Article Archive

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    And so the week is winding down and we’re all having a little jig thinking about the wonders and delights the next two days has to offer. But before we leave y’all, check out some things what we did this week and then the usual feckless collection of the weird and wonderful bits and bobs that made it into our eyes this week. There may or may not be a crow doing winter sports (there is).

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    Way back in 2011 when we first posted the work of Frank Magnotta It’s Nice That was a very different beast – we’d only give you one image to check out and the rest was up to you. So when I stumbled across Frank’s work again this week it seemed essential that we show you a whole lot more. To be honest there have been few updates to his site in the past three years but the work is breathtaking, pulling together pop culture references, architectural precision and some serious Americana and combining it into stark surrealist landscapes. At times grotesque but always engaging, Frank’s graphite artworks are still some of the finest around.

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    It’s not often you get to hear the story behind the cover of a magazine, but personally whenever I catch someone speaking of it, my ears prick up in excitement. Our magazine Printed Pages is quarterly, and the cover is often a too-many-cooks, arguing around a table sort of affair – which I actually love. What’s always boggled my mind is how The New Yorker goes through this gruelling tongue-biting process every week. It’s largely down to cartoon expert and art editor of The New Yorker, Francoise Mouly. Her and cover-obsessive contributor Mina Kaneko spend their time debating and discussing which artist would be up for the challenge of inhaling the essence of New York at that very moment, and translating it into an instantly engaging, witty image. The best part is, once the cover is out into the world, they speak to the artist about the process of making it, and what the city means to them.

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    Ever wondered what happens when you die? Do our souls live on in heaven, frolicking about with those of our lost loved ones? Is there a dark, black nothingness? Or do we get stuffed to the eyeballs with gems and a big shiny crown thrust on our heads until we’re all trussed up like a little skeleton Liberace?

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    When the Design Museum planned its Women Fashion Power show, which opened last month, it was very much keen to take the “women” component seriously, appointing them to take care of both the exhibition design and graphics for the show. As such, it drafted perhaps one of the most famous women in design’s practices, Zaha Hadid Architects for the exhibition design; with Lucienne Roberts and her team (Dave Shaw and John McGill) at LucienneRoberts+ creating the graphics.

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    It’s fair to say that at some point towards the end of last year we reached peak process video, subsumed by a wave of formulaic offerings that were neither interesting nor exciting. So when we came across this new film from Aesop, slightly pompously called The Guild of Artisans it didn’t quicken our pulses. But in actual fact beyond the title, this is a rare example of a process film that’s well worth a watch. It follows the journey of Aesop’s jars and bottles being crafted and although there’s one or two things we’ve seen before, the moody imagery is brilliantly shot and there’s a few moments which set the teeth on edge. Anyone planning a craft process film in the near future take note; this is how it should be done!

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    Based in Manheim, Germany, Deutsche & Japaner have a really great sense of what looks good. They have been on the site a couple of times for their stylish graphic design but this work for the Aesthetics Habitat project shows off a bit more of their own personality. The site is described as “a venture all about meeting objects with a personal interpretation, transforming its function and creating narratives” and in essence its curators invite creatives to respond to and reflect on their relationship with a favourite thing of beauty.

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    If our interview with Brown Cardigan as part of our feature on to digital publishing has taught us anything, it’s that you shouldn’t underestimate the power of a GIF. Introducing then Japanese illustrator Nimura Daisuke, who has perfected the art with some of the sweetest, rudest moving images we’ve ever seen. How could you not fall for a shot of a woman flashing at a grumpy man as he looks the other way, or an unfortunate schoolboy leaning over and having the full conents of his rucksack crashing to the floor?

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    We often talk about the difficult second album at It’s Nice That, the problem being that when you pour every ounce of passion you have into version zero of a new project it can be tricky to replicate this energy the second time around. Rather than falling into that old trap though, the creators of art and commerce focused publication Noon appear to have taken a great leap over it. Following up from the first issue of which we made no secret of fawning over last time around they’ve somehow found time to sit back, regroup and then set out to create something even more impressive with issue two. Safe to say, it’s quite something to behold.

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    These photographs in the latest issue of the ultra-slick men’s fashion mag, Arena Homme+, are so incredibly perfect, never have I felt so giddy at the combination of slouched, neutral knitwear and ambiguous, colourful props.

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    Afternoon pod fans! We’re back for another week (got to admire our dedication if NOTHING else) and this week we’re talking about Band Aid 30 off the back of this excellent Bryony Gordon evisceration of the whole shebang before moving on to chat about our new digital publishing feature and why online pioneers don’t get the same attention as the so-called golden age of print. As ever listen using the SoundCloud embed below or subscribe via iTunes here.

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    London’s Wellcome Collection space always hosts explorations of the things that fascinate us most. It’s covered death, it’s exhaustively explored the human body in all its glory and grotesquery, and now it’s moved on to surely the most fascinating of all – sex, or more precisely, how people have studied it.

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    Today’s headline on the BBC about Myleene Klass’ recent outcry about mansion tax reads: “Myleene Klass tax jibe raised in Ed Miliband v David Cameron clash.” Over on The Daily Mash, their headline reads “Dodgy bastard who sold garage to Myleene Klass goes into hiding.” Satire is hard to do. A lot of people have never got it right, and in terms of journalism you could say that only Private Eye and Viz were truly successful, in that they 100% got away with it, and still do.

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    How’s this for a collaboration? Artist Quentin Jones, who counts photography, animation, painting and filmmaking among the tools of her trade, has teamed up with spatial designer Robert Storey to create the setting for her new exhibition in the The Vinyl Factory Space on London’s Brewer Street, with Robert creating a set for each of Quentin’s works.

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    With a portfolio bursting with fashion, editorial and portrait photography, it’s no surprise Tung Walsh’s client list is constantly growing having shot for big-wigs including A.P.C, Dolce and Gabbana, BON and W magazine among others. Capturing a mixture of models and famous folk, his style is cool, edgy and setting the standard in achieving that originality and freshness many photographers can only imitate.

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    It’s been five months since Airbnb unveiled its shiny new brand identity and Belo logomark; five months since the internet went berserk with genitalia-inspired interpretations of DesignStudio’s stylised letter A. Needless to say in those five months the furore surrounding the brand has died down somewhat and the longevity of their new aesthetic has become clearer. Despite the initial fuss it looks like they’re still going strong.

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    We were thrilled last week to announce the pre-order launch of the 2014 It’s Nice That Annual, our end-of-year book which rounds up 12 months of creative brilliance. This year it’s been designed by Brighton-based Studio Makgill and right from the off Hamish and his team were keen that we changed things up when it came to the book’s look and feel. We caught up with Hamish Makgill this week to talk about why it’s ok to be nice, the challenges of navigating so much eclectic visual material and that blue colour…

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    Jean Jullien is many things. Artist. Illustrator. French. Recent emigre to New York. It’s Nice That favourite. So hot right now. He’s also the final artist to have a show at Kemistry Gallery’s current east London home before it closes its doors early next year (although as has been reported it has some excitingly ambitious plans).

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    Websites have come a long way since the days of Space Jam and the like, and in spite of the elaborate things designers are capable of now it’s often just a slick scroll and some jazzy illustration that will have you coming back to a site again and again.

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    Kevin McNamee-Tweed by name, twee by nature, I’d assumed, casting an eye over these sweetly, naively sketched wee pictures of books. Then I read the titles. One contained the word “shart.” Another proclaims, “It’s Only Your Fault: How to Help Yourself”, while a more philosophical tome proffers the question “who is….BIRD HUMAN?”

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    Statues are an eternal recognition of a person or event’s impact on society – once erected they become a symbol and a part of the community forever. What interests photographer Fabrice Fouillet is when these effigies are on a monumental scale and take over towns, becoming just as exceptional at the political or religious power they’re representing.

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    In 2006, journalist Marcus Fairs was looking for work after being sacked (his words!) from Icon magazine. Having had a positive experience using early blogging software, he decided to launch his own design and architecture website and on 17 November Dezeen was born. Eight years to the day we sat down with Marcus at _Dezeen_’s Stoke Newington headquarters (in a former doctors’ surgery) to discuss how and why Dezeen has grown to attract 1.75 million unique users a month, what he believes makes for good online journalism and developing a sustainable business model. We also touched on Kanye West, press release culture and why online publishers don’t get the credit they deserve. Listen using the SoundCloud embed below.

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    This year, before the fire at the Glasgow School of Art, Frieze travelled up to the city to speak to some its most integral artists and curators about the nature of Glaswegian creativity. From the community “come one, come all” vibes of the 1970s, to the work inspired by the flattening of the tenements to make way for high-rise blocks, these wise talking heads portray a tough city of freedom and spontaneity, underlined with a brutal sadness from times when things weren’t too great. They speak of the time Allen Ginsberg came to town, the wonder of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, the gallery boom of the 1990s, and the appeal of the grand buildings in Glasgow with their sweeping staircases and enormous, trademark bay windows providing such beautiful white, Scottish light.

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    Brimming with sophistication and an understanding of what makes great design, Atelier Tout va bien’s portfolio is a glorious way to scroll away the day. The studio is made up of French design duo Anna Chevance and Mathias Reynoird, and it’s the pair’s editorial, poster and book design that really stands out.

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    This week assistant editor Maisie Skidmore asks what it is about weekly podcast Serial that has got the whole world talking. As ever, we want to hear what you think! Add your two pennies in the comment thread below.

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    Disruption is a term that has a checkered recent history, but there’s no denying is a powerful cultural concept. When Design Museum director Deyan Sudjic chose it as the theme for this year’s Designers in Residence, he was at pains to point out it’s an idea that has come to be misunderstood. Now as part of our broadcast partnership with the exhibition, we’re hosting an evening of talks featuring creatives whose work is built on some form of disruption.

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    American artist James Rieck paints models, but not in the way you might expect. In his huge colourful canvases he takes figures from adverts and recreates them four or five feet wide, capturing their clothes, their postures but not their faces.

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    People seem to have a real problem with “life hacks” – and you can see why. Some nerd being overly smug about how he’s Sellotaped all his channel changers together isn’t exactly appealing. These guys have taken the whole “hack” craze and made a spoof website of hilarious, often disgusting hacks of their own. One entitled Raw Meat Circuitry sees a pack of mince get stuffed with LEDs and lit up, another entitled The Collaborative Fuck Bike is an easy way to exercise and pleasure your partner. As for the future, the guys behind Stupid Hackathon are plotting “3D printed masks of your own face, a Cute Poop app that makes pictures of your poop look cute and an Edible Unmanned Drone: an unmanned drone that you can eat.” Can’t wait.

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    The It’s Nice That team recently discussed which discipline we cover on the site would we most like to be brilliant at (it’s the kind of thing we do to wile away the final, dragging hours of these dark winter afternoons). After the appropriate amount of consideration (charts, cost/benefit analysis and the like) I plumped for book cover design and that led me down a little book-design-reminiscence and that led me back to Linda Huang.

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    “Hello, my name is Benjamin, but friends call me Benji,” begins the editor’s letter in the first edition of Benji Knewman, a new printed publication with the tagline “life that you can read.” Benji Knewman’s tone is so warm and inviting and tinged with the accent of its native Latvia that we can’t decide whether Benji’s a real life contributor (he’s listed as editor-at-large on the masthead) or a fictional construct created to lure us in. If it’s the former, we apologise for doubting you Benji, but if it’s the latter, it’s working marvellously.

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    A couple of weeks back a parcel containing the newest issue of The Pendulum made its way through our door, leading us haphazardly but happily to the website of its creator, Liana Jegers. Chicago-based artist Liana is an illustrator as well as a co-ordinator of printed imagery, and her Tumblr is full of snippets of sketches in progress which stand up admirably on their own.

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    At last month’s Nicer Tuesdays we were joined by photographer Dan Tobin Smith who talked us through his extraordinary London Design Festival installation of colour-coded clutter called The First Law Of Kipple. “LDF is always about new things – a slightly different kind of chair – so it was interesting to extend it to things that are kind of useless,” Dan explained. He talked us through his inspirations rooted in an interest in the laws of thermodynamics, and the practical considerations such as drawing up a definitive definition of what actually constituted kipple. But at its heart the piece had very universal appeal – “We can all relate to this idea of stuff,” Dan said.