Article Archive

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    Apologies if this is a slightly dismayed post, but upon thinking I had stumbled across a gem via Nieves’ announcement of some new zines I was excited to be the first to write about Keegan McHargue on It’s Nice That. Alas I was not, but it doesn’t mean that we can’t shout about his brilliance once more.

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    If, while walking down the street, flicking through a magazine or sitting on a bus recently you’ve found yourself looking at a movie poster, you’re probably in some way come into contact with the influence of Hans Hillmann. When the German graphic artist began producing film posters in 1953 at the height of the Modernist era, few realised he’d have such a profound effect on the industry, but his bold, Minimalist-inspired creations set a new standard for .

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    We’ve been posting music-related art and design articles on It’s Nice That since the very beginning. In fact the first music video ever posted on It’s Nice That is this one by Koichiro Tsujikawa back in May 2007. Since then we’ve covered countless festival posters and identities, record sleeves, band logos, ad campaigns and tour photography amongst pretty much every other kind of music-related content you can think of, barring only reviewing music itself.

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    The best of J.G. Ballard’s fiction is incredibly divisive. On the one hand readers are often disgusted by his brutality; an unparalleled ability to paint a picture of the world that is at once alluring and repulsive. On the other, devotees love that about him. As a result he encourages a near-obsessive loyalty among fans, for a body of work so distinct it’s been awarded its own adjective by the Oxford English Dictionary.

  5. Haim

    This is great! Haim have actually had a really great back catalogue of videos so far, proving to everyone that this medium is still mega-important as to how a band is seen (Metronomy also do this well). Now I may not recognise many (any) of the trendy music names that star in this video, but what I do know a lot about is chat shows. The whole video is a pastiche of ubiquitous telly fodder like Jerry Springer, Jeremy Kyle and Oprah – the gross chairs, beige set-design and on-screen graphics that remind you of Saved by the Bell that we all know and love.

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    Photographer Viviane Sassen has crafted an aesthetic which operates way beyond the traditional confines of her medium. She’s previously made work which would be considered fashion photography, for example, but in which the clothes featured never seem to be the driving force behind the image. Similarly, her latest series Axiom toys with notions of light, colour and illusion in a way which seems to lean towards graphic art, but each image meshes the three elements together so effortlessly that you scarcely have time to ponder the idea behind it.

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    It’s been nearly a year now since Breaking Bad ended although its die-hard fans remain evangelical in explaining to literally anybody how they really should have seen it by now. Maybe this will distract them for a while, as Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul have reunited for this super six-minute promo to mark Audi’s sponsorship of Monday’s Emmy Awards. We find the duo running a slightly creepy pawn shop where they encounter Veep star Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who is trying to pawn her Emmy statuette after drunkenly buying an island because she was jealous of Celine Dion. There are lots of nicely sly nods to the pair’s previous incarnation, the merits of supporting actors and comedy vs drama, and there are (so I am told) a few neat Breaking Bad in-jokes too. The high-production values help of course but it’s the script that sets this apart.

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    In an untidy apartment in Milan, a lion roars. Nearby, an armadillo sniffs a pile of papers. An ibex is fed up; he can’t see very well for all the bubble wrap around his head. But these aren’t escapees from the zoo; they’re a failed diorama.

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    Google Jack Kerouac’s The Dharma Bums and almost every book cover design that appears either depicts someone hitchhiking or it has the aesthetic of a grotty travel diary of someone who’s been “finding themselves” along a motorway for a month or two too long. Kerouac’s novels don’t even need covers, right? They’re stand-alone pieces of literary genius. Big applause is needed then for Copenhagen designer Torsten Lindsø Andersen who has taken the rulebook of second-rate Kerouac book design and thrown it out the train window on to the track where it belongs. These ambient, sterile designs he’s proposed for the author’s back catalogue are the perfect fit to the words within: weird, unpredictable, drunk and unique.

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    They don’t come much sharper than Sara Andreasson, the Swedish illustrator who was on the site back in March but who has posted so much new work on her website that we see fit to feature her again already. The Swede has been hard at work, creating commissions for The Debrief, New York Times Magazine and Rolling Stone, toying with witty observations and reassuring block colour to demonstrate that she’s just as nimble whipping up images to suit a brief as she is with personal work. Her experiments with rasterisation and contrasting patterns are especially intriguing, hinting at a whole new technique which is ripe for exploration (and more of which can be seen of on her Tumblr.)

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    Hey there’s a big floppy pepperoni on that Palomino! Most days I’d find the idea of wasted pizza an atrocity not worthy of further promotion, but I guess this photo series is kind of different. In a somewhat strange diversion from his otherwise rather professional work, this photographer has chosen to take countless pizzas into the great outdoors and capture them against the backdrop of the natural world. Jonpaul Douglass, whose name is a little like someone drunkenly writing John Paul Douglas, has snapped the humble pizza on sun loungers, in bushes, draped over basketball hoops, and even clinging for dear life over the barrel of a military tank. Why is this good? It just is; the quality of the photos is terrific, and ten extra points to Jonpaul who braved looking mega-weird in public to get these shots.

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    London-based photographer Catherine Losing is exactly our cup of tea; working with the crème de la crème of collaborators from set designers to food stylists, she takes photographs which are colourful, dynamic, bold and immediately recognisable. Unsurprisingly then, her bookshelf is among the very best-stocked of them all, complete with Martin Creed, Barbara Hepworth and Toilet Paper magazine, and most importantly they’re all seriously well-thumbed and chockablock with Post-its.

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    Circular is the members magazine of the Typographic Circle, a not-for-profit organisation that unites type designers and enthusiasts the world over. Included in its members’ list are names like Ken Garland, Angus Hyland and Jonathan Barnbrook, so the design of each issue HAS to be up to scratch. For its 18th edition the mighty Pentagram have continued their design duties, with Dominic Lippa and Jeremy Kunze overseeing the project.

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    I am a big believer that every magazine should be able to sum up what it does in a few words. New title The-Art-Form does just that with the pithy statement that it’s “a limited edition publication about art and artists.” Issue one features six artists – Ian Davenport, Peter Liversidge, Rana Begum, Dan Baldwin, Michael Reisch and Paul Insect – and each has been asked 13 questions ranging from why they make art to their favourite place. The answers vary not only in tone and subject matter (as you’d expect) but also in form, so while Ian has provided handwritten answers, Michael, Dan and Rana have created paintings, drawings and sketches in response to the questionnaire.

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    Julianna Brion is an editorial illustrator whose diverse portfolio houses projects for a bunch of fortunate clients. Like most creatives who make commissioned work though, when she’s not drawing to a brief she’s filling sketchbook after sketchbook with scrapbook-like doodles which are as beautiful, if not more so, than her finished images. Reclining figures, pastel dogs, picture-perfect houses and foliage all feature, rendered in a rainbow of acrylic paints and sketchy pencil. For me, looking at the sketchbook of a successful illustrator is kind of like peeping into the messy bedroom of an impossibly well-coiffed, super dapper gent. And who doesn’t like to be nosy?

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    Over the last few weeks we have been exploring how Shillington College are revolutionising design education through their own model of practically-focused graphic design tuition. We talked to the teachers about how they put together this new kind of course and to those employers who have found the college to be an invaluable resource of young design talent. To round off this series of features, we went along to the London Graduation Show a few weeks ago to chat to some of the students about their experiences, so rather than hear it from us, best hit play and hear it straight from them…

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    Next up in out travel themed Nicer Tuesdays talks is Chris Coe, who founded Travel Photographer of the Year “after a day of frustration talking to commissioning editors who were only interested in bog-standard photography.” He explained how the award has grown massively over the past 12 years to the point that he now reviews around 20,000 annual submissions and nearly 50,000 people saw the exhibition in London last year. He also showed that travel photography is “not just pretty pictures” but rather a broad spectrum “limited only by the scope of the photographer’s imagination.”

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    When I was a teenager I’d have given my right arm for patches emblazoned with the lyrics of my favourite songs. It was the height of cool to be covered in brightly-coloured band paraphernalia (or at least I thought so). German artist Selma Alaçam clearly thought so too as her latest project Heartstrings combines some of her favourite song lyrics from the likes of Fiona Apple and Depeche Mode. The seven woven rugs – based on the traditional kelim, native to Turkey – have been hand-embroidered with bold typographic verses, whose personal importance is known only to the artist. To the rest of us these embroideries are like beautifully ambiguous album covers, enticing you in with their bright, bold colours.

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    Collage is definitely up there amongst the plasticines and the papier machés on my list of top ten media, and this short animation by Amy Lockhart and Marc Bell only makes me like it even more. It was made a grand total of five years ago which is basically a lifetime in the online world, and though Amy is still busily animating, painting and drawing like nobody’s business this is still the film in her portfolio that I love the most.

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    Trust Helsinki-based illustration agency Agent Pekka to sign up some of the best illustration we’ve seen in a long while without so much as a cough to show it off! They’ve just added French illustrator Jean-Michel Tixier to their books, and he looks set to be an amazing addition.

  21. House-announcement

    Sound the conch folks, we have some exciting news from It’s Nice That HQ. We’re restructuring and expanding our team and so we have not one but two great opportunities to come and be part of our team.

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    It’s been a couple of years since we headed over to Sweden to celebrate the work of Stockholm studio Research and Development but in that time art directors Daniel Olsson and Jonas Topooco have kept the great work coming. They’re a versatile pair who pride themselves on working closely with their clients to produce design work that plays to their strengths without losing sight of the brief in a blaze of self-indulgence. Anyone who can make a publication for the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency look this interesting is always going to get in our good books.

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    Canadian-born photographer Stephanie Noritz lives and works in New York where she freelances for the likes of Monocle, Bloomberg Businessweek, Dazed and Confused and New York Magazine amongst others. Her imagery is defined by sharp lighting, relaxed atmosphere and – most importantly – a youthful subject matter – whether that’s kids skating vert ramps or fast-paced little league games.

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    Happy-go-lucky party animal Ewen Spencer is responsible for taking some of the most nostalgic series of photographs of partying we’ve ever come across. He made it his business to attend every underground rave or “it” place to be for the last 20 years or so, and has subsequently given much pleasure to members of the public who, for one reason or another, struggle to remember exactly what these places were actually like. As something of a hero of subculture, we were keen to ask Ewen about his favourite music video. It’s not a rare grime track or a blurry UK hip hop banger, it’s actually just a really lovely song by R.E.M.

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    When it comes to brightly-coloured multimedia creations Mike Perry is king, and as far as we’re concerned there’s little chance of anybody threatening to knock him off his throne any time soon. As if to strengthen his case, he’s just made My Mother Caught Me Doodling, a 160 page hardback celebration of the female form, which sees Mike create tribute after tribute to ladies. Naked ladies.

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    Five years ago when we first discovered Swiss designer Mathias Schweizer (thanks to Côme de Bouchony) he was an incredibly elusive fellow, with no online presence to speak of and little work to be found anywhere on the internet. Since then he’s been nothing short of prolific, producing exhibition identities, posters, publications, typefaces, solo and group shows as well as out and out experimental pieces. In fact the one thing that seems to define his work is experimentation; with classic design rules broken all over the place in his vast portfolio.

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    Anyone who designs a clock that reminds you to “have a nice day” must be a good person, and it turns out Joe Cole Porter is not just nice, he’s also incredibly good at what he does. His work is the perfect balance of well-informed and actually fun. How many times have you watched through your fingers at corporate brands trying to be fun and ending up just being boring with a healthy dose of wacky? Exactly. They should take a leaf out of Joe’s book and produce design that is cheerful and colourful but intelligent enough to get the job done at the same time – a bit like a friendly builder, or a cheeky plumber. Some of Joe’s most exciting stuff is his record sleeve design, and we hope to see a little more of that in the future.

  28. Weekender-list

    If you’re old enough to remember Friday evening trips to Blockbuster with the babysitter (there was none of this Netflix malarkey for us 80s and 90s kids) you’ll remember the excitement of scanning the shelves, a bag of buttery popcorn and a bottle of coke bigger than your torso clutched in hand. Think of the Weekender as the equivalent of the wet-yourself-in-terror scary horror film that you managed to pass off in the Pingu video case; a bit unnecessary, occasionally hilarious but on the whole, entirely worth it. Here it is! Have a good’un.

  29. Thingslist

    Well, well, well, what have we got here? Only a whole bunch of really rather scrumptious things. Miss May Van Millingen has done some gorgeous illustrations of little beasties and nobbly pumpkins, while our friend Tom Sewell personally delivered a psychedelic print which is brightening up the studio. Somewhat more stormy is Alex Booker’s print of a ship stuck out at sea, which looks like an adventure worthy of Ernest Shackleton. As for books, we’ve got our mitts on a copy of Grayson Perry’s latest, which is a guide to getting your noodle around what the heck modern art is all about, and a fun children’s book which is an adventure in colour. That’s what I call a cracking collection.

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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.