Article Archive

  1. List

    To anyone interested in graphic design it’s no great revelation that Swiss duo Ilg/Trüb produce great work. But even by the pair’s own high standards, this catalogue for artist Shezad Dawood’s first ever solo show at The Parasol Unit in London is a real winner. Shezad works “across film, painting and sculpture to juxtapose discrete systems of image, language, site and historical narrative” and so neither he, nor this exhibition are immediately easy to engage with. And yet the catalogue draws me in from the off with its intriguing cover, while the big, confident use of imagery – there are 90 full colour photographs – seems to open up Shezad’s practice in front of my very eyes. The book has a personality and a sense of playfulness that doesn’t always go hand-in-hand with the contemporary art world.

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    Thus far I don’t think Keaton Henson has ever released a video that I’ve not been completely captivated by. His William Williamson-directed film for 2012’s Sweetheart, What Have You Done To Us was about as scathingly intense as they come, and the 2013 follow-up, You, turned out to be a total tear-jerker too. So it shouldn’t surprise you that Keaton’s latest video for new track Healah Dancing is pretty heavy-going. From the outset it seems geared up for a violent and emotional climax, but the results are in fact much less predictable – but much more exciting – than that. Enjoy!

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    To say the last year or so has been tricky for Matilda Tristram would be a bit of an understatement; the comics artist, animator and illustrator was pregnant with her first baby when she was diagnosed with cancer, and what followed was terrifying, strange and at times funny too. Matilda recorded the nine months from gruelling start to the relief-inducing finish (at the risk of ruining the ending, she’s well! She has a lovely baby! He’s well too!) and now the whole shebang has been made into a beautiful book called Probably Nothing, published by Penguin.

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    Looking at Pawel Mildner’s illustrations is like going on a little adventure. A really fun one. Your imagination is invited into lunar landscapes where grumpy flowers scowl at astronauts and wild woods where bearded Norsemen hunt for pesky rabbits which hop away gleefully. There’s a sense of wonder in the drawings; in one a giant dove gawps at a big yellow sphere which could be an oversize bowling ball or the moon or a previously undiscovered planet and in another a whale springs out of the sea. Some of Pawel’s work is editorial, but he’s also illustrated and written a children’s book, Ciekawe, co myśli o tym królowa, or “Wonder what the queen thinks about it” in case your Polish is a bit rusty.

  5. Drippedlist

    Slip on your headphones and slide into 1950s New York watching this Jackson Pollock tribute animation. Dripped, a short film by Léo Verrier and produced by Chez Eddy, explores Pollock’s quest to find his creative voice. In a world tinged with sepia, in which men wear brown corduroy suits and plum velvet jackets, Pollock tries to find how he fits in with the greats in the galleries. The film has a dash of cops ’n’ robbers intrigue and superhero-esque feats – scaling buildings and bounding from roof to roof – as Pollock pilfers art in an attempt to discover his creative identity. In his drab apartment, frustrated by painting still lifes and full of the fodder of famous works, Pollock finally discovers his characteristic, colourful style. Set to the sound of twinkly piano notes and mournful oboes, Dripped is a clever and beautiful ode to inspiration and innovation.

  6. Wrecking-yardtop

    Riley wanted to be like Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn when he grew up; he wanted to hunt for treasure and go on adventures. Riley’s never forgotten the magical lure of finding hidden pennies and bottle tops, silver and scraps, and when scavenging he finds himself transformed into a mythical adventurer like a character in a tale by Mark Twain.

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    Danielle Pender is the brain at the helm of Riposte magazine, one of the most exciting new publications created to champion the women doing exciting work in the creative industries today, as well as working at KK Outlet, the London outpost of communications agency KesselsKramer, so can you blame us for wanting to have a poke about her bookshelf? Her selection gives a generous insight into the process behind putting together a magazine, from the issue of National Geographic which led her and Riposte’s creative director Shaz Madani to consider a text-based front cover for the magazine (“I’m really happy we had the balls to go with it”) and the all-time hero she dreams of interviewing, with a few other gems thrown in for good measure. She technically stretched her five books to seven, but we let her off because they’re all so damn interesting.

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    Imagine turning up to work in the morning, checking your schedule and realising that the vast majority of your time is going to be spent creating a zombie horse. That’s what the team at Montreal-based Rodeo FX did for Series Four of Game of Thrones, along with creating the slave city of Meereen, the Unsullied Army, a sequence with the White Walkers and most memorably the final (KIND OF SPOILER ALERT!) battle between Stannis’ army and the wildlings.

  9. Feixen-list

    It’s been almost two years since we officially checked in with Swiss poster maestro Felix Pfäffli – although of course we’ve been keeping an eye on a few of his side projects and collaborations with his brother Mathis. As ever he’s kept up with the challenging task of delivering poster after glorious poster for Südpol’s cultural events (every one’s a bloody winner) but he’s also branched out into educational activities in LA and started to experiment with moving type. His recent work for Wired shows his usual bold, graphic language translated into flowing organic forms, maintaining that trademark Feixen feel but through a dynamic moving medium.

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    WARNING do not watch this if you are afraid of family members dying and then being messily devoured in front of your very eyes by OTHER members of your own family. Seriously, parts of this video were deemed unwatchable by most of the It’s Nice That editorial team, which I think is perhaps why I love it so much.

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    Kit Russell’s Flatland poster isn’t just any old poster, oh no – it’s a poster that can be turned into a sphere. Or a sphere that can be turned into a poster. Recent illustration graduate Kit has also created a poster that morphs into a square, and the pair are an imaginative interaction with Edwin A. Abbott’s 1884 novel Flatland. Subtitled A Romance of Many Dimensions and written under the pseudonym “A Square”, Abbott’s tale is a social satire commenting on the hierarchy of Victorian society. The narrator – a square – lives in a two-dimensional world where he is visited by a sphere and convinced of the existence of another world, a three-dimensional world. Sadly, no-one else in Flatland will believe Spaceland exists and Square is ignobly dunked in the slammer. Lewis Carroll meets M.C. Escher and the Mr Men, if you will.

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    An old soul such as myself appreciates when modern-day designers and illustrators go out of their way to make something look like it fell out of a cardboard box that hasn’t been opened since 1972. When I first came across SEEN I was convinced it was a whole group of people, but it turns out it’s just one really talented guy called Rob Carmichael. He alone is responsible for creating some of the best album artwork around at the moment.

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    Co-founders of Dastoli Digital Robert and James were huge fans of Star Wars in the late 1990s, recreating hundreds of images from comics, books and game graphics on Microsoft Paintbrush using the Windows 3.1 operating system. In the run-up to the release of Star Wars Episode VII which will come out on 18 December 2015 they’re releasing an image a day from this seemingly bottomless archive, giving fellow fans a glimpse of their fantastic attention to detail and brilliantly retro colour palette.

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    This week it’s the turn of enormously gifted freelance animator and illustrator Andy Baker to show us his favourite music video, and with a bulging portfolio of experience in 2D animation and character design (see here, here and here if you don’t believe us) we were expecting great things. Andy did not disappoint; here’s his tribute to a suitably smooth lo-fi animation for Slick Rick’s 1994 hit Behind Bars which is now happily soundtracking our Monday morning.

  15. Grimes-list

    Grimes’ latest single has already caused an enormous amount of controversy among some of her die-hard fans. Written in collaboration with Blood Diamonds, Go was originally intended to be sold to Rihanna. When she rejected it Grimes decided to perform it on her own, and the dubstep beat has got a lot of people riled. “How this could happen?” says one. “Don’t they have any friends to tell them honestly their opinion? This is generic boring kitsch guys, sorry. Where you lost your spirit?”. However you feel about the song (it’s actually really good) it’s impossible to deny the appeal of the video – also directed by Grimes – that involves a surreal day in the desert with a sword-wielding dark knight and some pretty bewitching club scenes that are riddled with masked mime artists. She’s back!

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    I have heard it said that the New York graphic design scene is more splintered and less cohesive than its London counterpart, but the Image of The Studio initiative we covered last year was a fascinating way of bringing together more than 75 NYC studios to compare and contrast the way they each work. It also became a great resource to discover designers we didn’t know that much about, and with each studio commissioned to create something original that reflected their philosophy and aesthetic, it provided a great way into the New York scene.

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    Photographer James Pearson-Howes has spent the past eight years immersed in the strange, mythical world of British folk culture. The London-based creative has become obsessed with the darker sides of our islands ritualistic past; the green men, morris dancers and wicker costumes, as well as customs native to single villages in the West Country. His photographs have now been brought together into three books, printed by Ditto Press, and a limited edition of 20 bound together into the British Folk Trilogy, a comprehensive collection of images that define our bizarre past. The book is as rare as hens’ teeth, so if you want one you’d best contact James at once.

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    We’d hate to say we told you so, but in the case of London-based illustrator Daniel Clarke, we definitely did. In January 2012 we crowned him our Student of the Month, and two years on he’s still going strong – actually he’s going even stronger. We were always drawn to Dan’s work for its stunning use of texture in the creation of atmospheric scenes; the smudge of ink on paper denoting a bitterly grim London day, or variations in pattern serving as an allegory for tower blocks.

  19. Wemain

    If you’re reading this then you too survived last weekend’s bank holiday carnage and you’re here, raring and ready for another go! Without further ado then, welcome to our weekly endowment of fun and tomfoolery, soundtracked by this. Enjoy!

  20. Mixmain

    Great mix this week from the lady with the hair, Ella Eyre. Ella went to the Brit School and has since gone on to be a very successful singer whose collaboration with the likes of Rudimental, Wiz Khalifa and Naughty Boy have caught the attention of, well, pretty much everyone. Most of the world is talking about her hair (mainly on Twitter) and why not? It’s certainly the best hair I’ve ever seen. This mix from her is a good old fashioned combination of her influences and faves and is a perfect way to kick-start the weekend. Want more? You can read a fun interview with Ella over on Noisey

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    The Twittersphere went cuckoo for the Emmys this week, but those stingy folks over the pond only hand out awards once a year; here at It’s Nice That we give a big thumbs up to five lucky Things every single ruddy week! Sitting around the table of Things in their tuxedos and posh frocks today we have a book collecting together the splendidly surreal works of Jim’ll Paint It, a poster from master print-maker Anthony Burrill and a new zine exploring the passions and peculiarities of crafty creatives. There’s also a pack of Artists Top Trumps and a book full of photos of a toy town Tokyo. Pop the champagne: let Things commence!

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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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    And so another week wings by in an instant but for all you pod fans that means another brand new episode of Studio Audience. This week listen to Liv, Amy, Rob and Maisie discuss some going-on from the art and design world, plus the usual weird and wonderful tangents you’ve come to expect. As ever you can listen using the SoundCloud embed below or you can subscribe via iTunes here.

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    It’s a sad fact of modern life that all this time spent staring at screens in order to communicate has the adverse effect of stopping us from actually communicating at all. Fortunately Miranda July has found a solution; an app which allows other people to deliver your messages face-to-face on your behalf. Sponsored by Miu Miu the app allows you to choose the deliverer of your message and to suggest the manner in which they should do so, for example, “confidently,” “longingly,” or with air quotes. Even better the actor, writer and artist also created a short film to illustrate just how effectively the app can work, and true to form it’s chic, hilarious and actually very touching. The whole process has a hint of that 1990s board game Dream Phone about it too, which is a vibe I’m always delighted to channel.

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    Australian artist Kit Webster is has long been fascinated with the emotional and psychological tricks he can play through the manipulation of sound and light. His new piece Hypercube is a concentric cubic sculpture with a 120-metre LED set-up that can be controlled using specially-created software. The pre-recorded cycles allow Kit to control the viewer’s experience, speeding the cube up to a frenzy and breaking the tension with meditative moments of calm.

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    German design studio Hort prides itself on being an “unconventional working environment” and a “place where work and play can be said in the same sentence.” In this video by Analog Mensch Digital, Hort’s much-loved creator Eike Konig talks about their work and ethos whilst rolling paint and printing a poster. The camera wanders about the studio past leaning bikes and big white desks, scrolling up bookcases and dwelling on the Anthony Burrill posters gracing the walls. Eike is always worth listening to, whether he’s musing on the differences between international and German clients, traditional and digital work and the morals of design. He says: “Visual language is a strong language. We have responsibility in the use of this power.”

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    Anna Valdez is the kind of artist who makes me want to swathe myself and everything around me in layers of tropical prints and geometric patterns and embrace a new sartorial existence as a wannabe art teacher. Her mastery of textiles is so thorough that some of her pieces almost feel like studies, an effect which makes sense considering her academic interests. With a background in anthropology she paints domestic interiors as though they were portraits, with every detail contributing to the overall effect, whether it be house plants, intricately reproduced book covers, woolly jumpers or oriental rugs.

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    Where do dreams come true? “Disneyland!” squeal the indoctrinated masses. Sadly, the dream’s over for the exhibits of Yesterland, which is a photo archive of rides, restaurants and rodeos which are no more. Or, as Yesterland likes to style itself, “a theme park on the web.”

  29. Mjmain

    A bright red book emblazoned with gold type exclaiming “MICHAEL JACKSON” is like the art publication version of click-bait. Michael Jackson and Other Men is a collection of drawings by artist Dawn Mellor, produced when she was a teenager and she was really, really into Michael Jackson. “However commonplace these kind of adolescent drawings might be, they are a precursor to Dawn’s concern with celebrity and fan culture; also functioning as subjective social documents,” say Studio Voltaire, who published the title. “There is something endearing, and somewhat pathetic, about the Jackson drawings – both as a reminder of a tragic cultural icon and the indication of the burgeoning sexuality and artistic ambition of the young artist.”

  30. List

    For some the summer is a time to wind down and get away from it all, but in the heart of east London an exciting new pop-up space from glacéau vitaminwater is a vibrant hub of creative inspiration.

  31. List

    It seems that Jacob Klein and Nathan Cowen are incapable of turning out a dud project. From their humble beginnings as a meticulously curated stream of stunning imagery to their present guise as multi-faceted design and art direction agency, the Haw-Lin boys just keep on coming up with the goods. This might not seem surprising to devotees of their original Haw-Lin blog, but it’s surprising how often arbiters of style lack substance. Not so for these boys; their fanatical eye for detail goes beyond simple aesthetic curation, extending into a portfolio of capsule collections for fashion brands, editorial shoots for the most erudite magazines and immaculate lookbooks that manage to add depth and pace to publications that can often be painfully bland.

  32. Kk7list

    There’s something wonderfully honest about Kieran Kesner’s portraits of Ukraine. His camera acknowledges there’s a civil war tearing the country apart – there are protests and soldiers and guns and casualties – but this isn’t the sum total of what is happening there. There are still priests saying prayers and farmers plucking potatoes from the fields and cyclists on their bikes; what we see on the news is only part of the story Kieran suggests.