Oo-xtcya

Madeleine joined It’s Nice That as a freelance editorial assistant in May 2014 having graduated from Cambridge University where she edited the student newspaper. In the autumn of 2014 she will begin her Masters course at The Courtauld Institute of Art where she will specialise in architecture.

@MadeleineMorley

108 articles
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    As our online editor Liv Siddall said, “If you like sex and you like lions, you’ll like these drawings,” and I think she’s probably right. Maria Luque illustrates naked couples hanging out with what I imagine is a pet lion. Her characters lounge around in the nude, lying across big beds in breezy looking apartments filled with luscious vases and intricate carpets, always accompanied by a big, red quizzical king of the cats. Maria is from Argentina, and she says that she likes to make people laugh with her work. We like her child-like hand and summery colours, and the fact that she’s definitely succeeded in making us giggle.

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    Harley Weir’s strikingly organic compositions seem to be made out of the same colour and textures as an Egon Schiele painting. Her photographs are mysterious and unguarded, and there is something very personal and pure about the way that she captures her subjects.

  3. Weekender-list

    Guess what? It’s your favourite time of week again! It’s time for delicious big breakfasts at your local greasy spoon before a hungover marathon run of The Good Wife. It’s time for sitting on rooftops drinking strawberry flavoured cider and swapping silly stories with your friends. It’s time for doing your washing and having picnics in the park, and it’s time, of course, for this week’s fantastic instalment of the It’s Nice That Weekender. Enjoy!

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    Your garbage says so much about you. Going through a week’s worth of a person’s trash, you can learn what they like to eat, what they wear, the things that they want to keep hidden, their secrets, their desires. We don’t think about what our garbage says about us, and when we throw it away, we forget about it entirely. We live in a society that produces such a monstrously entropic overload of garbage, and it is easy to distance ourselves from the big idea of global pollution.

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    It’s my last week here at It’s Nice That! So I decided to curate a list of some of my favourite Things that I’ve spotted or noticed during my time here. And after this week, Things will never be the same again…

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    Food passages in books have always been some of my favourites in terms of creating flavoursome texture and setting a scene. There’s something so delicious about reading what your favourite characters are eating and drinking, and food descriptions really bring a setting alive. That chowder scene in Moby Dick has remained in my mind as being one of the cosiest and scrumptiously rustic meals, and all of my winter soups aspire to Melville’s hearty description.

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    It’s common for people to imagine that they see faces made out of the shapes and folds of everyday objects: It seems to be a human trait that we like to see ourselves in the world around us. We look up at the clouds and imagine that we see the outlines of faces and body parts, and at night we convince ourselves that a rumpled item of clothing thrown over a chair is really a sinister grinning figure.

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    TWO, or Think Work Observe, are a design studio based in Udine, Italy. They create very modern and simple publication identities, and what is particularly intriguing about them is that they also design their identities’ accompanying fonts. We were curious about the process that actually goes into creating a typeface, a process that seems so intriguingly subtle and precise.

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    When I was finishing up my final project at university I’d wake up, have a slice of burnt toast, then hobble across slippery cobblestones to a windowless library. When Barnaby Kent woke up on the days that he was working on his graduate project he awoke lying on a bed of luscious leaves in the jungle, and he’d have fresh passionfruit for breakfast before taking a walk in the mountains. It’s no wonder that his work is so magical.

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    Akasha Rabut’s compositions are incredibly cheerful, especially in this series, where she captures the fun and magic of dance related after school activities. Edna Karr, named after the high school in New Orleans where the photographs were taken, contains a lot of fun and frolicking, and you can almost hear the rhythmic music radiating from the joyous snaps.

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    Everyone loves that very beginning sequence in Grease, when a bedraggled, hairy figure rolls out of bed and squirts a tube of brown gunk on his comb, which he then uses to sculpt his ragged curls into the iconic John Travolta pompadour. This much-loved little animation is by the English artist John D. Wilson, described by one blogger as having “animated the 1970s like R. Crumb illustrated the 1960s.”

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    Louise Benson from POST Magazine has curated a selection of books from her bookshelf for us! Since we first wrote about POST in 2011, the digital magazine dedicated to showcasing cutting-edge creativity has spectacularly grown, and has become a very intriguing and forward-thinking online platform. The site explores the blurring boundaries between art, fashion, science and technology, and in the past they have published iPad editions of their magazines. For an afternoon, Associate Editor Louise pulled herself out of the digital realm and spent some time with her physical bookshelf. On to Louise for her list of all time favourites.

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    According to the new Stella Artois campaign, “There are no rules,” and “Continuity is clearly overrated.” These mysterious instructions actually come from the great Wim Wenders, who stars in the new Stella promotional short titled Wim Wenders’ Rules of Cinema Perfection.

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    Paul Smith has just designed these three bright posters in order to celebrate the arrival of the Tour de France in the UK. We love the mustard yellow colour of the print, and the way that the shape of the outlined cycling route bleeds into the bold, striking lettering.

  15. Surgeon

    Sophia Martineck is a Berlin-based illustration whose subtle, blocky and gorgeously detailed illustrations are child-like but also intriguingly evocative and precise. We were particularly taken by her black and white etchings of New York scenes, and her illustrations for an ABC book that showcases 26 types of professions from A to Z. Sophia has worked for an incredible list of clients, from The New Yorker to The Financial Times to Le Monde, and she describes herself as a “sophisticated pencil girl,” which sums up her drawings perfectly.

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    In this week’s edition of your favourite It’s Nice That regular, we have things that will take you on a journey. We have things that will take you on a journey into a land of nightmares, and things that will take you all the way to the highest peaks of the Northumbrian mountains. We have things that have come all the way from Los Angeles and Vancouver, things from France, and some other things from just a stones throw away down the road in London. This week’s things are from around the world, and some of the things are from other worlds entirely.

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    These beautiful, bold and watery illustrations by Rebecca Clarke have really captured our imagination: we love her whimsical subject matters and blotchy, deliberate smudges of colour, and her scratchy illustrations of Grace Coddington and Frida Kahlo are especially wonderful – not to mention that wonderful portrait of Picasso in his trademark Breton. Rebecca studied art in Paris and now lives and works in New York, and she draws for a variety of clients, from The New York Times to i-D Magazine What we love about her work is how it so naturally bridges that gap between functional editorial illustration and something you would actually want on your wall.

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    This week we were very excited to see the clunky, rounded and loveable pink bodies by illustrator Laurie Rollitt sprinkled throughout the glossy pages of Zeit Magazin. On the bold and bright cover tableau we see a joyous ginger woman going about her daily activities: we see her shopping, kissing, doing yoga, working out, getting engaged, and lying on a couch during a therapy session. Luckily, I speak German, so I was able to work out that these illustrations are for a feature called “30 truths about being 30.”

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    Klaus Pichler’s Middle Class Utopia focuses on allotment gardens in Vienna, a.k.a “Schrebergärten”: little green spaces made up of loads of little sheds, which look like a Lynchian suburb where you can imagine awkward moments like the chicken dinner in Eraserhead taking place. There are 26,000 of these tiny allotments in Vienna, and they’re mostly visited by older people as a form of escapism from the city. Apparently there are quite strict rules in the Screbergärtens about how things should look and how you have to behave, which maybe contributes to the eerie mood and specific atmosphere of the place, which Klaus magically captures with his camera.

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    Hidden away in the thick Russian forest, surrounded by barbed wire, and until very recently completely un-findable on Google Maps, Star City sounds like the mystical final destination of a science fiction epic, or like the sister city of Oz. In reality the closed off and highly secretive community is home to the Yuri Gagarin Russian State Science Research Cosmonaut Training Centre, the training centre for all Soviet and post-Soviet Cosmonauts since the late 1950’s. Yuri Gagarin lived and trained there, and his wife and children still reside in the historical and strangely ghostly city.

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    I don’t usually like crowded spaces, but I do like these big, bold and bright posters of teeming crowds by the French illustrator Virginie Morgand. The illustrations are eye-catching and joyous, made of great splodges of vibrant colour and rounded, playful shapes. Featuring swarms of red hot sunbathers on blazing yellow sand, and synchronised swimmers doing laps in a brilliantly blue pool, Virginie’s crowds are ones that I really don’t mind getting lost in.

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    Since last week, I’ve acquired an intriguing new edition to my desktop, which lives alongside my work during my primarily computer-focused day. Mountain is a new game, or perhaps it is better described as an ambient companion, for iOS, Mac and PC, and it’s been rotating and humming and engaging with me at all hours of the day. Its creator is the prolific animator David OReilly, the mind behind the alien interactive game in HER, and the writer, director, producer and animator of the mind-blowing Adventure Time episode A Glitch is a Glitch.

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    Ryan Hopkinson’s work is a mesmerising merge of science and technology with art. It therefore seems perfect that, as such a fantastically forward-thinking film-maker and photographer, he’s chosen Björk’s video for All is Full of Love directed by Chris Cunningham, as his favourite music video. We’ve written about Ryan quite a few times, and posted about his photography as well as his stunning film work, all of which uses special effects spectacularly and surprisingly. Here is the fascinating conceptual visual artist on what he likes best about the legendary video, which seems more 22nd Century than anything 20th Century:

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    How often is it that you come across a cartoonist who manages to combine space-age wicca, metal-head monsters and rainbow coloured dystopian cities, all on the same page? Dogboy, aka Philip Huntington, achieves this seemingly impossible feat in his kaleidoscopic illustrations, which he describes as working “towards the creation of an alternative reality.”

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    You’re on the internet, so you probably like cats, right? Well, these woodblock prints by Tadashige Nishida capture all of those cat qualities that we love to love: his creepy but cute kittens are unafraid and alert, always listening and sensing, and very delicately, playfully poised. Tadashige renders the subtle lines of a cat’s body against brilliantly bold backgrounds, and it is very difficult to work out just what it is that makes his prints so hypnotically intriguing. Doris Lessing, one of literature’s best cat lovers, describes the curious creatures in the following way: “If a fish is the movement of water embodied, given shape, then cat is a diagram and pattern of subtle air.” Tadashige captures these dexterous and whimsical cat attributes beautifully in his surprising, minimalist prints.

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    When Yoshinori Mizutani first moved to Tokyo and saw huge hordes of lime green parrots jetting through the city’s sky, he says that he was scared and felt like he’d fallen into a scene from Hitchcock’s The Birds. Getting over the initial shock, Yoshinori began to photograph the surreal spectacle, and he discovered that the birds were originally brought from the tropics to Japan as pets in the 1970s.

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    We stumbled across these bright floral posters for YCN by Mexican illustrator Elena Boils this morning, a lovely find that has perfectly coincided with the new edition of a baby spider plant on our communal It’s Nice That desk. Elena’s lively, layered plant patterns look like something you might find on Frida Kahlo’s dresses, and we love the angular, boxy backgrounds juxtaposed with her luscious, textured shrubbery. Now based in the UK, Elena is interested in “nature as well as surreal creations,” an influence which is prevalent in her vibrant layering of two-dimensional shapes against three-dimensional spaces.

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    The stooped, gangly characters in Barbara Dziadosz’s illustrations look like they’re on constant adventures in their bubblegum-pink world. Her energetic bunch are either deep sea diving, catching butterflies in nets, or peering speculatively through a magical telescope, always surrounded by the same blobby, stenciled flora. We love the scratchy lines and rough, overlapping components of the compositions, and Barbara’s consistent pink and purple colour palette. The images are surreal and summery and joyous, with plenty of cacti terrariums containing lurking leopards and oversized cats being led by their owner through a polka-dot jungle. These bold and bright illustrations will have you itching to join in on the surreal, summery fun.

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    “How’re things going this week?” You ask. Very well, thank you, especially since this week we’ve been sent yet another wonderful collection of Things. Included in the bundle is a plastic-bound zine dedicated to contemporary female artists and issues, ten bright and bold birthday prints, and a publication of photographs documenting the transformation process of the new Design Museum in Kensington. If that’s not enough for you, we’ve also got some heartbreaking photographs, and an extremely wacky and surreal collection of illustrative stories. They say all good things must come to an end, but judging by all the great things that we keep receiving, it looks like we’ll be writing this post for years to come.

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    Ovid once wrote that “The gods favour the bold,” and if it’s true, then Anders Nilsen must be quite high in the gods’ good books at the moment. Not only is his new comic an accordion-style that you can wrap around your desk about three times, but it also contains all kinds of insightful and humorous modern day parables about humans and their gods. The illustrations are simple but expressive: black silhouettes on sparse backgrounds that are alarmingly life-like but also enigmatic and mystical, like the shadowy puppets from Pluto’s cave. Inside the book’s folds, Anders imagines Poseidon in the 21st Century, in a world where Venus works in Hollywood and Eros runs a thing called “The Internet.” Cupid’s arrow has darted straight out of the spell-binding pages, and I think I’m in love with Anders’ new work: all I can do now is just thank the gods that such an extraordinary comic has fallen into my hands.

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    It’s Nice That favourite Christoph Niemann has been keeping very busy recently. Between creating a football web essay about Brazil’s World Cup curse for the New York Times, and delivering an incredibly inspiring speech at our creative symposium Here last month, he’s found the time to put together a sleek new website to showcase all of his spectacular work. The site is easy to navigate, and it’s big and bold and bright, and we can’t think of a better way to spend the afternoon hours than by browsing through all of Christoph’s witty GIFs and whimsical illustrations.

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    Ryo Kuwabara is a master colour coordinator and a geometric genius: scrolling through his Tumblr page, it’s kind of unbelievable when you realise that he has designed every single one of the decorative, eye-popping posters in the spectacular online portfolio. His work is space age but also early computer age, composed out of highly artificial patterns and rounded shapes that contain just a hint of Keith Haring. I’m not entirely sure what the posters are for, as the only English words that I can decipher are “Circuit Disarray” and “Blink” and “Symphony of the form,” but I do think that all of these words are very evocative of Ryo’s fantastically playful designs.

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    Andy Warhol once said that “My idea of a good picture is one that’s in focus and of a famous person.” The legendary Australian photographer Rennie Ellis’s Famous and Infamous series is both in focus AND features famous faces, but the series is more than just a collection of good pictures: it’s a collection of great ones.

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    Harriet Lee-Merrion’s emotionally charged, complex and thoughtful work is absolutely breathtaking. Mostly rendered in black and white but with occasional flashes of pastel colours, Harriet’s compositions combine traditional Japanese influences with strikingly modern and dream-like imagery. We love her fine, delicate strokes, and the magnifying bubbles which subtly reveal complex emotional narratives. Harriet is part of the Beginning, Middle, End collective, a group of Falmouth-based illustrators who frequently publish a hand-bound publication of sparse narrative strips, which is well worth a look at. Harriet’s drawings are simply beautiful, and it is easy to get lost in the stories contained in her thoughtful, evocative lines.

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    I’ve been noticing a lot of really bad hats whenever I read through the Metro in the morning, specifically lots of terrible meshy and pokey headwear at Ascot. Looking through Dolly Faibyshev’s shots of the 146th Belmont Stakes in the US, I’ve come to the conclusion that American’s do their horse racing hats much better than we do. And instead of wearing silk pastel powdery gowns and sharp heels that get stuck in grass, the visitors at the Belmont Stakes go for chunky turquoise clogs and clownish bow ties and blazers, and they adorn themselves with novelty horse heads. The images look like what might happen at an Ascot-themed children’s party.

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    This morning at the It’s Nice That office we’ve been listening to Editor Liv Siddall’s “Dad Car Mixtape”’ which includes all the greats like U2 and B.B King and The Kinks. It therefore seems kind of like fate that we stumbled across Eilon Paz’s blog Dust & Grooves, an incredible archive of photographs and interviews with record collectors from around the world. The pictures are refreshingly natural and celebratory, and the collections documented are not too Dad-rock or nostalgic at all. Instead they’re unusual and surprising, kind of like Steve Buscemi’s immaculate collection in Ghost World.

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    Imagine how great it would be if you could play a video game where you got to interact with all of the characters and settings from you favourite film. For Stars Wars fans, this isn’t too much of a problem, but as a Mean Girls fan, I’ve always felt that there was a big gap in the market. Well, finally this gaping hole has been filled by 8-Bit Cinema, who have just made a video imagining what Mean Girls would be like if it was an 8-Bit game. It’s even got that incredible pixelated music from the graphic adventure games that you used to play as a kid, with a hyperactive Nintendo version of Blondie’s One Way or Another coming on whenever something important happens.

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    Five things that are true of all of our Things this week:
    1. They’re tactile: Included in the bunch are pompoms and unbound pages and striking architectural shapes.
    2. They advise: Whether you’re a 17-year-old about to leave for University, or an artist clinging onto your part-time job, these things will advise you on exactly what you should be doing next.
    3. They’re subtly designed: Lots of lovely, simple lay-outs in grays and blacks and pinks and cream colours.
    4. They arrived in envelopes: There is still something that gladdens the heart about opening an envelope to find such surprising and innovative Things inside.
    5. They’re things. You always need things. So enjoy!

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    When backpacking in Australia in 2006, French photographer Antoine Bruy began volunteering and working on organic farms. There he cultivated a fascination with the self-sufficient lifestyle, and he became particularly interested in those who chose to move away from cities in order to live off the land. From 2010 – 2013, Antoine hiked across the European mountain ranges, documenting people that he describes as aspiring to gain “greater energy, food, economic, or social autonomy.” Now Antoine plans to take his ongoing series to the United States.

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    Kigi are a graphic design company based in Tokyo, Japan, who combine two of our absolute favourite things: design and illustration. Their identities for bottled products are sparse, playful and eye-catching, so that they become the things that you find really hard to throw out of your bathroom cabinet when all of the product’s gone. Some of the designs for the little jars and vials make them look like they belong on an alchemist’s shelf, and we particularly like Kigi’s logo for a line of natural face products that’s been inspired by the Rubin vase. Kigi have also designed the fabric prints for Liberty, and they started off by making big pointillist posters out of monochrome stickers, but what we like most about them is their incredibly tactile and imaginative approach to design.