Author Archive: Liv Siddall

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Liv joined It’s Nice That as an intern in 2011 and worked across online, print, events and latterly Features Editor before leaving in May 2015.

@LivSiddall

1771 articles
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    Did you know there are 722 Emoji options? I don’t know about you but I tend to use the same five over and over, they’re like talismans of my soul (if you’re asking: rowing man, sitting monkey, balloon, yellow sun face and chick coming out of egg). There’s a new site fluttering around the internet at the moment that allows you to pick any Emoji from the astonishingly extensive menu and create your own “art” with it. Slide the small toolbar in the bottom right to enlarge the Emoji of your choice and you can make scenes you have always dreamt of. For example: farting pig rides small stripey yacht while being chased by frog heads pushed along in the current by front crawl swimmers who, in turn, are being chased by happy little piles of poop. Fun! Also a big thanks to Josh King of King Zog for pointing us towards this gem.

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    Now that pretty much everyone in the whole world has a blog, you don’t have to tell someone twice to share something about themselves with the entire web. I’d be inclined to think that a lot of people present themselves differently online to how they truly are in the real world, and it’s always so refreshing to come across an artist or illustrator who is just totally honest about themselves. Rami Niemi is one of those: as well as updating his website with his incredible, neat and brightly coloured editorial illustration all the time, he also gives viewers a chance to see a more personal aspect of his work via his sketches in a collection he calls The Polycottons.

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    You don’t get as much editorial illustration and art direction like this as you used to. Back in the day, this sort of visual pun-based work was used to illustrate pretty much every article under the sun in order to quickly get a hard-hitting point across and lure readers in to the actual story. Nowadays people like The New York Times Magazine are some of the only guys who still use this method – and when they do they call on Javier Jaén. The Barcelona-born designer spends the majority of his time collaborating with art directors, photographers and illustrators to concoct clever, pleasing visual cues that sit comfortably among the pages of big-dog publications such as The New Yorker and The Washington Post. You don’t get many more “simple idea, well executed” examples than in Javier’s portfolio, not to mention the rather beautiful last line on his online bio – “He has still not written a child, planted a book, or given birth to a tree. Everything is waiting to be done.”

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    It was hard to go through Justin Fantl’s portfolio and hone in on just one project: his enormous selection of intriguing photographic series is vast enough to get lost in for at least an hour or two. Be it the wild, weird attractions of Vegas, the Mars-like landscape of Death Valley, fluffy dogs, dinosaur bones, Iceland, crowds, mini golf – you name it, Justin’s got a great collection of pictures of it.

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    All over the world funny and loving music nerds who appreciate whale song, birds tweeting, technology and pizza are crying “Yay! Panda Bear!” The American musician who is currently residing in Portugal has just launched a brand new website, featuring an animated interactive slideshow to accompany the fizzing echoes of the music he makes. Just one tap on your computer keyboard and you can fly through strange, sometimes seizure-inducing audio and visual clips put together by Patakk, Marco Papiro and Danny Perez, with a little help from Seen Studio. Not totally unlike the freaky tunnel boat scene in the 1971 film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, this cunning album promo is a perfect accompaniment to Panda Bear’s well-known and much-loved sound and vibe. You can read a really great interview with Noah Lennox himself over here on Pitchfork.

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    Sometimes when I see an artist’s work that particularly resonates with my brain, I work back in time to form my own private and completely fictional mood board. In the case of Adam Higton, his drawings conjure crisp autumnal smells, the Incredible String Band, children’s bedsheets, tree carvings, Morris Men, Steeleye Span, and the patterned variety of 1970s crockery you often see in caravans. Adam has something of a cult following: trendy publishers Landfill Editions made a fantastic book of his drawings and he’s been known to design some very desirable record sleeves. His mystical pseudonym Yule Bringer refers to his time spent dressed as a witch making live music on various stages around the country. See him over here playing at Bath Spa university to a bunch of design students who have each been given an item of percussion to help accompany him. So fun, what a wonderful man.

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    Anyone whose surname is a perfect cross between biscuit and cup surely has some sort of magic dwelling within them. London-based David Biskup’s work is a pleasing medley of intelligent, bean-like characters and immaculately chosen colour fades. Not content with making fantastic editorial work for the likes of (deep breath) The New York Times, WeTransfer, Wired, The Sunday Times Magazine, Le Monde Diplomatique (DE) and Computer Arts, David moonlights as a particularly impressive cartoonist. He creates innovative, well-designed comic strips depicting man’s struggle that even at his young age mirror the talent of people such as Jim Stoten or even Chris Ware, and I can’t wait to see some of his printed matter in the flesh.

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    One half of Berlin-based print studio Palefroi, Damien Tran spends his days creating lo-fi gig posters for the various trendy happenings in his hometown. Using the ancient art of wielding shedloads of skill to make something look really easy (see ice skating, playing drums and football), Damien’s posters are a lot more intricate than they seem, and pleasingly stray away from the classic gig poster aesthetic we so often see. His style is so recognisable that I don’t doubt there are a few people in Berlin collecting the posters by him that they see fluttering on billboards in the cold wind, I know I’d nick that Micachu one if I could.

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    If you’ve been staggering through the streets of London of late you may have clocked some funny murals and slogans in a curiously similar typeface, painted on undesirable street objects such as bins, skips, old mattresses and the like. This is the work of one of our all time favourite illustrators Ian Stevenson. His outdoor antics have caught the attention of a certain Russell Brand, who used Ian’s eye-catching, no-bullshit work to promote his somewhat controversial new book. We had a chat with Ian about what he’s been up to of late, and what it was like making work for Russell.

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    It’s good to start the year with some fresh, simply lovely illustration from a young artist, and these curious collage works are the brain-droppings of London-based Jean-Philippe Calver. I’d pretty much always stand by the idea that scrappy lo-fi collage is superior to the neat, exquisitely cut-out variety. Jean-Philippe’s work slots into the former category perfectly: his collage work is so lo-fi that it looks as if he’s been storing it on the floor of a studio that he shares with a chimneysweep. But there you go, that’s the charm with Jean, his website’s a bit shit and his work is thrown together from scraps – but somehow that’s what makes him truly brilliant. Don’t go changing, Jean-Philippe!

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    The miscellaneous category is rarely added to, but when it is it’s usually with someone or something pretty spesh. I like to think of it a little bit like that drawer or cupboard in your house where you stash the really useful crap that is too good to throw away. In this list I’ve compiled a few of my favourites from 2014, from bread-simulation games to round-the-clock breakfast radio. If you’re still hungry for more miscellany, just head over here.

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    10 hour days require some diverse, entertaining playlists. And with an office holding about 20 or so music fans beneath its roof, you can imagine there is quite a lot of different tastes floating around. In this mixtape we have tried to sum up the general nature of the music we listen to at It’s Nice That, meanwhile keeping it cool enough that you could probably put it on at a party and get away with it (apart from R.Kelly’s World’s Greatest – you may want to skip that in trendy company).

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    Do you reckon Ai Wei Wei might like a bouncy castle for Christmas? We do. There’s a whopping total of SIX people in this podcast including It’s Nice That Directors Alex Bec and Will Hudson, and boy is it hectic. In it we discuss the creative world in 2014, the year gone by and the one approaching us, and tales of Rob going to church when he was little. Sound good? It’s better. Merry Christmas from the whole It’s Nice That team, and we will see you on the other side for more Studio Audience!

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    Hello. My name’s Liv, and this year my best three moments have been hosting the Modern Magazine Conference, interviewing my sister for Riposte magazine, and flashing Robert Plant at the Camden Roundhouse. Merry Christmas!

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    Hello and welcome to the top 50 articles that have been most viewed on It’s Nice That this year. As always, it’s a pretty unexpected mishmash of really great work, viral gems and utterly weird nonsense. Congrats to everyone featured, there are a lot of people out there who have clicked on your project an awful lot of times. Alright, on yer marks, starting from number 50, here we go…

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    Artist Larry van Pelt wants to spread the word that “Jesus in life makes a difference.” Already a keen artist, Florida-based Larry decided to use his creative skills to spread the message, and began drawing Jesus in a number of different working environments. His collection involves a huge range of work scenarios, including a truck driver, a secretary, a carpet layer, a bodybuilder and a french horn player.

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    We recently came across Scottish artist Sam Lyon who resides in Dundee and makes these jiggling, nonsensical, fleshy GIFs. The creatures channel Flubber, sea cucumbers and those floppy little rubber sausages you used to get at school. The technical skill it must take to make them is beyond me I’m afraid, so I can’t shed any light on how this is done, but what I can say is that Sam’s style has the winning formula of hilarious, addictive and brand new. Every face-crease, every stomach bulge, every wobbly bit is so over-pronounced, and moves as if it’s full of goo. I’ve never seen anything quite like this before, have you? You can see the inspiration behind these little guys over on Sam’s entertaining and brilliant blog. It’s also worth saying that anyone who codes a fried egg GIF on to their cursor is post-worthy in my book.

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    Fate dealt us a good hand a few weeks back, while we were searching for a portrait of Raymond Briggs to accompany an interview we did with him in the latest Printed Pages. The best one we found, one that summed up the temperament of Raymond effortlessly, was by a photographer called Toby Glanville. A quick look at his site confirmed that Toby was a very, very good photographer, with a strong body of work that seems to hold a style, a smell, and a vibe. Toby kindly allowed us to use his portrait of Raymond for the magazine, and to find out a little bit more about his exquisite photography, we asked him a few questions. Here he is on the art a good portrait, his top three photographers and that day he spent with Raymond…

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    Just as I was wondering nervously if Laura Marling had gone and got lost in the wilderness of Joshua Tree for good, she’s gone and announced a new album – hoorah! Just like Beyonce, Laura has accompanied the sudden announcement of her new songs with a video: a truly beautiful little animation from London studio Art & Graft. Featuring a few drops of ink transforming slowly into a wild, headstrong horse galloping through a desert to a world unknown, this powerful little piece of film is enough to remind us of Laura’s own majesty. The rather moving essay on her brand new website backs this up perfectly. Welcome back Laura, you’ve been missed.

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    None of us at It’s Nice That could work out exactly what it was about Daniel Guerrero Fernández’s drawings that we loved, but we all agreed it was great. Clouds, mountains, planets, yin-yangs, waterfalls, swords – something about his portfolio is a cross between K-pop and Game of Thrones with a pinch of Studio Ghibli thrown in for good measure. Anyone that can pour that amount of joy on to a page is fine by me, I just hope that after this great interview over on Urban Outfitters he’s still got some of those pin badges left.

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    This year we spent a good amount of time fawning over a certain shoot by Anna Victoria Best in which she photographed the well-dressed feet of dancers as they scuffed up a well-worn dance floor. That shoot was for Varon, a beautiful piece of print that graces the newsstands biannually and offers a high-contrast, monochromatic glimpse into a more daring side of menswear. If you can believe it, the magazine is now up to its ninth issue, and is now designed by London-based creative Claude d’Avoine. On the mag’s purely black and white aesthetic, Claude says that the magazine is “shot with honest content, encompassing a mix of edgy and classic points of view. The design reflects the honesty in every page. There is no hierarchy between the stories, the idea is that the magazine itself flows consistently from beginning to end.”

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    In a beautiful profile in The Guardian recently, journalist Tim Lewis travelled out to the Hollywood hills to peek behind the gates of Hockney’s jungle-like home to get a glimpse of what the now 77-year-old artist is up to. As it happened, he had been very busy indeed: making a whole bunch of new paintings that are, in classic Hockney-style, moving in a totally different direction from his previous work.

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    As far as guilty pleasures go, this is the gift that keeps on giving. A weighty, velvety publication that flops around seductively in your arms, Mirage No.4 is the lovechild of Frank Rocholl and Henrik Purienne. Focusing on “Fashion, Swimwear and Jetset Hedonism,” the magazine aims to document the more beautiful things in life: girls, sunshine, architecture, vintage cars, sportsmen and the 1970s.

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    I think I’m safe in saying that fans of Panda Bear, the pseudonym of Noah Lennox of Animal Collective, are probably pretty into video games. I’m also sure that those who are into video games (myself included) are also fans of the good vs. evil storyline prevalent in most games and a lot of films that resemble games, Studio Ghibli etc. There is pure beauty in the little guy overcoming the big baddie, or the idea of friends working together to solve a puzzle, or to override some kind of evil power.

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    The seventh issue of the spectacular online photography journal Accent Magazine is here. Pieced together by Lydia Garnett and Lucy Nurnberg, the pair source some of the best young photographers working today and accept submissions of image-based stories from each one to collate into a temporary online space. This issue is truly spellbinding: the stories are even more poignant, the photography is even more crisp and jaw dropping. Personally I find that it can be hard to concentrate on reading a whole printed magazine in one go, but something about this corner of the internet allows me to get stuck in immediately and devour it. Well worth a good half an hour of your time if you can give it. A huge congrats to Lucy and Lydia, again!

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    Stuff like this never gets boring. Remember that super-ancient computer program that allowed you to type something in and have the computer read it aloud? Perfect when you want a machine to tell your big brother that he smells of poop. This cool site by Thirty Labs is similar in that you get to pick what the computer says aloud to you, but different in that the words it compiles are made up of tiny snippets of films. So great to have rude, funny, or just plain boring messages read out by Darth Vader, Garth Elgar, Napoleon Dynamite and Hades from Hercules. Enjoy!

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    Mysterious French artist Sarah-Louise Barbett has been comfortably residing in my favourites folder for years now. She updates her Flickr every now and again with more beautifully painted watercolour scenes of some of the most poignantly boring scenarios imaginable. Sarah-Louise sees the world differently to everyone else, she records odd mundanity with extraordinary beauty and wit – capturing the moment someone leaves a bottle of Fanta on a car roof, or when she catches her dog sitting casually on a sofa. Some people might prefer to use a camera to quickly snap these scenes, but that’s why I love Sarah-Louise so much: she chooses to paint them. That one she did of the chubby black labrador (she does seem to have a thing for dogs) is probably one of my favourite images from this year.

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    David Shrigley’s got a whopper of a new book out entitled Weak Messages Create Bad Situations. I couldn’t agree more. Sometimes, at this time of year, when you look back at those annual round-ups and “photographs that sum up 2014” it can be easy to feel like the world is just so full of disaster and crap. It seems that the people running this planet have been giving us weak, nay wrong messages this whole time! How mean. And what have they created? A bad situation. We love David’s new book, which totally sums up the feeling of helplessly skidding downhill on a bicycle with no brakes towards a cliff. Here he is on the book, dreams, and the world in general.

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    This week, Features Editor Liv Siddall wonders whether the world of illustration, and the events that champion them, have perhaps become a bit stale. And maybe we should take steps to champion as many new and exciting artists as possible, as opposed to falling back on the same names time and time again.

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    There’s a lot of joy at It’s Nice That HQ when our favourite illustrators hit the big time. When Aisha Franz had her latest graphic novel Earthling published by Drawn and Quarterly, it was once again time for celebration. Earthling is the story of an all-female family (two sisters and a mother) who each retreat into imaginary fantasy worlds in order to escape the mundanity and struggle of ordinary life. That makes it sound quite heavy going – but it’s not. It’s full of dark humour, sex and hilarious snippets of perilous teenage life that you’ll be glad are far, far behind you. Also, we’re so used to Aisha’s work being so brightly coloured that this book – drawn entirely in scribbled pencil – is a very interesting new venture for her, one that I personally am a big fan of. Anyone you know who’s into the witty, sarcastic humour of Daniel Clowes’ Ghost World definitely needs to get their hands on this.

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    We came across Cozy Tomato’s illustrations when studying the Mr Porter Journal for our Behind the Screens feature. Cozy Tomato (whose real name is Koji Tomoto) gets commissioned by the guys over there all the time, to add a retro, fun element to their articles on fashion and lifestyle. Cozy’s work is reminiscent of 1950s children’s books and quilts, lots of pointy nosed people with gravity-defying ponytails having a wild, leisure-filled time in the great outdoors. What’s marvellous about Cozy is how his illustrations are so well-researched that they actually could have been lifted from back in the day, and are so packed full of unadulterated, candy-coloured joy that they can spice up even the most intellectually treacle-like article. Perhaps that’s why he gets so many commissions from Monocle.

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    How many times have photographers and writers ventured into the studios of artists to document well-used tools and paint-spattered chairs? About a billion, or maybe more. FINALLY us muggins over here, writing words all day and wearing our fingertips down on white keys (not of the piano variety) are getting a moment of the limelight via Matteo Pericoli’s beautiful new book, Windows on the World.

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    Recently we’ve all been fawning over a Glaswegian studio called Risotto for their super-fun risograph posters, prints and flyers. To be honest, I never thought we’d find an equivalent over the Atlantic in Montreal. Last week, one of our go-to French guys over in Paris, Raphael Garnier, got in touch to tell us about Charmant & Courtois, a French-Canadian design studio with a penchant for printing and some very good parties to go to.

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    Some video directors like to head straight to the lyrics of a song for inspiration. The lyrics of Tom Rosenthal’s song Watermelon are as follows: “It’s watermelon time, I said boom boom boom boom boom boom boom. It’s watermelon time, I said boom boom boom boom boom boom boom. It’s watermelon time, I said boom boom boom boom boom boom boom. It’s watermelon time, I said boom boom boom boom boom boom boom. It’s a fruit based love.” It only seems fitting then that the video accompaniment to this tune is footage of a man in an extremely well-crafted watermelon suit, bounding around the British countryside willy-nilly. Hats off to Sidd Khajuria, Ben Elwyn, Nathan Jones, and Tom Rosenthal himself for keeping things simple, with fantastic results.

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    It’s great when we speak to editors and founders of the best magazines on the stands today, and they say that the reason they created it in the first place was that “There wasn’t a magazine for me on the racks. There wasn’t one that did what I wanted.” Leith Clark is a stylist to the stars, and has been entrenched in the world of fashion and style for over a decade.

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    We love Miranda July so much that, to be honest, even if she stuck some glitter on an empty stick of deodorant we’d still post about it. Luckily she’s much more talented than that and every project she puts out into the world is something to stop and stare at, if only for a little bit. Her latest piece comes in the form of a novel entitled The First Bad Man, already lauded by similar creators such as Lena Dunham, who says of the book: “Never has a novel spoken so deeply to my sexuality, my spirituality, my secret self. I know I am not alone.”

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    Over the past couple of weeks we’ve been hearing from many of the people responsible from some of the best websites around, showcasing their brilliance and asking how and why they’ve made such a success of online publishing. It’s fair to say we’ve saved one of the very best for last. Tim Noakes is editor-in-chief of Dazed, having originally started as an intern back in 2001. Here he tells us what that early east London creative scene was like, how the Dazed website has evolved and why he thinks it’s important for his team to be creating culture, not just reporting on it.

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    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.