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

1289 articles
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    Roosje Klap and Mathias Schweizer have just finished work on a pretty extraordinary piece of digital collage for Dutch literary magazine De Gids – a publication that’s been in existence since 1837. The images on display propose rooms that reference literary voices of the past like Ovid and Baiga, compositing various erotic references into surrealist dreamscapes. The pair worked on them in tandem in the manner of an exquisite corpse – building on each other’s work in stages over time – only instead of strange little bodies as the final product, we’re met with what Roosje refers to as “graphic sex cadavre-exquis!”

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    Suzanne Bakkum is a recent graduate of the Royal Academy of Art in the Hague where she studied graphic design. She follows in an incredibly long line of talented designers to have passed through the city and already has an impressive portfolio to show for it. Her work is concerned predominantly with pattern and texture, creating typographic, abstract and geometric forms from complex arrangements tone and line.

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    Last week we were duped into running a project on the site that turned out to be a hoax. Here Rob Alderson explains what happened and why it’s left an unsavoury taste, while James Cartwright disagrees and congratulates the artist on a spoof well done. As ever you can leave your thoughts using the discussion thread below…

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    On 25 August 2014 XL Recordings launch Pay Close Attention, a one-off compilation album that spans the London label’s 25-year history. Over the years XL have worked with everyone who’s anyone in the industry, starting with underground electronic acts like The Prodigy (at one point they weren’t famous) and Hip Hop artists like House Of Pain, as well as Adele, Radiohead, Dizzee Rascal, The XX, Ratatat, Vampire Weekend and MIA. See why we’re getting excited?

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    Former Fabrica designer and art director Dean Brown has just upped sticks and left the confines of Treviso in Italy to set up shop in London. He’s spent the last four years honing his skills designing conceptual products, installations, interiors and exhibitions with collaborators at both Fabrica and COLORS as well as further afield. Last year we fell in love with his witty take on rug design, and now he’s impressed us again with his ability to turn knitwear into an engaging, immersive environment through texture and colour.

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    I’ll be honest and say that usually when I see the words “exquisite corps” in relation to a creative project, I immediately lose interest. So often this collaborative idea – used by the surrealists as a liberating drawing exercise – is used without imagination or flair. But a current exhibition at Walls Gallery in Amsterdam looks like a fantastic exception to my rule.

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    Dutch graphic designer Koos Breen has a portfolio that’s laden with extraordinary work. The Hague-based creative utilises unusual print techniques and 3D methods within a practice that’s highly experimental. Part graphic designer part fine artist Koos seems equally comfortable producing for for clients as he is inventing material for a personal show, but throughout it all he maintains a respect for form over function that has led to a highly aestheticised body of work in which posters, prints, textiles and 3D objects all come together to create a highly original oeuvre.

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    It feels like Max and Adele at Atelier bingo lead a pretty charmed life. Camped out in the middle of the countryside with their converted studio/barn, it would be easy to resent the life they lead – in fact sometimes it’s very easy indeed. But the work they’re producing – stunning screen prints and collages of abstract forms – keeps me returning to their website time after time, and I just can’t find it in my heart to resent their rural idyll. Though if they called me up tomorrow to invite me to come and live with them, I’d definitely have a hard time saying no.

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    Moving Mountains is the brainchild of Hawaiian designer Syrette Lew, who founded the company in Brooklyn as a vehicle for her stunningly simple designs. She has a range of jewellery and bags, but specialises in furniture, having launched her first collection last summer. The objects are all hand-crafted from wood and maintain a timeless sensibility, drawing inspiration both from traditional shaker furniture and modern geometric shapes and colours. The resulting objects are simple but stunning, showing off the marks of the maker’s hand to highlight the uniqueness of each made-to-order piece. They’re damn good at photographing their catalogue too…

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    In the October of 2013 Braulio Amado spent (maybe) millions of dollars putting together an elaborate and comprehensive promotional video to sell himself to the graphic design community at large. He wanted commissions, he wanted collaborations, he wanted access to the megabucks – plus he shot actual bullets from his hands at the end.

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    Jack Featherstone, Hans Lo and Simian Mobile Disco have long collaborated on music videos for the band’s singles, using highly complex analogue techniques to generate visuals that complement each song. But their latest offering may well be the most complex yet. Six months in the making, Tangents features live-generated digital imagery fed through an oscilloscope. The guys filmed, it, manipulated it and then knitted it all together into a four minute epic that builds from monochromatic morse dots and dashes to a full-blown crescendo of strobed psychedelia.

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    Almost exactly a calendar year ago we introduced Dan Woodger on It’s Nice That; showed off his desk-space, his process and some of his skateboarding Dinosaurs. Six months later he was contacted by an art director who’d seen that article and enlisted him to produce one of the most labour-intensive illustration projects we’ve ever come across, creating over 1000 unique images for an emoji app. By way of apology for this torturous commission, we asked him a few questions about how it went…

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    I’ve got a confession to make; I’ve posted quite a few people recently that I discovered on the website of a Dutch Risograph studio called Vinex Pers. Viktor Hachmang created their identity and they count some of my favourite illustrators as clients. Their website is packed full of exciting work from fantastic creative talents and I’d like to show you just one more.

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    When we last encountered Essex-based painter Simon Monk he was busy preserving toy superheroes in plastic bags and rendering them with hyper-real precision. Secret Identity explored the strange imbalance of the powers ascribed to superheroes and the powerless inertia of their model representations. Since then he’s focussed his attention on one plastic superhero in particular, treating Batman with torturous sadism and restricting him with any binding he finds to hand. He’s been netted, taped, cling-filmed and roped down, trapped forever in a compromised position thanks to Simon’s dangerously accurate brushwork.

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    This time last year Sam Bradley had just moved up to London to concentrate on his fashion photography – which we have to say, he was pretty damn good at. This year he’s still busy working away on fashion editorials, including a lovely shoot for the latest Wonderland, but he’s been getting outside a lot more, shooting mountaineers, skateboarders and racing drivers in a style so crisp you feel almost able to reach out and touch the scenes he’s captured. I’ll admit a certain bias towards photographers working in nature – I go mad for a mountain view – but Sam’s managed to make even tedious, high-budget motorsports look exciting and unusual, for which he deserves an enormous amount of praise.

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    When Rapha launched their brand ten years ago they did it with an exhibition on cycling history and a book that documented some of the greatest stars and stories of competitive road racing. The book showed candid shots of legendary riders like Fausto Coppi hanging out in his pyjamas and Bernard Hinault in a grump on the train, exposing these famous gents out of the saddle, carrying on like normal human beings. To celbrate their tenth anniversary Rapha have re-printed and re-released the book (no long out of print) upping the print and finish quality in the process. The results, we think you’ll agree, look pretty spectacular!

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    Behold! Dutch illustrator and designer Julian Sirre has a portfolio packed to the gunnels with beautiful futuristic design. His posters and prints take inspiration from 1980s sci-fi, Japanese printmaking and superhero comics, all amalgamated into a wholly unique visual language. He’s worked for Dutch science fiction magazines, London venues and a variety of extraordinary exhibitions including a group show with Jordy Van Den Niewendijk, Viktor Hachmang and Robin van Wijk – all exceptionally cool dudes.

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    I’m the third person to take a turn waxing lyrical about the art of Bryan Olson (he was discussed here and here in the past), but I don’t mind, I’m just happy to have the opportunity. The North Carolina-based artist is arguably the master of his medium; a creator of collages so delicately crafted it’s often impossible to tell they’ve been made from hand-cut paper. Though it’s by no means his only concern Bryan focusses a great deal on the cosmos in his work, leaving strange portals into the unknown at the centre of his images or placing earthly objects within inter-planetary scenes. It’s a heady combination that lures viewers in, making them feel like children gazing at a dense night sky or an adult on one hell of a trip.

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    Belgian photographer Wouter Van de Voorde started out as a painter in his homeland before discovering that photography offered him more of the creative freedom and opportunity for introspection than his original medium. Since taking up photography he’s exiled himself to Autralia where he uses his outsider status as a driver for creative expression, exploring the quirks and nuances of Australian culture and landscape in the hope of creating a sense of belonging through his work.

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    Belgian graphic designer Broos Stoffels has it all; great poster designs, great typefaces, great Dance Organ-powered drawing machine for the creation of custom vinyl sleeves – no really! The young designer is a former student of Sint Lucas in Ghent, a institution with proven design pedigree, and has spent the last few years honing his practical and conceptual skills into a fantastically coherent body of work.

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    Colombian-born, Spanish-based photographer Manuel Vazquez was an economics student before he decided to make his living from image-making. A quick transfer to Spain, some courses at New York’s School of Visual Arts and a Masters in Photography and Urban Cultures at Golsmiths later and he’s quite the photographic talent. The economy’s loss is photography’s gain. Now he shoots regularly for the likes of The Guardian, The Times, The Sunday Times and The British Journal of Photography predominantly taking slick portraits.

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    If you watched any of this year’s World Cup you’ll most likely have noticed all the players strutting about in pairs of weightless neon boots. If, like me, you don’t really pay attention to that kind of thing, then you may not have known what they were. Luckily this stunning spot from ManvsMachine grabbed my attention for long enough to inform me that they were Nike’s latest Mercurial Superfly boot, capable of eviscerating a giant marble army of footballing warriors with their superhuman speed. But more important than my education in high-performance footwear was my appreciation of the phenomenal skill of Mike Alderson and his team at ManvsMachine whose ability to turn pure fiction into a believable, 3D-rendered reality is nothing short of breathtaking.

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    Photographer Benedict Redgrove has made his name shooting extremes: the fastest cars, the biggest yachts, the largest buildings and the most expensive of everything. But earlier this year he took off into the Scottish Highlands to make a series of personal images that are a radical departure from what we’ve come to expect from him. Fallen Giants is a series exploring managed forests and the toppled trees that litter the landscape. They celebrate the natural world and offer an escape from the day-to-day struggle of modern life. But they also tell a very personal story for Benedict…

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    Thomas Rousset and Raphaël Verona’s Waska Tatay is fairly ambiguous at first glance. The cover is a simple yellow-to-blue fade with the title placed inconspicuously on the spine; but the content is altogether more arresting. Using a mixture of reportage and staged portraiture the photo book documents the pair’s trip to the Altiplano region of Bolivia and their encounters with witch doctors, spiritual healers and medicine men; uncovering the rites and rituals of these ancient orders and illuminating some of their extraordinary mythologies.

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    As of 6.30pm last night Airbnb looks a little classier. Having spent the past seven years growing a vast community of country-hopping collaborators, the world’s largest online accommodation marketplace has decided it’s time for a change. Gone is the awkward, dated logo that still reminds me of a bad ice cream parlour, likewise the cold, clinical blue that serves as the accent colour for all San Franciscan startups; and in its place is something entirely more exciting.

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    Every year thousands of gloomy-looking characters descend on Whitby, a British seaside town that’s steeped in folklore and literary heritage. Bram Stoker set parts of Dracula there, Robin Jarvis created a mysterious series of children’s books on its streets and a ruined abbey stands at the top of one of its cliffs, maintaining a physical, eerie presence on moonlit nights – and those goths just can’t get enough.They host an annual goth weekend which this year photographer Annie Collinge decided to document, stopping the black-clad revellers on the streets and in graveyards to pose for her potraits. The resulting images offer a fantastic snapshot of one of the most longstanding genres of alternative culture, though I say that with bias, as I used to be one. “Listen to them, the children of the night. What music they make!”

  27. Tris

    Sleek vintage cars, mousetrap swings, chance encounters with rainbows and days out at the races all feature in the varied portfolio of Tristan Cluett, a recent graduate from Kingston University. He’s spent three years immersing himself in his medium, getting out in the field to shoot cyclists in action or creating polished sets in the studio to provide backdrops for his unusual ideas. What seems key to the success of Tristan’s work is his openness to experimentation – he’s not content to be a one-trick pony – and the level of polish he applies to every one of his projects.

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    Bold printing, toying with scale, subverting nature and confounding the senses seem to be the defining elements of Richard Woods’ work. The artist and designer made a name for himself mimicking wooden patterns in bright colours on the surface of furniture, but his skills extend beyond simple tables and chairs. In his latest show at Albion Barn he’s been given free reign to customise every inch of his exhibition space; the walls, floors and furnishings of an area in which he’s exhibiting a selection of original prints. It’s a pretty bold move to allow an artist to reinvent the entire gallery, but Richard has undertaken the task with characteristic flair, turning the whole environment into a vibrant, cartoonish set in which his work seems entirely at home.

  29. Hannah

    LCC Photography graduate Hannah Burton has spent her three years of undergraduate study working out ways to get as close as possible to her subjects. She’s worn their clothes and camped out in their rooms for shots in which she embodies the subject, trawled east London’s Gascoyne Estate, getting to know its inhabitants as she shoots their pictures and explored her personal relationship with her mother in a series of intensely revealing portraits.

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    Dutch illustrator and designer Eline Van Dam (Zeloot to her clients) belongs to the same circle of pals as Viktor Hachmang and Jordy van den Nieuwendijk, which goes some way to explaining why her work is so god damn beautiful. Although she’s about as versatile as image-makers come – her portfolio covers a variety of styles ranging from the niche to the commercial – it’s her posters that really stand out for their 1970s-inspired phychedelic iconography and bold, experimental use of colour; any colour she can get her hands on! Now we just need to work out what we can commission her for.

  31. Tool-list

    Art director, VJ and music video director Hans Lo can usually be found crafting retro-futuristic visuals for up-and-coming electronic acts like Com Truise, Jagwar Ma and world renowned acts like Simian Mobile Disco. So it may surprise you to discover that he’s really just a die-hard metal fan at heart – in particular a lover of the heavyweights of the early 1990s. His favourite music video reflects this perfectly; a stand-out track and seriously creepy piece of Savankmajeresque stop-motion for the legendary Tool directed by their guitarist Adam Jones.

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    Just over a year ago to the day, Erik Brandt bought a piece of wood and stuck it to the side of his garage in Minneapolis, inviting graphic designers from all over the world to make type-based posters for him to exhibit in this secluded outdoor gallery. The response to his project was immense, growing from a select few, invite-only contributors to a sprawling mass of over 500 submitted pieces that he’s shown in the last 365 days.

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    The Tour de France is now well underway and, in case you hadn’t heard, its first three stages took place in our green and pleasant land. Now that the riders have left us and begun the real journey down through France, we though it was high time we took a look at some of the best Tour-inspired projects to have emerged over the past seven days, because for some reason bikes get the creative community REALLY inspired.

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    Franz Kafka, Vladimir Nabokov, Nick Hornby, T.S Elliot, Richard Dawkins, Ian Banks and Martin Amis – what ties them all together (aside from their stratospheric levels of success in the literary world)? Well for one thing they’ve all had the good fortune to have the mighty Jamie Keenan, London-based designer and book fetishist, lend his skills to their covers. Jamie’s designed more beautiful covers for works of fiction and non-fiction than I’m capable of wrapping my head around, including my absolute favourite cover for Lolita – a novel that has sent numerous designers into panic spirals when tasked with its reinvention.

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    Having just won magazine of the year at the SPD awards it’s probably of little surprise that New York is a magazine with serious design pedigree. They turn out bi-weekly editions of fantastic journalism all packaged in a manner that makes the content leap from the page, practically forcing you to engage with it. Karishma Sheth is responsible for a large part of that leaping, working full-time on feature and supplement design to create layouts that remain illuminating and exciting week on week. Prior to New York Karishma worked for Doyle Partners and Pentagram, so she’s already racked up some pretty solid design credits. For our money though, it’s her editorial work that really stands out, particularly this witty digest of the Big Apple’s must-see artworks. Very nice indeed!

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    Though it’s been only two weeks since we wrote about Anders Nilsen’s beautiful Rage of Poseidon he’s just knocked out another brilliant piece of graphic art (albeit satirical rather than fantastical) so we felt compelled to feature him again. In this instance he’s lampooning online retail giants Amazon for their detrimental effect on publishing, using some magnificently wry visual metaphors to discuss what appears to be a quite unpleasant situation.

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    This week James Cartwright wonders what the V&A is up to with its policy of “Rapid Response Collecting” and whether it really marks a shift in their curation policy. As ever you can add your thoughts using the discussion thread below.

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    It’s no secret that Studio Swine are forever pushing boundaries in the world of product design, taking uncommon materials and putting them to universal use. But their latest project is extremely unusual, even by their own standards. For Hair Highway the pair ventured into the heart of mainland China to the epicentre of the global human hair trade. There they acquired enough human hair to use it as the basis for a number of luxury bespoke objects – the carefully-maintained strands preserved in deep amber resin, creating stunning patterns and textures. To top it all off they’ve made this lovely film to document their journey, the people behind this strange trade and the finished products themselves.

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    Arguably the most distressing thing about growing up is that sudden realisation you reach one day that all the trappings of your childhood have disappeared – all the people you knew have aged, the places you went have disappeared and it’s impossible to ever go back. Bleak! But although this is a feeling we all feel at some point, very few get the chance to walk into their past and document it again.

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    London-based artist Aleksandra Mir has been busy over the past month investigating the process of drawing in a collaborative experiment that invites participants to contribute to a giant collage of the London skyline, rendered entirely with Sharpies. The process of creating the work was part of the exhibition itself, with Aleksandra and her team engaged in drawing everything by hand during the first days of the show. But for those that missed it there’s also a beautiful time-lapse film of the process, providing context and insight to this giant piece of collaborative draughtsmanship.