Article Archive

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    What a podcast this week! Rob’s away, so the kids’ table that is Liv Siddall, Maisie Skidmore and James Cartwright reigns supreme! This week we chew the fat by way of Iggy Pop’s John Peel Lecture about the state of the music industry, and the treasure-packed spectacle that is Frieze London and Frieze Masters 2014.

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    As part of our Back To School month we wanted to make sure that we took the temperature of design education around the world and not just to here in the UK. Next week we’ll be focussing on creative education in the USA but here we’re looking at the challenges facing design schools in Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands and Switzerland. We’ve opened comments too so you can agree, disagree or let us know about the lie of the land in your country…

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    Victoria Siddall has worked at Frieze for just over a decade and two years ago was made Director of Frieze Masters. Excitingly, just a few weeks ago she was appointed Director of Frieze Masters, Frieze New York and Frieze London. As well as being one of the most powerful women in the art world, Victoria is also my sister, so I was curious to find out how she’s feeling on the dawn of her new career.

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    Since 2011 Catalogue have operated a design studio between London and Leeds, creating branding, exhibition design and print products for an incredible collection of cultural clients. They’ve handled Yorkshire’s excellent Beacons Festival, popped up at Beach London, branded a tape-only record label and made British brand The National Skateboard Co. look seriously respectable. All great pieces of work.

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    Full disclosure before I say anything about this new app: I’m terrible – TERRIBLE – at managing my personal finances. Wages come in at the start of the month, I pay my rent, bills and council tax and then I try not to look at my bank account until the next pay day. Sometimes there’s a couple of quid left, mostly I’ve plundered the depths of my overdraft. So I had a look at Pennies with a great deal of skepticism; it’s going to take more than an app to sort my money out.

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    Art in Film is the kind of online resource you don’t imagine is likely to come in especially handy in your life, but you find yourself scrolling through transfixed anyway. Run on a submissions basis by its curator Martin Cole, the set pulls together every imaginable example of an artwork (real or imaginary) included in film or on TV, from the famous scene at the potter’s wheel in Ghost to Lisa admiring Matisse’s Cut Outs in The Simpsons.

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    Imagine a dream world in which the heavy task of town planning was given over to the artists and creatives whose visions could ignite the city and bring out its most defining features. Some cities in the world are known for their cultural heritage: Nantes wasn’t one of these until 15 years ago, and since then it’s been a slow burn fuelled by the imagination of a group of risk-takers coralled by French public art impressario Jean Blaise and his curator David Moinard.

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    CANADA are the epitome of supercool; everything our favourite Barcelona-based filmmakers and producers touch turns to chic, so it’s time the rest of us just put down our on-trend moccasins, blacked-out sunglasses and tiny man-buns and just let them get on with it. What better way to retire our cool-hunting ways than to watch the collective’s latest short, Laberinto (Labyrinth), directed by Marc Oller, which sees the classic love story of a boy chasing an aloof girl played out sublimely.

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    It’s been a while since we last checked in with Stockholm-based Bedow studio but there’s a host of new work to enjoy over on their site as ever. I was particularly drawn to their ongoing collaboration with Essem Design, “a Swedish manufacturer of artisanal hallway interiors.” Bedow used a refreshingly straightforward way in to what might seem like rather a niche product, building an identity around the Swedish words for “hello” and “goodbye” – the utterances most commonly heard in a hallway.

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    Unless you have self-consciously wacky parents, it’s likely you’ll have met someone with the same name first name as you. When you’re younger this can make you feel a less special but these days we just have to grin and bear it. The commonality of first names is a theme Tim Morris has focused on in his George series, which brilliantly catalogues famous Georges in visual form.

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    Forget what you think you know about surfing; the “gnarly dudes” on the hunt for “tubular waves” (I’m basing most of this language on Sean Penn’s character in Fast Times At Ridgemont High, but you catch my drift). Finisterre’s latest surf film is more in line with Jonathan Glazer’s legendary Guinness ad than any piece of footage you’re likely to see for O’Neill or Billabong. For one thing it’s not set in an exotic location – there are no bikini-clad babes – as they’ve traded warmer waters for the icy depths off the coasts of northern Scotland and Ireland.

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    As the man who gave form to the twisted genius of Hunter S. Thompson, British illustrator’s Ralph Steadman’s latest project seems like a perfect fit. Ralph has worked with Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan to illustrate some limited-edition Blu-Ray covers for a special boxset of the series due out early next year.

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    This week Rob Alderson reflects on an interesting blog by Chloe Markowicz which suggests that people are ashamed to call what they do advertising. As ever you can join the debate and add your comments using the discussion thread below.

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    Mr Bingo is the master of Hate Mail and endless sarcastic humour delivered in intricately rendered illustration, so naturally he was an obvious choice to invite to contribute to our School Drawings feature in our Back to School Month. He did not disappoint. Back when he was a kid, his drawings consisted mainly of slow sadistic punishments delivered to long-suffering characters, complete with a running narrative in speech bubble form – “I’ve been in this cube for 13 years now, I’m a little cramped” for example – and they’re absolutely bloody brilliant. Here’s Bingo on the characters he used to draw, his favourites and the themes you can spot here that still resonate in his work today.

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    This month’s Nicer Tuesdays will tackle the subject of art, bringing together four speakers who will each describe a different stage in the art process from education and research to curation and finally publication.

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    In the design world, the brief plays many different roles – ubiquitous, all-important, loathed, misunderstood; it can be a starting point, a back-up and a battleground. And yet we don’t often hear that much about the brief and its place in the creative industry – enter design strategy firm Bassett & Partners. Posing the question “if every project starts with a brief, why aren’t there more projects that end up with exceptional results?” the San Francisco-based company have tried to rectify this imbalance with their interesting short film Briefly.

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    “Churn out” always sounds like a derisive expression when referring to exceptional creative work, but the prolific nature of some studios means it’s the only one I like to use use to conjure up the relentless mechanical precision with which these studios proceed – and I definitely don’t mean it derisively. And so to Praline, the products of whose churning we’re here to admire.

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    Producing graphic collateral for one of the world’s largest international contemporary art fairs is a brief that would have some graphic design studios quaking in their boots, but when London-based Studio Frith was approached by Frieze Art Fair they accepted with relish.

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    All too often these days we stumble across a jaw-dropping example of set design, only to discover the impressive final image is actually the result of some clever visual trickery and digital manipulation. That’s an impressive art unto itself, don’t get me wrong, but pure CGI can leave me feeling a little shortchanged.

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    At last month’s photography-themed Nicer Tuesdays we were thrilled to welcome Harry Hardie, photography lecturer at the University of Westminster and founder of Here Press, whose mission he explained is “to make concept albums in book form. We like to find projects that are really problematic and try to make sense of them.”

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    People try for decades to become “good” designers, but sometimes your mate’s Dad can pull something out of the bag that trumps your every effort. Frustrated at the time it takes to build and launch paper planes, this man used cutting-edge 3D-printing technology to create a machine that does the hard work for you. Just when you think the design of the plane-wielding machine doesn’t look too exciting, he turns it upside down to reveal the intricate workings inside. How fantastic to see someone put 3D-printing to a unique and very silly use, rather than making something we’ve all seen before.

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    “In February 2013, 18 weeks pregnant, I was diagnosed with bowel cancer.” That’s the opening statement on the website of graphic novelist Matilda Tristram, who channeled this painful chapter of her life into a bestselling comic entitled Probably Nothing. We interviewed Matilda a while back on the site and were so intrigued by her story, we had to know more. In this revealing, insightful Bookshelf, Matilda shows us the fantastic books that have inspired her to be one of the most important and engaging graphic novelists working today. Here she is…

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    Our month of Back To School features is on a bit of a roll now and we’ve found there’s a particular appetite for advice from creatives who have been there, done that and maybe even got the t-shirt! So following on from last week’s feature with Sagmeister, Carol Morley, Johnny Kelly and Jon Burgerman, here’s more pearls of wisdom from Maggie Li, Scott King, Craig Ward and Bart Hess…

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    Self-proclaimed “Charlie Bucket lookalike” Stuart Heritage is one of the It’s Nice That team’s favourite writers. Working primarily for The Guardian, Stu’s now famous live-blogs embrace television black-holes such as The X Factor, First Dates and Gogglebox and put a carefree, humorous spin on footage that could otherwise make you lose faith in mankind. His observational humour is what’s got him where he is today, so we knew he’d be the perfect candidate to speak tellingly bout his days as a wide-eyed, floppy-haired Fresher. To read more of Stu’s writing, you can find it over here.

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    For graphic design types, the opportunity to run wild with a printer’s various techniques is pretty much the dream brief, and Mexican agency Anagrama have well and truly lived that dream. They were one of seven agencies studios invited to create a notebook with Imprimerie du Marais, and they were given free rein to experiment with effects like hot foil stamping, microembossing, silk screening and sewn binding.

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    The Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern has an incredible presence when it’s void of installations, which is what’s so wonderful about the huge enclosed space. As much as I admire the vast emptiness though, it’s even more exciting when a piece of work is placed in the hall and interrupts the vacuum. Opening today, American sculptor Richard Tuttle is the latest commissioned artist to show his work in the space and his 24ft sculpture certainly makes an impact.

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    Guillermo Del Toro usually associates himself with the darker side of filmmaking, but the Mexican director and producer has just finished work on an altogether more upbeat and life-affirming movie. The Book Of Life follows the story of Manolo, a young man caught in the middle of a wager between two deities who must embark on an epic adventure in order to see the woman he loves again.

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    When David Mckendrick told us he was leaving Esquire and setting hop a new venture with Wallpaper* art director Lee Belcher, we were fascinated to see what the fruits of such a top-notch collaboration might look like. Last week we got our answer, when a copy of the new Christie’s magazine came dropping through our letterbox.

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    Most of merely dabble in the world of fashion and recycle what little knowledge we have by saying phrases like “yah that’s so hot right now.” But recycle no more as SHOWstudio will be your fashion education forevermore.

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    Having just re-read Sammy Harkham’s 2012 anthology of short stories Everything Together I was stupidly excited to find out he’s just got himself on Tumblr and uploaded a small but growing archive of work both old and new. Included in among old covers of Kramers Ergot, book jackets for Kafka anthologies, Bonnie Prince Billy album covers and bits and pieces of rejected work are original drawings from his ongoing graphic novel (and surely future masterpiece) Blood of the Virgin, which he’s also selling to fund further work on the project. I for one cannot wait to see this project massive volume finally realised. Keep at it Sammy!

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    Gothenburg’s Goat are probably one of the most interesting bands out there at the moment. Their infectious fusion of world music, psych and heavy rock has captured the imagination of a now massive fan base, and their live performances are notoriously theatrical; the whole band costumed and gyrating like some kind of ancient Dionysian cult. Their music videos are pretty nuts too.

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    This top image by New York-based illustrator Karan Singh caught my eye on purely aesthetic grounds; it was only when I delved a little deeper that I discovered the interesting story behind the work. Karan was one of several artists commissioned by Ogilvy New York to work on the IBM US Open Sessions, whereby LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy created a series of tracks based on data gathered at the tennis tournament.