Author Archive: Rob Alderson

Ra

Editor-in-Chief Rob oversees editorial across all three It’s Nice That platforms; online, print and events. He has a background in newspaper journalism and a particular interest in art, advertising and photography. He is the main host of the Studio Audience podcast.

ra@itsnicethat.com@RobAlderson

2266 articles
  1. 5173

    As the creative world digests last night’s big D&AD winners (those that scooped Black and White Pencils), there was a host of interesting work recognised in the 44 Yellow Pencils given out at the London awards bash. In total, the D&AD juries considered 847 projects this year and so less than one in five made the prestigious Yellow Pencil cut. Here’s our rundown of those winners that caught our eye for one reason or another – you can see the full list of winners over on the D&AD site here.

  2. Mattbooker-electiondrawings-itsnicethat-list

    It’s only been a couple of weeks but already the UK election seems a lifetime ago. If you’re into that kind of thing, there’s an undeniable drama about it all as the tension ratchets up across the campaign and breaks on election night itself as the results filter through from around the country. Topolski Studio commissioned eight young artists to capture the goings-on through the medium of drawing and the results will be published in its upcoming Election Chronicle.

  3. Thomaswilliams-bolo-itsnicethat-list

    Australian designer Thomas Williams’ work has appeared on the site several times over the years, in the shape of his editorial work for MADE, Nourished Journal and The Process Journal. He has recently decamped to Los Angeles and set up his own studio, Thomas Williams & Co., which comes complete with a newly updated site on which you can peruse his publication work alongside all manner of considered and communicative identity projects.

  4. Territorystudio-marvelavengers-itsnicethat-list2

    At last month’s digital-themed Nicer Tuesdays we heard from David Sheldon Hicks and Peter Eszenyi of London-based Territory Studio, which specialises in creating UI interfaces for Hollywood blockbusters. This year they have worked on two massive movies in the shape of Alex Garland’s Ex Machina and the much-anticipated new Marvel offering Avengers: Age of Ultron.

  5. Michaelcraig-martin-onbeinganartist-istnicethat-list

    In some circumstances, calling a book On Being An Artist would seem pretentious and pompous, but if anyone knows about being an artist, it’s Michael Craig-Martin. Over his extraordinary career he has studied with Chuck Close and Richard Serra, met the likes of Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, John Cage and Charles Saatchi, had work shown at Tate Modern, the Pompidou Centre and MoMA, and taught some of the YBAs’ leading lights including Damien Hirst and Sarah Lucas.

  6. Marcel-ingloriousfruits-itsnicethat-list

    After the Design Museum names its six category winners for the 2015 Designs of the Year, Rob Alderson argues that the victor in the graphics section is a very worthy winner. You can add your thoughts using the comment thread below.

  7. Andygilmore-itsnicethat-list

    It’s no real surprise to learn that image-maker Andy Gilmore is also a musician because his geometric compositions feel orchestrated. The New York-based creative brings colour, shape and pattern together in tightly formatted visual symphonies which swell to become more than the sum of their parts, dazzling the eye and tricking the brain simultaneously. It’s been three years since we last featured Andy’s work on the site but he’s as in demand as ever, with clients like Ogilvy NY, Wired and The New York Times queuing up for a bit of his brilliance.

  8. Chargedoubler-itsnicethat-list

    We’re drawn to a lot of the projects we cover by their aesthetic qualities but sometimes it seems right and proper to flag up something whose form may not promise much, but whose function is really exciting. So it is with Jorg Neugebauer and Kai Wiehagen’s ChargeDoubler, a USB that halves your charging speed to get your phone back up and running in super quick time.

  9. Shannonlea-philliplarkin-itsnicethat-list

    In our recent interview with Spin’s Tony Brook he spoke about the shift in his design approach towards a fixation on conceptual work – “I wanted reasons, I wanted intelligent thought.” Tony of course is one of the best in the business with a great deal of experience; it’s less common to see this same concept-driven lust in young designers, particularly those still learning their craft at university.

  10. Leemawdsley-millenniummills-itsnicethat-list

    We’ve featured architectural photographer Lee Mawdsley on the site a few times over the years and have often focussed on his masterful documentation of ultra-modern workplaces, all gleaming surfaces and tangled wires. But among his new updates, one project in particular demonstrates his versatility.

  11. Emilyscaife-cosmiccrisp-itsnicethat-list

    I’m a big fan of creatives who have the wherewithal to follow through on simple – and sometimes ostensibly silly – ideas. Jeff Greenspan is perhaps the high priest of this, but Emily Scaife has a nice line in realising pleasingly simple concepts with enough visual panache to make the results more than one-liners.

  12. Michaelbuck-airbnb-house-list

    A few years ago there was a great deal of interest in Artangel’s A Room for London project, which saw Fiona Banner and David Kohn Architects build a boat you could stay in high above the South Bank. Today Airbnb has twisted that idea round for its own stunt, floating a 70-tonne house down the River Thames. Designed by Steve and Nick Tidball, creative directors of the TBWA agency, it includes two bedrooms, a working bathroom and a garden with real grass and an apple tree. It will meander up and down the river throughout the week, hosting various events and even some sleepovers.

  13. Arthurfoliard-mood-itsnicethat-list

    Arthur Foliard has some impressive design experience on his CV – Pentagram, Landor and Moving Brands – and he’s been honoured by both ADC and the Cannes Lions. Not bad for a 25-year-old, but this London-based Frenchman has a portfolio of work that makes sense of these accolades.

  14. Thokamaer-itsnobiggie-itsnicethat-list

    It was way back in 2012 that we first featured Thoka Maer’s it’s no biggie, a blog of joyous GIFS that capture little moments in life, by turns sweet and surreal. A lot has happened since then – not only the fact that we can now actually embed GIFs on our site and show you Thoka’s creations in all their glory. She meanwhile has graduated from the Visual Communication course at the University of the Arts, Berlin, and inb (as all the cool kids are calling it) won the self-initiated category at last year’s Association of Illustrators awards.

  15. Studiodumbar-vbms-itsnicethat-list

    It’s all very well championing identity work for a cool club night or a hipster restaurant, but it’s more interesting to come across really impressive design for, how shall we say, less glamorous clients. And they don’t come much less glamorous than VolkerWessels Boskalis Marine Solutions, or VBMS, which specialises in “subsea power cable installation” (mmm, sexy). So it’s great to see the ever-excellent Studio Dumbar create a new look for the new company which was formed by the coming together of two existing entities.

  16. Alexchinneck-londondesignfestival-itsnicethat-list

    A 35-metre high upside-down electricity pylon was the stand-out project announced for this year’s London Design Festival today, but once again none of the headline projects are graphics focussed.

  17. Lukestephenson-pizza-itsnicethat-list

    Sometimes when you ask a creative about the genesis of their project the answer is pretty predictable, and sometimes it really isn’t. Photographer Luke Stephenson sent through his new series Pizza – a series of portraits of pizzas he ordered alongside the men who delivered them – but the initial inspiration actually came from jockeys, or rather paintings of jockeys on a collection of cigarette cards Luke stumbled across on Flickr.

  18. Uniteditions-spin360-itsnicethat-list

    Tony Brook is clearly knackered. The 520-page monograph of his studio Spin produced by Unit Editions, the publishing imprint he co-runs with Adrian Shaughnessy, is just weeks away from publication and his pride is cut with obvious exhaustion.

  19. Secretlifeofpencil-itsnicethat-1

    There’s a famous story about the 1960s Space Race in which the USA spent millions developing a pen that could write in zero-gravity. The Russians, meanwhile, used a pencil. Alas it turns out to be a myth but even though apocryphal, the tale’s enduring popularity speaks to the simple brilliance of the first bit of creative kit most of us ever used.

  20. Robertnicol-itsnicethat-list

    It’s been a few years now since we posted the work of artist, illustrator and Camberwell tutor Robert Nicol, but our tardiness only means there’s a heap of new work for us to enjoy in his portfolio. From paintings to book covers, editorial illustrations to ceramic sculptures, Rob’s able to turn his versatile talents to a number of different ends. It’s interesting to look at his work together and see how he can amplify or refine certain traits depending on the job in hand. So we have his wonderful paintings where bold colours and surreal characters are given free rein, contrasted with his stylish book covers where hints of narrative achieve a lot in a quieter context.

  21. Davebrown-electioncartoon-itsnicethat-list

    It’s election day here in the UK and so shrouded in uncertainty is its outcome that we’re going to the polls without really any clue about what we might wake up to tomorrow. God bless democracy! We thought it would be interesting to see how cartoonists have covered the campaign but to be totally honest it was a struggle to find that much to get excited about. Too often key players and recurring themes were reduced to glib stereotypes – at best spectacularly unfunny and at worst patronising, sexist and xenophobic.

  22. Esquire-itsnicethat-list

    “Many of us – most of us, probably – fear change, even (perhaps especially) of the new-hairstyle variety. Change is scary, upsetting.” This is how Esquire editor-in-chief Alex Bilmes sets up the magazine’s redesign in his editor’s letter and with a new masthead on a bright coloured bar, a new colour palette focused on deep reds and blues, new supplementary typefaces and some structural changes to the culture and style sections, it’s fair to say creative director Nick Millington has overseen more than a “new-hairstyle” change.

  23. Onionredesign-itsnicethat-list

    Redesigns are hard. From agreeing on the initial brief right through to weathering the brickbats hurled at you if you change anything people don’t like, it can be a traumatic process. Because of that those undertaking a redesign often tread very carefully, and present their new look and feel in the softest, blandest and most conciliatory ways imaginable. Unless you’re The Onion. The Onion did nothing of the sort.

  24. Newyork-itsnicethat-list

    One of the biggest cultural shifts in the past 20 years has been the emergence of TV as a credible and innovative creative medium. New York Magazine produces an annual TV issue and this time around they commissioned Italian illustrator Giacomo Gambineri to create a mural for the cover, featuring a staggering 146 memorable small-screen moments from the past year. There’s spoiler alerts aplenty but with nods to Wolf Hall, Mad Men, Gotham, Game of Thrones, House of Cards plus Katy Perry and her dancing sharks and a very rude scene from Girls , this is a comprehensive cavalcade of the characters that have defined another stonking year of TV. The good people at Vulture have broken them down if you want to see all 146 represented on the cover.

  25. Sunnation-faragepints-itsnicethat-list

    The UK is gripped with election fever this week as we decide which middle-aged white man we want standing up for us at the world’s top table. As polling day draws ever nearer, media coverage is reaching fever pitch despite the fact it increasingly resembles a tallest dwarf competition. Kudos though to the creative community who have come up with a whole host of election-related projects ranging from the genuinely thought-provoking to the gloriously ludicrous. Here are some of the ones that have caught our eye and tickled our fancy…

  26. Madethought-gfsmith-collection-itsnicethat-list

    If you’re the kind of person whose blood pumps a little faster when perusing beautiful paper, I suggest you sit down before going any further. G . F Smith has just released an extraordinary 400-page book which shows off every paper in its repertoire and it’s a thing of awe. Created with longtime collaborators Made Thought, The Collection shows off 45 paper ranges created over the company’s 130-year history.

  27. Christophniemann-esgibtnichtgutes-itsnicethat-list

    My colleague Emily Gosling wrote a great piece for the latest issue of our Printed Pages magazine in which she called out the patent nudity of the emperor by saying that in reality, the creative process can be pretty dull to witness. Obviously that’s not to say that we want to see slick creative work with all traces of the artist removed; in fact in our digitally-defined age we delight in being able to see the spirit of the image-maker writ large.

  28. Scottking-popkultur-itsnicethat-list

    There used to be a comedy on British TV called Goodness Gracious Me which had a sketch where an Indian father would tell his son that every public figure you could possibly think of – from the Queen to David Beckham – was in fact Indian. There was something very funny about his claiming credit for anyone and everyone, and I was reminded of that idea when I saw Scott King’s new campaign for the Pop-Kultur festival.

  29. Mattwilley-avaunt-itsnicethat-list

    Back in March I was on a panel discussing magazine publishing with Matt Willey. We spoke in some detail about the challenges of making magazines work; something Matt is perfectly positioned to pontificate on seeing as he’s worked at a whole host of titles and even started his own in Port (although he’s no longer involved). Now based in the States as part of Gail Bichler’s design team at The New York Times Magazine, he seemed to have found the ideal fit for his prodigious editorial talents, but a few weeks ago news reached us confirming that Matt was starting a new magazine with longtime collaborator (and Port co-founder) Dan Crowe, and the explorer Ben Saunders. Why throw himself into these choppy, challenging waters again?

  30. Number04-actualsource-itsnicethat-list

    This project takes a little explaining but bear with me. Utah-based design studio Number 04 spent six months researching how to mount a museum exhibition, exploring everything from different kinds of pedestals and which typeface is best suited to marketing, to how to light the show. This resulted in a 1,000 page catalogue that brought together all of the studio’s findings printed on baby pink paper. But for the show itself (at Utah’s Museum of Contemporary Art) the book is nowhere to be seen – instead it has been transformed into photographs, sculptures and installations that Number 04 (aka JP Haynie and Davis Ngarupe) has created based on the information they’d collected.

  31. Post-husler_rose-istnicethat-list

    London studio POST– has built an admirable reputation for clean, considered design work for clients across the world. Perusing their portfolio recently we came across this pleasing work for Husler & Rose, an online boutique that sells furniture, homeware and other bits and pieces. Too often we see identities for these kinds of shops that tick off cliched checklists ripped from Instagram mood boards but I feel the POST– team has navigated these pitfalls with skill and style. Inspired by “Herbert Bayer’s Bauhaus posters and the old jazz record sleeve designs of Duke Ellington,” the designers have developed a relevant look and feel that works across both print and digital collateral and breathes a little life into a couple of quite standard conventions.

  32. Alanfletcher-printedpages-itsnicethat-list

    As one of the founders of both Pentagram and D&AD, Alan Fletcher left an indelible mark on the design world. But as is often case with such a towering figure, the iconography can predominate and the real person recedes as we consider his life and work. What a treat then that for the new issue of Printed Pages we were given access to his sketchbooks, thanks to his wife and daughter Paola and Raffaela.

  33. Jr-newyorktimes-itsnicethat-list

    It’s always a joy when two creative forces we like collide and produce something that harnesses their collective talents. We’re huge fans of the team at The New York Times Magazine (so much so we interviewed design director Gail Bichler for the new issue of our Printed Pages magazine) and we love the work of JR, so the coming-together of the two was right up our street.

  34. Marcelgeorge-port-itsnicethat-list

    Maybe it’s because I am a notoriously un-stylish man, but the product spreads in magazines usually do absolutely nothing for me. Flicking through multiple pages of artfully arranged man-bags strikes me as purgatorial, but I understand these kinds of features often have a commercial rationale in the complicated financial climate of modern magazine-making. Credit though when a publication strives to do something more interesting with these spreads, like the Russian version of Port magazine (or Port Россия) which commissioned Marcel George to illustrate a recent feature on watches.

  35. Erikshirai-birthofsake-itsnicethat-list

    Aged 19 I got horribly drunk on saké (an evening that ended in me declaring my undying love for an ex girlfriend on a busy train – “I don’t care who’s listening!” etc) and so my relationship with the Japanese rice wine has been estranged ever since. However I may have to reconsider this stance having seen the trailer for Erik Shirai’s film The Birth of Saké.

  36. Matthnry-thetrip-itsnicethat-list

    In the autumn issue of our Printed Pages magazine I wrote an essay about Americana and its enduring influence on British creatives. One of the people I interviewed was photographer Matt Henry, whose work has often focussed on retro symbols of 1960s and 70s America and the power with which we imbue them. His latest work takes that addiction (forged on TV shows like The A-Team and The Dukes of Hazzard) and uses it to create something of an altogether more ambitious magnitude.

  37. Unnamed-1

    Greetings pod fans! A little later than usual this week but fear not, we’re here with your regular dose of top-notch* art and design chat. So kick back, open your ears and let 23 minutes of It’s Nice That flavoured discussion wash over you like a sparkly (yet intelligent) wave. This week we touch on the passing of the designer behind the Las Vegas sign, look at the GraphicDesign& survey and the newly-released Creative Review Annual. We also look at the new Smile Suggest web app and Elana Schlenker’s clever project highlighting the gender pay gap.. Finally it’s all about the Star Wars and Jurassic Park trailers…

  38. Spd-newyork-itsnicethat-list2

    Call me a massive magazine nerd if you must but I really enjoy the conversation about what makes a great cover. Is there a science to it as Tyler Brûlé maintains? Does it have to be meticulously planned or can it be the simple execution of gut instinct? Where is that fine line between bold and daring on the one hand, and obtuse and gimmicky on the other? Anyway yesterday two “best cover” shortlists were unveiled which gives us a glimpse into what two leading industry bodies think (The Society of Publication Designers and The Professional Publishers Association).

  39. Sarahmazzetti-mit-itsnicethat-list

    It’s always a joy to hear from Bologna-based illustrator Sarah Mazzettti who has been a firm favourite of ours since we first stumbled across her gig posters back in 2012. The Italian image-maker seems to have settled on a more confident style in recent months and big-name commissions from the likes of Vice, The New York Times and MIT Technology have duly followed. But that unpredictable playful sensibility we so loved has not been entirely banished, as evidenced by her huge yellow giant holding up a room for the TICTIG exhibition at Casa Testori in Milan.

  40. Offset-waysandmeans-itsnicethat-list

    Anyone who has ever been to a design conference will be familiar with the tote bag rummage, a just-arrived ritual that all too often ends in underwhelmed flyer reading. So it was with refreshing excitement that we happened upon Ways And Means in the bags at this year’s Offset festival in Dublin. The bespoke magazine – designed by Offset head honcho Bren Byrne – breathed new life into the design conference give-away with a variety of in-depth profiles of the speakers which provided genuinely interesting insight and context ahead of their talks.