Author Archive: Liv Siddall

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Liv joined It’s Nice That as an intern in 2011 and is now one of our editors. She oversees itsnicethat.com and has a particular interest in illustration, photography and music videos. She is also a regular guest and sometime host on our Studio Audience podcast.

ls@itsnicethat.com@LivSiddall

1494 articles
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    Most of London is dirty and smelly all year round, but lovely, pretty west London really only gets a good old fashioned soiling once a year for the Notting Hill Carnival. The August bank holiday is here and yes, it’s Carnival time. We were going to make an in-house mix but then we realised what a bad idea that was (we tend to listen to things like Bob Dylan and that weird song by Bill Wyman). In our panic we asked south London DJ Bradley Zero to help us out, and he’s given us a well-informed mix of songs to take us through until terrible Tuesday. He also included some snaps of his time in Dominica to go with the mix he’s put together, which you can see below.

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    Anyone you know a downright sourpuss? Treat ‘em to a link to work by Hungarian designer Anna Kövecses. Here at It’s Nice That we give high praise to work that is candy-coloured and cute – as long as it never falls under the tasselled umbrella of “twee.” Anna’s work is a perfect example of that as beneath the childish exterior lies a wealth of design knowledge and style.

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    Oi! Listen up! This week it’s Liv Siddall in the hosting throne, with Rob Alderson, James Cartwright and the new voice of our editorial assistant Amy Lewin to brighten up your week. Fancy hearing Rob and James have a spat over art critic Jonathan Jones? Choose your side and keep tuned in for the second half folks. You can listen via the SoundCloud below or subscribe via iTunes over here.

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    How refreshing to see a music video that isn’t three minutes of slowly buffering and ultimately mind-bending CGI. The videos we cherish are always a combination of great idea plus low budget – which is what makes this new one for White Fence so perfect. Why has no one thought about putting a lead singer of a band in a prison for a music video before? I love the idea that no matter how much we worship bands and frontmen, if you threw them in the clanger for even an hour they wouldn’t last five minutes.

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    Apologies if this is a slightly dismayed post, but upon thinking I had stumbled across a gem via Nieves’ announcement of some new zines I was excited to be the first to write about Keegan McHargue on It’s Nice That. Alas I was not, but it doesn’t mean that we can’t shout about his brilliance once more.

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    We’ve been posting music-related art and design articles on It’s Nice That since the very beginning. In fact the first music video ever posted on It’s Nice That is this one by Koichiro Tsujikawa back in May 2007. Since then we’ve covered countless festival posters and identities, record sleeves, band logos, ad campaigns and tour photography amongst pretty much every other kind of music-related content you can think of, barring only reviewing music itself.

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    This is great! Haim have actually had a really great back catalogue of videos so far, proving to everyone that this medium is still mega-important as to how a band is seen (Metronomy also do this well). Now I may not recognise many (any) of the trendy music names that star in this video, but what I do know a lot about is chat shows. The whole video is a pastiche of ubiquitous telly fodder like Jerry Springer, Jeremy Kyle and Oprah – the gross chairs, beige set-design and on-screen graphics that remind you of Saved by the Bell that we all know and love.

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    Google Jack Kerouac’s The Dharma Bums and almost every book cover design that appears either depicts someone hitchhiking or it has the aesthetic of a grotty travel diary of someone who’s been “finding themselves” along a motorway for a month or two too long. Kerouac’s novels don’t even need covers, right? They’re stand-alone pieces of literary genius. Big applause is needed then for Copenhagen designer Torsten Lindsø Andersen who has taken the rulebook of second-rate Kerouac book design and thrown it out the train window on to the track where it belongs. These ambient, sterile designs he’s proposed for the author’s back catalogue are the perfect fit to the words within: weird, unpredictable, drunk and unique.

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    Hey there’s a big floppy pepperoni on that Palomino! Most days I’d find the idea of wasted pizza an atrocity not worthy of further promotion, but I guess this photo series is kind of different. In a somewhat strange diversion from his otherwise rather professional work, this photographer has chosen to take countless pizzas into the great outdoors and capture them against the backdrop of the natural world. Jonpaul Douglass, whose name is a little like someone drunkenly writing John Paul Douglas, has snapped the humble pizza on sun loungers, in bushes, draped over basketball hoops, and even clinging for dear life over the barrel of a military tank. Why is this good? It just is; the quality of the photos is terrific, and ten extra points to Jonpaul who braved looking mega-weird in public to get these shots.

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    Happy-go-lucky party animal Ewen Spencer is responsible for taking some of the most nostalgic series of photographs of partying we’ve ever come across. He made it his business to attend every underground rave or “it” place to be for the last 20 years or so, and has subsequently given much pleasure to members of the public who, for one reason or another, struggle to remember exactly what these places were actually like. As something of a hero of subculture, we were keen to ask Ewen about his favourite music video. It’s not a rare grime track or a blurry UK hip hop banger, it’s actually just a really lovely song by R.E.M.

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    Anyone who designs a clock that reminds you to “have a nice day” must be a good person, and it turns out Joe Cole Porter is not just nice, he’s also incredibly good at what he does. His work is the perfect balance of well-informed and actually fun. How many times have you watched through your fingers at corporate brands trying to be fun and ending up just being boring with a healthy dose of wacky? Exactly. They should take a leaf out of Joe’s book and produce design that is cheerful and colourful but intelligent enough to get the job done at the same time – a bit like a friendly builder, or a cheeky plumber. Some of Joe’s most exciting stuff is his record sleeve design, and we hope to see a little more of that in the future.

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    Fantastic mix this week from London mix-merchants Shock World Service. “I find it difficult to sum up what the podcast is,” says creator Jon Averill. “On one hand the Shock World Service is just another mixtape. On the other it is more music and sound collage, music and spoken word interwoven with sounds and dialogue recorded around the city – best suited for long train journeys or flights, ideally late at night and played loudly on headphones.”

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    A sincere, golden corner of the internet here: The Datamath Calculator Museum. The online museum is a historic, matter-of-fact and outrageously in-depth look at the history of calculators in the modern world. Remember the first time that a “scientific calculator” appeared on your back-to-school list? This trove will take you hurtling back to sitting in double maths using that very machine to write “boobless” (80087355) over and over again until the bell rang.

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    Considering it had been a while since I had had a proper delve through this great guy’s portfolio, revisiting his site was a refreshing reminder of just how talented Gwendal Le Bec really is. Sometimes people can be frowned upon for aping or mimicking a style from someone else but in Gwendal’s case it’s different as he successfully takes elements from all the most infamous illustrators of times gone by and adds them to his own style.

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    I’ve rarely spent as much time on an artist’s site as I did on Pooneh’s when first stumbling across it. Scrolling through her reams and reams of photographs is akin to waking up at a festival and trying to piece together flashbacks of the night before like some sort of stained, star-studded puzzle.

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    Hello and welcome to Studio Audience, the It’s Nice That podcast. This week the host is Liv Siddall and she’s joined by Maisie Skidmore and James Cartwright – The Triad. Wherever you listen to us, on the bus, the toilet or a whim, we hope you enjoy our cultural chit chat. You can listen via the SoundCloud below or subscribe via iTunes over here.

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    The curious work of Corinne Day seems to rear its ever-appealing head every now and again, just to remind us of a time gone by that we weren’t part of, and will never fully understand. Gaining worldwide notoriety with her famous, career-making shots of a teen Kate Moss on Camber Sands for The Face, Corinne’s groundbreaking photographs of quintessentially British, black-soled urchins were to become stuff of legend. Contrived shoots of hired models were never her thing, instead Corinne lifted her lens to those closest to her – the ones doing the washing up, smoking fags out of windows, watching telly. The fact that all her friends were rebellious models was just a bonus.

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    ‘Tis the mating season! Let us breed! Summer is HOT, and not just in terms of the weather. Everyone looks great in summer with their shiny hair, tanned skin and lack of layers – people you didn’t look twice at in winter are now incredibly alluring, which is why there are so many babies born in winter. Seed Animation Studio are in on this notion, and have made a somewhat steamy little animation entitled Cream Tease – a scintillating series of moving images that lead up to a summer twist to cool you off before you pop. If this was an actual film it probably wouldn’t be allowed on It’s Nice That, hence the beauty of animation. Nice one Seed Studio, phew!

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    There’s a reason behind the popular notion that black and white photography makes people appear better looking – it’s true. Not saying for a minute mind you that the girls that Jeff Boudreau has photographed of late aren’t some of the most beautiful, dewy creatures walking the earth, but there is a certain charm about their monochromatic portraits that you perhaps wouldn’t get with colour film. Jeff is from Florida but now lives and works in London, filling his days with editorial fashion shoots and advertising briefs. This latest personal series compares his subjects to wild flowers in the dark – beautiful.

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    Fantastic work here from Lyon’s boundary-pushing designers Antoine Eckart and Francis Josserand, also know as Alles Gut. How do you say Alles Gut? Here at It’s Nice That we say it as if we’re saying “all’s good” in a funny European accent. Each to their own. Anyway, Alles Gut make the kinds of fliers, posters and small publications that we are totally into – sharp, well-considered colours and well thought-out references come together to make modern printed matter with quick-witted retro aesthetic references. Personal favourites? I’d say the posters for the HASTE parties – they really, really make you want to go to those parties.

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    We’re all big fans of Connan Mockasin, we listen to him in the studio all the time and we were pretty sad to miss him at Wilderness festival over the weekend. When we asked him to do a My Favourite Music Video feature we thought he’d pick something truly obscure and spectacular that we had never seen before – and he did. The recording artist has chosen a music video from an odd corner of the internet, and has told us why he loves it so much. To be honest we’re hoping Connan’s next vid is as great as this one. He says it gets better after a few listens, and yeah – I guess fingers crossed maybe it will…

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    We’re all pretty used to Tumblrs chock-full of palpable images of half-naked, creamy fleshed men and women surrounded by bowls of figs, cherry blossom and thrift store rugs. Maybe one of them is casually smoking a cigarette out of a car window on a lakeside road trip, perhaps one is clutching a can of beer, wrapped in a towel after skinny-dipping, laughing into the night.

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    When reading some articles about Lianne la Havas it soon became clear that this incredibly talented woman has got an agenda to promote and champion female artists everywhere. She notes Laura Marling, Little Dragon, Erykah Badu as some of her primary influences, which bodes pretty well for the female-heavy mix she’s made for us today. Lianne’s put together ten tracks that deal with heartache, blues, dancing and attitude, and she’s also thrown in some Dizzee Rascal for good measure. Thank you Lianne, this mix is adding an extra layer of velvet to our Friday.

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    Is anyone else slightly unnerved by how happy Bill Callahan has been of late? His songs no longer deal with loneliness and somewhat terrifying obsession and now dwell on nicer, every day things such as driving in the car with your loved one as a snoozing pillion passenger. Yes I know it’s nicer to listen to songs about that sort of thing, but I kind of miss wigging out to some of his earlier classics where he would, for example, go into stark lyrical detail about arranging a woman’s lingerie into the shape of a little dolly on the bed while she’s out.

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    Pretty much anything created in the style of an old video game is fine by us. This partiuclar pixel art music video created by animator Mattis Davier is a thrilling, erotic voyage into creepy suburbia where we’re faced with a Twin Peaks style horror story and a lot of visuals that kind of remind me personally of the Are You Afraid of The Dark? intro.

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    I don’t go to Mr Porter to wistfully scroll through their accessories section like I used to, now I just visit them to go and meander through their journal – an online magazine put together by the team there that champions the important things in life: holidays, booze, sunglasses, cars and art amongst other things. Over the years the features in this section of Mr Porter’s webspace has become increasingly stylish, representing the brand’s core values using only the best editorial accompanied by staggeringly good commissioned illustration.

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    Bees are precious, you hear me?! But you don’t need met to tell you that, people have been wigging out about bees dying for years. Rather than pool their minds together and sort out a solution to keep bees safe, these creative types were asked by bee-loving initiative The Honey Club to just create special artwork to help raise money for the bees instead. Way better!

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    The word “sumptuous” shouldn’t be thrown around willy nilly, but in the context of a new Johnnie Walker whisky ad featuring Jude Law lounging on what could be the world’s most expensive antique boat, lolling about on the sapphire Mediterranean, it’s totally acceptable. You may well have seen the Johnnie Walker ad in collaboration with Mr Porter going around the web last week, a 6-minute visual feast that is infused with style and money and a Talented Mr Ripley-vibe. Tom Cockram, a photographer we hold very dear to our hearts, has put all the behind-the-scenes shots from this ad that was directed by Jake Scott up on his site, and I’m tempted to say that I’m enjoying these even more than the ad itself.

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    Remember that moment when you stopped thinking of festivals as modern day Woodstocks and realised what they really were: enormous parties full of diseased people in Kigus in an arena of sponsorship deals? When you wake up in a shit tent with the side of your bedroom stuck to your disgusting face with only a warm Strongbow and a dead phone to look forward to for three days in a row, it becomes increasingly apparent that you are not in Woodstock, and Jimi Hendrix is not, and never was, going to play Star Spangled Banner for you today.

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    For someone whose go-to backdrop is a pastel-coloured sheet or a field of newly blossomed wild flowers, you’d be surprised at the weight at which Jody Rogac’s photographs can pack a punch. Her countless snaps of intelligent, powerful men and women are infused with a discreet elegance which is the end product of her wild combination of styling, choice of subject and ever-perfect composition.

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    It’s such a pleasure to feature powerful, cool women on the site. Today we have something of a double whammy in DJ, editor and journalist Hanna Hanra telling us about fellow powerful female, Siouxsie of Siouxsie and the Banshees fame. Just to make this even more meta, the chosen Banshees track is about a very powerful, female-oriented Middle Eastern story – how cool is that? As well as being one of the last people to ever interview Lou Reed (jealous) Hanna is also the editor of trendy music mag BEAT and has written for bigwigs such as Vogue, ELLE, The Sunday Times, The Evening Standard and GQ. Here she is on her love for a very rousing Siouxsie video…

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    I think you’ll agree with me when I say there there is something magical about mixed-sex bands. Band of Skulls is Russell Marsden, Emma Richardson, and Matt Hayward – a band from Southampton who are now mega big and famous and touring all over the place. I always breathe a sigh of relief when a band sends through a mixtape and it’s full of gold – how shit would it be if a really great band had really, really bad taste in music? Anyway, Band of Skulls are into James Brown, Sister Rosetta Sharpe, Beastie Boys and Buddy Holly – which is a selection totally fine by our standards.

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    There was a time when we at It’s Nice That were inundated with internet art – we were having so much submitted to us on a daily basis that it was pouring out of our ears in waxy gifs. It’s pleasing to be faced with it again, a year or two after the craze has kind of died out, when it’s created by someone who actually has a passion and an eye for this stuff and isn’t just jumping on a weird bandwagon.

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    Considering I love smoking, guitars, bright colours and farts, I’m pretty overwhelmed by how great this work by Spanish illustrator Puño is. In a recent exhibition entitled Miseria the multi-faceted artist stuck drawings and coloured squares all over the walls much to the delight of his seemingly really good-looking friends who came to see it. Work like this, made in the gaps between Puño’s rather professional editorial illustration, is just joyous isn’t it? You can almost imagine him grinning as he cut out the yellow butts and sticky-out legs from the pastel-coloured paper. Don’t even get me started on this GIF that he made. You can see some shots of the exhibition plus arty French babes over here

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    Welcome Podlingtons of Podlingtown. Welcome to our weekly podcast. This week is actually a really good episode in which Liv, James and Maisie put the world to rights with some fun (and at times funny) art and design chat. Interested? You should be. You can listen via the SoundCloud below or subscribe via iTunes over here..

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    The difference between artists and normal proles is shown in the ease at which an artist can convey a very simple idea with visuals to make it shine. For instance this new work by our much-loved local artist Tom Sewell, in which he created a 31-day lunar chart when asked by digital art blog Post Matter to take part in a month-long residency. To me, Tom’s work is like having a toe constantly submerged in anonymous, otherworldly fluid – he takes the online world and melts it down until it resembles pools of history, typography and coding all glooped together into one. This series of serene planet GIFs gives me the same ambient pleasure as my desktop Mountain, and I’m going to keep up with this lunar July calendar even though it’s August tomorrow.

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    Edward Cushenberry actually wrote to me to show me a really interesting photography project he’s working on at the moment. Unfortunately that was about the millionth interesting photography project we had seen this week, but one thing we were a bit short on was brilliant, entertaining, lo-fi illustration we could relate to. Let’s give a warm welcome then to Edward’s comics in which he deals with traumatic or memorable experiences from his own memory, or borrowed from this friends. His drawings cover such life topics as How to Properly Bury A Turtle and that awkward moment when the girl you kissed says that making out with you was “like drinking a glass of water.” Classic. Edward’s got his fingers in a lot of creative pies, but I’d say these comics were our personal favourites.

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    I love how Beck is always pushing the boat out and doing something that bit more creative than other recording artists. Remember when he released stickers with his album so you could design your own CD artwork? Or that time he discussed the meaning of creativity with Doug Aitken for his show at the Liverpool Biennial? Or his astonishing Song Reader? Exactly.

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    With over 600,000 snap happy visitors a year, you can imagine that Elvis Presley’s infamous Graceland mansion is pretty well documented. But it takes someone truly special to photograph something famous and still make it seem brand new, which is why we’re glad that Hedi Slimane – lover of rock and roll, and young, good-looking, rebellious men – took a trip to Elvis’ Memphis home late last year and brought his camera along.

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    Anyone in New York had better gallop over to Ed. Varie gallery to catch a new show by the ever-wonderful artist Ana Kraš. We’ve posted about Ana a few times, mainly about her beautiful lamps and designs to make your home/life better, and her fun collaborative photography projects. Her show at Ed. Varie entitled Mothers with Spoons and Relationships is an exploration into her more recent love of drawing, using predominantly back-to-basics art supplies such as wax, crayon and oil pastel.