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

1523 articles
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    Wise words here from Peckham design collective King Zog. They’re back with a new website that will fart up the nose of your website faster than you can say “rainbow gloves.” The lads – a cocktail of Ben West, Jack Slee, Josh King and Felix Heyes – have collected all their work and put it on the World Wide Web the manner of a really, really personal business card. By that I mean that one look at their new site tells you everything you need to know about this lot. They’re some of the only people who can truly pull off funny design while simultaneously being eons ahead of everyone else in the ideas department. Special lads.

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    Going through nearly 600 applicants for the It’s Nice That Graduates was a long process, and in it we saw countless photography submissions. To come across a portfolio like Portsmouth graduate Alecsandra’s was truly special, as her website was utterly brimming with fascinating, in-depth projects that stood out as being truly well-researched, full of passion and rather unique. Her love of storytelling led her to focus on politics, family, tradition and emotion, making her body of work alive with folklore and wisdom. How great is it when someone’s work truly opens your eyes to something you had previously never encountered? Here she is on her degree, her passion for photography, and her future.

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    Err, where has Jenny Lewis been for the past few years? She could have been running some sort of underground, political guerilla group, or designing jewellery, or maybe she was just locked in a cupboard. What I’m getting at is that it just doesn’t matter in the slightest – because she’s back with a totally killer video that she’s directed, and we all know that 99.9% of the time a brilliant, timely music video is the perfect solution to a difficult comeback.

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    It’s so great to see the Nous Vous lads continuing with their quest to bring a gentle spark of inspiration to the general public. Their latest venture is an exhibition in the enormous old factory-turned-cultural centre, The Tetley in Leeds. A Watery Line will exhibit “drawings, prints, paintings and objects, producing new artwork in on-site open studios and working with a selection of other artists to deliver a programme of performances and workshops.” Ahead of the opening of this exciting, friendly show, we asked Nicolas Burrows to tell us a little more about the planning of the exhibition and what they hope the public gets out of it.

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    I’ve always wanted to have synesthesia, the guys that do have it seem to be in this really cool club that can taste numbers and smell words, and it’s pretty hard to fake it. For those of us that want to feel like we have special powers, here’s an app from illustrator Julian Glander called ROY G BIV. It’s a simple concept – just hold up the phone to anything colourful and hear the phone play a noise. Well, it’s actually much more complicated than that. “The app takes colour data from your iPhone or Android’s camera and converts it into modulations for an 8-note synth,” Julian says. “Play a multi-coloured symphony with some friends, take a musical #selfie, experience a rough approximation of synesthesia. There’s a lot of cool stuff you can do with it!” Check out the rest of Julian’s brilliant creations over on his site.

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    The amount of times we’ve checked out new work from Joe Cruz at It’s Nice That and just sat around with our heads in our hands, gobsmacked at how simple and effortlessly beautiful his work is. Not just that, but his style is probably one of the most easily recognised of the editorial illustrators we chat about here. We love him so much that we even asked him to illustrate a piece in our own magazine, Printed Pages. Here’s Joe on the artists, books and African fashion that have influenced his work over the years. Take it away, Joe!

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    Simple story, this one. A man gets a new next door neighbour and watches her through a hole in the wall (don’t try this at home, folks) and one day when she returns from a jog he gives her an ice lolly. Wanting to see her eat the lolly he looks through the hole but sees her instead dabbing it on her sweaty armpits. Enraged, he breaks into her house every day for the next few weeks when she’s out and wrings out her clothes into a bottle to make sweat ice lollies from there-on out. You know someone’s a consistently entertaining animator if the top comment on their Vimeo is: “Wow! you finally made something that is safe for work.” Bravo Wong Ping, bravo!

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    Considering Kate Moss’ notorious silence throughout her career, it’s exciting to hear her actually spill the beans on what it was like to be photographed on Camber Sands beach with Corinne Day, or be painted by Lucian Freud. Similarly it’s equally thrilling to hear Lily Cole speak of being photographed by Terry Richardson underwater for the 2012 Pirelli Calendar.

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    I hope everyone got involved in a mosh pit at some stage during their adolescence, it’s a rite of passage as important as – if not moreso than – your first kiss. Fun and life-changing as it is, cool it is not, and so this strange, sweaty, somewhat folkloric activity tends not to be photographed in favour of adult versions of something similar at grown-up festivals and the like. Good on Emily Stein, then, for having the balls to just dive in with those sweating teenagers and take photos of them at their wildest and most passionate. Some photos are close-up enough that you can even see their faint beginnings of wispy facial hair. Wonderful stuff.

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    In Matt Sweeney’s bio he refers to himself as “mudstone” with regards to the rock’s porous, disruptive nature. His photographs, predominantly street photography taken in downtown Hollywood, are shot through a wide angle lens on cinematic Kodachrome film between 1979 and 1983 and have the voyeuristic quality and timing of Diane Arbus mixed with the curiosity of Vivian Maier. His other projects, such as this series about a man who’s kind to cats are equally as arresting, and take us on a journey into hot, dusty, unpredictable and somewhat chaotic America – a visual feast perfect for a boring Monday morning.

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    Sure, here at It’s Nice That we love fine art. You may even walk past us on the weekend ambling around in galleries, or poring over art books in libraries. We champion some of the most exquisite architecture, sculpture and filmmaking along with some of the most groundbreaking works of art made in modern times. What you define as “art” is a personal thing, but I can tell you now that when it came to voting on content for the site (we decide on content via a voting process around a table FYI) this Presidents with Boob Faces was a unanimous “YES” from each knowledgeable, art-loving member of the It’s Nice That team. When you can see hard, skilled craftsmanship and evidence of a brave artist taking one small idea and running really, really far with it, how can you resist loving it? These are amazing, and artist Emily Deutchman should be very, very proud of herself.

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    We love Josh King. He was one of our favourite grads two years ago – his ideas and way of looking at graphic design with actual humour rather than just making stuff look nice was totally refreshing. When we asked him what his best mistake was while studying, he answered: “I once made petrol scented candles. It wasn’t a mistake but it could have been. Luckily no one got hurt.”

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    Editorial horoscope illustrations tend to be a bit same-y: crabs, women holding scales, goats, fish, blah blah blah. I can’t deny I was surprised yesterday when I saw that Elle Italia had commissioned one of my favourite illustrators to bring their horoscope supplement to life, mainly because Sac Magique is a weird choice for a usually rather reserved publication. They gave him the task of illustrating the horoscopes with the theme of “beach” and my, did he deliver. How refreshing and fun to have something so ubiquitous illustrated with the most fun, summer drawings ever, especially by someone who gave us this Spice Girls image that will forever remain the best thing I have ever seen.

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    Hello tiny pod children, we’re back in our fifht series, on episode 25. 25! That’s one podcast a year for host Liv Siddall’s entire life, imagine that! This week around the Studio Audience table with Liv are Maisie Skidmore and James Cartwright, the dream team, having a nice chat about all the art and design gumph that’s been floating around this week. As ever listen using the SoundCloud embed below or subscribe via iTunes here.

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    Richard Linklater’s epic 12-years-in-the-making film Boyhood is released in the UK tomorrow, and the It’s Nice That team joins film lovers everywhere in being incredibly excited about the prospect of such a groundbreaking cinematic effort. We’re all long Linklater fans, so we thought we’d make a List feature about our personal favourite scenes from his varied and rather prolific back-catalogue. Any you think we’ve missed out (and that will be a lot, as there are only four of us) just get in touch via Twitter

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    Much like the content of most of Joe’s work, opening the email attachment of his portfolio when he applied to The Graduates was like stumbling across buried treasure in ancient ruins. To see such honest, informed and unique work that shows dedication and a two-fingers-up to common, trendy illustration is just such a joy that I can barely contain myself.

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    When Printed Pages editor James Cartwright first saw these images he said they reminded him of the Tetley Tea folk crossed with something out of The Legend of Zelda and you know what? He’s not wrong. The cloaked, hunched characters are actually sneaky-peeks of Patrick Kyle’s upcoming collaborative zine with fellow artist and publication maker Jason Murphy.

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    Mike is one half of artistic power duo Larry Sultan and Mike Mandel, a pair who from the 1970s through to the 1990s used the camera to create curious, innovative documentary-style series that doubled up as intriguing works of art. Many of their projects are some of the most selfless, fascinating research-based works ever made. The other day in the office we all found ourselves immersed in Mike’s Flickr page, upon which he has placed his specific series of photographs.

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    Thank God that in the barren scrap heap of graphic design littered with apps, bogus coffee shop logos and poorly thought-out iPad swipe features there is someone making work infused with joy, love and humour. Tadashi Ueda’s designs have such a child-like innocence and excitable fascination with exploration – he utilises colours and shapes laid out in unpredictable grids to take the viewer’s hand and lead them on a journey into his eyeballs to witness the way in which he sees the world.

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    There’s nothing quite like when someone takes something you associate with your innocent childhood and uses it to slap you across the face with a controversial, dark statement. That’s what Greenpeace tend to do to get their point across, and boy does it work. Their most recent plea is directed at LEGO, urging them to discontinue the production of kits for children that are emblazoned with the Shell logo. I’ve seen a lot of LEGO parodies in my time here at It’s Nice That, but none have made me feel dark to my very core like this one did – nothing says wake up and address this horrible issue more than smiling children’s toys drowning in a sea of black oil. Bravo Greenpeace.

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    We love Jim Pluk’s work, not many illustrators openly share doodles they’ve drawn of them and their girlfriend having sex on a sofa with F.r.i.e.n.d.s on in the background. It’s an odd collection of drawings, his work travels from lo-fi paintings to crude squiggles and back to sharp, witty comics or collaged posters at an admirable speed. This is the kind of art that, personally, I’m really into – funny, odd creations made by someone who’s not afraid to try out every medium possible (even drawing on Photoshop) to get their work out into the world.

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    I’m glad we caught Dan Wilton while he was on dry land with some time to spare, most of the time he’s cavorting around the world getting drunk in hotel rooms with really cool bands or pursuing his ongoing photography project looking at his beloved American football. We love Dan’s work, and Dan himself, and knowing how much he loves pop culture we asked him tot ell us about his favourite ever music video. Here he is…

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    I sometimes struggle when writing about graphic design as sometimes bad graphic design is masked by fluoro colours and wiggly lines, and it’s difficult for me to differentiate from design with skill and design that just looks like it may be skilful. In the case of Beglu Karahan I have been reassured by the rest of the team that this is candy-coloured design with substance! Hoorah! What I love about Beglu is how he has created fun, cheerful designs for Berlin’s Downtown Festival and other music events – his summery style just seems to be perfect for the job. That work he did for a studio called Sundaze is literally the graphic design equivalent of a Solero, and it’s totally lush.

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    Of Rachel Treliving’s work, our Graduates judge designer Shaz Madani said simply: “She is great.” Rachel’s work truly astonished us in the process of finding our 15 It’s Nice That Graduates. How wonderful to find someone who is so passionate about typography that every single project she has created is a gesture of love towards a subject that, judging from the 600 or so Graduates entries we had this year, is becoming less and less important to learn in a graphic design degree. The depth Rachel travels to in the research for her projects in unparalleled, and the beauty of the work she creates is equally as strong. This girl is gonna go far.

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    If you’re working on your summer bod right now then you can either look away or take some inspiration from the guys in this music video. Some people are into the whole muscle thing, but I can tell you now that for me this is way more terrifying than it is a turn-on, I mean look at them! The shoulders of these muscle-men are the width of a small truck and their waists are teeny tiny, giving them a strange Donkey Kong look about them. Odd, but intriguing.

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    HELLO FRIENDS! Welcome to the weekend, the two days a week you get to reflect on your busy, expensive, boring life, and then numbing it with booze and barbecues. Hey that sounded pretty pessimistic, I’m sorry. What I really meant was “OH SHIT IT’S THE WEEKEND!” It’s time to swim in a lido, call your best friend, watch Take Me Out in bed, play Candy Crush in a hammock, introduce your dog to your friend’s dog. You name it, it’s yours.

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    We’re a week into our Graduates 2014 and have so far announced four of the grads that we think hold some of the best talent in the country. This year we asked some very special judges to come in and help us with the ever-difficult task of whittling down the submissions to a honed 15. We asked Shaz Madani along as we have long-trusted her seemingly effortless, stylish and informed designs for the likes of Giles Duley, Riposte and Elephant magazine. She very kindly answered a few questions post-judging about her thoughts on the submissions this year.

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    Happy Friday from us and the guys from very cool and very great record label, Bella Union. The label, formed in the 1990s by Cocteau Twins represent some of the bands and artists that we listen to in the It’s Nice That studio all day, such as John Grant, Van Dyke Parks, Father John Misty and The Walkmen (youuuu’ve got a neerrrveee to be assssking my favouuuur!) And so it is with deep pleasure that we welcome the team at Bella Union with their truly wonderful Friday mixtape created especially for us. Kevin Ayers, Elvis Presley, Heart AND Harry Nilsson spell sunny Friday afternoon in our books, so turn it up.

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    The description of this video reads: “A dancing egg wreaks havoc when people can’t take their eyes off him.” I mean as far as concepts go, that’s pretty strong. Basically a guy in an egg costume (note to self: purchase an egg costume) goes around distracting people as they get on with their day. It was created by directorial duo A Very Successful Business quite literally for a laugh. “We created it just for the fun of making it, and to add a bit of surreal silliness back into the world,” co-founder Dulcie told us. Sure, this isn’t a video that’s going to go down in the top ten music videos of all time lists, but it made every single person in the It’s Nice That office laugh, and surely that counts for something. Well done, egg-lads!

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    Anyone that played (and now misses) Monument Valley will love this new animation from Fabrice Le Nezet. It was a bit weird to get an email from Fabrice with this animation, as last time we checked up on him he was making enormous sculptures of metal and stone. People change I guess. Anyway, what he’s doing now with the help of Benjamin Mousquet and Raphael Azel Martinez is totally fine by us, as it’s one of the most spectacular and unique animations we’ve seen in a very long while. Watch as teeny little men manoeuvre their way around a monochromatic, cubist landscape and get chased by enormous marbles and climb the infinite stairs of winding minarets. It isn’t as weird as it sounds, but it is seriously impressive, enjoy.

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    Rafaël Rozendaal recently announced that he has now made 100 websites, cool! We wanted to honour the man that has single-handedly made wasting time in front of a screen worthwhile, and so we’ve made a list of our favourite pieces by the man himself. It’s Friday, sit back and let your eyeballs enjoy the next 15 minutes…

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    Welcome podders! Can you believe we’re on our fifth series and 24th episode? Crazy! This week is very exciting as Will Hudson, director of It’s Nice That joins us, Liv Siddall, James Cartwright and Rob Alderson on this voyage into cultural chinwagging. As ever you can listen on the SoundCloud embed below or subscribe via iTunes here.

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    “This generation is not afraid, pay attention” – what a line to end on! This short film directed by the rather talented William Williamson takes a close look at residents of Lahore, Pakistan and contemplates their different, individual methods of expressing themselves through their clothing. From the transexual Hijra to confident policewomen in shiny new uniforms, this wondrous few minutes takes you on a powerful journey to loud, messy, jangly Pakistan and into the lives of people who are on the cusp of realising a fashion revolution. We take for granted what it means to express ourselves through what we wear, and it’s informed, intelligent films like this that are needed to remind us just how powerful that expression can be. Read a fantastic interview with William over on Dazed Digital.

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    Say hello to the guy that everyone’s talking about, Luke Evans. A Kingston Graphic Design and Photography graduate, his work was picked up by Saatchi in his second year and has since produced work for Rankin’s Hunger magazine – not bad! Luke’s scientific background gives him a curiosity to explore and challenge, making his projects exciting and daring and often unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. In Forge he takes the audience to a far, unknown land using just his kitchen table and some household items. Clever lad. Read on to find out what he’s been up to and what he’s got up his sleeve…

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    Well, this is terrifying. Internet-loving artist Mario Santamaria has taken advantage of Google’s scheme to take the world into art galleries and ornate buildings all over the world by collecting screenshots of moments where the Google camera catches its own reflection in a mirror. Ghostly figures interact with the camera in some shots, and in others the machinery is draped with a weird silver cloth – first prize goes to the person who can identify what this cloth actually does. For me this is the best Google-related blog since Jon Rafman’s 9 Eyes and is hopefully a new dawn for simple, spine-tingling projects that linger with you just a smidge longer than you’d like.

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    Remember that amazing book about people in Jamaica wearing Clarks shoes? Well the makers of that spectacular publication are back with another subculture study, this time looking at the sound systems created in Huddersfield by the migrant Jamaicans who had recently arrived after World War Two. “The market town of Huddersfield, nestled within the Pennine Hills of West Yorkshire, has made a remarkable contribution to UK sound system culture,” the press release states. “From Armagideon to Zion InnaVision, the Arawak club to Venn Street, Matamp to Valv-a-tron, this unlikely location has been a stronghold of the British scene, yet has remained largely overlooked.”

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    “There’s nowt as queer as folk” begins this video created by Tate Britain to promote their spectacular exhibition, British Folk Art. The show has received critical acclaim for its curation, taking thousands of folkloric objects from the 1700s until now, and filtering them into a truly humbling exhibition that teaches you more about the underlying tone of our country than any history books ever will. From Morris Dancers to hen parties, and from leather Toby Jugs to tapestries woven by injured soldiers, these artefacts are a charming and often rather funny glimpse into what makes us all weird and British.

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    We LOVE Neil Krug. We forgot his name for a minute and were like “Who’s that guy who photographs all those babes in the desert and makes them look like they have Instagram filters over them but they don’t?” Anyway, it’s Neil Krug, and he’s a spectacular and unique photographer who, like many spectacularly unique photographers, gets to travel around the world photographing beautiful people in outrageously exotic locations for a living. His latest series is of the sad-eyed lady of the Lowlands herself Miss Lana Del Rey and is perfect for her suburban, melancholic siren’s sound. Like what you see? There’s bags more over on his Flickr page and site.

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    Reel off a list of highly-publicised albums recently and chances are that their artwork was designed by creative director and artist, Leif Podhajsky. From Bonobo to Mount Kimbie and Kelis to Tame Impala, Leif’s psychedelic-inspired designs turn these albums from listenable into incredibly desirable in a matter of seconds. Drawing inspiration from the mystic, the kaleidoscopic, the mysterious and the wild, Leif’s site and blog are a treasure trove of beautiful, technicolour work to marvel at. You can almost smell the sandalwood. Here he is on his top five most inspirational tomes, check out that National Geographic collection!

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    You’ve probably already seen Gaurab’s work being chucked around social media for the last few weeks as everyone is going nuts over him since his prints went up at Camberwell’s degree show. Gaurab’s work has actually been on the site before, twice! Surely a record for any It’s Nice That Graduate. Personally, I think Gaurab’s work is some of the most exciting illustration I’ve seen in a long while. To see someone clearly passionate about a subject (jazz) and completely, unashamedly infuse every aspect of their work with that is extremely impressive. This is someone who is not borrowing off someone else, just carving out their own niche with a strong style backed up with knowledge. Gaurab Thakali is gonna go far, mark my words.