it the actor, director, poet and musician has just announced a new exhibition of his artworks, entitled Fat Squirrel, which is to be held at London’s Siegfried Contemporary gallery. The show is an undeniably eclectic collection, including a number of self portraits of the artist in the guise of various famous historical figures, a deer orgy entitled Triple Team, and some bright painterly collages, not to mention the eponymous overweight rodents which are undoubtedly our favourites.

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    There’s something delightfully scientific about Erik Söderberg’s GIFs, however firmly I remind yourself that they’re composed of thousands of pixels. The repetitive way they pulsate and fizz quietly on the screen takes me right back to double Biology on a Thursday morning, watching in shellshocked fascination as tiny living cells mutate on a tiny strip of glass under a microscope, and grandly imagining myself to be the second coming of Louis Pasteur.

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    Year six is a tricky time to remember. Clearly we were too busy counting pogs, furtively worrying about training bras and forging detailed plans of how to marry Damon Albarn to forge many other remembrances. What it’s likely we’ve forgotten, then, is the terror of leaving for senior school and all that entailed – going from being a big fish (relatively) to a tiny one who suddenly felt a bit embarrassed about still wearing her hair in two plaits.

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    I’m known for my sweet tooth and ability to consume an obscene amount of cakes, sweets and biscuits in one sitting, so it’ll come as no surprise that I was instantly drawn to Will Cotton’s sugary scenes of candy-laced lands.

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    With its shadowy narrative, a disquieting undertone of suggested violence and sexuality and unflinching portraiture, the stunning new video for Danish band Iceage’s solemn and equally uncomfortable song Against the Moon is a fantastically haunting apportion of film noir tropes.

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    It’s generally accepted that society gets the celebrities it deserves, that fame doesn’t just happen and we have to understand why certain people get put on a pedestal. Nowhere is this more interesting than in the case of Ron Jeremy, the world’s most recognisable porn star. Recently Ron went to Sydney to promote a new rum that bears his name, and filmmakers Ingvar Kenne and Cameron Gray were given full access to him for 48 hours, travelling in his stretched Hummer to various parties whose organisers had applied on Facebook to have him turn up.

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    Harley Weir is an extraordinary talent. Her work is bold and unreserved, whether it be part of a personal project investigating the border between Israel and Palestine, a vibrant fashion editorial for the likes of British Vogue, or a series of ethereal portraits capturing redheads with all of the eerie stillness of Millais’ Ophelia.

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    A constant refrain when putting together the It’s Nice That Annual is to keep the creative work front and centre. This isn’t about us; it’s about the stunning, mesmerising, funny, thought-provoking, charming, painstaking and fascinating projects that we’re proud to showcase in all their glory. This year though we decided to go one better, and from the off we all agreed that it would be great if each cover carried a piece of art and design that could then be found within the book.

  16. Opinion-list-new

    This week It’s Nice That director Will Hudson talks about why he reckons the new Randall Wright-directed documentary Hockney is so brilliant. You can let us know your thoughts in the comment thread below.

  17. Lisr

    Annabel Miedema describes her series Acting Future as “an experimental journey with my family,” and the word experimental is certainly apt. The series sees Annabel, a young Netherlands-based photographer, reimagine what the future might look like if time were to collapse, and the cultural behaviours of the 1960s and 70s to become au fait again.

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    Food was on the proverbial table at last night’s Nicer Tuesdays, with four speakers who engaged in all-things-edible talking us though their work in experiential food design; print and publishing; illustration and, perhaps most obscurely, edible insects.

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    Time and again Amy Woodside gets in touch to let us know about new projects she’s cooked up and time and again we’re powerless to resist them. The New York-based artist is focussed to a fault on her fine art practice where iconic letterforms emerge from meticulously registered screen printing and frantic flourishes of spray paint. Where first she caught our eye with multicoloured wordplay, the constant reduction and refinement of her process has resulted in a new series’ of totemic words like ‘Hero’, ‘Cash’, ‘Hoax’ and ‘Like’, pre-loaded with cultural context and double meaning, writ large on the canvas. What’s the meaning behind them? The interpretation is up to you, but Amy always seems to be critiquing pop culture with its own visual vernacular and playing fast and loose with our ambiguous use of language.

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    Featured back in January, Barcelona-based studio Querida has had a busy few months churning out more of its stylishly colourful and well-considered design work. One of its latest projects is this catalogue for Spanish opticians, Optiques Prats which takes the form of an incredibly stylish magazine catering for the optically challenged.

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    One minute magazines are down the pan, the next minute they’re holy items being sought after by big brands in order to put something – nostalgia, mainly – into the grabby hands of their customers. It’s hard to find a trendy brand these days that doesn’t have some sort of editorial arm, but it’s safe to say that few do it with as much style and care as MR PORTER’s Journal.

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    It’s wonderful when graphic design perfectly unites two seemingly disparate concepts – and Commission Studio’s branding for a Lewes-based homeware brand is a quietly brilliant example. The project saw the London studio (which designed our 2013 Annual) create the look and feel for a range of delicate, subtle pieces like candles and soaps with a name that deliberately sounds anything but delicate and subtle – Freight.

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    The Dutch/Brazilian artist Rafaël Rozendaal is best known for his digital artworks that often take the form of webpages but as he told us at our 2013 creative symposium Here he is increasingly interested in exploring his fascination with light and colour in real-world scenarios. Most recently this has taken the form of his hyper-colourful abstract lenticular paintings, which are made up of layers of different frames and so appear to move when viewed from different angles.

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    I love peering into people’s sketchbooks. There’s so much more honesty in an image that’s been hurriedly scribbled down on a station platform than in one which has been perfected over the course of several drafts, and I’m a sucker for that kind of insight into an artist’s process. I like to see the mistakes, the rubbings out and the development as well as the final work.

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    In April this year UsTwo ruined a gig I was at by letting me trial a new game due to be released the following week. I was supposed to be seeing one of my favourite bands but instead spent two hours tapping away trying to navigate a little princess through a geometrically impossible world. A couple of weeks later everyone was obsessing over that same princess.

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    There’s a whole heap of great design studios in Barcelona with which we’re very familiar but it’s always a joy to discover talent we haven’t come across before. Such is the case with P.A.R, a graphic design and art direction studio run by Iris Tarraga and Lucía Castro. The way they talk about their approach eschews any kind of bullshit, as they write on their website: “Our methodology is simple: We listen to our clients, we understand their needs and we solve them. Our style is clear and direct, we take care of the balance and harmony in our designs, we use typography and colour accurately, we believe in functional design.”

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    New York based studio Open is being faithful to its name, launching a book that shows us all how it works, what it does and why it does it. The book, named Design for People, is written by Open founder Scott Stowell and his team, with the noble aim to “democratise design” by running over graphic design and branding case studies in a way Scott reckons “everyone can understand.”

  28. _rusty

    French photographer Paul Rousteau sounds like a nice chap – one with a bright outlook on life reflected in the bold pops of colour he adorns his editorial work with. “Being cynical is too easy because everyone has a lack of something”, he told Art Book Guy. “So I try to see the beautiful things in people, even if it’s a bit naive or even in a cynical way.”

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    Last week Clive Martin from Vice called him “the David Bailey of grime” which sums up Ewen Spencer’s oeuvre beautifully, really. The documentary photographer has made British youth and subculture his bread and butter, photographing the UK garage scene in all of its gritty glory as well as working for the NME, photographing The White Stripes, making the very brilliant Brandy & Coke and producing a host of books and exhibitions as well. As far as perspectives on Britishness go, Ewen’s is basically unrivalled.

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    Having only once covered the work of Californian architect Michael Jantzen on the site, it seems about time we provided a little more context to his work and showed off one of his seminal pieces. The M-House is a portable modular system through which multiple iterations of a structure can be made. It consists of a series of rectangular panels, attached by hinges to a gridded frame, that can be moved and manipulated to serve a variety of functions, both structural and decorative. Each new structure can be built to unique specifications so that no M-House needs to look the same. Michael’s intention was that these buildings could serve as a holiday home or as an impressive complex of modular retreats in a single resort. So why hasn’t anyone built this resort yet? Better than Butlins.

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    We were lucky enough to meet some of the team from Singapore studio Foreign Policy when they popped into It’s Nice That HQ during a recent research trip to London. The same friendly, curious and open-minded approach that led them to drop us a line has also seen them develop The Swap Show, “an exhibition exchange between design studios and creative agencies from cities around the world designed to showcase and celebrate creative work internationally.”

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    French illustrator Anne Simon first came to our attention this time last year when she teamed up with psychoanalyst Corinne Maier to bring us an informative, witty and thoroughly charming graphic guide to Freud. She’s back, to our delight, with a new and somewhat more sinister tale, Cixtite Impératrice which is no less brilliant.