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

1528 articles
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    I’m reading Just Kids by Patti Smith at the moment (aware that I’m late to the party) and I’m constantly stricken with jealousy over how she was alive and in New York at the best possible time, and that magical era of art and music will perhaps never happen again, in my lifetime anyway. What I can take comfort in, however, is that I share the same earth as a bunch of illustrators and artists who make such weird, spectacular work – and that too is a rare and unforeseen period in history. These artists are people like Derek Ercolano here, whose primary colour comics and distorted images are the work, I think, of a preternatural genius. I don’t know if he knows the other contemporaries in his clan: HTML Flowers, Simon Hanselmann, Patrick Kyle, Tom Sewell, Rob Pybus and Sophia Foster-Dimino to name a few, but if he does, I hope they’re all partying in a wet cave somewhere together.

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    Such good illustration here from one of Agent Pekka’s sparkling roster of artists, Sanna Mander. If you like vintage cars, Edward Scissorhands, The Flintstones or I Dream of Genie then this is going to be right up your street. Fantastic cluttered illustrations illustrate magazine fantastic articles all over the world with little 1950s-style trademarks such as pronounced wood grains, pointy eyeliner, cute tablecloths and basically any aesthetic that you might see in, let’s say, the 1976 Freaky Friday intro. Some people get bothered about illustrators taking from the days of yore, but personally this kitsch style is right up my suburban American street. That illustration for Brummell magazine is absolutely beautiful.

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    Here we are, round two of our Graduates catch ups in which we get back in touch with our grown-up children from last year and see what powerful things they’ve been up to since we let them fly the nest. Turns out they’ve all been doing exceptionally well, which is nice. Here’s some absolutely fantastic grads Edward Monaghan, Lottie Brzozowski and Ollie Willis sharing their knowledge on how you earn a buck or two in this big bad world these days.

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    When someone’s work looks like the legs of David Hockney’s painting trousers, or the vomit of someone who’s just nailed a pack of Skittles, you know it’s gonna be the kind of thing we want on our site. Like the spectacular Minna Gilligan or Jordy van Den Nieuwendijk, artist Adam Sultan’s weapon of choice is COLOUR.

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    We’ve long been enormous fans of Ally Capellino, for the timeless bags and vessels she creates that seem to adhere to and stand up to everyday problems of a “doing” person who rides bicycles, carries a lot of books, or just needs a sturdy bag as a tool rather than something to show off. Saying that, everyone I know who’s got an Ally Capellino bag definitely shows it off, and it’s normally so beautiful that no one really minds anyway.

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    My Mum emailed this to me yesterday with the subject title of “try and guess what this is advertising.” Wrongly thinking I’d outwit her, I watched it the whole way through and was still stumped until about three seconds from the end. What a triumphant piece of advertising from none other than some graduates of the Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg. The ad’s three years old, so we can assume the men behind it, creative Andre Price and direct Andreas Roth, are both powerful filmmakers or ad-men nowadays. You don’t get much better than this fantastic, thrilling advert for what is promoting, in all honesty, a very dull product indeed. It’s dramatic, it’s spine-tingling and it’s genuinely funny enough to make you squeak a little giggle out at the end – and you can’t say that for many ads these days.

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    What a joy it is to come into It’s Nice That and have a filthy, hardback comic book that you’ve been waiting patiently for for what feels like FOREVER sat on your desk. Forming II is the brainchild of Jesse Moynihan, infamous comic book creator and storyboarder for widely-loved cartoon, Adventure Time. For some reason I personally cannot get into the latter, but the former I love with all of my heart.

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    Wow, what a treat this is! Singer, songwriter, comic-book maker and generally nice guy Jeffrey Lewis has made us an extra special It’s Nice That Friday mixtape! He’s even kindly told us a little about each song that he’s chosen. Turns out Jeffrey’s taste in music reflects his own, something that I really love in a mixtape. From Gravediggaz, Lou Reed and spoken word to psychedelic Christian music from the 70s and more, this mix is Jeff through and through and is the perfect accompaniment to your Friday, nay your entire weekend. Let’s all take a minute to be thankful that we’re all on the planet at the same time as this guy.

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    What a doofus am I, visiting Jeremy’s site for like two years and thinking “why the HELL is he not making any more work?” And then realising that yes, he has been making work, it’s just all on his blog. How pleasurable though to click on a link to find pages and pages of new and previously unseen Liebman snaps. What I’ve always loved about Jeremy is that he takes the standard job of going to photograph an artist and does it in a way that no one else does. It’s not rocket science to go and photograph artists in their studios and make candid, pleasant shot, but it is much more difficult to leave with the kind of photographs that Jeremy takes.

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    Here it is, that time of year again, doesn’t a year swing by quickly now we’re all getting older? After launching our Graduates 2014 we then turn to the Graduates of 2013 to ask what they’ve been doing with their year as professional post-grads. Up first is Alice Tye, Ed Cheverton and Charlie Patterson. Hip hip hooray for them all being very powerful and creative still. Let’s start with Alice…

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    There’s a poem often read out at weddings by A.A Milne that starts “where there’s me, there’s poo.” I feel that even though I dislike that poem, it does ring true to my life in that every time I host the pod we end up talking about toilets for at least five minutes. This week is no exception, we hear about toilets, James’ trip to Iceland and some exciting art and design news. As ever listen using the SoundCloud embed below or subscribe via iTunes here.

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    Usually illustration provokes a really happy feeling in me, a feeling of envy mixed with passion and cheer. Sophia Foster-Dimino’s is probably the first I’ve seen that brought me really, really up and then super down because to be honest, why bother doing anything or looking at anyone else’s drawings anymore because it will never be as good as this? We found Sophia through Pitchfork Review creative director Michael Renaud who commissioned her to do a comic for their latest issue. What a great move that was, although that wasn’t her first commission by any means – she’s been a Google Doodler in San Francisco for years. How cool is that? Her work is some of the best I’ve seen in such a long time, a sparkling bag of Rookie, teen films, Moomins, Chris Ware, Studio Ghibli and lobsters. What a woman. More please.

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    This week Apple turned down an application for an app that promotes female masturbation on the grounds that it’s inappropriate. Liv Siddall wonders whether, despite the criticism over the design of the app, that was really the issue here. As always, get involved with your own comments below.

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    Hats and horns off to Charles Fréger who has blown everyone else’s LAME projects out the water with his showstopper of a photography series The Wilder Man. Charles travelled around a total of 18 different European countries in order to investigate the folkloric traditions and legends that surrounds each individual culture. In many festivals, events and traditions across Europe, there is usually a time when a man is dressed up as something wild and fearsome and paraded around a town to signify something or other that happened long ago. Charles decided to put these terrifying characters on a pedestal and shine a light on what they truly look like, away from the pushing crowds of the festivals and rituals. The National Geographic site describes Charles’ quest beautifully:

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    It’s nice to be alive in a time where something so close to home has become such a cult. Becky Sloan and Joe Pelling and co. have just launched their new Kickstarter to fund some more episodes of everyone’s favourite animated series, Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared. The first two episodes saw Sesame Street-like characters try to decipher slightly heavy issues such as creativity and time in a weird, usually pretty manic way that left the lovers of the unusual all over there world dribbling and moaning for more. The two videos combined have had over 20 million views (!!!) and now the duo behind them are keen to make more. The only problem is they haven’t got any money. Luckily for them, and us, Kickstarter exists!

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    No video could open more perfectly than this one from The Lonely Island, which starts with a brilliant Made in Chelsea-esque parody of a windswept British girl on Waterloo Bridge with the London Eye behind her. She’s saying in a horrific Ab Fab accent “Hi this is Bridget, should I come over later?” to a Brooklyn-based Andy Samberg dressed in his finest American lad gear, not giving two effs about what she has to say.

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    Coming across Alexis Beauclair’s work on the enormous, vacuous gravel pit of the internet was like driving past a yard sale and screeching to a halt upon seeing a rare pinball machine you’ve been lusting after for years. Where did this man come from? Check out his bone china-coloured works spattered with post-apocalyptic, bald creatures and lines so delicate they’re like hairs that have dropped on to a scanner from above. Mixed in with all that sci-fi and whimsy is a clear passion for geometry – who knew making a series of pictures in navy triangles and circles could be so beautiful? Thank you Booooooom for showing us Alexis, he’s made our day. The only annoying thing is now we want to buy every single one of his small, beautifully-printed publications.

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    From someone who makes animations about the characters in Guess Who coming to life or short films about small characters meeting and falling in love in treacherous, alien landscapes, it’s pretty weird that Kirsten Lepore is utterly obsessed with Aphex Twin’s Windowlicker. But then again, who wasn’t completely hypnotised when they first saw it? It’s one of those things that remains with you forever, and yes, one of the best music videos of all time. 10 points to Gryffindor for Kirsten sending us a photo of her and a friend dressed up as Richard D. James and one of the creepy dancing girls.

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    Remember back in 2012 when that guy Wlodzimierz Umaniec vandalised a Rothko painting in the Tate Modern? He got jailed for two years, and the mixed reaction from the public was an incredibly interesting one. The painting was taken away by Tate and, since the incident happened, not much has been said about it. For 18 months however, Rothko’s vandalised Black on Maroon has been gradually repaired by the world’s finest restoration crew.

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    Seeing a photo of Earl Sweatshirt rolling a spliff in an open JFK shirt and a terrifying blade being held next to his face as he grins, pink-eyed to the camera is not your everyday kind of photojournalism. In the world of Michael Schmelling, whose instantly recognisable photography has won him editorial spots in magazines like WIRE and our personal in-house favourite, Die Zeit, this is pretty standard.

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    What could be better than a design studio that not only provides the public with cutting-edge designs and album artwork than a studio that also provides their fans with the music they’re listening to while they make them? New York studio Mogollon, founded by Francisco Lopez and Monica Brand in 2004, have got a tasty portfolio of young, colourful work that is accompanied by a number of popular mixes they’ve made. They’ve kindly gifted us our very own, extra special, It’s Nice That mix tape – so crank it up and hear what kind of stuff those design cats across the pond are into.

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    Top tip: if you’re making a toilet paper advert, just get your hands on the nearest soft baby animal and make them do cute things (I’m looking at you, Andrex). The formula for advertising what we really only use to clean our butts after doing a poop doesn’t necessarily need changing, and what better way to detract from how gross that is than with a newborn animal softer than a cloud? Saatchi knows this, and their Stockholm arm have released this advert featuring a lamb wandering around a house trying to find the softest pile of stuff to have a nap on. I don’t blame you Lambi, I don’t blame you. Anyway, the point is we know this isn’t rocket science, and we know that you’d probably click on a land-mine if it had a picture of a cute animal on it, but we had to share this with you. Happy Friday. Maaaahhhhhhh!

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    Apart from being a stark reminder of how horrible sunburn is, there really aren’t any qualms worth noting about Fan Yang-Tsung’s utterly unique paintings. A lot of artists seem to be inspired by swimming pools, the way they distort the lower body and send off messages of leisure, and murder, and sex. In this case, Fan Yang-Tsung has taken his watery muse and represented it in a series of images so bold that you can almost feel the chlorine up your nose. Simple colours, a good knowledge of pool-side plants and some very small paintbrushes can take you far in our books. Swimming caps off to Fan Yang-Tsung!

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    A good, hard pat on the back is deserved for the guys over at The New York Times for the excellent and timely new string to their online bow, The New York Times: Cooking. It is a cosy nook in the World Wide Web that offers the public a wide variety of affordable, seasonal recipes suggested by an interesting but very well-curated selection of wise, up-and-coming chefs. Currently this is just a test site that The New York Times say “will be available to approximately 10,000 NYTimes.com users. The Times will use the beta to develop insights on how users interact with the product, and to learn from those insights as it approaches the launch of the full product later this year.”

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    The words “urban art” don’t often conjure up images of spectacular, ground-breaking installations in my mind, rather dodgy tags on piss-stained walls behind the local supermarket. In this case though, urban artist SpY has made something worth writing home about. MOON is an enormous, lit crescent moon that hangs suspended over a plaza in Lausanne by an enormous crane. In the day it looks ghostly and sad, then when night comes and the lights get switched on (I’m always so envious of the people who get to turn really big lights on) it becomes something pretty magical indeed. Check out more of his genuinely enjoyable “urban art” over here and over on his site.

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    It would be easy to live in London and take for granted the brilliant posters and identities promoting shows at some of the capital’s best galleries. When you’re shoving past someone 30 metres below street level you barely have time to take in the work someone’s gone to to tell you to go and see a show at the weekend, you just sort of absorb it.

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    Rearranging the furniture with Tim Walker and having a fully-grown lion wandering around in a room that looks like something out of a Tim Burton movie is just another day at the office for set designer Rhea Thierstein. London-based Rhea is whizzing through a stellar list of clients who are begging for a drop of the magic she sprinkles on to shop windows, fashion shoots, adverts and editorial features.

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    People who champion the smaller, artier, cuter, brighter, funnier publications there are flopping around all over the world are our kinds of people. Katja Chernova is one of those, so who better to ask to recommend us some publications for our weekly Bookshelf feature? Katja is the founder of Ti Pi Tin, a small but powerful art book shop in London’s weird cousin, Dalston. Ti Pi Tin stocks small publications, zines, and basically anything printed and bound and sometimes unnecessary that you inexplicably just really, really want to own. Here she is on her personal top five reads…

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    Here we are with a brand new rather self-explanatory feature called Behind The Scenes. We’ll kick it off with the lovely Michael Renaud, who has taken time out his busy schedule to chat with us. His time, I assume, is usually filled up with really boring, mundane stuff like commissioning the world’s best illustrators to make hilarious comics, listening to cool music and chatting to photographers about bread.

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    Since this feature started I have been praying someone would pick a video from my own youth that I could probably draw out the storyboard for in my sleep. Documentary-maker and spectacular director Toby Dye has picked one of the most controversial and utterly brilliant music videos from the noughties, Christina Aguilera’s Dirrty. Wet, wild and weird it’s a hard-hitting David LaChapelle masterpiece and Toby has justified his love for it beautifully. After you’ve stepped briefly into the past with a chap-wearing X-Tina, go to Toby’s site and check out the work he’s done for Unkle and Massive Attack and a documentary he made about dwarves in showbiz.

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    Don’t be shocked at the photos you see here. Clicking on a Henrik Purienne article and complaining about the nudity is like going to the Louvre and complaining that there are too many paintings. The bounty-hunting jet-setter has recently published a new book, morena, which has been lovingly designed by Barcelona design studio Córdova – Canillas. The concept of the book is simple: morena is a Spanish word for “a tanned or a non-blonde girl, or both at the same time” and the book is “a collection of monographs venturing in a timeless sensuality, in nudity as a state of true elegance, in sex…”

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    What can you say about a guy whose bio on his website is just one big question mark other than “Dear Josh, you have the best look book I have ever seen. Explain.” From what I can gather, Josh Reim is a young fashion designer whose clothes look like altered versions of your best thrift-store finds. Kitsch embroidery, cuddly toys and enormous batwing sleeves are met with menacing ropes woven around hems, and cute characters on the fronts of dungarees that look a tad more frightening than they probably should. Add to that mix a bunch of models that look like they haven’t seen sunlight or vegetables for a few years messing around in a dusty recording studio and you’ve got one of the most palpable and inspirational look books you’ll see this year. Just to add to the mystery, it’s almost impossible to find anywhere that sells his clothes. Best guy ever.

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    Here’s Asian Dan, the man without whom I would have no laughter in my life, for Dan is the creator of LE MEMÉ, the best online sick-bucket archive of images that make you lose all hope in the human race. Brown Cardigan’s weird cousin, if you will. As well as this, Dan’s also a DJ and makes his cash by appreciating and gathering music and turning it into mixes for the baying public. We appreciate his choices for us today, Janet Jackson and James Taylor in the same playlist can only be a good thing. Take it away, Asian Dan!

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    “The sun is always rising somewhere; breakfast is always just about to happen. Dinner time in Dakar is breakfast time in Brisbane. And in the background of breakfast is radio, soundtrack to a billion bowls of cereal or congee, shakshuka or api, porridge or changua.” Well, we certainly couldn’t have put that any better ourselves. Global Breakfast Radio arrived in my inbox courtesy of ex-It’s Nice That writer Bryony Quinn. The concept is simple and immediately engrossing: a live radio that streams breakfast shows from around the world as and when they happen. In their own words, “it’s the equivalent of a plane flying west with the sunrise, constantly tracking the chatter and music of people across the planet.”

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    Adam got in touch last week and said that he had picked up a copy of Printed Pages in his local Greenpoint coffee shop and wanted to show us his work. We’re glad that particular coffee shop has such good taste (ahem) in the magazines they put around for the enjoyment of their customers, because otherwise we would never have seen Adam’s brilliant photographs.

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    Two years ago when this Opinion feature started, Rob Alderson wrote a piece about the rampant rise of the “must-see” culture; shows which the media’s frenzy makes you feel like you have to go and see. Hands up who found themselves queuing for the Bowie show at the V&A without knowing much more about him than just the chorus to Life on Mars? Me. Who queued bottom-to-crotch in the rain with about 1,000 grumpy pensioners to catch a glimpse of Hockney’s A Bigger Picture at the Royal Academy? Also me.

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    Lovely work here from Israeli illustrator Shimrit Elkanati. Not only does her name sound like someone who has been brought up in the forest by a bunch of folklore-loving elves, but her work gives off the same vibes. What’s so great about her portfolio is the way she can hop from mystical work with a kind of Studio Ghibli feel to it, straight to illustrations for The New York Times that depict modern people in comical, everyday situations. That’s when you know someone’s really good, when they can just as easily and effectively draw an intelligent, appealing picture for a child as they could for your average, grumpy adult.

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    This may not be for everyone, but if you’ve ever lay on your bed listening to Pink Floyd, or slept in the woods overnight with your friends, or smoked weed, or play video games (let’s face it, all those things tend to go together) you might be into this. We came across this work by Hirō Isono on Melt, the blog of famous Australian image-maker and graphic designer Leif Podhajsky. Melt is an absolute treasure trove of retro, psychedelic artwork and artists who have contributed to some of the trippier album covers in history and is added to by Leif and a whole bunch of other fantastic and like-minded artists. Whoever came across this succulent work by the late video game designer Hirō should be praised, this is exactly the kind of thing I want to look at and learn about forever.

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    When your photography skills are as good as Nico’s and you’ve just married what appears to be a very wonderful and beautiful woman, why not document your honeymoon appropriately? This series that he posted on Facebook documents him and his new wife’s travels around what I can only assume is South Africa as that’s where Nico’s from. It made me think about honeymoon photos in general, are they a thing? Are couples usually so done with photographs after the wedding that they don’t bother? It’s a very special time for couples, and I’d like to see more honeymoon albums. Not the naked kind.

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    Spare a thought whilst you sit in a dreary city for those youngsters at Austin Psych Fest, hanging out in the dappled sunlight with pockets full of hallucinogens and painfully ringing ears. Yep, it’s that time of year where if you’re not at the festival, the best you can do is watch it on telly or listen to the music and dream. We’re not jealous or anything, at all, no way, we’re quite content to sit here at work and listen to a mixtape of the best bands playing at the hippy-fest right this minute. Close your eyes, get your headphones and your Out Of Office on and try to imagine you’re wearing tie-dye by a river with a bunch of really, really cool people listening to some incredible music. Or at least try.