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

1575 articles
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    With over 600,000 snap happy visitors a year, you can imagine that Elvis Presley’s infamous Graceland mansion is pretty well documented. But it takes someone truly special to photograph something famous and still make it seem brand new, which is why we’re glad that Hedi Slimane – lover of rock and roll, and young, good-looking, rebellious men – took a trip to Elvis’ Memphis home late last year and brought his camera along.

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

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    What a TREAT we have here! Ninja Tune artist and DJ Slugabed is here to make your Friday 88.8% better with a fun mix to get you through the last few hours of the week. Slugabed is the man behind south London-based label Activia Benz and has been DJing around the world for many a year.

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    I came across Graham Little when going through content from the site, he was one of the first people I ever put on the site about three years ago. To revisit his work reminded me just how much I loved him the first time around, particularly as he’s been very busy in the last few years and has created some absolutely stunning new work. There’s something about the poses, and the calm nature of his nymph-like female subjects that makes me slightly uneasy.

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    Greetings podlings! Great pod this week, lots of swearing and use of the word “aping.” There’s also obligatory shaming James as an ex-goth and arguing about whether sending flowers into space is an act of genius or clever PR stunt. Anyway, off you go, get involved. You can listen via the SoundCloud below or subscribe via iTunes over here..

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    What’s more terrifying than a street gang? I’ll tell you, a Maori gang called the Mighty Mongrel Mob. In this haunting short film by filmmaker and photographer Tom Gould we are thrown into the personal history of famed Mighty Mongrel Mob gang member Martyka Brandt, whose tattoo-covered and weathered face speaks volumes of his turbulent life. In this short film we learn about the perils of being in a gang like the Mongrel Mob, the near-death experiences Martyka has escaped, and how a man can truly turn his life around to something rather magical indeed.

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    It was something of an honour to have illustrator Jean Jullien in the studio to help judge this year’s It’s Nice That Graduates. Not only is he a really nice guy, but he’s also one of our favourite artists who – in our eyes – can do no wrong. His style is effortless and full of humour, grinning at our modern world through a wry squint – an ability that most of the great illustrators through time have nearly all had in common. Another thing we can all learn from Jean is that he works harder than most people we know and rarely says no to a project, making him in-demand and always on everyone’s radar. Here he is on what he learnt from helping us judge the It’s Nice That Graduates 2014.

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    Think about the sheer amount of books, articles, lectures and podcasts there must be floating around the earth on what makes a good record sleeve. We tend to consult designers, or record labels about the images that, thrown against sound, create something that sticks with you your whole life, that you could probably draw from memory. It’s rare when get an artist who creates the music and the artwork that makes it shine, but Tim Presley does.

  9. Mix

    Last night It’s Nice That and INT Works had a party to celebrate our new studio. We had a keg, pastel-coloured cups and a whole load of old friends round and it was wicked kewl. The playlist we put together was an absolute banger, and we’ve edited it down today to give you a small slice of the music that makes us want to get drunk, dance, say inappropriate things and touch each other. Enjoy!

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    You don’t get much better than an award-winning National Geographic photographer, unless of course it’s one that spends most of his time underwater snapping away at enormous whales. Parts of this series make me want to cry, others make me want to jump for joy at the wonders of nature, but mostly they make me want to shit my pants with terror. Imagine being underwater, where man is not supposed to dwell, and being in the company of a prehistoric beast with a mouth as big as a 4×4, imagine how scared you’d be. One flip of its tail could probably shatter your legs. Anyway, the point here really is that one-time Photographer of the Year Brian Skerry is not only excellent at being brave in the presence of beasts, he’s also a superb photographer with composition skills and a knack of capturing wildlife with a flair that evokes raw emotion in you. Don’’t forget to check out his sharks series. If you dare.

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    Greeting podulators, we’re back again for another episode with Rob Alderson in the hosting-throne and peasants James Cartwright and Liv Siddall kneeling at his side. You can listen via the SoundCloud below or subscribe via iTunes over here..

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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

  27. Joe

    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.

  28. Pk

    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!