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

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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.

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    It takes a special something to be able to photograph at gigs and festivals, you have to really not mind being covered in the bodily fluids of swerving waves of people, or potentially having your ankles and your camera shattered into a thousand pieces. Lord knows what things Greg Neate has seen in his last decade of photographing the much-loved and notoriously raucous ATP festival. His photos are often taken in prime crowd spots that even rubber-boned teenagers can’t reach – so how does he do it? We asked him some questions about his memories of ATP and what he loves most about photographing crowds. You can also see Greg’s photos on show at Neate at ATP at the ATP Terminal on Dray Walk until 13 July 2014.

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    One look at Francesca’s portfolio and we knew that this was a very, very exciting graduate. Channeling all the vibes of Rookie with the serene portraiture ability of Vermeer, Francesca’s lucid, candid photography depicts youth, friendship and true love. With a BA in Photography from the London College of Communication and a few cross-continental adventures under her belt, Francesca’s well on her way to becoming a much-loved photographer. We chatted to her about her time at University and her plans for the future.

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    Hi gang! If you’re reading this you’re probably not at Glastonbury, and neither are we so that makes us friends. We’ve spent our weekend listening to Eminem with the air conditioning on, which is kind of like our own mini festival – right? We often wonder what everyone else listens to at work, as we usually go for a heady mix of Simon and Garfunkel, Rihanna and that Bill Wyman song about him seducing a much younger woman. If you have any suggestions of what else we can listen to, or what you tend to listen to as you punch an Apple keyboard with the blunt ends of your fingertips for money, get in touch.

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    The only thing cooler than a girl gang is a girl gang of six-year-olds who are insanely good at skateboarding. Meet Pink Helmet Posse, a group of three astonishingly talented and cute little girls who are best friends, and love to skate. The New York Times have commissioned this spectacular short film about this curious trio as part of their consistently brilliant Opinion Pages, inviting the viewer to check out something that’s going to blow their minds and also make them think a little too.

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    How cool is this? London-based man-band Bombay Bicycle Club have made us an absolutely smashing mixtape to accompany your Friday and weekend. Jack Steadman, Jamie MacColl, Suren de Saram and Ed Nash collectively write and play songs that are at once heartbreaking and uplifting, a bit like Homeward Bound. Their mix, however, is a tropical cocktail of cross-continental tracks including bangers from Donnie and Joe Emerson (classic), Frank Zappa (wahoo!) and everyone’s favourite old crooner, Charles Bradley. A big thanks to these busy boys for making our weekend substantially better.

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    Hi podlings! You’re in for a treat this week. Rob’s away so Liv’s in charge and she, Maisie and James are here to chew the fat on all today’s cultural topics. There’s a shitload going on in the world of art and design at the moment, and there’s Glastonbury and the World Cup too, so it’s best you keep up with the latest facts to impress your mates with. Up for it? We are, get stuck in using the SoundCloud embed below or subscribe via iTunes here.

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    Hey that girl’s sticking her finger into an elf’s butt! That can only mean this is the work of a genius. Sure enough, the drawing I’m referring to is by Frau Franz, the sweetheart of the modern-day comic book industry. Her being handy with a crayon is particularly useful to the rest of the world as it allows her to spill the contents of her brain out on to the paper so we can marvel at it. Cool little guy reclining on a lilo, someone fingering an elf’s butt, a dog woofing at a rainbow cloud lurking in the gutter – where does all this gold come from? At the moment Frau’s living in Berlin doing freelance illustration for cash, and is a living and breathing inspiration to those who have funny, silly and sometimes gross thoughts all over the world.

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    At It’s Nice That we spend more time on the internet than we do with our friends, lovers or parents combined. So it’s only right that we start selecting the best fruit that the internet-tree has borne and handing it to you in manageable, well-written doses. At the moment the craze is music videos without the music, something that as yet is proving its staying power and is still hilarious.

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    Jason Nocito was a teenage rebel who failed all his classes at school. Fast forward X-amount of years later he’s a bonafide photographer who is probably near the top of most amateur photographers’ inspiration lists. His photos are pure, unadulterated fun mixed in with a healthy dose of appreciation for the world’s bottomless beauty. Whether he’s pointing his lens at some sexy lips (I think those are Azealia Banks’ lips) or some gangly, freckled teenager, every shot Jason produces has got a raw weirdness and silliness to it that I just think are the most attractive traits ever when it comes to the medium. There’s a really good interview with him over here on HUH that tells you all about his road trip with Tim Barber, the time he met his wife, and his dick. After you’ve read that just go and browse his back-catalogue – it’ll probably be the best thing you do today.

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    Can you believe Mr Bingo has never done a Bookshelf for us? We’ve been posting about his work, reading his vulgar Tweets and laughing at his books for years and never thought to ask him. Well, maybe we did ask him and he said no – that sounds more like it. In between Tweeting at Alexa Chung, writing alarmingly insulting hate mail and illustrating for big companies, Bingo is a seemingly avid collector of weird-as-shit books. Are titles such as Dancing with Cats and Self Defence for Women up your street? Then read on dear friend…

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    This is GREAT! 2006 Brighton graduate Sarah Lippett has just finished her very first book, a touching portrait of her grandfather, Stanley Burndred. Rather than merely making a printed zine or graphic novel, Sarah has invested in creating a truly charming website through which you can navigate yourself around the details of Stan’s very interesting life. Old black and white photos and stories from the days of yore are 100% my bag, so this kind of thing is a total melt-fest for us nostalgic types – particularly in the section of the site that shows off Stan’s curiously brilliant artwork. I don’t know about you, but if my talented granddaughter makes a brilliant comic and rather epic project inspired by my boring old life, I’ll die a happy old lady indeed. Check out the rest of Sarah’s work over here on Crayonlegs.

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    Say what you like about music videos, for me the most successful have to be two things: simple and cool. Sound easy? It’s not, but when you think of any fantastic music video that’s stuck in your mind for years afterwards, it’s usually both those things combined seamlessly to create something magic (see Michel Gondry’s famous Chemical Brothers video). Back in the present day, this video for Uumellmahaye (gesundheit!) by Lithuanian artist Manfredas ticks the boxes perfectly. Director Ruta Kiskyte assembled some enormous inflatable letters in a disused plaster dump in the middle of Lithuania and got a guy to take his clothes off. The question is, is the naked man going to pop the smoke-filled letters we see before us? Wait, what’s that in his hand? Is he? He’s not…Oh yes, he’s going to bloody pop the letters! Perfect.

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    As well as making some of the wittiest comics and illustrations we’ve seen for a long time, R. Kikuo Johnson lives in New York and spends his time teaching young artists valuable lessons in editorial illustration at the design-world equivalent of Hogwarts, the Rhode Island School of Design. We were wondering for ages why that school churns out so many incredible graduates – and no we know! Like Ghost World crossed with some of Adrian Tomine’s work, R. Kikuo Johnson’s warm, clever illustration is appealing to pretty much anyone – which is probably why it appears in some of the most important magazines around. Oh, to be one of his students…

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    Absolute banger this week from London-based filmmaker and photographer Phoebe Arnstein. As well as spending her days taking rather uncompromisingly beautiful photographs of her loved-ones, Phoebe has spent the last few years as a professional camerawoman, operating enormous machinery and creating videos for the likes of Jamie Isaac, South London Ordnance and Gang Colours among others. She kindly took time out from behind a lens of some sort to tell us about her favourite ever music video, and it’s an absolutely summery, 90s corker. Here she is…

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    I love how Ryan McGinley will just burst on to the scene with a bunch of new work every now and again to remind everyone of his utter greatness. As soon as you see the new shots you realise that while you’ve been peddling backwards at a nine-to-five, Ryan’s been photographing kids jumping into phosphorescence-filled bays, streaking wildly through prairies or lying in meadows of fluff given off by procreating trees. Some people call him a one-trick pony, sure, but it’s pretty obvious that they’re just jealous. At the moment, Ryan’s work is on show at the high-rise Galerie Perrotin in Hong Kong where it seems to hover, hundreds of storeys up, looking down over the city, so go check it out if you’re in the area.

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    Who better to give us a mix than the man in charge of A&R at the legendary Warp Records? Embarrassingly I had to look up what A&R meant when Stephen told me that’s what he did. Turns out it stands for “artists and repertoire” which basically means that Stephen spends his time scouting new talent and overseeing their climb to fame like some sort of lovely, knowledgable father-figure with a good taste in music. Despite his busy schedule of sorting out what music we’re all going to listen to in the future, Stephen’s kindly put together a mix of Friday-themed music. Unsurprisingly it’s really good and very, very cool. Enjoy!

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    For us, there is absolutely nothing better than a fantastically insightful, informative article accompanied by beautifully executed illustration or photography. This is why we, and most other magazine readers, enjoy The Gourmand so much – it is absolutely full of well-thought-out, intelligently considered combinations of curious text and image combinations. In their latest issue they asked prolific writer and chef Simon Hopkinson to delve into some of London’s oldest and most treasured butchers, bakers a food-peddlers – some no longer standing, some still going strong.

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    You don’t get many portfolios as rich and as varied as Urs Fischer’s – his somewhat prolific sculptural work ranges from enormous rooms full of objects imprisoned in steel cubes, John Stezaker-esque collages and gargoyle-like characters that look straight out of Labyrinth. But you know, we’re It’s Nice That, so obviously we’re really into the paintings he did of people through history with hard boiled eggs masking their faces. Really though, these are incredibly beautiful pieces of work. Depending on how much you like eggs, they may or may not make you feel a bit nauseous. For me though, this is the best thing ever.

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    You don’t get much cooler than a fluorescent publication about art and surfing produced in Brooklyn, but luckily WAX magazine has proved itself not to just be another trendy rag, but a bonafide pleasure for all who see it. Take, for example, Printed Pages editor James Cartwright’s reaction when it plopped into the It’s Nice That offices the other day – he squealed like a little piggy and ripped off its plastic binding to flick through its fresh, untouched pages.

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    This week online editor Liv Siddall wonders if anyone actually enjoys the huge amount of wacky summertime events that are on offer in London. As always your comments and opinions are welcome below.