Article Archive

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    You’ll probably gather form the title that Printing Friends magazine is all about litho fanatics hanging out and inspiring creative work, but for its seventh issue it’s widened its remit to tackle more universal and accessible themes like illustration, photography, typography and personal stories. It’s also travel-themed, meaning they’ve sent gangs of creatively-minded people off around the world to visit lands as far-flung as Austin, Texas, Johannesburg in South Africa and even Kyrgyzstan. Annoyingly Printing Friends is in Swedish so we don’t have a god-damned clue what happened on these trips, so instead we’d like to focus on Snask, whose design expertise has shaped the look and feel of this new edition.

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    We often find ourselves discussing the role, and lack of women in the world of graphic design. Rather than try and cackhandedly work it out for ourselves we decided to ask someone at the frontline of the issue to help explain it. Rebecca Wright is programme director of graphic communication design at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London. With Lucienne Roberts, she is also co-founder of GraphicDesign&, a pioneering publishing house exploring the relationship between graphic design and the wider world, and the value that it brings. GraphicDesign& will be launching a survey for graphic designers in early 2015 as part of a new project which uses social science to look at who graphic designers are and how they work.

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    Moving pictures and music are a simple, universal pleasure, which is probably why I’m so drawn to Drew Tyndall’s series of animations, Loops.

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    Where some printed publications shy away from British culture as it exists beyond Union Jack flags and Yorkshire tea in floral china, LAW Magazine, which stands for Lives and Works is already knee-deep in the grit and the grime. Now in its fifth issue, the staple-bound bi-annual describes itself as a platform for “the beautiful everyday… A window into the world of the current undercurrent that nobody is catching and which is therefore of greater importance to document.” It’s a kind of Britishness so ubiquitous that you’d have to be wandering the streets with your head in a bag to miss it – one defined by full-suspension mountain bikes, Sunday League referees, Hackney estate maps and Vauxhall Novas.

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    Cycling magazine Rouleur has always been about much more than spokes and lycra. The publication – which in 2012 released previously unseen photographs by Henri Cartier-Bresson – boasts a considered design aesthetic and stunning imagery, and is now celebrating the launch of its 50th issue with a cover designed by Sir Paul Smith. To mark this milestone, Rouleur’s assistant editor Andy McGrath talks us through some of his favourite cover images and the stories behind them.

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    Pentagram partner Michael Bierut and designer Aron Fay have designed a new identity for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab, creating this striking, labyrinth-like look that brilliantly communicates the faculty’s “anti-disciplinary” approach.

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    I’m happy to admit that after watching all three minutes and 47 seconds of Stevie Gee’s new music video for Archie Bronson Outfit, my computer desktop is littered with so many screenshots of boobs, beers and motorbikes in psychedelic hues that I can scarcely find anything else. And the thing is I don’t even mind.

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    Head down to Southwark Street just south of the River Thames, and you’ll find Alex Chinneck’s large-scale project, A pound of flesh for 50p. Starting as a life-size two-storey house made out of 8,000 wax bricks, the sculpture will eventually be a mess of rooftop and melted wax come mid-November.

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    This is nuts. When you thought OK GO couldn’t do any better in one take than their last, famed effort then think again. The foursome are back with one of the most staggering efforts in the history of music videos, this time set in some sort of airport where the gang ride around on electronic unicycles popping umbrellas with about 1000 extras to form kaleidoscopic patterns when shot from above. The jaw dropping first few minutes is totally trumped in the last minute where the whole formation quadruples in size leaving you with your jaw resting on the desk in front of you. Unreal.

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    Berlin-based design studio Edenspiekermann has just completed work on an impressive new digital publishing platform called Blloon that offers a subscription service for eBooks in a similar format to Spotify’s music service. The studio was given complete creative freedom to produce the UX and UI of the product as well as the branding itself, giving a beautifully coherent feel to the final result.

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    Although I read the comic before I saw the movie, Terry Zwigoff’s adaptation of Art School Confidential came out the year I was heading off on my own art school journey and so acted as a kind of preliminary guide to what I should expect from the experience. Although I didn’t burn down the houses of any murderous artists, fall desperately in love with the life drawing model (he was a chain-smoking guitarist who wore a too-short silk dressing gown) or have a string of one-night stands with emotionally unstable classmates, there were certainly some lessons learned from Jerome, Audrey and co that proved invaluable in the months preceding my enrolment, even if some of them turned out not to be true. Here they are in no particular order.

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    Several artists have attempted to respond to the nude photo scandal, in which private photographs of a number of celebrities were hacked from Apple’s iCloud software and leaked on sites like 4chan and Reddit earlier this year, but few have had any success in harnessing the sense of shock and the eery echo of “have you seen them?” which rippled through the internet in the aftermath.

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    There are moments in life when Abba really seem to speak to us. Not just in how the band really seems to get how it feels to be seeing the winner smugly taking it all, or to be terribly grateful for the music, but in the literal sense that they’re actually talking to us. This nonsense is all now a reality thanks to the superb video for beatboxer Roy Kafri’s single Mayokero that’s been doing the internet rounds for a few days.

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    A couple of weeks ago as part of our Back to School month of features, we heard from various creatives about how they saw art and design schools around Europe. The piece added some useful context about the strengths of creative education in Germany, Switzerland, The Netherlands and Ireland, as well as the challenges facing art schools in those countries.

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    What do I love most about the work of Irkus M Zeberio? Oh, thanks for asking. I think it’s probably the sheer irreverence present in each piece of ink on paper. The Basque Country-based illustrator has an extraordinary knack for creating bewitchingly chaotic scenes that demonstrate the most base human desires, combined with an energetic, frenetic drawing style that keeps my eyes flicking rapidly across pages of his work. In terms of narrative, Irkus predominantly creates comics and images that maintain the sensibilities of a sci-fi-obsessed teenage boy with a burgeoning porn collection; there’s vicious she-beasts devouring the heads of their lovers, nudism in space, penis sketches hidden in random places and an abundance of curvaceous bottoms – the kind of stuff that would seem trivial if it wasn’t supported by some wickedly funny story lines. How we’ve not featured him before I’ll never know.

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    It’s a well-established fact that even the most conceptually exciting product designs can fall flat on their face if they’re photographed poorly. Imagery can often make or break these projects. And while of course this isn’t the be-all and end-all, it’s worth taking this part of the process seriously to maximise the chances of your work cutting through the noise.

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    When it comes to psychedelic album artwork, it sometimes feels like the very best might already be behind us – Wes Wilson, Mouse & Kelly and Rick Griffin already having worked through the golden era. There’s something reassuring about the knowledge that graphic designers are still looking for ways to incorporate psychedelic elements into their designs though, and French graphic artist Lucas Donaud is foremost amongst them.

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    Salvador Dalí is known for his striking Surrealist paintings, forays into film and fashion and masterful moustache maintenance but, until now, not for his gastronomic talents. Few copies of his 1973 cookbook Les Diners de Gala were ever sold; perhaps potential purchasers were worried the book might mess with their minds, or they didn’t fancy eating anything from the most French chapter imaginable – “Les spoutniks astiqués d’asticots statistisques” – dedicated to snails and frogs.

  19. 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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.