Article Archive

  1. Weekender-list

    To stop you losing any more precious minutes when we lose an hour on Sunday, here at It’s Nice That we’ve kindly gathered all the important stuff you should be wrapping your eyes around before they’re left sadly squinting in darkness. You know because we’re nice like that. Let us be your light. Here’s The Weekender.

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    As Deputy Creative Director of Bloomberg Businessweek Tracy Ma is responsible for turning out page after page of stunningly-conceived graphics accompanying hard-hitting economic and political stories at breakneck speed. Together with Richard Turley and Rob Vargass she’s been responsible for transforming the title into a new benchmark for editorial design, receiving plenty of plaudits along the way. Of course it’s easy to assume that Tracy has always been visually gifted, but when we spoke to her about her university work she made it very clear that it took a long time for her to produce anything that she was really happy with…

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    When it comes to product design; our tastes tend towards the more offbeat end of the spectrum and so Ernesto D. Morales’ Magnifying Spoon is right up our street. Allowing users to inspect their food before they dive in: " On approval, the same tool is used to scoop up a healthy mouthful," the inventor tells us. The spoon is part of Object Solutions, "a fictional company that develops inventions for solving everyday problems. Its laboratorians are fixated on halting inconvenience, discomfort and imperfection, by producing an ever-growing set of hyper-specialised tools.

  4. List-willy

    Writing is rarely a chore. However, sometimes you find yourself working on a piece that reaffirms why internships spent schlepping round Covent Garden in the pissing rain on breakfast compote runs, and hours practising writing “multi-storey carpark” in shorthand are more than worth the irritation.

  5. Stationary

    Hotel branding can so often be a dowdy affair, as if the design nods to the temporary nature of the building’s inhabitants – something to move on from, rather than to dwell on. So it’s wonderful to see a brave, opulent new identity for the Connaught in London’s Mayfair, designed by The Partners around a stunning new artwork by Kristjana S Williams which now hangs in the hotel.

  6. List-kurt

    Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain is easily one of the most mythologised, eulogised and conspiracy-theorised musicians of the last century. Whether we consider his sad induction into the 27-club, his tumultuous relationship with Malaysia Airlines mystery-solving wallflower Courtney Love or the various mental and physical ailments that manifested themselves so intensely through his songs, Kurt’s was a life destined for scrutiny.

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    To say that Rebecca Reeve enjoys a magnificent view is not to do her work justice. The British-born, New York-based photographer has long been occupied with framing landscapes with domestic devices in her work, from placing a pair of translucent curtains around a mountain range and invoking the Dutch custom of covering paintings at the wakes of deceased family members to help them make the transition to the afterlife, to hanging a blind in front of a swamp to oddly effective ends. On an aesthetic level this unusual use of the prop partially obscures her chosen view, bringing a curious sense of mystery to the image, but the subversion of that familiar sense of domesticity resonates much further than surface level, creating an odd feeling of displacement with a surrealist slant.

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    June 2013: We introduce you to illustrator and recent Berlin resident Jay Wright. We love his work, you enjoy it massively too, and thereafter he takes on a whole heap of freelance work. Fast forward 16 months and Jay’s new portfolio website shows he’s been one heck of a busy guy, not only commercially but personally too. Alongside magazine covers for The Loop and Das Magazine there’s a glut of witty spot illustrations, brand new zines and some lovely personal work that explores the theme of superstition. It’s definitely worth having a proper rummage around on his site, and when you do be sure to have a look at the ladder. You won’t regret it.

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    I was surprised to learn that Amsterdam’s HOAX studio don’t seem to have been on the site before, and faced with their wide-ranging portfolio it was a challenge to focus in on a narrative that made sense. Founders Bram Buijs, Sven Gerhardt and Steven van der Kaaij joined forces based on their “shared love for typography, material and experimentation” and this passion for fresh creative thinking runs throughout their work.

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    Creating a cohesive identity for a design conference might not seem like such a tall order, but the reality of producing flyers, bags, programmes and that all-important logo mark for an international event isn’t as simple as you might think. For starters there’s an abundance of conferences out there, each with it’s own unique look and feel, so creating visuals that present a point of difference will always pose a challenge; secondly how on earth do you make a talks timetable look exciting?

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    A couple of weeks ago, Channel 4 aired a documentary (below) which saw photographer Giles Duley (himself a triple amputee) meet some of the disabled victims of the war in Syria. It was a difficult watch but an extremely important story to tell, and one that meant a lot to Giles. He got in touch to say that although The Guardian ran an in-depth piece on the same theme, he had some photographs which weren’t used that he was really keen to get out there.

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    Nothing helps the brain learn better than a good old visual aid, so what better way to tackle Harvard’s online neuroscience course than to watch these clever animations.

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    There’s a reason Jeremy Leslie is one of the most knowledgable guys on the planet when it comes to magazines, he spent a good few years at London College of Communication back in the 1980s honing his skill when magazines and printed matter were in their absolute heyday. We were curious as to the experiences Jeremy had at art school in the early 1980s and how much (if at all) it informed his love for publications today. Naturally, we wanted to see what he looked like back then. Turns out it’s similar to what everyone looked like in the 1980s: the same, but with more hair. Here he is on student life and the value of a good education with fantastic tutors.

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    Some writers create page-turners; masters of narrative and plot that compel you to keep on reading. In some ways Joan Didion is the opposite, although her writing is no less compelling. When reading her work, its brilliance stops me dead over and over again, such is her ability to analyse a person, a place or a concept and then articulate her thoughts.

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    I don’t care how nice the wallpaper or the lampshades may be, there’s something creepy about the stereotypical American motel featured in films, novels and plays. As if expressly to prove my point, artist Airco Caravan created a series called Crime Scene in which she paints the rooms that have previously played host to murders, suicides and accidental deaths.

  16. Listtttt

    Lumiere Studios’ experiments in RealFlow software seamlessly flow out of the territory of tech and funnel into something rather lovely. The London-based animation design and production studio has uploaded a number of its tinkerings that showcase the software’s Hybrido system, taking the viewer through an impressive behind-the-scenes look at how it builds up simulations of gushing water. Stripped of their drama, the animations have a quiet pathos about them. As the building-blocks of the final effects, the vivid blues of the Truck Street video seem all the more arresting, silently flooding the streets and washing away their contents. In the museum animation, different volumes of fluid are contrasted against the eerie steps, elevating the experiment into something quite dazzling in its own right.

  17. Lead

    This week online editor Emily Gosling looks at who can really claim authorship of artworks created using technology designed by someone else. Who can really take the credit for art that might not be possible without the tech know-how of others?

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    Michael Parkin’s portfolio is a wonderful mix of commissioned work interspersed with personal projects, which is exactly what you want when looking through a creative’s website. His style is simple but well observed and whether he’s creating a poster for Little White Lies or a series of prints relating to a trip to Denmark, Michael’s work is wonderful at telling a story.

  19. Main1

    Every once in a while it’s worth having a good old stare at the architecture around us. Often we simply stop noticing buildings because they’re so good at doing what they’re supposed to do; which is a shame because as well as functionality, there’s an overlooked beauty within those structures we can all appreciate.

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    Francesca Jane Allen studied Photography at the prestigious London College of Communication. Since then she’s been an It’s Nice That Graduate and is now on a total rise – 70,000 adoring Instagram followers and emails flooding in from established publications from all over the world to commission her. A few weeks ago we wrote to Francesca asking her to write a piece about her time at art school. She was one of the few people who responded with a negative point of view on the subject, so we asked her to elaborate on why it wasn’t for her, and how even though you’re encouraged to go, perhaps sometimes it isn’t always the right thing to do. Here she is on why you don’t have to go to art school to be a spectacular photographer…

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    Peter Brookes is a demigod among political cartoonists. The septuagenarian is now in his 22nd year at The Times where he still produces a cartoon every day, distilling the frustrations, jibes and political unrest of the nation into one biting image to a looming and unmoveable deadline. This short film The Art of Satire examines Peter’s work in the contexts both of political cartooning and of The Times, who recognise Peter’s exceptional skill by allowing him to contradict the editorial direction of the paper in favour of following his own line.

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    In March this year we discussed the intriguing Middle Eastern publication The Outpost, one of the first independent titles from the Lebanon to be distributed internationally and in English. At the time the guys behind the design, Spanish/German/of no fixed address studio Rifle, didn’t have a website so we couldn’t show off any more of their portfolio. But since then they’ve managed to both finish work on another beautiful publication and squeeze a new website out into the world. Not bad!

  23. List

    If you were wise enough to pick up the Summer issue of Printed Pages you’ll already be familiar with Rami Niemi’s fine work. The Finnish illustrator is a comics artist the likes of which doesn’t come along very often, and he kindly crafted a 12 page story called Lonely Boys for the mag, which included the seven narratives of classic fiction.

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    Boasting PVC-clad bottoms, surreal jazz photography and beautifully-rendered risograph prints of basketball hoops, Shabazz Projects’ homepage certainly offers a well-curated and striking experience. The LA-based publishing platform was founded by Hassan Rahim and Brian Okarski, releasing art, photography and design-focused books and objects, all with a run of 200 or fewer editions. Stand-out pieces include the Various Basketball Hoops risographs, which put a whimsical spin on these often weary-looking monoliths; and Eric Wrenn and Antje Peters’ Jazz photographs, which place instruments against a dramatic plume of smoke. Hassan and Brian say their aim is to “provoke and surprise,” and from the images on their site alone, they’re certainly not letting themselves down.

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    I love that moment when big brands start to recognise the immense talents of illustrators who had previously been making work primarily for themselves, and duly commission them to do exactly what they do best. Linda Linko is a prime example; since being signed to Agent Pekka the Finnish illustrator has been gathering speed as well as commissions, creating her characteristically bold artwork for a number of huge posters and magazine covers.

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    IKEA are known for using their stores to promote their goods (I’m referring of course to the highly successful ad where they filled one of their shops with cats and filmed it) and today they’re back with a new spot to celebrate Hallowe’en. This time they’ve taken the famous scene from The Shining where Danny rolls around on his trike and inserted that same ominous fear into their own store. I swear anyone that puts a Rail Cam anywhere and follows a kid on a small tricycle around for a while is going to give everyone the heebie-jeebies, and this is no exception. The ending’s a bit weird, but at least you’ll be able to sleep after watching it, which is more than I can say for the original.

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    New York-based artist Daniel Arsham is a figure with fingers in a lot of different conceptual pies, from installation works to short films. While architecture plays an important part in his work, so too do the paradoxes and oddities of human nature, and that’s what’s under the microscope here.

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    Designing for the Design Museum’s Designs of the Year must be in many ways a dream project, in many ways a nightmare. Creating graphics that can seamlessly place disciplines as disparate as graphic design, furniture, product and architecture comfortably next to one another takes skill and an eye for leaving said projects to speak for themselves. Ok-RM’s graphics did just that, sitting back to let the viewer to make their own decisions about each project on its own merit, regardless of how it was made or by whom. Clean, well-spaced and scant typography work with clever colour-coding to form an overall aesthetic that more than deserves its place alongside the best designs of the past 12 months.

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    Having founded London-based design studio Build in 2001, creative director Michael C. Place has amassed his fair share of books in his time, with a healthy combination of design knowledge to be found tucked between the spines on the studios (admirably well-organised) shelf. We’ve been championing Build’s work on the site for some time now, so what better way to get an insight into the inspirations behind their snazzy work than by hearing from the creative director himself about his favourite reading material? Between Letraset catalogues, reflections on legend Wim Crouwel and Michael’s mate Blam (who has excellent taste in books) we were not disappointed.

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    Don’t know who King Zog are? SORT IT OUT. Okay fine, they’re four strapping lads who all went to uni together who absent-mindedly, perhaps drunkenly dreamt of forming a collective upon graduating. Unlike most people who have dreams, they actually went and bloody did it. Now they’re all rather successful and clever I thought it might be funny to humiliate them online and ask them to show us their best and most catastrophic university projects – turns out even their shit ones are better than most. Oh well. Take it away boys.

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    When the sad passing of Louise Wilson, the head of MA Fashion at London’s Central Saint Martins, was announced in May of this year, it was received with a tidalwave of grief from former students, friends and industry professionals alike. For those who passed through the hallowed doors into the MA Fashion studios at Central Saint Martin’s, her influence was akin to that of a well-loved monarch. Famed for her brutal honesty and unapologetic criticism as much as for her fierce loyalty and warmth, Louise was instrumental in tutoring an astounding number of the most successful designers working in the fashion industry today – Christopher Kane, Stella McCartney, Mary Katrantzou and Louise Goldin among them.

  32. Ffff

    Visual effects artist Dave Fothergill’s hypnotising animation I’ve Fallen, And I Can’t Get Up! is a glorious combination of schadenfreude, and an investigation into the capabilities of some high-end visual software.