Author Archive: Catherine Gaffney


Catherine joined us as an editorial intern after studying at Trinity College Dublin and Central Saint Martins. She wrote for the site between June and August 2012.

76 articles
  1. Palefroi-list-maybe

    Hand-made books are slightly difficult to showcase online, but do your absolute best to browse through Palefroi’s beautiful projects, screenprinted and produced in limited editions by the Berlin-based art collective. Made up of artists Damien Tran, Marion Jdanoff, and Susann Pönnisch, Palefroi’s work is clever, bold, and consistently engaging – the illustrations feature stark geometric shapes alongside looser, free-flowing elements, and the palette always appears extremely considered. There is also an excellent use of negative space and a keen awareness of “the page” as a scene within a wider progression. Subject matter ranges from mountain peaks and battles to ghostly, mythological creatures, often evoking the sinister and the surreal. Wonderfully done.

  2. Thingsmain

    Saturday morning means one thing in this here parish – it’s time to upend our postbag and present to you the most lovely items that we were lucky enough to receive this week. And my goodness it’s a cracker, with tarot cards, zines and bird bingo. Do not adjust your computer screen you read that right – Bird. Bingo. Let’s do this…

  3. Lisa-kereszi-list

    Photographer Lisa Kereszi’s work appears to be part of that interesting and ever-growing genre, whereby environments originally designed to entertain (theme parks, amusement arcades, and so on) are captured, often in states of decay, and reconfigured to reveal their artifice. They often evoke strange, dystopian spaces, where the attempts to control the audience’s mindset are exposed in starkly composed shots that juxtapose reality with those attempted fictions. Now, such settings have always had the ability to stir the imagination – Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train, and, much more recently, Miyazaki’s Spirited Away, use fairground settings to great effect. Kereszi’s work likewise provokes interesting questions about “space” and “meaning”, but in the context of an ever-morphing, commercialised, consumerist society.

  4. 3d-printing-list-maybe

    Once upon a time for six months, I lived opposite a construction site, and enjoyed seeing a whole house go up bit by bit – the different levels, the roof-beams, the plastic-y material flapping around on the wind as roof-tiles were added on top. Anyway, the gradual process was interesting for an observer but must have been unpleasant and occasionally frustrating for the workers, scaling various heights and battling the elements. But that usual building scenario may be about to take a turn, if Professor Behrokh Khoshnevis of the University of Southern California has his way.

  5. Tang-yau-hoong-list

    Kuala Lumpur-based illustrator and graphic designer Tang Yau Hoong produces work that teases the boundaries between fiction and reality. His flat colour-fields and solid compositional skills ensure immediacy, but any initial understandings we have – that a certain form is “light”, for example – is playfully and cleverly torn away, as in his Controlled Efficiency illustration. The bright palettes and use of paint-streaks are reminiscent of Roy Lichtenstein, and his calculated use of negative and positive space is very Noma Bar. There is also a preoccupation with structures and structuring – from the disintegrating cities of So Long, Old World to the alteration or eradication of important symbols, that perhaps evoke the conditions of “making” and producing graphic work.

  6. Real-or-virtual-columbia-list

    This is properly amazing. I was introduced to it when I started studying history of art and architecture, and was a tad daunted about all the incredible places I had yet to visit. But thanks to this wonderful resource, developed by Columbia University in 2000 and expanding ever since, I got to hop around the world and the ages taking in a feast pf extraordinary sights.

  7. Swimming-1

    So, we’re fairly inundated with sporty visuals these days, as all manner of superhero-esque London antics are projected across the globe. But they’ve been absolutely captivating, so here are some more!

  8. Cut-the-world-list-again

    TYesterday saw the release of Cut the World, the latest single from Antony and the Johnsons, which is accompanied by an absorbing, thought-provoking video. Directed by NABIL, it features mesmerising music, sleek, claustrophobic office environments, shadowed spaces, and – seriously, take heed – a fairly gruesome scene.

  9. Things-list-aug

    This week has brought us SPORTS – pub-goers have been positively glued to diving, gymnastics, and handball, and I’ve even spotted Olympians frantically searching for ginger-ale in Tesco (apparently it calms down upset/nerve-addled stomachs?). What’s more, as I write this it’s “Sports Day” here at It’s Nice That, and we have table-tennis bats at the ready to battle it out. Regardless of who wins, the week has also brought us a glorious amassing of Things; from tote bags and literary magazines to thought-provoking photography and absorbing pocket-sized city guides, it’s the perfect mix for an August holiday – which reminds me, happy August everyone; here you are!

  10. London-2012-list

    This summer in London, it’s everywhere – walking down high streets, wandering past billboards, and rushing through tube stations: that fluttering magenta, that slightly jagged, spaced out typography… Yes, it’s the London 2012 identity, greeted with trepidation by some and for months heralding, in its slightly medieval, banner-like fashion, the impending crowds, transport disruptions, and mass-excitement of the Games.

  11. Patrick-dougherty-list

    North Carolina-based sculptor Patrick Dougherty weaves dreamlike sculptures out of woods, twigs, vines, and any such natural tree-derived materials available to him. The textural density and wavering structural curves tilt towards the surreal, with the sparseness of materials and shadowy window-cavities evoking the ruins of lost phantom civilisations, their dwellings mysterious and occasionally frozen in a fictional wind. On another level, their warping appearance makes them like animated houses – I’m reminded of the fortresses in The Supermario Bros, and there are playful architectural references in the construction of onion-domes, arches, and spires that remind us of the mimicery involved in building playhouses.

  12. Crosson-clarke-carnachan-hut-on-sleds-list

    Let’s all go to the seaside. Seriously. And we’ll stay in amazing huts like these and when the holiday’s over… we’ll just take them back with us! Hut on Sleds, by New Zealand architecture firm Crosson Clarke Carnachan, is currently quite far away from where we live but with a tractor attached it’s pretty portable, and when there’s a will there’s a way, right? Built for a stretch of New Zealand beach that’s subject to coastal erosion, one of the primary challenges of the project involved responding to the changing conditions of the location. So… they put it on a pair of giant sleds. Brilliant.

  13. Swayspace-list

    Brooklyn-based design studio and letterpress workshop Swayspace have been Vandercooking up a storm with their self-promotion material. Intending to show their potential clients just what they can conjure up with little more than a bit of ink and an old-fashioned piece of printing machinery, they’ve produced a delightful publication that demonstrates, along with extensive technical capabilities, a very sophisticated approach to design. As anyone familiar with Vandercook presses will know, achieving this type of clarity and carefully considered appearance isn’t easy, but Swayspace maintained happy mediums for ink levels and pressure to ensure an extremely high-quality finish. They also modified the original bright orange ink in order to bond more effectively with the blue elements; by adding a blue-ish grey colour to it, they ensured a rustier, more harmonious appearance.

  14. Things-list

    This week our studio was reveling in the intense heat of London’s week of summer – at last! – stocking up on Mars ice-cream bars by the dozen and sunning ourselves wherever possible. And yes, also giving out yards (Irish expression!) about transport disruptions that sunshine that the holiday smell of sunscreen made only mildly more bearable. We also had our Grads 2012 event, which was very exciting and filled with brilliant work and a fantastic mix of all sorts of talented people. In the meantime, we’ve received a massive variety of tremendous Things – five of which we showcase here in all their vibrant, fun-loving, map-addled glory. Enjoy!

  15. Earth-as-art-list

    These images, with their vibrant swirls, abstracted forms, and occasionally eye-popping bursts of colour, look like paintings. You can imagine them leaning against the wall of a messy studio, or framed and debated upon within a slick white gallery space. But in actual fact, they’re photographs of where we all live. It’s been 40 years since NASA launched its first Landsat satellite – sent way out there to monitor and document the changes taking place across the planet. To celebrate four decades of earth-gazing, NASA and the U.S. Geographical Society selected and digitally coloured 120 images taken from these satellites, and put them up for public vote in their Earth as Art contest.

  16. Aleksandra-mir-list

    Aleksandra Mir’s Triumph is a massive installation of trophies – 2,529, to be precise – from every genre of sport, dating from the 1970s. The project was inspired by the artist’s visit to the house of an ageing friend who had been a very successful athlete in his youth, and whose prowess was demonstrated in a shrine-like room dedicated to the prizes and photographs of his glory days. She was struck by the conflicting aspects of it all; the drama, speed and excitement of those victorious seconds, the sadness that they could never be returned to, and the sense that some day those much-anticipated and thrilling moments would be reduced to nothing more than a series of trophy-engravings and clippings.

  17. Peter-crawley-list

    Peter Crawley’s a product designer, who also makes beautifully stitch-tastic graphic work on the side. We featured him on the site back in 2011, and his work – largely made using white watercolour paper, needles, and thread – has continued to go from strength to strength. Order Chaos is a recently hand-stitched project, the underlying concept of which will be extremely familiar to anyone who’s ever worked with a sewing box. With the letterforms themselves illustrating the meaning of each opposing word, we see neatly and evenly stitched lines juxtaposed with an absolute tangle of cotton and colour.

  18. Guy-pascal-vallez-list-maybe-also

    Paris-based illustrator Guy-Pascal Vallez, also known as GAX, presents us with a host of surreal characters inhabiting all sorts of otherworldly space. Cloaked and occasionally masked, they are packed into dense medieval-style cities in huge numbers, or exist as sole occupants of dauntingly expansive landscapes.

  19. L%c3%a9o-caillard-list

    Paris-based photographer Léo Caillard has captured the beach huts of Miami with such vibrancy that we wish we could enter the images and hang out there for hours, paddling in the waters and lounging around on the sand. C’mon, Mary Poppins effect – London’s getting a bit hot these days!

  20. Things-list

    This week at “Things” we’ve got Swiss climbing walls, various smells, antennae, and a beautiful selection of photographic work. As well as various interpretations of Bart Simpson’s face, because why not. Enjoy!

  21. Escif-list

    Valencia street artist Escif has been transforming walls in all sorts of places, adding his figures, motifs, and commentary to surfaces and scales from Spain and Poland to San Francisco and Los Angeles. Much of his work has a beautiful ink-made, manuscript quality, which pleasantly jars with the open-air context, and yet draws attention to the similarities between that crumbling sand-coloured masonry and the fragile parchments on which such styles are found.

  22. Sameer-kulavoor-list

    We were delighted when Mumbai-based illustrator Sameer Kulavoor’s beautiful publication, The Ghoda Cycle Project came freewheeling into our studio the other week. It’s a visual documentation of the many types of “ghoda” bicycles found across rural and urban India. The word “ghoda” means “stallion”; the name alludes to the sturdiness, heaviness, and durability of these vehicles that sustain businesses and livelihoods alike, and which become customised and personalised according to the needs and whims of each owner.

  23. Kristiina-lahde-list

    Kristiina Lahde’s work is preoccupied with measurement, regulation, and the possibilities for boundary-breaking that such systems present. Using material that traditionally provides and facilitates order, like measuring tapes, phone books, and rulers, the Canadian artist produces graphic works and sculptures that reconsider their original function and refresh them as something new and extraordinary. Her Beyond Measure series of works examines the role of measurement in our day-to-day lives; in the Metric system pieces, she takes one mode of structuring and regulating physical reality (inches and centimetres) and reconfigures them as abstracted cubes that nevertheless retain a sense of uniformity and consistency. Her 2009 bookwork, Compilation, meanwhile appears to play on the hive of information currently available to us, and perhaps ties the intentional graphic consistency of something as humdrum as a telephone book with the startlingly beautiful consistency of natural geometric forms. Wow.

  24. Fpe-gary-webb-list

    When I was growing up, there were apparently more golf courses in Ireland than playgrounds. At the age of seven my younger sister and I even resorted to improvising a see-saw out of a styrofoam surfboard and random cylindrical plastic thing we found in the shed. All this makes me massively appreciate a decent and fun playground structure, though my feelings are admittedly mixed with a dash of envy for the kids these things are actually designed for. Sigh.

  25. Nick-sheehy-other-list

    Tasmanian-born Nick Sheehy (also knows as Showchicken) has a background in bronze sculpture, and rediscovered his love of drawing when he moved to the UK where he is currently based. Using pencil, paper, and layers of colour, he draws us into vivid dream-like feathered worlds, where multi-eyed birds dress as jesters, examine constellations, confront enemies, exist within larger birds, and make tribal offerings.

  26. Dixon-baxi-list

    Branding agency DixonBaxi’s been busy creating a new identity for UKTV Yesterday, which is set to launch on July 24 as a design refresh for the history-focused channel. The notion of “entertainment inspired by history” sparked DixonBaxi to produce something that was vivid, immersive, and iconically strong.

  27. Things-list

    As you may know from the marvellous graduate work being showcased on It’s Nice That for the past two weeks (see in full The Graduates 2012 here), it’s that time of year again when we have amazing work blasting through our letterbox as creatives everywhere are breaking free from the shackles and security of student-hood.

  28. The-weather-yesterday-list

    The northwestern European compulsion to discuss the weather perhaps arises from the fact that, in these parts, you can rarely predict it; oh, to live in a place without four seasons in one day! But it does mean that there’s always a guaranteed topic for small-talk, and Troika is generating further discussion with their tongue-in-cheek outdoor installation, The Weather Yesterday, on London’s Hoxton Square.

  29. Astrid-stavro-list

    Jarred goods have never looked so, well, good. Astrid Stavro Studio, in collaboration with Grafica, has designed the labeling for these jars of Son Brusque olive oil, almonds, chillies and other delicious food ideally eaten by a pool in a shaded olive grove, but equally acceptable in a rainy kitchen.

  30. Deutche-borse-list

    This year’s Deutche Börse Photography Prize exhibition opens tommorrow – July 13 – at London’s Photographers’ Gallery. The annual competition was was founded in 1996 by the gallery and since 2005 had run in collaboration with the Deutche Börse Group (hence the name). It aims to reward £30,000 to a contemporary photographer of any nationality who has made the most significant contribution to photography this past year – either in the contexts of publication or exhibition.

  31. Maggie-li-list

    We love Maggie Li’s work. A lot. Producing illustrations on all sorts of topics – everything from geography and textile production to digital narcotics – she ensures that the content is beautifully laid out, often using soft palettes and arresting, considered colourisation. Her editorial work is particularly compelling, as complex subjects are often literally mapped out for our benefit; an awesome illustration portfolio that also teaches about sustainable architecture? Win.

  32. Sohei-nishino-list

    See up there, north of where the Gherkin is – that’s where we are! Well, not really… kind of. Japanese artist Sohei Nishoso’s diaroma’s aren’t quite accurate in a technical, cartographical sense, but rather represent his own wanderings around the world’s major cities. He explores these vast urban spaces, taking thousands and thousands of photos as he goes. Then, he edits them down to “just” a few thousand, hand-prints them, and cuts and collages to produce massive composite representations of the city as he experienced it.

  33. Nest-list

    We last featured Jean Jullien’s work in May, but when stuff like this project comes through, in all its egg-soaked glory, we can’t not tell you about it! The London-based French designer has just completed Le Nid (The Nest) for a space in Nantes, his hometown.

  34. Yelena-bryksenkova-list

    Yelena Bryksenkova’s illustrations are wonderful. Using pen, watercolour, and gouache, she creates detailed and beautifully rendered spaces for her characters who often appear to exist in states of meditation or relaxation. Russian-born and US-raised, Bryksenkova completed her BFA in illustration from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2010, and has since produced work for the likes of Orla Kiely, Urban Outfitters, and Random House UK.

  35. Basket-tree-list

    What did the tree say when it looked in the mirror? “Geometry!” (“Gee, I’m a tree!” Geddit?) That is my all-time favourite joke – I saw it in a Zig & Zag annual in the mid 1990s and it’s been firmly rooted in my repertoire ever since.

  36. Luke-fenech-list

    Take a look at the consummate layout of London-based graphic designer, illustrator, and art director, Luke Fenech. There is a beautiful immediacy to his work – which involves clean, measured, and very appealing arrangements of text and pictorial content.

  37. Antony-zinonos

    Anthony Zinonos’ work – which we first came across after featuring Wicca who represent him – is whip-smart and great fun to boot. The Norwich-based collage illustrator uses found materials to great effect, arranging flat geometric colour planes, human figures, and all manner of other visual imagery to create images that immediately engage. His work also involves a considered and extremely effective use of negative space; different compositional elements relate to each other, certainly, but the page isn’t overwhelmed by visual data – each element is thereby granted freedom, and yet they all inter-relate to compose very successful bigger pictures.

  38. Things-list

    It’s been another mighty week for Things – we’ve been getting all manner of delightful post arriving each morning at the It’s Nice That headquarters. This week we’ve been indulging in 1990’s stickerbook nostalgia, a bit of bike-spotting, a freaking awesome piece of self-promo, a beautiful publication on food aaaaand a very nice illustrated book involving reindeer and the Greenland landscape.

  39. Letra

    Letra is the studio of Portuguese designer Marco Balesteros, who graduated from the ArtEZ Institute in the Netherlands in 2009, and has been producing eye-catching graphics ever since.

  40. A-thousand-reasons

    Now that graduate season has come back around, it’s interesting to consider what has become of those we featured way back when The Graduates, our annual showcase, started. Well, in 2009 animator Daniel Britt was one of our first ever – and since then, his career has gone from strength to strength. He has just completed this beautiful animation, A Thousand Reasons, for the WMD Awareness Programme, which raises issues surrounding the proliferation of nuclear weapons. The short film involves an arresting use of origami; the pace and progression are very smooth, while the fragility of the materials and the care taken in their construction provide a stirring counterpoint to the annihilation under discussion.