Author Archive: Liv Siddall

Ls-300

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

1612 articles
  1. List

    One minute magazines are down the pan, the next minute they’re holy items being sought after by big brands in order to put something – nostalgia, mainly – into the grabby hands of their customers. It’s hard to find a trendy brand these days that doesn’t have some sort of editorial arm, but it’s safe to say that few do it with as much style and care as MR PORTER’s Journal.

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    Of all of the art and design sites like It’s Nice That, there are a few that have been there since the very beginning. Jeff Hamada’s Booooooom is one of those, a reliable one-stop-shop for creative, visual inspiration that’s probably been a lot of people’s homepage since they can remember. It’s always fascinated us that Booooooom has been single-handedly created, curated and updated by one man, so we were particularly excited to speak to him about how he’s managed that over the years – particularly when at one point his page views were up to four million per month.

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    A few weeks ago the creative director of The Pitchfork Review Michael Renaud sent through a copy of their latest issue, accompanied by a small zine he had put together and a small note: “enjoy the weird book I designed and printed in 24 hours, I almost died.” There aren’t many large organisations who employ crazed zine-makers and lovers of the weirder things in life, but Pitchfork do. It’s a site we check daily, like the news or the weather, which we can all agree is one of – nay the place to go for fantastic, in-depth reviews of the best music today. And they’re not just some website, oh no – Pitchfork has publications, exclusives and some of the best interactive, moving interviews ever published online (check out this one about Bill Callahan). They even just held an enormous music festival in Paris which The Quietus described as “too perfect.”

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    It’s not often you get to hear the story behind the cover of a magazine, but personally whenever I catch someone speaking of it, my ears prick up in excitement. Our magazine Printed Pages is quarterly, and the cover is often a too-many-cooks, arguing around a table sort of affair – which I actually love. What’s always boggled my mind is how The New Yorker goes through this gruelling tongue-biting process every week. It’s largely down to cartoon expert and art editor of The New Yorker, Francoise Mouly. Her and cover-obsessive contributor Mina Kaneko spend their time debating and discussing which artist would be up for the challenge of inhaling the essence of New York at that very moment, and translating it into an instantly engaging, witty image. The best part is, once the cover is out into the world, they speak to the artist about the process of making it, and what the city means to them.

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    Today’s headline on the BBC about Myleene Klass’ recent outcry about mansion tax reads: “Myleene Klass tax jibe raised in Ed Miliband v David Cameron clash.” Over on The Daily Mash, their headline reads “Dodgy bastard who sold garage to Myleene Klass goes into hiding.” Satire is hard to do. A lot of people have never got it right, and in terms of journalism you could say that only Private Eye and Viz were truly successful, in that they 100% got away with it, and still do.

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    This year, before the fire at the Glasgow School of Art, Frieze travelled up to the city to speak to some its most integral artists and curators about the nature of Glaswegian creativity. From the community “come one, come all” vibes of the 1970s, to the work inspired by the flattening of the tenements to make way for high-rise blocks, these wise talking heads portray a tough city of freedom and spontaneity, underlined with a brutal sadness from times when things weren’t too great. They speak of the time Allen Ginsberg came to town, the wonder of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, the gallery boom of the 1990s, and the appeal of the grand buildings in Glasgow with their sweeping staircases and enormous, trademark bay windows providing such beautiful white, Scottish light.

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    People seem to have a real problem with “life hacks” – and you can see why. Some nerd being overly smug about how he’s Sellotaped all his channel changers together isn’t exactly appealing. These guys have taken the whole “hack” craze and made a spoof website of hilarious, often disgusting hacks of their own. One entitled Raw Meat Circuitry sees a pack of mince get stuffed with LEDs and lit up, another entitled The Collaborative Fuck Bike is an easy way to exercise and pleasure your partner. As for the future, the guys behind Stupid Hackathon are plotting “3D printed masks of your own face, a Cute Poop app that makes pictures of your poop look cute and an Edible Unmanned Drone: an unmanned drone that you can eat.” Can’t wait.

  8. Nowness

    I like to think of the internet as a constantly surging, changing sea. Things moving around with the tide, bobbing up, sinking down, re-emerging bloated and crying for attention. In the past few years a lot of sites have tried to keep up with the erratic ebb and flow of attention-grabbing online, posting more cats, GIFs and anything to do with Pharrell. But there is one site that has shrugged off the need to please anyone and everyone at once, a site that posts one piece of exquisite, exclusive content a day: NOWNESS.

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    Remember that incredible Action Bronson music video that saw him tearing down a highway in the style of Easy Rider? Well the director, Tom Gould, is back with some more sound and vision to get you going today. For his latest piece, Tom ventured into a well-known strip club in New Zealand called LAS VEGAS, which happens to be the oldest in the country. Rather than making a run-of-the-mill gritty doc about an old club in decay, Tom decided to concentrate on a curious story within the establishment by way of Adrian, the DJ at the nightclub who has worked there for over 40 years. The clincher? Adrian strictly refers to himself as the “Sound & Lighting Technician,” and is something of an eccentric, wizened old man with a good story to tell. Intrigued? See for yourself.

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    Right now, illustrator-turned artist extraordinaire Jordy van den Niewendijk is probably having a nap. For the last few weeks he’s been rushing around the world getting his work together for a very exciting solo show at New York’s trendy Moiety Gallery. It’s safe to say Jordy is one of our favourite artists, and to see his work evolve aesthetically over the years yet still cling on to that trademark style is great, a little bit like watching one of those cool videos of flowers blooming in slow-mo.

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    We couldn’t do a digital publishing feature without speaking to Freunde von Freunden. Their venture has been a printed magazine masquerading as a website for years, and follows one enticing, addictive format: visiting the carefully decorated habitats of artists and creatives, photographing it, and interviewing them about their lifestyle and work. Frederik Frede is the man behind this simple, beautiful publishing enterprise, and here speaks of why FvF works so well online, the importance of collaboration, and FvF’s new shared apartment where they hold meetings, dinner parties and sleepovers with lucky clients.

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    As part of our month-long feature on the people behind some of the best online publishing ventures around, we’ve spoke to some of the most important big dogs of online content publishing. But where there’s big dogs, there’s also weird smelly dogs, and that’s how I like to think of Brown Cardigan. They’ve been providing millions of people with stuff to attach to the bottom of emails for years, and have been churning out and spreading some of the most memorable memes in recent history. And so the anonymous team behind Brown Cardigan tell us about their audience, how the internet’s changed the world and the story of their “wordless mood-board for perverted immature grown folks.” Enjoy!

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    We love sites like these: a simple idea, executed brilliantly and contributed-to by a host of fantastic creatives. From Your Desks is a website set up by Kate Donnelly that invites people in the art world to submit photographs of their workspace, which she then accompanies with a short but sweet interview about what they do. Personally, seeing the detritus surrounding someone’s desk gives me the same building curiosity as seeing inside their bedroom – it’s such an important, personal space and can be surprisingly revealing. There’s nearly 350 interviews on Kate’s site, and below we’ve picked a few photographs of the desks of some of our favourite artists including Adrian Tomine, Maya Fuhr, Christoph Niemann and Nat Russell. Enjoy!

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    Behold the first in our bunch of articles you’ll see on the site in the coming weeks exploring the ever-changing world of online publishing. We go on and on about the state of printed magazines, and it can be easy to forget the brilliance that is churned out every day by people all over the internet. Over the next few weeks we’ll be speaking to some of the people we regard as the best online publishers, to try and get a hold on what’s going on in this world. To kick this off, we’ve asked a few editors and founders of our favourite sites what they truly love about online publishing. Here they are…

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    Art and music go together like warm Yorkshire puddings and gravy, everyone knows that! But it’s even more delicious when the artist and musician love each other so much that they collaborate again, and again, and again. Such is the nature of Norwegian duo DJ Todd Terje and artist Bendik Kaltenborn. Bendik’s been cracking out spectacular designs, posters, comics and illustrations for years and has spent his time of late designing album artwork for the wonderful Todd. Now I’m not saying no one would listen to Todd’s music without such appealing album artwork (if you’ve ever seen him live, you get the feeling that a lot of people love his music a LOT) but with sleeve artwork as good as this, how can people not buy it? Here’s to two good friends who are making a living by feeding off each other’s talent (Todd recently made special songs to accompany Bendik’s book!) and long may they continue.

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    “Family is like a soup, everyone adds an extra scoop, mix an ounce of smiles so sweet, a dash of cool to add the heat and you’ve got….too many cooks!” So goes the lyrics for a theme-tune to what looks like a 1980s/90s family sitcom à la Third Rock From The Sun or Home Improvement. It’s actually the latest work of the lords of online comedy, Adult Swim. This insane new infomercial is a homage to the opening credits of yore, featuring smiling children and chino-donning dads smiling and tossing baseballs at a seemingly unexpected camera.

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    No one photographs teenagers like Jamie Hawkesworth. For years we’ve been posting about his ability to capture the infinitely curious in-between stage of adolescence, and quietly knowing that he’s the guy who’s currently got the monopoly on this topic. Recently though, alongside shooting youngsters for mags such as AnOther and The New York Times Style, Jamie’s has been lending his skills to some corporate magazines and brands – a far cry from his time roaming the bus shelters of northern England or the Whitby Goth Festival. This year Jamie was approached by Lexus’ magazine Beyond to follow two chocolatiers on a journey into deepest Vietnam on the hunt for a rare cacao bean. Slight change of scenery.

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    It’s great when musicians are handy with pens as well as complicated musical instruments. Over the years we’ve always chatted about the wonder of people who don’t get enough pleasure out of one creative outlet and must pour it into another, and we’re pleased to welcome one to you today. JW plays in Leeds psych band Hookworms who have just released their spectacular new album Hum on Domino Records. JW is also a very talented illustrator and designer, and actually took it upon himself to design the sleeve for their latest release, along with a whole bunch of posters for their frequent, sweaty gigs.

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    Music publishing is in a strange place. There are certain places we go to get our fix: Dazed, Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, NME, ’SUP and FACT to name but a few, but the atmosphere of the industry feels slightly scattered. Do people still want their music news in printed form when the internet will always get there first? We were curious to speak to Hanna Hanra who is the editor of BEAT magazine, on how she started, why the hell she’s doing it, and what the publication aims to do. I asked Hanna who the magazine was aimed at and she answered: “Well, myself, primarily.” Here she is…

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    Hands up who loves boobies and butts? The pervier of us will appreciate this brand new show from Mike Perry which sees him collate all his brilliant nudie drawings in one place, and if you’re not a perv you’ll just love the colours. They say the human form is a beautiful thing, but sometimes people forget that it’s also super fun too. Good for lovely, bearded Mike for noticing this and spending ages drawing people with legs akimbo on coloured paper to entertain us straight-laced British folk. If you’re into illustration and/or nudity, head down to KK Outlet tonight for this scintillating show.

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    The city being a lonely place is a constant source of inspiration to young creatives, sometimes to the point at which I think if I hear one more person refer to London or New York as a “concrete jungle” I’ll punch them in the face. In amongst the enormous swamp of projects that deal with this subject matter, there are some rare, beautiful orchids. Isolated by Fernando Vallejo is one of these. Fernando’s been prowling the streets of The Big Apple for a while now, snapping passers-by as they rush around the city like ants late for jury duty.

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    London’s a little greyer now one of our favourite illustrators Jean Jullien is trying out a new life across the pond in New York. Luckily for us his agent Handsome Frank grabbed him for a little while before he scooted off and made this lovely little film about his work. It seems we always talk about Jean, but to see him draw and actually speak honestly about his practice is a true joy.

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    Jack Cunningham is a young illustrator and animator living in London, and he’s got life pretty well sorted out. By day he works at Nexus, creating GIFs and animations and cute characters in a building crammed full of weird, wonderful people all doing similar things. When I last dropped in to see him he had a book on his desk by a guy called Guy Billout which he had been waiting for with bated breath for a long while. I had never come across Guy’s work, but I’m now as obsessed with him as Jack was/is.

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    Tieten met Haar is Valentine Gallardo, Alexander Robyn, Nina Van Denbempt, Mathilde Vangheluwe and Jana Vasiljević. The name roughly translates as “tits with hair” and their goal is “to create a platform for other upcoming artists, to present and publish their work as well as our own, and promote it, in Belgium as well as at different European comics and illustration festivals.”

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    Did you know that the first episode of Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared has had nearly 21 million views on YouTube so far? With that in mind, since launching three days ago, the third instalment of the cult series is marching quickly towards the million-hit mark. Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared 3 is the much-anticipated follow-up to the very well-recieved previous epidoes which you can see here and here. This time, the characters are spending a day in the countryside, having a delicious raw chicken picnic when suddenly their day is dampened by a pesky butterfly landing in their basket of meat.

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    Just over a week ago It’s Nice That’s Jamie McIntyre and I took a train from London to Glasgow to the much-antiticipated Graphic Design Festival Scotland. We had been invited by Beth Wilson and James Gilchrist, two students who had recently graduated from Edinburgh College of Art. During their degree the two had found themselves working best when together, and decided to form Warriors Studio as a duo. They began thinking about the climate of graphic design in Scotland, the need for something new and exciting and – most importantly – what the hell they were going to do when term ends and they were turfed out to fend for themselves.

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    Is it us or has everyone gone way more bonkers for Halloween this year than ever before? Whatever, we’re jumping on the bandwagon, and have put together a spectacular, terrifying mixtape for you. This year we decided to concentrate on a particularly fantastic sub-genre that is spooky, psychedelic songs from the 1960s. Back then countless bands were teaming up in groups and calling themselves things like “The Five Blobs,” “Don Hinson and the Rigamorticians” and “Frankie Stein” to deliver some of the creepiest, grooviest songs in existence. Even if you’re not that into it, putting this on at a Halloween party tonight for everyone to bop to is far, far cooler than just putting on Michael Jackson’s Thriller, again.

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    I’ve never wanted to applaud anyone more than the guys behind this project. Tech-wizards Jankenpopp & Zombectro have created a very special website that transports you back to your childhood and the days when you were just about getting to grips with a computer. Entitled Windows 93 the simulator is actually inspired by Windows 95 with its trademark grey, moveable boxes and somewhat threatening pixelated icons. The duo have thought of everything and have left no stone unturned when it comes to recreating how computers used to look and feel, which subsequently makes it totally hilarious.

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    This week we chat Rebecca Wright’s fantastic article about the drop-off rate of female design students, Graphic Design Festival Scotland and Darren Cullen’s controversial Pocket Money Loans pop up shop. You can listen using the SoundCloud embed below or you can subscribe via iTunes here. See you next week!

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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-hitting publication that is genuinely useful! For our Back to School feature we asked Phil 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.