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

2079 articles
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    Anyone who has been to the excellent David Pearson show at London’s Kemistry Gallery will know that there’s an awful lot of creative mileage to be had from limiting book cover design to type-based solutions. I’ve become quite obsessed in hunting out other examples of this craft and although this work from Astrid Stavro is a couple of years old now, it deserves a fresh airing in this context.

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    In 1936 a Penguin executive passing a bookstand in Kings Cross station overheard a woman asking for “one of those Pelican books” and so, worried rivals might start imprints named after birds, he moved to snap up the name for his employers. With its distinctive blue covers, Pelican made a name for itself publishing “concise, accessible and intelligent” books which aimed to “capture the current state of knowledge in their field.”

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    Last week the Irish photographer Richard Mosse won the Deutsche Börse Prize for his amazing pink pictures of the civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Created with special heat-sensitive film, Richard used the shock of the unexpected palette to engage us with a conflict that can feel very far-removed.

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    To be totally honest I never knew the Swiss city of Lausanne had a film and music festival, let alone an underground film and music festival but it does, and last year the organisers were savvy enough to call on the design talents of Demian Conrad.

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    Four years ago designer and photographer Anna Brooks was one of our Graduates class of 2010, wowing us in particular with her twist on the familiar class portrait. It seems apt that just as we launch this year’s graduate scheme we find out there’s a new string to her bow. In this music video for Isabel Broox’ single Sleep we follow a couple through the course of a day – so far so standard.

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    When you search for “Ian Stevenson” Google suggests that you might be looking for a Canadian psychiatrist who specialised in reincarnation. I wasn’t – I was after the British artist of the same name – but I can’t help wonder what the former might have made of the latter’s work.

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    I’m a sucker for a really well-executed spoof, so take a bow New York based artist/copywriter and filmmaker Dan Shapiro. Inspired by “the stereotypical conventions of the faux-introspective, vague creative profiles floating around the internet” Dan decided to lampoon them by creating his own. From the floaty music to the cliched, sun-kissed shots,the subjects’s supremely irritating self-deprecating chuckle to the inane pronouncements (“It’s about being present and aware”) Dan has got it spot on.

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    This autumn a fascinating exhibition will celebrate the work of the Royal College of Art’s remarkable graphics alumni. As part of the preparation for this exhibition, organisers have set up a Tumblr called GraphicsRCA on which they are posting some superb examples of work that has a connection with the school. The most interesting bits include degree show posters from the days of yore; particularly given that we are moving into graduate season now. There’s also posters for lectures, workshops and film society meetings as well as work from selected alumni. Well worth a browse as we countdown to what will be a magnificent exhibition in October.

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    In any identity project, designers must also be soothsayers and try to think about how their work will be used (and maybe abused) out in the real world. So when multidisciplinary studio Blok Design was asked to come up with a look and feel for a Mexican cultural organisation they tried to work a few steps ahead.

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    When the seventh issue of Boat Magazine dropped through our door a couple of weeks ago we interested to see that it had undergone a redesign. For the Lima issue, London studio She Was Only had refreshed the look and feel with a new masthead, a new approach to layouts and some nice new visual tricks. We spoke to the studio’s Craig Scott about their involvement in the globetrotting magazine.

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    There was a great deal of coverage of the 9/11 Memorial Museum when it opened last week, and on the whole the arts and design press focussed on the architectural angle. But museums are (or should be) much more than buildings; and Brooklyn-based interactive design studio Local Projects was tasked with bringing this complex and controversial chapter in contemporary history to life.

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    It’s been a while since we last checked in on Amy Woodside but the New Zealand-born, New York-based graphic artist has been as busy as ever. She’s a creative whose long been fascinated by the visual properties and potential of text and some of her new word-based work explores these qualities in quite an abstract way. She has also just launched a set of printed sweatshirts with the AYR brand, giving some of her pattern work a new lease of life on the sternums of trendy young things the world over. Nice.

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    Some Friday mornings you need something super-bright, super-colourful and super-fun to kickstart your day and send you headlong to the glories of the weekend. With that in mind, may we present this great shoot by Michael Burk for a new collaboration between Sight Unseen and Print All Over Me which is about to go on show at New York Design Week.

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    We’re well versed in the graphic treasures in and around the London Underground but Adam Chang is on a mission to introduce us to the New York subway system in the same way. His beautifully designed NY Train Project site is in turn a celebration of the beautiful design to be found in the city’s underground stations; from intricate tiling and interesting murals to some terrific typography.

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    Podcast! Podcast! Get your podcast here! Nice and fresh, completely free and more art and design chatter than you can shake the proverbial at! How about you madam? Discerning taste-maker like yourself, you’re just the kind of person who needs this in your life. Podcast! As ever listen using the SoundCloud embed below or subscribe via iTunes here.

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    Graphic designer Mark Porter is synonymous with the far-reaching 2008 redesign of The Guardian newspaper, and not content with mastering one huge media’s look and feel, he’s now turned his talents to TV. RTL is the biggest commercial network in The Netherlands and RTL Nieuws produces news bulletins, business, weather and traffic across its channels.

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    Here’s an unbelievable statistic – 3.4 million people die every year due to water-related illnesses. The latest weapon in the ongoing war against this horrifyingly avoidable epidemic comes from ad agency DDB and super-clever scientist Dr. Theresa Dankovich who have created the world’s first Drinkable Book for the Water Is Life charity.

  18. Opinion

    This week Rob Alderson looks at actors who were too good-looking for the roles they played and asks Hollywood to give viewers a bit more credit. As ever you can join the discussion below.

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    The Tour de France evokes images more quintessentially French than a GCSE exchange visit to La Rochelle, but this year’s race begins in the decidedly English surroundings of Yorkshire. To mark this honour, MADE NORTH studio has invited an amazing selection of designers to create a yellow T-shirt, riffing off the famous Maillot Jaune the Tour leader wears.

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    It’s always great when a creative for whom we’ve long banged the drum turns their talents to something slightly new and wows us all over again. So it is with Dutch creative Jordy van den Nieuwendijk, who has just created this great promo short for young accessory brand A Scarf Called June, to mark his own addition to its range. There’s soaring choral music, some nudity and a riotous culmination of colour in Jordy’s signature style. Believe us; this is well worth one minute of your time.

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    American photographer James Friedman has been bouncing round the blogosphere the last couple of weeks with attention lavished on his Interior Design series, showcasing the colourful cross-sections of cut-open golf balls.

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    When two companies come together there are lots of ways to mark the merger; team-building away days, commemorative cupcakes and office politics a’plenty among them. But when tech giants Microsoft officially acquired Nokia last week, they marked the brave new era with this lovely book designed by the fine fellas at TCOLondon.

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    Elizabeth Dilk is a New York-based graphic designer and art director who has a rare gift. Not in a creepy I-see-dead-people-kind of way, rather she creates work which is stylish without feeling soulless (a compromise we come across more than you’d think). It helps that she’s very versatile, with a portfolio that includes web design, packaging, identities and logo marks, advertising, typography and print and it’s the latter we’ve chosen to focus on this time.

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    It was only a few months ago that we featured Julien Vallée and Eve Duhamel’s videos launching their new new studio, and it turns out the’ve been mighty busy since. As well as this ace video for Hermes, they also produced this brilliant series of shorts for the Fonds de solidarité FTQ. You know, the Fonds de solidarité FTQ. The “development capital organisation whose overriding mission is to invest in local businesses to further the economic development of all the regions of Québec.”

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    When a photographer goes to assist a more established practitioner, they have an amazing up-close opportunity to learn from the best. And they don’t come much better than Nadav Kander, whom Kate Peters spent four years working with before developing her own projects and commissions.

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    Three cheers for the It’s Nice That podcast and all who sail in her! This week we’re dropping conversational anchor in four art and design topics that you’ll salivate over like a salty sea-dog drools over a quart of rum. As ever you can listen via the SoundCloud embed below or subscribe via iTunes here. And if you’ve got something to add to the discussion you can use the comment thread below.

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    Like many famous combinations – fish and chips, gin and tonic – type and design are inextricably linked but rarely do we explore that relationship in any depth. A new exhibition in New York does just that though, bringing together a host of rare works and unique artefacts to examine the centuries-old way in which these two entities have developed in partnership.

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    For centuries we have been fascinated by the architecture of power; indeed many of the world’s most visited tourist sites are structures from where religious, political and social power was once exercised. But what about the places which provide the backdrops to the decision-makers of today? Swiss photographer Luca Zanier’s ongoing project Corridors of Power takes us inside the very rooms where the contemporary power-brokers play, many of which seem straight out of central casting.

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    It’s always a joy to hear from filmmaker, photographer and long-time friend of the site Thomas Brown, especially when he comes bearing glad tidings of a new project. This time he’s created the video for Alex Banks’ new single All You Could Do, alongside set designers Lightning and Kinglyface, and their visual treatment fits the urgent, slightly unnerving music perfectly. There’s lots of imagery that sears itself onto the brain and Thomas has the confidence to disorientate the viewer from start to finish. Typically he wears his talents lightly; so while on the one hand he describes the work as “an embodiment and exploration of energy and light,” in the same breath he admits it’s “bonkers…It involves a Burroughs-esque dream machine, truly trippy visuals and Brighton going apeshit.” He’s not wrong.

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    The amount of games out there is fairly mind-boggling and there are new ones flooding the market all the time. In the face of this kind of overload what’s needed are curators; people who know what they’re talking about, who can be trusted and who have great taste. Step forward then Cowboy Picks, a new archive of “inspiring game design” put together by the fine folks behind interaction design agency Hover Studio and animation production company Animade.

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    Step aside all ye pretenders of yore; it’s time to show you my new favourite website. English Heritage – the body charged with protecting, maintaining and promoting the UK’s historic buildings – has launched a new Tumblr on which they treat us to images from their incredible photographic archives. With more than seven million to choose from, the Tumblr takes a thematic approach to curation, showcasing several examples of the same thing each day (today is gravestones, yesterday was railway signal boxes).

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    As May begins and we start to edge towards some semblance of summer, galleries across London start to wheel out a host of exciting and engaging exhibitions. Today sees the opening of one such show, with artist Von’s new work on display at KK Outlet. To truly appreciate the skill that goes into Von’s painstaking pencil drawings you really need to get up close and personal with them and Elsewhere shows off his skills at their finest.

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    We’ve got 24 minutes of tasty art and design tidbits for your delectation in this week’s podcast. Among the things we learn is that Maisie Skidmore used to be in a band called CM7, a tiny burrito proves too much for Liv Siddall and James Cartwright knows the word “aestheticised.” As ever you can listen using the link below or subscribe via iTunes here Remember you can join in too using the discussion thread below.

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    You know that advert where everything that guy touches turns to Skittles? Well Graphic Thought Facility are like that, only that everything they touch turns to design gold rather than delicious fruity confectionery. They have just art directed the inaugural issue of Modern Design Review which is billed as “a considered and curated insight into modern product and furniture design.”

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    There is precious little information about Vitaliy Kliushkin on his website. We know he’s an artist and a designer and that he’s based in Kiev in Ukraine. The only other fact in his “About” section is that he was “Born in the future.” But never mind the misdirection really because we’re more than happy to let Vitaliy’s work speak for itself. His graphic experiments are interesting but it’s his photos that got under my skin; weird narrative suggestions and captured happenstance that confuse, beguile and challenge the viewer in equal measure. And if that plait coming out of the woman’s mouth doesn’t haunt your dreams then you’re made of stronger stuff than me.

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    I’m an unashamed geek when it comes to journalism (my favourite Twitter feed is easily the Guardian Style Guide for goodness sake) so this new publication from The Times is right up my street. Byline is a quarterly magazine for the newspaper’s subscribers which provides “an exclusive insight into the news-gathering process.”

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    Last night we dressed up to the nines for our fashion-themed Nicer Tuesdays supported by Park Communications. Our four speakers boasted a significant sartorial pedigree and gave us four very different perspectives on the fashion world.

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    It’s more than possible to lose whole afternoons in the weird and wonderful world of stock photography. Whether I am preparing a presentation or researching a magazine article, once you delve in it’s hard to break free; just one more abstract concept into Google Images to see what comes back.

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    Us Brits are known for our sense of humour, but some things you just don’t mess with and our much-loved fried breakfast is one of them. So when photographer David Sykes and model maker Jessica Dance decided to pay homage to the artery-clogging national institution, they knew they had to get it right. Luckily for them (and us), they nailed it, thanks to the duo’s superb attention-to-detail.

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    Sagmeister & Walsh are not known for doing things the easy way, and their latest work for New York’s Jewish Museum is no exception. With a collection comprising 30,000 objects and a challenging mission to engage a broad inter-generational audience, the museum needed a new look and feel across print, physical and digital collateral that would reflect and enhance its modern role.