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

2222 articles
  1. Michaelbierut-nyt-signage

    Michael Bierut is a designer, Pentagram partner, writer, lecturer and self-confessed nerd. Taking the stage at the Design Indaba festival in Cape Town yesterday, he announced his new book, pithily titled How to: Use graphic design to sell things, explain things, make things look better, and (every once in a while) change the world. Published by Thames & Hudson it won’t come out until later in the year, but we felt it was a good excuse to look at some of Michael’s most interesting work from across the years.

  2. Wk-nikelebron-int-list

    The third and final day of Design Indaba in Cape Town promised a great deal with its eclectic line-up, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. From advertising royalty to reinventing public filmmaking, Saturday Night Live to Dick In A Box it was a heady mix of the inspiring, the entertaining and the enlightening. Catch up on all our coverage here.

  3. Skipyoutube-int-list

    There is a world of weird and wonderful videos out there on YouTube but like most people I barely scratch the surface day-to-day. So a new project from Bertie Muller and Matthew Britton is helping address that with the aid only of a “skip” button.

  4. Dominicwilcox-indaba-list

    Another super-busy day in Cape Town saw a thrilling range of creative practitioners take to the Design Indaba stage where they treated us to an amazing array of creative insights. You can check out our Day 1 highlights here – featuring ovulation, orchids and Burning Man – or read on to see our best moments from today.

  5. Kathrynfleming-orchid-list

    Design Indaba is one of the most eclectic creative conferences around and the first day in Cape Town did not disappoint. It’s hard to distill so much design wisdom into a round-up but here’s a few of the highlights as we saw them from the first day in South Africa.

  6. Mariohugo-recentlyrejected-int-list

    There was an interesting discussion on our podcast recently about why anyone would really want to watch the creative process taking place. Off the back of our visit to see what was essentially P J Harvey in a box, we’ve spent a lot of time chatting about how the creative process is slow and messy and frustrating, littered with wrong turns and dead-ends.

  7. Crane-oscars-int-list

    There’s always a frenzy of opinions around the Oscars, as Michael Hogan Tweeted this morning: “It’s all happening over on the #oscars hashtag, if you’re interested in people who can’t type properly quacking on about film awards.” But amid all the polarised bickering and the dress-sense-rating bitchiness, it’s nice to remember the sheer amount of skill and craft that went into all the nominated films. Crane.tv has produced an interesting series which focuses on the lesser-appreciated talents who make the movie industry what it is, the most impressive of which focuses on the Whiplash sound mixer Thomas Curley. He got the nod from the Academy this year and it’s super interesting to hear him talk about the challenges of working on a film which is all about drumming, and so sound is critically important to the overall artistic effect.

  8. Farmleague-geoffmcfetridge-int-list

    We’re always interested in what Los Angeles-based artist and illustrator Geoff McFetridge has been up to. A video of him talking about making a bike sounded especially promising, but a video of him talking about making a “totally absurd” ocean-going bike? Swoon.

  9. Fontanel-dutch-design-talents-int-list

    Here at It’s Nice That we love discovering young creative talent – and feel a responsibility to identify and promote new artists and designers – but the challenge can sometimes feel daunting. So anything that can help point us in the right direction is hugely appreciated, such as this new book from Dutch creative site Fontanel. It has run a feature called The Fontanel Finals for the past five years, a scheme which showcases graduation shows and identifies the most interesting practitioners it finds each summer.

  10. Gentlewoman-bjork-list

    Whenever a new issue of The Gentlewoman is announced two questions spring to mind: what colour is it, and who’s the cover star? For the upcoming Issue 11 those all-important answers are cream, and Bjork, and it looks absolutely tantalising. Björk’s been shot by longtime Gentlewoman collaborator Alasdair McLellan and is pictured looking windswept and enigmatic (two of her strongest vibes). It’s hard to move without bumping into Björk at the moment – with a trailer just having been released for her upcoming show at MoMA in New York – but that won’t stop us counting the days until we can delve into this interview.

  11. Nytmagazine-redesign-list

    While magazine redesigns often receive a great deal of attention, few are likely to be more scrutinised than the new-look New York Times Magazine which debuts on Sunday. The Times is the leading newspaper in the US and its magazine is read by nearly four million people every week. When listed, the changes design director Gail Bichler and her new art director Matt Willey have implemented sound exhaustive – redrawn fonts, a redrawn logo, a new approach to lay-outs, a new-look version of the online magazine. Add to this a raft of new features and editorial changes (such as a new weekly poem, a column that rotates between four critics and a dispatch from the frontline of internet culture) and you’d be forgiven for thinking that the new magazine will be unrecognisable.

  12. Opinion-davidpearson-int-list

    Last week an interesting Twitter debate sprang up after a comment by graphic designer Andy Pressman who admitted that on a recent series he worked on it wasn’t always possible to read the books before designing the covers. So we decided to speak to a few other book cover designers and find out where they stand on this apparently quite divisive design issue; as ever you can add your thoughts using the comment thread below…

  13. Metaflop-int-list

    I’d forgotten that I once described typography as “the least sexy design discipline” until I discovered that not only did I say it, but that Sarah Hyndman has recorded it for posterity in her excellent Type Tasting book that we featured on the site yesterday. Anyway I may have to reassess this glib pronouncement after spending some time on Metaflop, “an easy to use web application for modulating your own fonts.” Designed and developed by Swiss designers Marco Müller and Alexis Reigel, it’s a delightfully simple tool that allows you to customise fonts using a series of sliders that alter different characteristics such as cap height, aperture and contrast.

  14. Designindaba15-omardio-int-list

    There is now just over a week to go until the 2015 Design Indaba conference kicks off in Cape Town. As media partner It’s Nice That will be there throughout the three-day inspiration bing, bringing you the best visuals and most interesting ideas shared from the stage. The full-line-up has now been confirmed and here’s our pick of ten (plus one for luck) of the talks we’re particularly looking forward to listening to. You can also access talks from previous years on the Design Indaba website.

  15. Newyorker-90th-int-list

    Here’s a piece of useless trivia you never thought you needed; what is the name of the monocle-wearing dandy who appeared on the first ever cover of The New Yorker and has gone on to become its mascot? The answer is Eustace Tilley, and for many years the magazine published his image almost unchanged when its birthday rolled around at the end of February.

  16. Gourmand-typesampler-int-list

    The most recent issue of The Gourmand magazine was staggeringly good; a title that’s always been impressive maturing into something very special indeed. There was so much to admire in fact that the two new typefaces – produced in collaboration with Monotype – used in Issue 05 went slightly under the radar.

  17. Unnamed

    As creative director of Bloomberg Businessweek Richard Turley helped revitalise the formerly staid title with his eye-catching covers and open-minded approach to lay-outs. When he moved to MTV last year many in the magazine world were sad (and surprised) to see him leave print behind. Yesterday we ran the first part of of our in-depth interview with Richard, in which he talked about his reasons for leaving BBW and what he’s been trying to achieve at MTV. In the second part today he talks about the need to shout about his new role and shares his thoughts on the respective design scenes in London and New York…

  18. Screen-shot-2015-02-10-at-14.31.20

    It was in April last year that news broke that Bloomberg Businessweek’s much-lauded creative director Richard Turley was leaving to join MTV as its first senior vice president of visual storytelling and deputy editorial director. It was hailed as a huge coup for the network but surprised some that a man who’d been such a passionate, brilliant and at times iconoclastic part of the magazine renaissance was leaving the print industry behind.

  19. Siggi-list

    “The older I get, the more interested I become in form and beauty. Siggi Eggertsson’s new screensaver is filling some of that need in design.” As testimonials go this is pretty special, even more so when you consider it comes from Stefan Sagmeister, who knows a thing or two about visual brilliance. Saver Screensson is a screensaver for Mac OS X by Siggi and developer Hjalti Jakobsson, which “creates unique patterns on your display by randomly stacking vector stencils to create a virtually infinite, but aesthetically consistent set of possible outcomes.”

  20. Showstudio-pinups-int-list

    Nick Knight’s SHOWstudio has pioneered what might be called the “photoshoot-plus” approach, combining his exceptionally-executed stills work with innovative and engaging extras that push the creative potential of his work into thrilling territory. He recently collaborated with Sophia Neophitou, editor-in-chief of 10 magazine and one of the brains behind the now legendary Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, on a series called Pin-ups which “riffs on the traditional codes and motifs of erotic imagery, from fishnets to silk.”

  21. Malikafavre-baftas-int-list

    Last night us Brits got all razzed up about the BAFTAs, the annual UK precursor to the Oscars hosted by bona fide national treasure Stephen Fry which always exhibits a charming bias to homegrown films. This year Human After All worked with Malika Favre, one of our favourite illustrators, to create the poster for the event and five different covers for the brochure representing the Best Film nominees (Birdman, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Boyhood, The Theory of Everything and The Imitation Game).

  22. Creatorsclass-matthewfrost-int-list

    “My name is Matthew Frost and I make hilarious short films about famous people mostly.” So begins this excellent video profile of the brilliant British filmmaker but we’d go even further – his name’s Matthew Frost and he makes hilarious short films about famous people better than anyone else out there (from Kirsten Dunst and Lizzie Caplan to Jessica Chastain and Cate Blanchett).

  23. Opinion-int-list

    A new survey has identified what clients see as the four worst types of design agency, and Rob Alderson suggests we should listen to what they had to say. As ever you can add your thoughts using the discussion thread below..

  24. Guardian_deadlineday-int-list

    Today is one of those weird dates in the calendar that means a lot to some people, and almost nothing to everybody else. Transfer Deadline Day is the final 24 hours that football clubs are allowed to buy players before the summer, and over recent years a weird mania has built up every time it rolls around (culminating last year in the bizarre spectacle of a Sky Sports News reporter having a purple sex toy waggled in his ear).

  25. Superbowl%e2%80%93int-list

    Last night in Arizona Superbowl XLIX took place, a sporting event that brings with it lots of cultural collateral – a much-hyped half-time show (with Katy Perry this year), some baffled Brits pretending they know what they’re talking about and loads of Twitter users doing that “superb owl” joke. It also means a huge amount of attention lavished on the adverts, and after showing you a selection of the pre-released spots last week, we’ve updated to bring you our pick of the whole lot.

  26. Martinnicolausson-int-list

    It is almost exactly a year since Swedish illustrator Martin Nicolausson last appeared on the site but if it’s to become an annual tradition to check back in on his work, then you won’t find me complaining. Martin has considerable and versatile talents and particularly excels in editorial work for the likes of Icon, New Humanist and Wallpaper* magazines. But there’s also some charming self-initiated work among his recent updates, including a series dedicated to golf which actually makes this stuffy sport seem pretty darn appealing. His colour palette is often muted but he makes the most of every visual decision to ensure maximum, if sometimes quiet, impact.

  27. Freunde-von-freunden-jordyvandennieuwendijk-list

    Dutch artist and illustrator Jordy van den Nieuwendijk is a 24-carat It’s Nice That favourite. We’ve featured his work multiple times (both online and in print), he’s spoken at our events, heck he’s even been for lunch at our studio (he had a baked potato).

  28. Thamnesandhudson-cover-list-int

    For a young boy who grew up in the suburban Midlands, the west coast of the USA is really the America of my imagination, far more so than the refined cities of the Eastern seaboard, the vast expanses of the rural states or any of the other myriad landscapes to be found between sea and shining sea.

  29. Oneminutewondr-peterblake-int-list

    “I think an artist is never happy with their work. Occasionally you make a mark that you like but that’s a good thing because you’re still aiming higher than you can physically attain.” This lovely line comes from the latest One Minute Wonder video profile, featuring the inimitable Sir Peter Blake. The short-but-sweet snapshots from Dutch agency Present Plus are among the best creative films out there, managing to pack enough insight into 60 seconds to give you a great introduction to the subject but also leave you hungry for more. I hadn’t actually been to the site for a while but I was delighted to find a raft of great new profiles, including Sam Bompas, Lucy McRae, Matilda Tristram and Craig Ward.

  30. Jorgeleon-amigo-int-list

    It’s always refreshing to see a creative being really honest about the challenges of a particular brief before showing us their solution. So it is with Barcelona-based graphic designer and art director Jorge León, who sets up his work for the Amigos skate shop by referring to the “many problems” it had encountered with its brand.

  31. Wesleyverhoeve-oneofmany-int-8-jess-denver

    I don’t mean to show off, but I’ve met quite a few Americans, and I often ask them about the creative scene in the USA. More specifically I’m interested in whether it’s possible to elucidate any recurring themes or general characteristics in such a huge, diverse country. Most of them, bluntly but politely, say that no, no it’s not. What a ridiculous question. Get out my car. So to study American creativity is actually to study its individual outposts, and that’s where Wesley Verhoeve’s One Of Many project comes in.

  32. Christophniemann-sundaysketch-int-list

    Christoph Niemann is one of our creative heroes, an illustrator and artist whose talent, imagination and sense of humour puts him smack bang in the top drawer. So imagine our excitement when we found out he was doing an Ask Me Anything on Reddit yesterday, where he held forth on all manner of topics, from serious illustration insight to his love of butter. Here’s some of the wit and wisdom he shared…

  33. Johnnolan-hereeast-list

    John Nolan may have the coolest job title on earth, described as he is as “a designer and creator of robots.” An animatronics expert who’s worked on a whole heap of blockbusters (from Harry Potter and Hellboy to Where The Wild Things Are and Clash Of The Titans), John was the go-to guy when Poke and directorial team The Theory wanted to do something pretty special to promote Here East, a new maker space on the site of the Olympic Park in east London.

  34. Oyalstudio-dishonestmanifest-int-list

    Portugal’s Royal Studio are not just winningly adept at creating bold, interesting and creatively ambitious visual treatments – they’re also terrific at writing the most intriguing project summaries I think I’ve ever seen. There’s a fine line between being weird and funny on the one hand, and gratuitously wacky on the other but these guys manage to pull off descriptions that mirror the invention, and occasional iconoclasm, in their work. Take The Dishonest Manifest, a series which seems to be ridiculing the preoccupation with how posters look as opposed to how well they do their job. The clearest indication of this is a long, thin creation with the phrase “Don’t give a fuck about content” repeated over and over again.

  35. Valleeduhamel-samsung-int-list

    French Canadian creative Julien Vallée first appeared back on the site in 2008 and a quick search through our archive shows that he’s popped up with pleasing regularity over the years. Julien – who joined forces with Eve Duhamel back in 2013 to form Vallée Duhamel – has a longstanding mastery of creating great-looking, playful and tactile creative solutions and is particularly skilled at lending his unerring sensibilities to all manner of brands from AOL and Hermès to a Quebecois development capital organisation.

  36. List

    Illustrator Graham Roumieu may be one of the most prolific creatives around. Already the 2015 tab on his website is populated with a load of work, less than two weeks into the year. And because it’s been nearly two years since we last featured him on the site, it’s no great surprise that there is a tonne of great imagery for us, and you, to enjoy. Regular clients include The Atlantic, New York Magazine and the Readers’ Questions feature in Popular Mechanics (where he brings to life such public puzzlers as “What do pilots talk about on long-haul flights?").

  37. List

    I don’t get nervous doing interviews very often, but Jeremy Deller was a sweaty-palm-inducing exception. Not only is he one of the UK’s leading artists and someone we’ve targeted for the magazine for years, he’s also one of my personal artistic heroes.

  38. List

    It is now one week since the terrorist attack on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in which 12 people were killed, including some of France’s best-known and best-loved cartoonists. We have already covered the immediate responses of the illustration community but in the past seven days so much has been said and written about satire, cartoons, free speech and the subversive magazine that it’s been tricky to try and make sense of it all.

  39. List

    Giulia Garbin is carving out a very particular niche for herself, as a creator of great-looking tributes to the graphic design days of old. Her graduation project from the Royal College of Art was a stunning book celebrating the last printers in London’s Fleet Street and her new offering is a visual homage to the typographers of Turin.

  40. List

    It’s not very often that illustration finds itself at the centre of world events, but that came to pass yesterday when three gunmen attacked the offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. The publication – which lampoons anyone and everyone – was seemingly targeted because of the way it has mocked Islam in the past and three of its cartoonists (Cabu, Wolinski and Tignous) were among the 12 people killed. The illustration community was quick to respond with powerful and poignant imagery uploaded to social media. Jean Jullien’s “Je Suis Charlie” picture depicting a pencil being jammed into the end of a rifle was among the most shared tributes on Twitter, while others like Hattie Stewart paid more personal respects. Later the cartoonists at the major newspapers added their offerings to try and make sense of the events that played out in Paris.