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.


1314 articles
  1. List

    Since 2001 Sebastian Cremers, Tania Prill and Alberto Vieceli have been working together in Zurich under the name Prill Vieceli Cremers, producing work for reputable cultural institutions, a selection of fine artists and working on personal projects ranging from the cute to the bizarre. With an approach to design that could easily be branded experimental they attack each project with an impressive vigour, tailoring their methodology to the project at hand – meaning their portfolio is loaded with fantastically diverse work.

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    It’s a popular misconception that graphic design is practiced solely by tight-lipped Europeans in freshly-starched shirts who sit around planning white space on fresh pages – it’s an industry renowned for its neatness. But Hong Kong’s finest documenters of design trends Viction:ary have just released a new volume that proves quite the opposite; that there’s room in design for fast, loose, expressive graphics that speak of an energy no Swiss Modernist could possibly convey. Making A Splash brings together over 150 of these projects that utilise tactile media and fluid forms to create striking visuals that express a wilder side to design that we often fail to acknowledge.

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    There’s a simple, iconic power to the work of Magnus Voll Mathiassen whether he’s immortalising Krautrock legends Kraftwerk or sultry pop princess Rihanna with his trademark crisp lines. His reductive approach to image-making means he’s ideally suited to creating bold work for album covers, but to really appreciate his work it’s best to blow it up MASSSIVE. Which is more or less what he’s done for his new show Hybridio in Oslo, enlarging some of his most iconic work to the size of an actually human man so you can appreciate his skill up close. He’s also showing a selection of hand-drawn work and some incredible watercolours, thereby proving that there’s even more strings to his bow than we’d first thought.

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    Last weekend we spent an intermittently rainy Saturday traipsing up and down ELCAF’s rows of tables, laden with brightly coloured printed matter of all kinds. There were comics, zines, pots and prints, giant hardbacks printed by the thousand and tiny little editions of hand-made graphic novels, not to mention the talks by titans of the comics community like Jesse Moynihan, Seth and Chris Ware. For those of us who compulsively collect anything that pairs paper with ink it was an extremely satisfying day out so we thought we’d give you a quick (and limited) rundown of some of the great stuff on display.

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    The pursuit of happiness is a preoccupation that concerns nearly all of the western world – job satisfaction, thriving inter-personal relationships and a constant sense of well-being are things we’re all convinced we need to strive for. And yet so few of us ever really find that balance. This is something that Eleanor Davis knows only too well and has sought to explore in her latest collection of comics How To Be Happy, an amalgamation of short stories and sketches created over the past seven years. It’s a stunning body of work that brings together loosely personal and wholly fictional stories about joy, anguish, fear and loneliness – emotions all motivated by that essential quest to be the best you can be.

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    We’ve discussed Peckham Print Studio’s work on the site before. The south London-based screen printing studio keep popping up at events and exhibitions all over the Capital, showing anyone who’ll watch how to pull a super-tight screen print and use the process to make the best of their artwork. As well as workshops and events, they also print commercially for the likes of Kemistry Gallery, Ozwald Boateng, Sunspel and Urban Outfitters. But what makes these guys really interesting (aside from the quality of their work) is their approach to their online presence. Having just re-launched a website that’s leaps ahead of their competitors we caught up with Mike Guppy, the man who built it all, to find out about how and why it was done.

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    It’s been about two years since we featured Swiss design collective Atlas Studio. Back then they’d recently graduated from the Gerrit Rietveld Academie and were setting up shop producing stunning book and poster design for some pretty auspicious cultural organisations. Since then not much has changed, although they’ve had a whole host of new clients and have just been nominated for a Swiss design award (told you they were good!). What remains is their commitment to challenging themselves from the outset of each new project, setting strict limitations on the parameters within which they create their work – whether through time, process or materials. Pictured are a series of posters for a Swiss club night, all created in a single day. They’ve still got it!

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    Spanish illustrator and artist David Mendez Alonso makes the kind of exuberant imagery that’s desperate to be displayed across as many different media as possible. His vibrant patters, cheerful paintings and humorous sculptural works all embrace a luminous palette of colours and motley crew of unusual characters, giving them immediate universal appeal. As a result he’s constantly busy working on all manner of exciting projects, including fashion collections for Paraiso, elaborate books of curious character design and giant gouache paintings rich with pop culture references. Very nice indeed!

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    Epiforma is a brand new Portuguese design studio founded by Felipe Ferreira and Francisco Ribeiro in Porto. In spite of their newness it would appear they’ve long been busy working on all manner of projects across many facets of design. As well as practicing the more traditional graphic arts of branding and type design, they also produce high-end modular furniture, unusual board games and limited edition products. Judging by their website they’re also pretty good web designers and art directors too. In short, these guys appear to be very much the complete package and we’re excited to see what their first year of business holds in store.

  10. Rami-list

    Rami Niemi has been one of our favourite illustrators for a very long time. According to folklore the hilarious Finn lives in a cabin in the woods where he makes the kind of laugh-out-loud funny imagery that appeals universally to adults and children alike – although there’s often a good deal of smut thrown in too – creating ridiculous stories about folks with giant round heads.

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    I’ve always enjoyed Cleon Peterson’s work, even though the subject matter seems to focus solely on the most horrific aspects of human nature. But until now I’d only seen pieces that seemed to be set within an ancient and barbaric civilisation. Now it seems his depictions of orgiastic ultra violence have had an update, and there’s modern policemen in uniforms getting truncheon and trigger-happy on every poor sod that passes by.

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    Manheim-based design consultancy Deutsche & Japaner are incredibly varied in their output. Not in terms of quality of course, but in their approach to projects and the clients with whom they work. Not only have they designed websites for erotic magazine Tissue, created merchandise for Jay-Z’s Magna Carter Holy Grail tour and brought together Nike and Liberty in a set of beautiful posters, but also their recent branding for an upmarket hotel in their home town has made beautiful an area of design that is so often tawdry and tedious. Keeping things varied is clearly good for the creative brain if it yields results as good as these!

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    I’m going to admit to a certain bias towards Nicos Livesey’s latest animation before I say anything more about it. As a teenager every bag and garment I owned was plastered with patches that I’d picked up in Camden – or at a horrible little shop in my hometown called Tiger Lily – paying homage to any number of death metal bands I was obsessing over at the time (and some embarrassingly poor nu-metal ones too). I couldn’t get enough of them. But in spite of this penchant for embroidered badges I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Tharsis Sleeps will appeal even to those who don’t like to wear their bands on their sleeves.

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    It’s no secret that in spite of the increasing digitisation of contemporary culture, we still dearly love to hold actual objects in our hands – and the more elaborate the better. It’s a fact that record labels, magazines, publishers and most other spheres of the packaging industries have been exploiting for some time, fashioning beautifully ornate objects for which fans are only too happy to part with vast sums; whether it’s a die-cut, debossed, double gatefold or otherwise.

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    “Summer summer summertime,” sung The Fresh Prince’s backing singers in his smash hit song, Summertime. Why? Because he freakin’ loves summertime – and so do we!

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    If I had to write down a list of criteria for becoming an artist or illustrator that I obsess over, it would probably go something like this: 1. They have to show something of themselves in their work. 2. They can be cutting edge, but in no way trendy. 3. They have to be 100% batshit crazy – otherwise I’m not interested. The mysterious El Neoray has all of these attributes, brought together in a portfolio that features an unflattering portrait of Grimes, a spirit animal crapping in the hands of its ward and all manner of grotesque characters that seem vaguely human but have a stunted neanderthal edge. Add that to a rudimentary use of colour and frantic, childlike line-work and you’re on to a total winner. I can’t get enough of this guy and think you really ought to feel the same.

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    Last time we bigged up Norwegian/American studio Non-Format it was for an anthropomorphic animal head serving as the identity for Only Connect Festival of Sound in Oslo; so it seems only right that the following feature also explores the visuals for that same Nordic gathering. This time the festival has been dedicated to the late, great J.G Ballard – a man for whom much graphic design and illustration has already been produced, both for his books and film adaptations, as well as in his cult magazine, Ambit. But the Non-Format team have steered clear of any Ballardian visual clichés and adopted a retro-futuristic, geometric approach to the branding, utilising a glitchy typeface for the logo mark and a variety of pixellated patterns to tie the programme’s contents together. And not a smashed-up car or crash-test dummy in sight!

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    By all accounts Kevin Harris is an extraordinary badass, working only for the very coolest record labels and publications, with collaborators like Mario Hugo and Tim Lahan in tow. Part designer, part illustrator, with art direction and animation skills aplenty, he’s carving out a niche for himself producing effortlessly awesome work that references 1990s web art, stoner comics, tie-dye fabrics and pulp pornography with serious conceptual flair. He does his OWN comics too which obviously makes him OK by us. Look out for this one, he’s going to be huge!

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    Ed Anthony is a self-taught artist based in London who specialises in the creation of large-scale graphite portraits. His enormous works on paper demonstrate an extraordinary understanding of texture and tone, using a single, simple medium to render the faces of his sitters in strikingly realistic detail. In this particular series Ed has focussed his attention on some of the biggest names in architecture today – he works as an architectural model-maker by day – and immortalised them in graphite, interviewing them while he did so to better understand their relationship with physical media. He’s also got a show opening at the Palazzo Bembo in Venice this week, where you’ll be able to see more of his portraits in person.

  20. Bartkira-list

    Fan art is a weird and wonderful world with laws entirely unto itself. Long-term lovers of comics, film and heavy metal bands (it’s usually these three demographics) with even slight artistic leanings love nothing more than to scribble their heroes onto any spare surface they can find – acetate cells, copy paper and even their own skin. In the field of fan art though, one recent project is head and tails above the rest: Bartkira.

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    Studio Hato have been around in some guise or another since 2009, although they’ve only recently given themselves an official name. They’re the design branch of a multi-faceted organisation that also includes Hato Press (an exceptional Risographic print studio) and Hato Labo (a digital design and programming team) all based in north east London. Its founders, Jackson Lam and Ken Kirton, have been around since the very beginning, working away on a multitude of commercial projects behind the scenes, while the reputation of the press has grown.

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    Every time a new erotic title comes through the door we wonder how long they’ll survive. There’s so many “intelligent” magazines out there with a penchant for nudity that we assume only a few will last more than a couple of issues – even if the quality is superb. One title in the erotic stable that continues to grow and develop is Odiseo, a publication from Barcelona’s Folch studio that’s more of a book than a magazine. In it you’ll find a sensitive approach to erotic subjects and a wealth of illuminating opinion pieces all of which subvert what we’ve come to define as erotic in the digital age.

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    Usually we feature Jorge Primo for his refreshingly sunny approach to advertising and branding. We’ve long admired him for his careful combination of washed-out colour palettes, vintage type and regular nods to traditional and more rudimentary print processes. But today it’s just a personal project we want to talk about; a new series of posters Jorge has produced that build abstract totems from a visual kit of unique geometric forms. There’s no complex concepts here or intellectual pretence, it’s just simple colours and simple shapes brought together to form charming characters. Lovely stuff.

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    There’s a lot of photographers out there shooting images of inanimate objects on coloured backgrounds (we know, we’ve worked with a bunch of them for our magazine covers) but there’s only a few that manage to put such a unique twist on the genre as Wyne Veen. The Dutch photographer possesses a mastery of her medium that allows a stack of peeling lemons to appear as a sinister totem, carefully-arranged cups of coffee to become an optical illusion and cartons of ice cream to look sensual and exciting in their own right, without the faux-orgasmic posturing of a model that’s the advertising default. There’s also (wait for it) real ideas behind her work; some based on serious editorial, others on experimentation with materials and that keeps the work endlessly fresh – you never feel like Wyne’s photographs are just about the aesthetics.

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    The Mill’s Aran Quinn and Jeffrey Dates have just finished work on an utterly charming animated rendition of American poet Kenn Nesbitt’s Wayne The Stegosaurus. The poem details the shortcomings of a dinosaur named Wayne, who’s bizarre antics are the result of a tiny brain. “He can’t remember up from down. He thinks the sky is chocolate brown. He wears his bow tie on his tail and likes to eat the daily mail.” In spite of this stupidity, Wayne’s life is incredibly entertaining when brought to life by Aran and Jeffrey, and their bug-eyed and gormless, pink protagonist is sure to warm even the iciest of hearts.

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    We don’t do this very often but one of our heroes, Brecht Vandenbroucke, turned up at the studio this morning all the way from Antwerp, just to say hi. It reminded us of what a thoroughly nice chap he is – he always hand-paints any envelope he sends our way – and what an incredible talent too. He kindly signed and drew in a copy of the Autumn 2013 Printed Pages, for which he created an exclusive set of White Cube comics, which we’ll be giving away later today on the Printed Pages Twitter. But for now remind yourself of what a terrific chap he is by enjoying his latest portfolio updates. Bye now!

  27. List

    Book cover designer Peter Mendelsund has just finished work on a publication that brings together the fruits of his career thus far in the form of a rather beautiful monograph. To those of us that know his work well it seems like a deserved achievement to have it represented in a book of his own, but he’s typically modest of the honour: “After producing enough passable design to have established a reputation – and after having participated in the requisite interviews, given the obligatory talks, and pursued the necessary whimsical side projects of varying natures – it is de rigeur that a designer should then publish a book of his or her work.” And so he has.

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    In 1978 Greg Reynolds was a closeted homosexual working as a youth minister for a large, conservative, religious organisation in the USA; the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. His role was to train young Christian men and women to evangelise their peers in their hometowns. During term-time Greg would travel the country to colleges and universities, then in the summer his work would take him to Bible camps in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

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    Graphic designer, photographer and collector Marc Walter has amassed an extraordinary collection of photographs for TASCHEN’s latest publication An American Odyssey. With them he creates a comprehensive picture of the new world in its earliest days, all ramshackle mining towns in the Midwest, steam boats in New York’s first ports and an explosion of new industrial cities. Not only does this collection of images provide a unique examination of life over a century ago, it presents it all in full colour by virtue of techniques called Photochrom and Photostint that predated autochrome by almost 20 years – capturing “the rich ochres and browns of the Grand Canyon” and “the dazzle of Atlantic City” for all to see.

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    The second year graphic design students on Central Saint Martins’ BA course are about a year ahead of anyone else when it comes to their degree show planning. They’ve already put the wheels in motion to raise vast sums to help launch themselves professionally when they graduate. In order to do so they’ve got a pop-up shop in progress that aims to be the most expensive concept store the world has ever seen. In it they’ll be selling one-off pieces for up to one million pounds, although the more their website is shared through social media channels, the lower the price will get.

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    Toni Halonen’s work is almost unrecognisable from when we first featured it back in 2012. The Finnish designer and illustrator has more or less abandoned the CGI characters and distorted typefaces that populated his early work in favour of something altogether more natural and illustrative – which is probably because he now keeps his own design studio as well.

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    Paris-based graphic designer Michael Thorsby originally hails from Sweden, but has travelled across Tokyo, Copenhagen and London picking up influences and developing his work before settling in Paris with a visual language that’s entirely his own. His projects vary enormously from luxurious pattern design fro the likes of Sixpack France, beautiful posters for obscure bands and laboriously 3D rendered commercials for automobile brands. There’s seemingly nothing he can’t do.

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    CANADA’s recipe is usually a very simple one: take a selection of beautiful, scantily-clad girls, place them in mid-century surroundings and have them act out all manner of strange activities. The rest always seems to work itself out. For their latest reel of film, as part of Nowness’ #DefineBeauty series, they’ve added a magnificent cheeky twist to this winner of a recipe which you’ll have to wait to the end to enjoy – although that little bug-eyed guy below has a lot to do with it.

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    We’re furious to have only just discovered this (it’s almost two months old now) but one of our favourite designers, Nathalie du Pasquier, has recently launched a new collection with American Apparel. The legendary Memphis Group founder has created a selection of custom graphic prints, evocative of those she designed in her heyday, on a selection of simple garments for both men and women. Personally I’ve never been able to pull off bold prints, but for the fashion-challenged like me there’s a selection of beautiful blankets available too.

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    Personally I can think of nothing worse than spending months at sea in a giant frozen boat, risking my life night and day so that people lazier than I am can enjoy a fish supper once a week. Sounds hellish. And yet Corey Arnold spent seven years aboard various commercial fishing vessels on Alaska’s Bering Sea, battling gargantuan waves, sleepless nights and sub-zero temperatures rustling crab and fish from the arctic waters. Thankfully he took his camera along with him, meaning we get to experience this hazardous profession without having to set even one foot onto a boat. Easy!

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    I didn’t know anything about Iris Apfel until I started working at It’s Nice That, and now what I know about her can be reduced to a few words; she’s really bloody cool! In fact she’s so cool that Tate Modern invited her to offer some thoughts on their blockbuster 2014 show Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs in a short film. In it Iris chooses a series of unsurprisingly glamorous outfits that have been inspired by her favourite pieces in the exhibition. There’s a Dior cape that’s, “as heavy as a horse blanket,” some early Gianni Versace, “that kind of just goes doesn’t it?” and other garments that Iris declares are, “so Matisse-y!” In conclusion; “I guess everybody who worked with colour was influenced by our friend. Mr Matisse certainly knows how to carve through colour!”

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    Going back over our archive of posts on Nathaniel Russell you’ll find we’ve featured him – directly or indirectly – a total of nine times. This is the tenth. Sometimes we’ve looked at his multicoloured space capes, other times it’s been his giant drawings of potted plants, if not his exploration of wooden cut-outs, and there was one occasion where we asked him to write some nice words for our magazine. This time we’d like to look at his illustrations of California and marvel at his talent and the sheer variety of his work.

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    Sometimes we genuinely find some of the best creative work for the site while hanging out in the pub – in this case by mooching about in my local last Saturday night. I ran into an old friend from university who still lives with Liam Cobb (another old friend from college) a comic book artist who’s spent the last few years working absurdly hard on his storytelling and image-making, recently producing the beginnings of a futuristic dystopian opus, drawn with the flair of Moebius and balanced with witty, understated dialogue that makes the apocalypse seem really quite drab.

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    We don’t want to seem like we’re showing favouritism to particular publications by featuring them repeatedly on the site, but even though we profiled Edition 9 of Process Journal back in October, Edition 10 is equally deserving of attention, and so we’re covering the Aussie mag again.

  40. List

    We haven’t caught up with Jan Van Der Veken since January 2013 – there was that massive magazine article we wrote on him, but that hardly counts. Since we last spoke he’s had his first monograph published with Gestalten, started a family and set up stock illustration archive Lekstock, which allows users to download great imagery from Belgian illustrators as easily as they would photography. Lots of changes! But what hasn’t changed is Jan’s unwavering skill as an image maker and master of the clear line – a skill that has the ability to delight us even though we’ve long been familiar with his work.