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

1583 articles
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    Back in March, Professor Phil Cleaver released a small but weighty new book entitled What They Didn’t Teach You In Design School. The book sought to fill people in on the finer points of design education often skimmed over by busy tutors, and the result is a funny, nitty-gritty publication that is genuinely useful! For our Back to School feature we asked author Professor Phil Cleaver to share a few of his favourite, most memorable excerpts from the book. Enjoy!

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    No magazine gets snapped up and devoured like Apartamento when it arrives into the It’s Nice That studio – there’s something about its size, understated beauty and incomparable wit that makes it irresistable. It states that it’s an “everyday life interiors magazine,” but it’s so much more than that, providing in-depth interviews with some of the coolest people who walk on this earth, with snooping photographs of their dwellings to boot. Now on its 14th edition, I wanted to ask Omar Sosa, the magazine’s much-loved founder, a little about this issue, those in the past, and where Apartamento is headed.

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    Embarrassingly, I only recently realised the magic and majesty of The Paris Review. I came across it when a recent issue was illustrated by one of my favourite artists, Chris Ware. Eager to see who was responsible for this decision, I tracked down their art editor and came across Charlotte Strick. Charlotte is a fantastic, intelligent book jacket designer who is utterly seeped in the work that she makes, so much so that she writes about design almost as much as she practices it. I was keen to speak to Charlotte about what she did and what got her there, but I wasn’t prepared for the level of detail she was to go in. – she gives a truly spectacular interview. Here she is…

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    If you’re slightly unhappy in your day-to-day job and secretly feel that perhaps you should be doing something a tad more creative, look away now. This film leads you up whitewashed stairs to a gargantuan, high-ceilinged New York studio, inhabited by two well-known artists, Ana Kras and Devendra Banhart. We’ve featured Ana’s work a few times on the site for her beautiful, simplistic, friendly furniture design and works on paper.

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    It was hard to think of creatives that didn’t actually go to art school; we asked around but surprisingly few came forward to say they were never formally trained in their profession. We were surprised when Carl Kleiner told us he hadn’t completed a degree at an arts university, so we asked him to tell us why that was, and how, if at all, it has affected the way he works now. Accompanying this article is a new series by Carl entitled There Will Be Blood – further proof that a three-year stint art school wasn’t necessary for this talented man. Here he is…

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    Haven’t you always wished you were a flippy-flappy ol’ slice of bread, flopping all over a perilous kitchen and collecting grime whilst simultaneously completing complicated missions? I have, which is why this new game I Am Bread is so exciting. It was developed in London by Bossa Studios who create Bafta-winning games such as Monstermind, Surgeon Simulator 2013, and Deep Dungeons of Doom.

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    We often find ourselves discussing the role, and lack of women in the world of graphic design. Rather than try and cackhandedly work it out for ourselves we decided to ask someone at the frontline of the issue to help explain it. Rebecca Wright is programme director of graphic communication design at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London. With Lucienne Roberts, she is also co-founder of GraphicDesign&, a pioneering publishing house exploring the relationship between graphic design and the wider world, and the value that it brings. GraphicDesign& will be launching a survey for graphic designers in early 2015 as part of a new project which uses social science to look at who graphic designers are and how they work.

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    This is nuts. When you thought OK GO couldn’t do any better in one take than their last, famed effort then think again. The foursome are back with one of the most staggering efforts in the history of music videos, this time set in some sort of airport where the gang ride around on electronic unicycles popping umbrellas with about 1000 extras to form kaleidoscopic patterns when shot from above. The jaw dropping first few minutes is totally trumped in the last minute where the whole formation quadruples in size leaving you with your jaw resting on the desk in front of you. Unreal.

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    There’s a reason Jeremy Leslie is one of the most knowledgable guys on the planet when it comes to magazines, he spent a good few years at London College of Communication back in the 1980s honing his skill when magazines and printed matter were in their absolute heyday. We were curious as to the experiences Jeremy had at art school in the early 1980s and how much (if at all) it informed his love for publications today. Naturally, we wanted to see what he looked like back then. Turns out it’s similar to what everyone looked like in the 1980s: the same, but with more hair. Here he is on student life and the value of a good education with fantastic tutors.

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    Francesca Jane Allen studied Photography at the prestigious London College of Communication. Since then she’s been an It’s Nice That Graduate and is now on a total rise – 70,000 adoring Instagram followers and emails flooding in from established publications from all over the world to commission her. A few weeks ago we wrote to Francesca asking her to write a piece about her time at art school. She was one of the few people who responded with a negative point of view on the subject, so we asked her to elaborate on why it wasn’t for her, and how even though you’re encouraged to go, perhaps sometimes it isn’t always the right thing to do. Here she is on why you don’t have to go to art school to be a spectacular photographer…

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    IKEA are known for using their stores to promote their goods (I’m referring of course to the highly successful ad where they filled one of their shops with cats and filmed it) and today they’re back with a new spot to celebrate Hallowe’en. This time they’ve taken the famous scene from The Shining where Danny rolls around on his trike and inserted that same ominous fear into their own store. I swear anyone that puts a Rail Cam anywhere and follows a kid on a small tricycle around for a while is going to give everyone the heebie-jeebies, and this is no exception. The ending’s a bit weird, but at least you’ll be able to sleep after watching it, which is more than I can say for the original.

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    Don’t know who King Zog are? SORT IT OUT. Okay fine, they’re four strapping lads who all went to uni together who absent-mindedly, perhaps drunkenly dreamt of forming a collective upon graduating. Unlike most people who have dreams, they actually went and bloody did it. Now they’re all rather successful and clever I thought it might be funny to humiliate them online and ask them to show us their best and most catastrophic university projects – turns out even their shit ones are better than most. Oh well. Take it away boys.

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    I’m super into these portraits by Maya Fuhr, I think I spent about 45 seconds staring into the pond-coloured eyes of the guy two pics down. Maya’s got this magic touch when it comes to photography, her work is so simultaneously humble and powerful, making her the perfect candidate for quietly strong editorial and personal work. We’ve covered her editorial before – a brilliant photo shoot of girls in messy bedrooms – but something about the power of her portraits made us want to write about her again. She also recently opened up to us about her days as college a fresher, and the perils of choosing the wrong degree (with some brilliant photographs of her in 2008 to accompany it, naturally).

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    Setting up a design studio and changing your name to a cool pseudonym is a good two-fingers-up to life on the quiet side. Parisian designer Julien Ducourthial decided to make this leap, and now overseas The Jazzist, offering bold, fluoro design work “serving in fields of graphic design, illustration and art direction in digital & printed media.” When Julien emailed us he told us he was inspired by 8-bit imagery and cartoons, which gave us an immediate inkling that we were going to like his work. Anyone looking to commission a great French designer any time soon? Julien is your man.

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    This week the whole of London has been going nuts for art – what with Frieze, The Sunday Art Fair and the Turner Prize all going on at once. None of these events would be nearly as good without a specially curated (sorry) mixtape that features strictly art-related songs. Think there aren’t that many songs about art? Think again, there are loads, and I’m as surprised as you are. If you think we’ve forgotten any gems just add them in via the comments box below and we’ll add them in. Happy art-ing everyone!

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    There is something incredibly pleasing about this odd collection of passenger-less log flumes. Without the crowds of families and awkward first dates there’s something a little bit sad, maybe even philosophical about them. The photos have been collected by Falmouth grad Zef Cherry-Kynaston whose website boasts one of the most brilliant CVs in existence. “A log flume winds its way around a watery course and slowly climbs the lift hill,” Zef says on his site. “Reaching the top, it then hurtles down the slope. A camera flashes moments before the flume plunges into the water below. Splash! The resulting image is a souvenir; a snapshot of joyous exhilaration.”

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    Another one pilfered off Haw-Lin here I’m afraid, (I can’t help it if their taste is better than everyone else’s can I?). This charming selection of photographs of aesthetically-blessed chaps hanging out with pedigree dogs is by Philippe Jarrigeon, the man who once charmed us with square oranges back in the day. This shoot was commissioned by the spectacular Double Magazine, and is testament to why they’re currently on their 27th issue – they clearly know what they’re doing content-wise. If you think cute boys and pups are click-bait then I’d be inclined to disagree – the world needs happy photography, and you don’t get much more joy in an editorial than this. Like what you see? Let me point you this way to another fantastic shoot with a similar concept from 2012.

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    What a podcast this week! Rob’s away, so the kids’ table that is Liv Siddall, Maisie Skidmore and James Cartwright reigns supreme! This week we chew the fat by way of Iggy Pop’s John Peel Lecture about the state of the music industry, and the treasure-packed spectacle that is Frieze London and Frieze Masters 2014.

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    Victoria Siddall has worked at Frieze for just over a decade and two years ago was made Director of Frieze Masters. Excitingly, just a few weeks ago she was appointed Director of Frieze Masters, Frieze New York and Frieze London. As well as being one of the most powerful women in the art world, Victoria is also my sister, so I was curious to find out how she’s feeling on the dawn of her new career.

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    People try for decades to become “good” designers, but sometimes your mate’s Dad can pull something out of the bag that trumps your every effort. Frustrated at the time it takes to build and launch paper planes, this man used cutting-edge 3D-printing technology to create a machine that does the hard work for you. Just when you think the design of the plane-wielding machine doesn’t look too exciting, he turns it upside down to reveal the intricate workings inside. How fantastic to see someone put 3D-printing to a unique and very silly use, rather than making something we’ve all seen before.

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    Self-proclaimed “Charlie Bucket lookalike” Stuart Heritage is one of the It’s Nice That team’s favourite writers. Working primarily for The Guardian, Stu’s now famous live-blogs embrace television black-holes such as The X Factor, First Dates and Gogglebox and put a carefree, humorous spin on footage that could otherwise make you lose faith in mankind. His observational humour is what’s got him where he is today, so we knew he’d be the perfect candidate to speak tellingly bout his days as a wide-eyed, floppy-haired Fresher. To read more of Stu’s writing, you can find it over here.

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    “In February 2013, 18 weeks pregnant, I was diagnosed with bowel cancer.” That’s the opening statement on the website of graphic novelist Matilda Tristram, who channeled this painful chapter of her life into a bestselling comic entitled Probably Nothing. We interviewed Matilda a while back on the site and were so intrigued by her story, we had to know more. In this revealing, insightful Bookshelf, Matilda shows us the fantastic books that have inspired her to be one of the most important and engaging graphic novelists working today. Here she is…

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    It’s tricky to put Ilona Gaynor into a specific art and design category. In a way she is a situation designer who invents plots and circumstances to explore complicated themes and ideas that are displayed like immaculately-designed premeditated detective stories.

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    I came across the work of Matthias Geisler over on Booooooom the other day and was reminded that we hadn’t posted something like this in a while. Matthias’ work is a swirling blend of spirits and creatures that are created with meticulous use of pencil crayons and water-colours. Is it me or are watercolours real in at the moment? All the cool kids seem to be using them.

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    Anyone who’s worked for Ryan McGinley is probably covered in a lil’ pinch of magic dust when it comes to photography. Eric Chakeen proves this point – his personal and commissioned shots are a wild mix of humour and professionalism that is hard to come by. Working in New York, Eric’s skill lies in his ability to roam the streets and take portraits of people with true personality. From a guy munching on a cigar on a scooter to a dog in a post-vet neck cone, anything he turns his lens on turns to gold. You could argue that it doesn’t take much to get a good shot of Alexa Chung, but would many people choose to photograph her in such a stripped-back way? I think not. How great to see someone doing something that so many people are experimenting with right now, but adding that extra bit of style and wit. Cool guy.

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    Welcome aboard the weekend! This week at It’s Nice That HQ we’ve been talking about the gripping new podcast from the guys over at This American Life, Serial, pondering getting on trains that don’t actually have drivers, wallowing in the sweet, sweet cheesy goodness that is the new BBC cover of God Only Knows and replaying the fantastic animation about online dating below. What have you been doing?

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    It’s funny how much of this interview with Kyle Platts resonated with me, as I’m sure it will with you. When you’re a kid violence is so cool – any excuse to watch the last scene of Braveheart or go to The London Dungeon is leapt upon with an enthusiasm you probably don’t experience as much now you’re older. As part of our Back to School month we wanted to ask some of our favourite illustrators to share with us some drawings they made when they were at school. I knew we’d get some gold, but I never expected anything this good. Here’s Kyle Platts on how his drawing has evolved over the years, and why he was so obsessed with blood and guts.

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    Hello and welcome to this week’s Studio Audience. This week we discuss plans for a floating cycle lane on the Thames, a complete Butlin’s redesign, the It’s Nice That Back to School feature and the excitement surrounding David Lynch’s announcement of the new series of Twin Peaks.

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    Recording people when they are…ahem..not themselves, is not commendable. Footage of someone off their tits is enough to make them lose their jobs but who are we to judge? It’s nearly Friday and someone’s just released a whole blog of GIFs made from footage of people losing it to deep house at Boiler Room. I love how if you were sober you would never, ever dance near the camera at the front of this infamous travelling night – but as soon as some booze (and maybe other substances) is consumed, BAM! There you are stroking a speaker as if it’s a fluffy pillow and gyrating as if your life depended on it. Well done to whoever made this. A big well done.

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    To celebrate our Back to School month on It’s Nice That, we asked a bunch of creatives to send in some photographs of them taken in the early days of university and tell us a little about their time there. First up is Maya Fuhr, the spectacular photographer who came on to our radar with her brilliant photographs of girls in messy bedrooms. She’s an exciting, successful photographer now, but at the start things weren’t so easy. Here she is on being a fresher, and the perils of being 18-years-old at college.

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    Wake up! Freshers’ Week is done – all that colourful IKEA kitchenware your mum got you is nowhere to be seen and you’ve gained 478 new friends on Facebook and an awkward conversation with your home friends about who you’re actually going to Glastonbury with next year. To be honest, being a fresher usually goes on for way longer than a week. After a month or so of partying and drinking Glenn’s Vodka and Robinson’s out of tupperware bowls you wake up with a whole load of briefs to tackle and studio space and equipment to fight over. This is the START of ART SCHOOL.

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    Ever see those massive billboards of ice-cold beverages and think “who actually photographs those?” Well now we know, it’s Nick Rees, a still-life photographer who specialises in drinks. From pints of Guinness as black as night, to a mouthwatering, fizzing glass of ice cold Coca-Cola, Nick manages to fill your mouth up with saliva with every image he takes. Want to know the best bit? He doesn’t even use CGI – he states that each of his images is “100% a photograph.” We caught up with Nick to find out the ins-and-outs of this niche branch of photography…

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    If you asked anyone in the UK to draw a character from the Beano, they’d most probably be able to get on with the task off by heart. The characters in the age-old weekly comic are etched onto our brains from a young age, and every kid’s got their favourite strip. For me, it was The Bash Street Kids, a cartoon created by Leo Baxendale in 1954 about a pesky gang of kids driving their teacher nuts. Lessons, rules, bullies – the Beano knew how to make its readers happy by bringing them seemingly infinite story-lines about something most British children see as the world’s worst chore – school.

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    I wonder how many projects have been inspired by the treacherous, but often successful world of online dating. Matchmaking is no new thing – for years lonely hearts columns have been providing people with hilarious stories to recount to their pals, and even actual mates who they can breed with. Saying that, I haven’t seen a project that sums up the sheer oddness of the modern world of online dating as fantastic as David Luepschen’s Chit Chat Roulette. His perfect stop-motion animation sees a cast of unsightly but sometimes kinda cute creatures competing to find a lover through a Chat Roulette-esque platform. Funny, engaging, weird and with some very talented voiceovers, this is the only kind of animation I ever really want to watch. You can check out some excellent behind-the-scenes making-of shots over on his site.

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    Yay! Hato Press! We love them. A lot. Neighbours of ours, Hato have spent the last five years collaborating with some of the coolest young creatives and oldest institutions to create impeccably beautiful printed matter and design solutions. A number of the publications these guys have produced are some of the most beautiful I’ve ever had the pleasure of holding/smelling, and it seems that every single thing they do or work on is covered in a glimmering magic dust that is exclusive to only them. Before you go and wet your pants over their multi-disciplinary work on their very nice websites (here and here) check out the books that have inspired them over the years below. Enjoy!

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    Anyone who’s into niche magazines of yore will perhaps have heard of Scamp – the racy 1950s gentlemen’s magazine that has since become something of a collectors’ item. Fast forward 64 years and a very different Scamp has been born, and this one is “a brand new magazine full of chit-chat and arty-farty editorial projects.” We were intrigued by this odd-sided, floppy publication, so we decided to speak to the editor Oskar Oprey to find out a little more about it.

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    Boarding schools – the smell of school dinners wafting up through prep rooms, the stolen biscuits hidden beneath starchy bedsheets, muddy sports kits spinning in industrial washing machines, long-nosed teachers in hard-heeled shoes strolling through dim, flagstoned corridors. It’s fair to say the idea of these archaic institutions stir up a bit of romance in all of us, be it because of novels we read as children or experiences we have had first-hand.

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    It’s comforting to see the resurgence in the physical aspects of music. There was a moment a few years back when gig posters and witty, well-crafted promotional material seemed to be confined solely to the world wide web, which made every poster that was actually printed on paper something of a novelty. Not any more though: we’re receiving and finding so many illustrators now whose portfolios are chock full of variations on the humble gig poster and they are brilliant. Today we thought we’d champion this theme with Dutch illustration student Douwe Dijkstra. His visual interpretations of bands such as The Growlers and Losers are taking the stylistic qualities of early 1990s gig posters and infusing them with a modern style to make some seriously nick-able printed matter. Keep up the great work, Douwe!

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    A VERY special and timely mix from the guys over at Wonderland magazine this week. I am very pleased to tell you that today is 3 October 2014 – EXACTLY a decade since heartthrob Aaron Samuels asks Cady what day it is in 2004’s cinematic highlight, Mean Girls. Spooky huh? To celebrate this fact, and their utterly spectacular new Mean Girls-themed issue, the guys over at Wonderland have put together a mix of their “current favourite female musicians and female-led tracks.”

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    Just as Jamie Oliver is the go-to man for piling shredded food on to rustic chopping boards, Anushka Blommers and Niels Schumm are the go-to guys for photographing girls in their trademark pubescent wallflower aesthetic. Dazed, AnOther and Vogue have all had the special treatment, partly due to the infamous Class of 1998 Self Service shoot that rocketed the pair to stardom. The in-demand duo have been allocated a spot in the glossy, heavy new issue of POP, in which they take extraordinary beauties and style and shoot them to look as if they are waiting for their date to arrive to take them to a 1970s Texas prom. Part Napoleon Dynamite, part Virgin Suicides, this is Blommers & Schumm joyously doing what they do best.