Article Archive

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    At August’s storytelling-themed Nicer Tuesdays, we were joined by founders and hosts of The Butcher’s Apron podcast, Emma Gibson and Nadine Monem. They came together after realising “that all the best stories were the ones we told and retold down the pub” and wanted to carve out a radio space in which these tales could live.

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    It takes a very discerning eye to photograph the famous faces who’ve already graced posters, ad campaigns and magazine covers in a new light, but somehow Boris Kralj has made this fine-tuned art his bread and butter. His subjects range from some of the most famous figures in contemporary culture – Susan Sarandon, Vivienne Westwood, Brian Ferry and Karl Lagerfeld – to models in fashion shoots and commercial work, but all faces receive his attentive treatment. It feels as though he’s spent hours with each subject observing their characteristics and flaws in able to mild this knowledge into a uniquely insightful portrait, and thought I’m sure this can’t be the case it certainly is an impressive thing to master.

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    I’d say that when one of the few companies lauded by children the world over commissions you to design artwork for the interior walls of their HQ, you know you’ve made it. This actually happened to Patrick Savile, the graphic designer and illustrator responsible for splashing his irrevocably diverting artwork throughout the building that houses kids TV channel Nickelodeon, resulting in playful digital illustration, typographic experiments and cartoon eyes a plenty.

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    Big thanks to Nathan and Jacob of Haw-Lin for their recent updates that have led to us finding the work of photographer Joyce Kim. Joyce’s photographs lead us tentatively by the hand behind the scenes of some remarkable music videos where our eyeballs are given VIP treatment and treated to perfect shots that are in such high-res that you can almost smell them. The grainy monochromatic photos taken during the making-of Earl Sweatshirt and Childish Gambino’s music videos are sublime, but we’d have to agree with Haw-Lin and say that the photos of Josh Homme with loads of Japanese businessmen for the hedonistic Smooth Sailing video are the very best. That shot of all the guys in suits falling asleep on each other in front of that security grate is beyond perfect.

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    Once upon a time, in a farmyard not so far away, Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin created some of the most iconic characters of early children’s TV. In the Smallfilms studio – a barn and some outbuildings – Bagpuss was born, the Clangers sprung to life and Ivor the Engine first tooted his horn.

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    Satirical artist and very funny woman Miriam Elia is something of a pro when it comes to books; last year she self-published We Go to the Gallery, a satirical reinterpretation of a 1960s Ladybird book which seeks to help parents explain sex, death and contemporary art to their young ones, complete with a handy glossary of new words to learn. She’s since co-curated an exhibition about Pastiche, Parody and Piracy at London’s Cob Gallery, while other past works include I Fell in Love With a Conceptual Artist… and It Was TOTALLY MEANINGLESS about her relationship with Martin Creed. Hilarious? Yes. Yes it is. Miriam’s Bookshelf includes lovingly weathered books about typography, photography, flesh-eating plants and Butlins holiday camps, giving a neat insight into her brain.

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    Back in the spring, The House of Peroni took over a central London townhouse with a celebration of the retro 1960s inspired creativity which so influenced Peroni’s founders. Next month it’s back and this time around it will be a feast of food, drink, art, design and fashion that reflects the cultural diversity of Rome.

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    Just as you were thinking you hadn’t seen some truly joyous graphic design infused with sunshine for such a long time BAM! Here’s a bunch of magazines that are designed with one thing in mind: happiness. Javas Lehn Studio are based in New York and spend their days commissioning fantastic illustrators and not worrying about overusing exclamation marks for big brands that want a slice of the nice. Although a lot of this studio’s work is digital or signage-based, for me where they really come into their own is in the world of print. Saturdays Magazine looks delicious, and you could argue that Ace of Faith – the book they created for artist Brian Paumier – is even more lust-worthy than the art itself. I urge you to go and spend some time on their site, if it doesn’t make you want to start up your own design practice then at the very least you’re going to want to go and leave small offerings on the doorstep of Javas Lehn HQ.

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    The South London Gallery describes Lawrence Weiner, whose new exhibition All in Due Course opened there last Friday, as a “reluctant pioneer of conceptual art,” which must be one of the coolest epithets going. The American artist has been creating his typographic wall sculptures since the 1970s when he first pioneered his unique medium which he maintains is not conceptualism but a kind of sculpture made using “language + the materials referred to.”

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    In Dayoung Cho’s illustrated world, it’s the Goblin Olympics and the bunny’s on top. Tumbling top-to-tail with the tiger, it’s cheered on by an amorphous cyclops whilst a duck-billed platypus and rhino await their turn in the ring.

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    The closest many of us Brits ever come to a machine gun is when we’re hiding behind a bucket of popcorn the size of a small child in the front row at the cinema, so you can imagine our fascination at seeing this new series by Brian Finke. Brian spent four years photographing US marshals, the longest standing law enforcement agency in America who work under the federal courts. They are “tasked with protecting judges, prosecutors and witnesses, and are also responsible for transporting prisoners and tracking down the country’s most dangerous fugitives,” the book explains.

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    Few things fundamentally change the way the creative world works, which makes the rise and rise of crowdfunding site Kickstarter all the more remarkable. Now five years in, it’s one of those brands that’s become a verb and “to Kickstarter” is an increasingly common way of launching a project.

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    It’s not immediately easy to get a handle on Casper Heijkenskjöld’s portfolio, but right from the off you realise you’re in the presence of an impressive creative mind. The Copenhagen-based designer and art director worked for a time for Sagmeister in New York, and seems to have brought the Austrian’s taste for pushing boundaries to his own studio which he set up in 2011.

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    We love Thomas Slater. We love how he manages to dollop a fat helping of fun to subjects from art school to financial advice, how he so accurately distils the defining characteristics of his subjects in one fell swoop, and how his work offers a universal joy which makes him appealing for near on every audience imaginable.

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    Something very special happens when a lot of time and effort goes into something silly. This new series from Mike Mellia takes the style he’s perfected during his modern artists in the style of old masters project and sees him create one selfie a day that he uploads to his Instagram account. Gently taking the piss out of selfie culture, Mike poses for ludicrous self portraits depending on his outfit of choice with captions such as “That one time I founded the Roman Empire” or “That one time I asked the workers of the world to unite” (best said in a high-pitched American accent). The great thing about this project is its longevity – if this was a one-off photo it wouldn’t be anywhere near as hilarious.

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    White Zinfandel is created from a very simple recipe but, like all of the most delectable things, it’s the added touches – the hint of this and dash of that – which make it a chef’s special at the publishing dinner table. Essentially, it’s a magazine about food and culture. It looks at “what happens when creative people, across disciplines and media, get asked to make art about food.” But the sheer complexity of each issue sets it apart.

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    Emily Kai Bock is the filmmaker responsible for music videos for the likes of Arcade Fire, Grimes and Grizzly Bear, which explains why her eye is so well-trained at spotting the moments she captures in her photography, too. Shooting strangers in the street and yet capturing strangely warm and intimate portraits she seems to form immediate bonds with the people she spots on her travels, from a girl waiting in line to pay for her groceries to a glamorous but frustrated woman crossing the road. There’s something transfixing about the vulnerable but unwavering eye contact her subjects fix on her, almost as though they are the only two people in the scene to recognise her existence. It’s a rare talent, but it seems to come very naturally to Emily, and we can’t help but feel grateful for it.

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    With the many branches of Stoptober currently encompassing the social media feeds of our nearest and dearest, the notion of resistance is in full swing. For Muslims, the month of Ramadan is a lunar-based 30-day fast in which food and drink are consumed pre-daybreak and after sunset and other behaviour such as smoking, swearing, sex and many other sinful activities are forbidden.

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    Olivia Bee is fantastic. We’ve been following her in a non-stalker way for a good few years now, and can report that we were in fact correct in predicting she was going to be big. What’s so great about having a look at her work after a bit of a gap is the realisation that even though she’s been doing a lot more commercial work, her Flickr is still a paean to the wild beauty of youth. Even better, before where her photographs depicted kids on the brink of puberty – clumsily exploring the world and exploring being grown ups – now her subjects (some of them we recognise from before) are now actually approaching adulthood. That includes Olivia too, and these new wild, fizzing photographs are total, unadulterated proof of that.

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    If the Weekender was a person, it’d be the kind of person you’d walk past in the street, then taken three steps backwards to get a better look at, then recoil visibly from, then reach into your pocket to take out your phone and take a selfie with. Later on at the pub you’d whip out your phone excitedly to share this uniquely memorable moment with your friends, and find that the photograph had disappeared and all that was left was a shot of you posing awkwardly with a packet of Monster Munch. That’s just the kind of guy the Weekender is. Enjoy our weekly supplement!

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    Shame on those who thought we couldn’t make a brilliant mixtape out of songs relating entirely to books. From Turn The Page by The Streets to Bookends by Simon and Garfunkel, this mix is in honour of the fantastic book fairs that are currently going on in New York and London right now. So if you’re in New York or London get yourself down to the Art Book Fairs this weekend and pick up a little wad of paper that’s going to potentially change (or just momentarily enrich) your life. Oh, and listen to this book-themed mixtape and if you think we’ve forgotten any just leave them in the box below!

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    This weekend galleries, zines, publishing houses and rare book dealers are getting together at London’s Whitechapel Gallery for the UK’s biggest annual celebration of international art publishing, taking place concurrently with the New York Art Book Fair. Three solid days of events ensue, including book signings by Bridget Riley, Nadav Kander and Douglas Coupland (who is launching new publication everywhere is anywhere is anything is everything at the fair, too) and events such as Unbinding the Book challenge the tradition concept of publishing altogether.

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    “Paradise is on the edge of an industrial estate just north of the M25. It’s also behind a Jobcentre in Manchester. By the bins.” What a difference a poetic opening line of a project caption can make! Oli Kellett sent this project in after the success of his 2011 project where he found street signs around the world that look like British words spelt wrong. Paradise is similarly genius: with the help of Martin McAllister Oli travelled the UK since 2010 photographing any road, street, lane or close that contained the word “paradise” in its title.

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    To celebrate the launch of the Autumn issue of Printed Pages, here’s the last of this week’s taster articles. Below you’ll find an excerpt from Maisie Skidmore’s feature on the irrepressible art-world mover and shaker Peggy Guggenheim as well as one of Alice Tye’s delightful commissions. To read the full article you can buy the latest Printed Pages here.

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    One of the best things about this year’s Designers in Residence is that it takes big ideas and makes them accessible to the gallery-going public. Nowhere is this more obvious than in Torsten Sherwood’s work, which looks at disrupting traditional patterns of play with a new kind of interlocking building block that reimagines the basic functions of LEGO. Not only can you see how Tortsen’s ideas developed at the show, you can also have a go yourself which adds a fantastically fun element to proceedings.

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    Back in 2013 designers Jessica Walsh and Timothy Goodman launched 40 Days of Dating, where they entered into a seven week relationship with each other to explore the world of romance from a creative perspective.

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    We’re suckers for a bit of nostalgia here at It’s Nice That and this blog by renowned designer Emilio Gil provides it in gratifyingly regular doses. But to suggest that Emilio’s archive is just a way of getting a fix of retro imagery is to do it a disservice as Graphic Pioneers; Spanish Graphic Design 1939 – 1975 does much more than that.

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    And so it’s Friday once again. The merry-go-round of the weekdays continues and we’re all now riding upon the glittery saddle of the Things pony! We’re taking in the sights and on display is a lovely children’s book, a collection of sartorial memoirs and a bonkers blog-turned-book making a mockery of the 1970s. Keep your eyes big and beedy to spy a book about, well, books and some fine prints too.

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    If the pseudonym Synchrodogs calls to mind a troupe of people dressed in a trippy barrage of Cyberdog-influenced body suits sprawled across luscious green meadows, in front of waterfalls and crouching on cracked deserts, then you’re on the right track. Tania Shcheglova and Roman Noven have been working under the moniker since 2010, and their unique brand of out-of-this-world fashion photography set in apocalyptic environments has earned them a reputation for making fascinating, if bizarre, imagery.

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    One of my teachers had a pet hate of adverbs and adjectives. “Cut the fluff!” he’d yell after reading our essays. Emi Ueoka’s delicate drawings illustrate his point perfectly; why use more lines when a few create so perfect a picture?

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    It may surprise you to find out that the It’s Nice That Bookshelf feature has been going strong since 8 January 2011. Yep, it’s old, and like a grumpy old uncle it’s rarely actually been celebrated. The weekly sneaky peek into the bookshelves of the creative and famous (sing to tune of Lifestyles of the Rich and the Famous by Good Charlotte) is a long-term favourite of many an It’s Nice That reader, and we decided to do a few posts to celebrate some gems within it.

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    We might be one man down but we’re one woman stronger for this week’s Studio Audience. James Cartwright may be guzzling wine and nibbling cheese in France but, you know what, we’re having just as much fun discussing art exhibitions and darstardly good videos right here in the studio. You can listen using the SoundCloud embed below or you can subscribe via iTunes here.