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

1641 articles
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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.

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    Londoners! This weekend sees the launch of arty book fair k-i-o-s-k and to celebrate this, creative south London wunderkinder/collective King Zog have made a quintessentially King Zog publication entitled Tracing Emin. This textbook-style pamphlet that sees photographs of Tracey Emin overlaid with tracing paper for, you guessed it, you to draw on. They recruited another south London artist, much lauded skater boy artist Kyle Platts to go to town on Tracey and surround her gritty photographs with his trademark creatures, animals, shapes and graffiti-like doodles. The combination of Kyle’s comic book style and Tracey’s emotional fine art photography is a little bit like eating peanut butter and marmite simultaneously – oddly fantastic, and a bit naughty.

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    There’s a reason why girls like me used to babysit, and it sure wasn’t for the £2-per-hour wage and free Cheese strings. SNOOPING, dear friends, is one of the most seductively naughty and curious pastimes of the world. Walking past a home with all the lights on at night gives me the same sensation as finding a fiver on the floor and here’s why – how others decorate and personalise their places of dwelling is infinitely interesting, and the chance to cast your own judgment on their choices is addictive.

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    Before you start scrolling through Cara’s work, maybe put on the latest Foxygen track and try to pretend that you’re not slouched on a synthetic chair in a well-lit office, but lounging on a wicker bed in the Chateau Marmont, puffing on a cig and watching the swimming pool through your sunglasses. Cara’s candid shots don’t stray too far from a certain scene: the psychedelic music-makers that have been prevalent in the last few years: Kevin Morby, White Fence, Cate le Bon and Connan Mockasin to name but a few.

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    Big thanks to Nathan and Jacob of Haw-Lin for their recent updates that have led to us finding the work of photographer Joyce Kim. Joyce’s photographs lead us tentatively by the hand behind the scenes of some remarkable music videos where our eyeballs are given VIP treatment and treated to perfect shots that are in such high-res that you can almost smell them. The grainy monochromatic photos taken during the making-of Earl Sweatshirt and Childish Gambino’s music videos are sublime, but we’d have to agree with Haw-Lin and say that the photos of Josh Homme with loads of Japanese businessmen for the hedonistic Smooth Sailing video are the very best. That shot of all the guys in suits falling asleep on each other in front of that security grate is beyond perfect.

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    Just as you were thinking you hadn’t seen some truly joyous graphic design infused with sunshine for such a long time BAM! Here’s a bunch of magazines that are designed with one thing in mind: happiness. Javas Lehn Studio are based in New York and spend their days commissioning fantastic illustrators and not worrying about overusing exclamation marks for big brands that want a slice of the nice. Although a lot of this studio’s work is digital or signage-based, for me where they really come into their own is in the world of print. Saturdays Magazine looks delicious, and you could argue that Ace of Faith – the book they created for artist Brian Paumier – is even more lust-worthy than the art itself. I urge you to go and spend some time on their site, if it doesn’t make you want to start up your own design practice then at the very least you’re going to want to go and leave small offerings on the doorstep of Javas Lehn HQ.

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    Something very special happens when a lot of time and effort goes into something silly. This new series from Mike Mellia takes the style he’s perfected during his modern artists in the style of old masters project and sees him create one selfie a day that he uploads to his Instagram account. Gently taking the piss out of selfie culture, Mike poses for ludicrous self portraits depending on his outfit of choice with captions such as “That one time I founded the Roman Empire” or “That one time I asked the workers of the world to unite” (best said in a high-pitched American accent). The great thing about this project is its longevity – if this was a one-off photo it wouldn’t be anywhere near as hilarious.

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    Olivia Bee is fantastic. We’ve been following her in a non-stalker way for a good few years now, and can report that we were in fact correct in predicting she was going to be big. What’s so great about having a look at her work after a bit of a gap is the realisation that even though she’s been doing a lot more commercial work, her Flickr is still a paean to the wild beauty of youth. Even better, before where her photographs depicted kids on the brink of puberty – clumsily exploring the world and exploring being grown ups – now her subjects (some of them we recognise from before) are now actually approaching adulthood. That includes Olivia too, and these new wild, fizzing photographs are total, unadulterated proof of that.

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    With the many branches of Stoptober currently encompassing the social media feeds of our nearest and dearest, the notion of resistance is in full swing. For Muslims, the month of Ramadan is a lunar-based 30-day fast in which food and drink are consumed pre-daybreak and after sunset and other behaviour such as smoking, swearing, sex and many other sinful activities are forbidden.

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    Shame on those who thought we couldn’t make a brilliant mixtape out of songs relating entirely to books. From Turn The Page by The Streets to Bookends by Simon and Garfunkel, this mix is in honour of the fantastic book fairs that are currently going on in New York and London right now. So if you’re in New York or London get yourself down to the Art Book Fairs this weekend and pick up a little wad of paper that’s going to potentially change (or just momentarily enrich) your life. Oh, and listen to this book-themed mixtape and if you think we’ve forgotten any just leave them in the box below!

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    “Paradise is on the edge of an industrial estate just north of the M25. It’s also behind a Jobcentre in Manchester. By the bins.” What a difference a poetic opening line of a project caption can make! Oli Kellett sent this project in after the success of his 2011 project where he found street signs around the world that look like British words spelt wrong. Paradise is similarly genius: with the help of Martin McAllister Oli travelled the UK since 2010 photographing any road, street, lane or close that contained the word “paradise” in its title.

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    It may surprise you to find out that the It’s Nice That Bookshelf feature has been going strong since 8 January 2011. Yep, it’s old, and like a grumpy old uncle it’s rarely actually been celebrated. The weekly sneaky peek into the bookshelves of the creative and famous (sing to tune of Lifestyles of the Rich and the Famous by Good Charlotte) is a long-term favourite of many an It’s Nice That reader, and we decided to do a few posts to celebrate some gems within it.

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    It’s all well and good making art and illustration that focuses in on humdrum observations of our meagre existences, but wouldn’t you rather have a whole bunch of images that dip their toes in the sci-fi pool of chance and dance through the stars on pronged, mythical wildflowers? I know I would, which is why I’m particularly pleased with stumbling across the work of Singeon, a French illustrator whose horny, mythological drawings and paintings are like an ever-changing ecosystem, ranging from small watercolour doodles of food (standard) to double-headed medieval babes in outer space (not so standard). He’s part of team Flickr, so if you like what you see here I urge you to go and check out even more of his work over here on his page.

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    We’ve been talking a lot recently about the gradual shift of the internet: websites becoming more advanced, successful blogs being abandoned left right and centre, artists adopting new ways of uploading and sharing music. What I’ve been curious about is the gradual change we’re going to witness in music videos. Gone are the hi-octane, fleshy, music videos that were rife a few years back, and it seems that increasingly bands are not as keen to peacock themselves around and taking a back seat is the cool thing to do. Maybe it’s also to do with the attention span thing that everyone goes on about, why would you want to watch a four-minute music video with a narrative that you won’t understand until you see the end when you can just watch a beautiful piece of ambient animation?

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    Photographer John Kilar was born in Istanbul, grew up in California and then settled in Los Angeles, for a bit. He now lives a nomadic life, traveling round with his point-and-shoot camera documenting the world as he sees it with an honesty and pathos and humour which strikes us to the very core. He also has a great way of talking about art and life which is inspiring without being patronising or cheesy; it’s just him doing what he does and calling it as he sees it. Particularly enamoured by his pictures of festivals, we tracked him down in Texas to ask him a few questions…

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    Spectacular promo film here from Reebok, inviting you to “give me your classics and I’ll show you the future.” As well as taking you swerving around northern A-roads in a BMW E28 M5 (dream car) stopping briefly on the way to pick up a blonde girl in the leafy suburbs (dream babe) this short film perfectly promotes the nostalgia associated with the Reebok Classics.

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    The work of Brian Edward Miller is a cross between the digital and the retro: his sketches could easily be found in the satchel of a 1950s art student, but when put into the computer and twiddled with they look just as at home in a high-tech animation for a company like Adobe. “My goal is to provide quality illustration and storytelling with the professional hard working ideals my family modelled to me and to chase down that elusive vintage aesthetic which played such a powerful role in my childhood,” Brian states on his site. Judging by the list of people who have commissioned this guy of late, it seems like we’re not the only ones to find his work impossible to look away from.

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    Normally we have to scrabble about, beg, or leave hampers on doorsteps of famous photographers in order to interview them. By some divine miracle, Creative Director at Sony Music and absolutely legendary music photographer Josh Cheuse came knocking on our door. Would we mind posting about his work in the lead-up to his solo show in New York? Certainly not. Could we ask him some questions about his spectacular firework of a life hopping across the pond and back again to photograph some of the world’s most famous musicians? Sure.

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    A brief serving suggestion before you lean back and scroll through this spectacular new work from Josh Reim: put on the Twin Peaks theme tune and sniff some tennis balls. The last time we featured Josh’s work it was to rave about his extraordinarily unique look book for his Autumn/Winter 14 collection which he had shot with the help of his best pal and collaborator, Jetro Emilcar. In his third collection the 18-tear-old ex-skateboarder and designer from Montreal has channelled the cold, dark vibe of the leisure activities of the wealthy.

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    It’s time to play Spot the Creative here in this fantastic video from Rotterdam design studio From Form. I was going to say that it was an animation, but that’s the beauty of this film – it’s totally not. By using clever, olde worlde-style fairground aesthetics they’ve conjured up a mechanical set with which to promote the annual Reasons to Create conference.

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    Want to know a surprising secret about self-proclaimed “book obsessive” and Dazed & Confused editor Isabella Burley? She can’t stand big coffee-table-sized fashion books. “I’ve always taken my references from art, pop culture, photography and sex zines rather than fashion,” she told us. “That’s really come to shape the way I approach our fashion content within Dazed.”

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    I think we can all agree that in the past few years food photography has pretty much reigned the internet as far as image-porn blogging is concerned. And yes, photographing tangerines on bright blue backgrounds does always look nice, we get it. But among the thousands of people documenting food in order to gain online notoriety there are some photographers who are known in the industry as the ones who can really, really shoot food.

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    Not much makes us as happy as a brilliant studio churning out spectacular work, but to find out each member is a fantastic designer in their own right is even better. Diogo Potes just got in touch to show us some of his personal work away from his day-to-day collaborative venture, Portuguese design studio Alva Alva. Diogo’s solo work boasts all of the vibrancy, sense of humour and love of hand-drawn elements that Alva Alva has, but also contains a good dollop of personal style. For me, I think his work is strongest when he incorporates photography into his designs – something about choosing off-the-wall shots and enveloping them in rich colours and bold typography is very, very pleasing. Nice work Diogo, keep it up!

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    Creativity can come in all shapes and sizes, and yeah we’ve posted a lot of great stuff this week. A project or painting someone has been working on for years can change your life entirely, as can one photograph or spectacular piece of design. Sometimes, though, it can just be the opening credits of an old cartoon remade with real animals. Thank you then to Disney and their blog Oh My Disney for creating and sharing something so intricate and bonkers it’s blown all art ever made out of the water. Ladies and gentlemen, I give to you the DuckTales Theme Song With Real Ducks.