Article Archive

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    Fantastic mix this week from London mix-merchants Shock World Service. “I find it difficult to sum up what the podcast is,” says creator Jon Averill. “On one hand the Shock World Service is just another mixtape. On the other it is more music and sound collage, music and spoken word interwoven with sounds and dialogue recorded around the city – best suited for long train journeys or flights, ideally late at night and played loudly on headphones.”

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    “AMERICA: Who Stole The Dream?” reads a poster in the newsroom of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Amid towering piles of papers and notepads, styrofoam coffee cups and creaking, half-broken office chairs, this is the question asked by photographer and writer Will Steacy.

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    Here at It’s Nice That we spend an awful lot of time talking about, thinking about and writing about creatives but ultimately we don’t get too many chances to really see what goes on in their day-to-day working lives…until now. Our new collaboration with super-cool eyewear brand Ace & Tate – who believe in great design and ultimate customer choice – is taking us inside the studios, and inside the minds, of a host of some of our favourite creatives.

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    If Quentin Tarantino made ads, they’d look like this. The scene is a dark, chintzy bar. Our protagonist wears a studded denim jacket and glitzy gold earrings. There’s a song in the background about Little Red Riding Hood, and I think we all know who’s the Big Bad Wolf.

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    Regardless of how much we love an epic view I imagine the majority of us will never climb Mount Everest, the 8,848 metre high mountain in the Himalayas which is home to one of the most incredible viewing points in the world. Fortunately for us there are web developers out there who can create simulations which are basically as good as the real thing. Almost.

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    A sincere, golden corner of the internet here: The Datamath Calculator Museum. The online museum is a historic, matter-of-fact and outrageously in-depth look at the history of calculators in the modern world. Remember the first time that a “scientific calculator” appeared on your back-to-school list? This trove will take you hurtling back to sitting in double maths using that very machine to write “boobless” (80087355) over and over again until the bell rang.

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    I’m not sure what it is about the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague that means it spews out so much creative talent at such an alarming rate, but it certainly doesn’t show any sign of stopping soon. Here’s an example; Marinus Schepen hasn’t even graduated from his Graphic Design studies there just yet, but the work he’s creating is of such a calibre that we can’t help but share it any how.

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    Considering it had been a while since I had had a proper delve through this great guy’s portfolio, revisiting his site was a refreshing reminder of just how talented Gwendal Le Bec really is. Sometimes people can be frowned upon for aping or mimicking a style from someone else but in Gwendal’s case it’s different as he successfully takes elements from all the most infamous illustrators of times gone by and adds them to his own style.

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    I’ve rarely spent as much time on an artist’s site as I did on Pooneh’s when first stumbling across it. Scrolling through her reams and reams of photographs is akin to waking up at a festival and trying to piece together flashbacks of the night before like some sort of stained, star-studded puzzle.

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    Hello and welcome to Studio Audience, the It’s Nice That podcast. This week the host is Liv Siddall and she’s joined by Maisie Skidmore and James Cartwright – The Triad. Wherever you listen to us, on the bus, the toilet or a whim, we hope you enjoy our cultural chit chat. You can listen via the SoundCloud below or subscribe via iTunes over here.

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    Taking on the art direction of a musical installation touring about British woodlands sounds like a somewhat complex task. To be honest, I wasn’t sure what a musical installation set amongst trees would even involve. I assumed it wasn’t anything to do with singing pixies.

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    There can be no question that ballet is one of the most enrapturing art forms out there, but I sometimes wonder if the archetypal representation of the dance as graceful, pristine and effortless quite does justice to the physicality of it. How refreshing is it to watch a short film about a ballerina, that doesn’t airbrush over the fingerprints on the mirror, the beads of sweat on the shoulder blades, the tremble of a lip as a dancer exhales?

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    Palm Springs-based photographer Brian Pescador is leading a double life. By day he makes his living chopping locks and trimming beards as a travelling barber, and by night (also quite often during the day, but presumably when he’s not cutting hair) he’s an incredibly talented photographer. Naturally as a resident of the Coachella Valley, he’s got a wealth of stunning scenery to go out and shoot whenever he sees fit, but the best of his photography marries the people and places of his homeland into an idyllic portrait of youthful hedonism.

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    Unless you’ve recently relocated from a teeny tiny little hut atop a snowy, sheep-covered mountain miles from the nearest village, you probably know that the Edinburgh Festival Fringe is on. It’s only the world’s biggest arts festival, after all. What you might not know is how it all began. Back in 1947, when corned beef was still a dietary staple and your granny was grateful for her bread and dripping sandwiches, eight rogue theatre troops gatecrashed the Edinburgh International Festival. These unofficial performers staged shows on the outskirts of the festival, and so “the fringe” was born.

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    You know those CDs of whale music you can buy at the tills in garden centres? If, rather than listening to those, everybody in need of a couple of minutes of downtime halfway through the afternoon could just take the time to watch The Ridge, the world would be much, much better place. It’s kind of a spectacular bit of filmmaking; filmed for Camp4 Collective in Denali National Park, Alaska, the camera sweeps across mountains buried in fluffy snow, rocky ridges brandishing over barren expanses of white and mountain faces that look curiously like old men’s faces (watch out for the moustachioed bloke at 1.40).

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    This month we are joined by four creatives who are exploring the art of storytelling in unique and inspiring ways.

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    This identity that design studio Bleed have created for a new office building called Monier in Oslo, Norway, is heavily founded on the principles of the building itself, as well as the history of the site it has been built on. The idea for the logo is derived from the building’s three different window shapes, the studio explains, which are a key aspect of the building’s cubistic architecture.

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    The curious work of Corinne Day seems to rear its ever-appealing head every now and again, just to remind us of a time gone by that we weren’t part of, and will never fully understand. Gaining worldwide notoriety with her famous, career-making shots of a teen Kate Moss on Camber Sands for The Face, Corinne’s groundbreaking photographs of quintessentially British, black-soled urchins were to become stuff of legend. Contrived shoots of hired models were never her thing, instead Corinne lifted her lens to those closest to her – the ones doing the washing up, smoking fags out of windows, watching telly. The fact that all her friends were rebellious models was just a bonus.

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    This week editor James Cartwright wonders whether it was right to remove the Chapman Brothers’ controversial sculpture Piggyback from a Roman gallery or whether it’s an affront to creative freedoms. As ever your comments are welcome below…

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    Next up in the talks from our travel-themed Nicer Tuesdays is reportage illustrator Olivier Kugler. Olivier was hooked on drawing since receiving a Tintin book when he was seven, although his dad’s attempts to encourage him to sketch outdoors came up against his desire “only to draw superheroes.” Now Olivier has established a practice for creating compelling visual narratives which use individuals’ lives to tell bigger stories. “I don’t draw spectacular things but I love little details,” Olivier said, and you could see that in the way his pen picked out the Pope calendar in the flat of a former Mafia boss, or the heartbreaking trivialities in a refugee camp.

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    It’s plain to see that Lee Marshall’s artwork is a product of the digital age; his smooth gradients, vectorised objects and figures apparently created in an early version of Corel Draw all evoke the atmosphere of an abstract digital landscape. But Lee’s creations all exist in the real world as paintings, drawings and sculptures, bringing a unique physicality to environments we’d expect to experience on a flat screen. The Norwich School of Art graduate has been perfecting this signature style since his student days, but with an ever-increasing list of group and solo shows to his name we’re expecting more great things from Lee over the coming months and years.

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    We’ve been harping on about what a terrific illustrator, and all-round cheery chap Ryan Gillett is for quite some time now, and it seems people have been taking notice. Ryan now counts the likes of Virgin, The Sunday Times, Anorak and Smith Journal among his many clients, who keep him busy at all hours on commissioned projects. It’s not hard to see why either; Ryan’s cheerful scenes made with the sensibilities of a traditional print-maker ought to excite even the most severe clients. But he still finds time to do the nice things that remind us what a stand-up guy he is; like producing screen printed postcards to send out to all his fans (including us). When they arrived the other week they brightened up our days, and also made us realise it was about time to praise Ryan once again…

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    There are several times in your life when you look quite ridiculous and have no choice but to embrace it; at the dentist, with a mouthful of rubber glove and some green gunge, for example, or when you’re playing Twister and you have to stretch from one end of the mat to the other with a single left foot. When you come out the end of a water slide is a pretty solid one too, as Krista Long points out; you’re too busy trying to retrieve your bikini bottoms from where they’ve disappeared to without swallowing vast amounts of pool water to even think twice about what you’re doing with your face. (Hint, you look hilarious.)

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    ‘Tis the mating season! Let us breed! Summer is HOT, and not just in terms of the weather. Everyone looks great in summer with their shiny hair, tanned skin and lack of layers – people you didn’t look twice at in winter are now incredibly alluring, which is why there are so many babies born in winter. Seed Animation Studio are in on this notion, and have made a somewhat steamy little animation entitled Cream Tease – a scintillating series of moving images that lead up to a summer twist to cool you off before you pop. If this was an actual film it probably wouldn’t be allowed on It’s Nice That, hence the beauty of animation. Nice one Seed Studio, phew!

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    There’s a reason behind the popular notion that black and white photography makes people appear better looking – it’s true. Not saying for a minute mind you that the girls that Jeff Boudreau has photographed of late aren’t some of the most beautiful, dewy creatures walking the earth, but there is a certain charm about their monochromatic portraits that you perhaps wouldn’t get with colour film. Jeff is from Florida but now lives and works in London, filling his days with editorial fashion shoots and advertising briefs. This latest personal series compares his subjects to wild flowers in the dark – beautiful.

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    Thank God for Laura Callaghan! In an illustrated world saturated with images of pretty girls sweetly baking cupcakes, making daisy crowns and chasing after boys, she injects a much-needed dose of the sinister femme fatale. Her characters have undercuts and piercings instead of being clad head to toe in lace, they read lesbian magazines instead of Vogue and they wear vials of their lovers’ blood round their necks. What more could you want from a role model?

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    With Richard Turley now utilising his skills for the betterment of MTV’s creative offering, Bloomberg Businessweek has been left in the hands of his two former proteges, Rob Vargas and Tracy Ma. Rob’s work is already pretty well known by devotees of the title, but Tracy’s is arguably the most experimental of anyone working for a global publication like Businessweek. Her use of layout and typography is arresting to the point of distraction, but is always used in a manner that serves the story first and foremost. Similarly her aesthetic choices often feel informed by a lifetime spent online, with brash colours, textures and stock imagery proliferating her spreads – which for a title that deals with the politics and economics of the digital age feels impeccably on point.

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    When you ask a couple of creatives who work in a former kindergarten in east Berlin (as we learned in an interview many moons ago) to show you their book collection, you hope to see some pretty cool and quirky publications. Doris and Daniel of Golden Cosmos have not let us down.

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    You know how it is; you’re filming your latest music video, taking instructions from cue cards administered by an overbearing director when suddenly he’s distracted and is no longer showing you what to do. Do you stop what you’re doing and risk looking like a chump or just keep on dancing until the next cue card flashes up? This is the great existential debate at the heart of Ninian Doff’s latest video for Peace, which sees him taking this line of inquiry to extremes; crashing cars and terrorising families in the process. Fun times!

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    I always find it quite beguiling to look at contemporary artwork which looks like it belongs to another time, and Emma Hartvig’s oddly captivating images are a prime example of this kind of displacement. Born in Sweden but based in London, Emma photographs nudes, somehow succeeding in imbuing the human form with all of the surreal static energy of a Vermeer painting. Her photographs are shot through with shimmering satin and velvet which serves to frame her subjects as though they were pieces of half-decayed fruit carefully laid out ready to paint. What’s more, she does all of this through photography, pushing her camera to function as though it were a set of oils. The result is impressive and quietly beautiful.

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    Sergio’s back, and he’s as good as ever. With new tour posters for the likes of Mac DeMarco and Future Islands and a bundle of personal work, we decided to whack him and his pointy-nosed people up on the site once again. Retro and somehow futuristic at the same time, his prints steer clear of twee although smiley, bouncy-haired characters abound. Their massive forearms and John Lennon glasses say “I’m clever and I work hard” in a way reminiscent of early communist posters, mixed with a touch of The New Yorker; what a brilliant combination. I love Summer, a print of a sunbather on a beach gazing into a snow globe. It might not have occurred to Spanish Sergio, but to me this seems like a brilliantly British reaction to too much sun.

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    Fantastic work here from Lyon’s boundary-pushing designers Antoine Eckart and Francis Josserand, also know as Alles Gut. How do you say Alles Gut? Here at It’s Nice That we say it as if we’re saying “all’s good” in a funny European accent. Each to their own. Anyway, Alles Gut make the kinds of fliers, posters and small publications that we are totally into – sharp, well-considered colours and well thought-out references come together to make modern printed matter with quick-witted retro aesthetic references. Personal favourites? I’d say the posters for the HASTE parties – they really, really make you want to go to those parties.