Jc

James started out as an intern in 2011 and is now one of our two editors. He oversees Printed Pages magazine and content wise has a special interest in graphic design and illustration. He also runs our online shop Company of Parrots and is a regular on our Studio Audience podcast.

jc@itsnicethat.com@jdmcartwright

1286 articles
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    Time and again Amy Woodside gets in touch to let us know about new projects she’s cooked up and time and again we’re powerless to resist them. The New York-based artist is focussed to a fault on her fine art practice where iconic letterforms emerge from meticulously registered screen printing and frantic flourishes of spray paint. Where first she caught our eye with multicoloured wordplay, the constant reduction and refinement of her process has resulted in a new series’ of totemic words like ‘Hero’, ‘Cash’, ‘Hoax’ and ‘Like’, pre-loaded with cultural context and double meaning, writ large on the canvas. What’s the meaning behind them? The interpretation is up to you, but Amy always seems to be critiquing pop culture with its own visual vernacular and playing fast and loose with our ambiguous use of language.

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    In April this year UsTwo ruined a gig I was at by letting me trial a new game due to be released the following week. I was supposed to be seeing one of my favourite bands but instead spent two hours tapping away trying to navigate a little princess through a geometrically impossible world. A couple of weeks later everyone was obsessing over that same princess.

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    Having only once covered the work of Californian architect Michael Jantzen on the site, it seems about time we provided a little more context to his work and showed off one of his seminal pieces. The M-House is a portable modular system through which multiple iterations of a structure can be made. It consists of a series of rectangular panels, attached by hinges to a gridded frame, that can be moved and manipulated to serve a variety of functions, both structural and decorative. Each new structure can be built to unique specifications so that no M-House needs to look the same. Michael’s intention was that these buildings could serve as a holiday home or as an impressive complex of modular retreats in a single resort. So why hasn’t anyone built this resort yet? Better than Butlins.

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    Way back in 2011 when we first posted the work of Frank Magnotta It’s Nice That was a very different beast – we’d only give you one image to check out and the rest was up to you. So when I stumbled across Frank’s work again this week it seemed essential that we show you a whole lot more. To be honest there have been few updates to his site in the past three years but the work is breathtaking, pulling together pop culture references, architectural precision and some serious Americana and combining it into stark surrealist landscapes. At times grotesque but always engaging, Frank’s graphite artworks are still some of the finest around.

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    It’s been five months since Airbnb unveiled its shiny new brand identity and Belo logomark; five months since the internet went berserk with genitalia-inspired interpretations of DesignStudio’s stylised letter A. Needless to say in those five months the furore surrounding the brand has died down somewhat and the longevity of their new aesthetic has become clearer. Despite the initial fuss it looks like they’re still going strong.

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    German illustrator Nadine Redlich just keeps going from strength to strength, her catalogue of exuberant characters growing day by day. Though there’s no doubt at all that Nadine’s masterful at creating truly cheerful chappies, there’s a growing number of creatures in her portfolio who look like they’re ready to hibernate for winter, staring out at you blankly as though they wish they’d been left to sleep. Of course there’s also the belligerent mountain, the cherry at the end of its tether and that creepy fellow with the giant aubergine who I can’t help but find menacing, resulting in an altogether impressive cast of characters in a portfolio we can’t get enough of. If you want even more, Nadine’s got a comic out with Rotopol Press that you can get your hands on here. Now, back to enjoying that dog on the chair…

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    It’s hard to tell at what point Julian Faulhaber’s images are captured; if he’s the first person on site after the completion of a new modernist structure or whether he employs the skills of some exceptionally talented retouchers to clean up all the human detritus that clutters the purity of manmade structures. Either way his images evoke a sense of futuristic newness; of ultra-sleek new buildings awaiting their human occupants. They pay homage to the craft of architecture, celebrate the artistry of interiors and simultaneously poke fun at the absurdity of our aesthetic tastes – seriously, who thought purple, yellow and green stripes was a good idea? They’re also exceptionally visually arresting, so gawp on at the work of this talented chap.

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    Josh Cochran is one of those illustrators who, even though he’s been around for ages, still manages to keep his work endlessly fresh. His fantastically atmospheric, often surreal illustrations, keep going from strength to strength, building in textural complexity and narrative devices. Perhaps that’s the result of his nomadic lifestyle moving between Taiwan, Los Angeles and New York. Or perhaps he’s just got an endlessly inventive mind and creative spirit. Either way, he’s a talented dude.

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    It’s probably just the beautiful absurdity of the work on display but Sean Fennessy’s photographs of Melbourne artist Troy Emery’s studio made us all laugh out loud when we saw them in the office. Troy’s renowned for his creation of sculptural animal forms decorated with gaudy materials. His multicoloured pooches and giant glittery bears evoke joy wherever they’re seen. Sean Fennessy is known for his clean, graphic style of photography with a portfolio that covers everything from still-life to travel, lifestyle to architecture. For some reason the marriage of these two creative talents works beautifully; the maximal artist and minimalist photographer bouncing off each other to create a fantastic editorial series.

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    We’ve sung the praises of Dutch designer Michiel Schuurman more times than we care to remember (it’s four times actually, this is the fifth) but with good reason. The printmaking wunderkind has yet to be beaten as the master of complex process. He’s still using all the techniques, all the inks and all the geometric patterns he can lay his talented hands on. As with every one of his pieces though, his style is constantly evolving and adapting, with each new project serving as a blank canvas into which he can channel all his experimentation. Also the results are still unbelievably cool. Praises sung again!

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    Maybe it’s because he’s always coming over for beers, catching up with us on the phone when we realise we miss each other, or just generally being a most excellent pal, but we sometimes forget to update you with what Ed Monaghan’s up to – I guess we just assume that you know already. But it’s been nearly a year since we last tooted his trumpet and waxed lyrical about his work, and in that time he’s got himself an agent, produced a bunch of excellent commercial projects and started work on some ambitious bits of personal work that we’re holding our breath for (rumour has it they’ll be arriving early next year). Anyway, here’s a few tidbits from the last few months for you to feast your eyes on, and marvel some more at his psychedelic prowess.

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    Easily the most daunting periods of the art school experience are the summer before you arrive and the entire year after you’ve left; The former fills you with an unpleasant anticipation and the unshakable feeling that you’re heading off to be bottom of the pile once again. Sure you were the biggest fish with the best drawing skills in the tiny creative pool that was high school, but now you’re off to battle it out with other equally talented folks for the next three years; you’ve got every right to be nervous. The latter is justifiably terrifying because you’ve got your whole life ahead of you and a mountain of debt to start dealing with. What was the point of that degree again?

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    It’s rare that we have cause to feature a single illustration project on the site, but Scott Gelber’s recent work for The New York Times is quite an unusual case. The Texas-based digital artist seriously impressed us this week with his illustration for an editorial that questioned whether or not video games could be considered art. It’s an issue that’s cropping up increasingly online, and one which undoubtedly requires a careful touch to illustrate. Scott’s solution camouflaged various computer game characters within famous paintings – the one that was finally used is, I believe, a character from Assassin’s Creed – compositing sketches of numerous high-profile characters in works like the Mona Lisa, Judith Slaying Holofernes and Manet’s Le Déjeuner sur l’Herbe. Pretty impressive work for a guy who usually specialises in GIFs. More of this please Scott.

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    Tim Laing’s work is quintessentially English; moody and faintly depressing, created with shades of grey that aptly summarise the perpetual state of our weather, food and temperaments. Which is why he’s the perfect choice to illustrate John Le Carré’s back catalogue for the prestigious Folio Society. The images he’s created to accompany classic works of spy fiction like Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and The Honourable Schoolboy are beautifully atmospheric, imbued with the tension of Cold War espionage and an imminent sense of danger. He’s also careful never to show any faces, meaning you’re still allowed to let your imagination run riot, inventing your own terrifying visage for the double agent waiting to put a bullet in you. Thrilling stuff!

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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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    In March this year we discussed the intriguing Middle Eastern publication The Outpost, one of the first independent titles from the Lebanon to be distributed internationally and in English. At the time the guys behind the design, Spanish/German/of no fixed address studio Rifle, didn’t have a website so we couldn’t show off any more of their portfolio. But since then they’ve managed to both finish work on another beautiful publication and squeeze a new website out into the world. Not bad!

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    If all the magazines and small publications that used the internet as their subject matter were dumped on your head it’d be curtains for you – there’s bloody loads of them. Some, like Offscreen, deal with the people that make digital culture happen and try to bring these unsung heroes out from behind their screens into the RGB limelight, others, like French publication Nichons – Nous Dans l’Internet (Tits – We In The Internet) are more conceptually-minded, analysing and assessing the social and cultural phenomena brought about by the ubiquity of technology.

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    Because no return to school is ever complete without a mammoth haul of stationery – think gel pens, scented glitter rollerballs, erasers as big as your 12-year-old fist and some kind of novelty pencil sharpener – we asked some of our favourite creatives to tell us what one piece of kit in their vast pencil cases they could never be without. Turns out they’re all attached to some pretty bizarre objects. Meet their weapons of choice…

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    In December last year we received a zine in the post from Yorkshire-based photographer Christopher Nunn that documented a small selection of images he’d gathered in Ukraine. Kalush offered a unique perspective on a region that was thrust suddenly and violently into the public consciousness, showing us the quiet, everyday side of a place that – from television coverage at least – you’d have been forgiven for assuming was razed to the ground.

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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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    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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    “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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    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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    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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    It’s a widely-acknowledged fact that Tony Brook and his Spin team can do no wrong – they just design cracking stuff. So imagine our surprise when… no, just kidding, their latest project’s a belter too. Commissioned by Sim Smith, a London-based gallery representing emerging British talent, Tony and his team went about producing a slick, simple, monochrome identity that’s as unfussy as the artists the gallery represents. The logo, website and print collateral are all pleasantly understated, meaning the Sim Smith name won’t ever get in the way of the most important thing – the artists’ work.

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    In a world packed full of photographers focussing their lenses on the young and the beautiful, Andi Galdi Vinko is the antithesis. The Hungarian photographer has a penchant for the strange and the grotesque: a bare-arsed man embracing a tree, a fur-clad woman browsing a garish supermarket aisle, the thousand-yard stare of a wild-haired dandy, and that outright creepy chap with his taxidermy collection. Aside from being regularly unnerving, Andi’s photographs all manage to achieve a profound sense of spontaneity, each representing a moment of reckless abandon from her subjects or simply a chance encounter with something visually arresting – testament to her quickfire camera skills. She’s currently on the move between London and New York, planning her escape from Hungary because “the art scene here is kind of sad.”

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    Animator and director Tom Jobbins has just been signed to Pulse Films where his first assignment was a video for Tune-Yards’ latest single Real Thing. Never one for subtlety in her promotional films, Tune-Yards’ Merril Garbus already has a roster of punchy, colour-saturated films to her name, so Tom was tasked with creating something that stood up to its predecessors in vibrance and impact, as well as keeping things fresh to move things on for the new album.

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    When a studio with a back catalogue as impressive as Hey’s relaunch their website it’s tricky to know where to start in terms of choosing what aspect of it to cover. Is it the crisp design of their now fully-responsive site, the beautifully conceived identity for a Miami-based jam company that represents the product’s moreishness through the medium of randomly-generated die-cut patterns, or the 500 unique invitations they produced for ArtFad 2014, a contemporary Art and Craft Award? In this instance all of them because, as ever, all of Hey’s work is much too good not to show off.

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    A few years back illustrator Rob Hunter produced his debut graphic novel The New Ghost, a story about a novice spirit befriending a troubled astronomer. It was a simple, ethereal tale that left no doubt in our minds that Rob was a burgeoning talent in the comics scene. It obviously made an impact on electronic musician Jon Hopkins too, as he’s just commissioned Rob to lend his illustration skills – and his lonely ghost – to his latest EP Asleep Versions. The two make a fitting pair with Jon’s ambient compositions mixing seamlessly with Rob’s subtle, other-wordly imagery. To top it all off they’ve just released this snappy teaser too, in which animator Sean Weston has brought the ghost to life – a truly breathtaking achievement.

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    Before I write anything about illustrator Nicolas Delort I feel like full disclosure is necessary; between the ages of 11 and 14 I spent all of my pocket money collecting and painting Warhammer models and most of my saturdays hanging out in Games Workshop, which means I’m predisposed to LOVE epic fantasy artwork, like Frank Fazetta, Julie Bell and Boris Vallejo.

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    It seems to us that French designer Côme de Bouchony always has his hands full. If he’s not directing achingly cool music videos he’s busy launching new magazines with close friends and collaborators; adding a touch of class to the visitors’ guides at Parisian museums or, in this case, rebranding Paris’ foremost contemporary art fair. Choices Collectors Weekend is a three-day exposition that brings together 35 galleries in the French capital, each of whom choose an artist whom they represent and showcase their work in a large-scale exhibition at the Palais des Beaux-Art.

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    For the Autumn edition of Printed Pages we interviewed Australian comics artists Simon Hanselmann and Grant Gronewold about their incredible work, living together, and their fictitious escapades with Rupert Murdoch. We found out about how they met in a dirty Tazmanian club, toured Australia together with their bands and eventually started to get successful in the world of alternative comics. Then we asked them to film a little teaser for the piece, and this is what they came up with. It’s probably not for the feint-hearted…

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    Photographer Victoria Ling has the kind of portfolio anyone would be envious of, brimming with exquisitely polished photographic work; still life compositions created for high-profile clients and personal projects alike. Her work achieves the kind of ethereal polish that makes you wonder how much of it could possibly real, but the majority of her imagery is all captured in camera, as she explains below…