Miscellaneous Archive

  1. House-announcement

    Sound the conch folks, we have some exciting news from It’s Nice That HQ. We’re restructuring and expanding our team and so we have not one but two great opportunities to come and be part of our team.

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    A sincere, golden corner of the internet here: The Datamath Calculator Museum. The online museum is a historic, matter-of-fact and outrageously in-depth look at the history of calculators in the modern world. Remember the first time that a “scientific calculator” appeared on your back-to-school list? This trove will take you hurtling back to sitting in double maths using that very machine to write “boobless” (80087355) over and over again until the bell rang.

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    Over the course of seven years It’s Nice That has been providing creative inspiration on a daily basis through our website, our publications and our events programme. But never ones to rest on our laurels, we are always reviewing what we do and how we do it. This is where you (hopefully!) come in. As part of our ongoing development of the It’s Nice That platforms, we’re super-keen to find out a bit more about who you are and find out what you like about the website, what you don’t and what you might like to see in the future. This way we can move It’s Nice That forward with plans that put our readers front and centre.

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    If ever the high and the low brow were to come together in the project of my dreams, it would look like this series by James Kerr, AKA Scorpion Dagger. The artist and frighteningly capable GIF wizard has struck an absolute goldmine with his website devoted to Renaissance artworks reworked into outrageously funny GIFs. In case you’re not persuaded, this isn’t the equivalent of an Oprah hairflick or Barack Obama looking at a fly; these GIFs have narratives, they have beginnings, middles and ends, they have multiple settings and jokes and punchlines and they are almost too good to be true.

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    There’s a day for for everything now; and last week we all celebrated World Emoji Day didn’t we? What do you mean you didn’t know? Seems pretty remiss of you if you don’t mind me saying. Anyway luckily the excellent folk over at Funny Or Die were much more on the ball than some people we won’t name and they marked the momentous occasion with a ridiculously silly blog of Rejected Emojis. With the help of Jesse Benjamin, Avery Monsen and Darryl Gudmundson, they compiled a Tumblr of offerings which ranged from the surreal to the sinister, the bizarre to the almost-could-be-true. That sad clown will haunt my dreams.

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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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    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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    Webcomics are another medium to emerge from the digital sphere, and a very interesting one at that; Bird’s Eye China is just another example of how funny, accessible and scathing they can be. The Tumblr blog is made up of screenshots from Baidu maps, a kind of Chinese online mapping service not dissimilar to Google Maps, but brilliantly, looks just like SimCity.

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    “The sun is always rising somewhere; breakfast is always just about to happen. Dinner time in Dakar is breakfast time in Brisbane. And in the background of breakfast is radio, soundtrack to a billion bowls of cereal or congee, shakshuka or api, porridge or changua.” Well, we certainly couldn’t have put that any better ourselves. Global Breakfast Radio arrived in my inbox courtesy of ex-It’s Nice That writer Bryony Quinn. The concept is simple and immediately engrossing: a live radio that streams breakfast shows from around the world as and when they happen. In their own words, “it’s the equivalent of a plane flying west with the sunrise, constantly tracking the chatter and music of people across the planet.”

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    Creative briefs come in all shapes and sizes, but opportunities to create work for one of the most popular and ubiquitous brands in there world don’t come round very often. That’s what makes this one so exciting, with our friends over at Talenthouse on the hunt for artists, designers, filmmakers and animators to create artwork for Spotify’s new #nowfeeling campaign which is built on the way music inspires and informs our relationships with the world, and each other.

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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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    It’s a universally acknowledged truth that the week back to work after a long weekend drags like no other, so with that in mind, we’re bringing you some light entertainment to break up your Thursday afternoon and while away the hours until Friday hits.

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    The average Beyoncé fan’s repertoire is fairly complete, as far as these things go; on top of the extensive merchandise and the dedicated online community (the Beyhive) there are bookmarked folders full to the brim with Tumblrs and fan-sites and even a dedicated Soundboard. What they don’t have, however, is an art gallery full of the one woman superstar’s family portraits. Or they didn’t, at least. They do now.

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    Few brands have a stronger association with brilliant British design than Jaguar and so the chance to customise its latest model is a pretty spectacular one. But at next month’s Clerkenwell Design Week one creative will get that opportunity, with the final piece becoming one of the centrepieces of the much-respected design festival.

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    Three instalments in and we’re still enthused by The Guardian’s street view series, in which a Google Street View specialist takes iconic images and recreates them using everybody’s favourite maps service. This time around they’ve recreated classic album artworks through the service, hunting down the original locations of such covers as The Beatles’ Abbey Road, Bob Dylan’s The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan and Oasis’ (What’s the Story) Morning Glory. It’s a super-fun project, and a true testament to their specialist’s dedication! I wonder how many hours you’d have to spend staring at your computer screen before you start to visualise that tiny orange man hovering above the pavement as you walk down the road…

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    Only Bompas and Parr could phone up one morning and reveal they’ve recently heard back from someone they sent to the jungle confirming that yes, they have indeed found the shiniest substance known to man. The humble pollia berries (or marble berries to some) are "an intriguing iridescent blue colour, covered with a glossy cell matrix that reflects light equivalent to around a third the level of a silver-backed mirror " and have been used in a very odd and exciting new collaboration between Bompas and Parr and jewellery designer Maud Traon.

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    Daniel Hashimoto just trumped every single other dad who thinks they’re doing a pretty good job and jumped straight to the top of the podium. How? He’s an After Effects artist for DreamWorks studios, and he’s taken to adding CGI to clips of his toddler son playing at home. As a result, little James sets fire to shelves with his light sabre in toy shops, falls through puddles on the street, jumps over hot lava bouncing from sofa to sofa in his living room and he shoots things left, right and centre. He even has his very own dedicated YouTube Channel, The Action Movie Kid. Don’t miss the moment when James exclaims “Golly!” as his house collapses in ravaging flames behind him. Thank God The Independent brought this to our Friday! AMAZING.

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    Anyone that ever had the good fortune to attend art college will tell you that the worst thing about having to leave and enter the real world (apart from the crippling debt and self-doubt) is that all of a sudden you don’t have access to any facilities. The CAD suites, ceramic studios, woodwork equipment and print studios all just disappear overnight and you’re reduced to finally using that WACOM you bought years before to make a little bit of cash from your patchy software skills.

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    Just when you thought they’d gone quiet, Bompas and Parr have returned with what looks to be their most gloriously gruesome food-related project yet. On Friday 14 March, tattooed and talented celebrity chef Gizzi Erskine will be swallowing a SynMed pill-cam live, aided by Bompas and Parr themselves and a team of scientists. The pill will stream a film live from Gizzi’s gut in what hopes to be one of the most revealing, exciting food experiments the duo have performed so far, the results of which will be used to illustrate a volume of Memoirs of a Stomach – an obscure 1853 diet book told from the perspective of a stomach.

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    Not much to say here apart from WATCH THIS IMMEDIATELY. Between Two Ferns is the series that has been running on Funny or Die for a long time now, in which Zach Galifianakis takes on the role of arrogant, lazy interviewer and hosts a fictional chat show with some of the world’s biggest celebrities. World’s biggest indeed, you don’t get much bigger than Barack really, do you? Watch as the funny, beardy man charmingly takes the piss out of Barack Obama and Obama just SLAMS hilarious comebacks right back at him. My favourite bit is when Obama starts talking about the US’ healthcare plan and Zach keeps surreptitiously glancing at his watch. So good.

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    The reality of metropolitan living is that you’re faced with an abundance of choice. That’s why all sorts of city guides spring up – where to find the best mojito, the best free toilets or the best pork pie (there’s a dispiriting insight into my priorities right there). However I’ve never come across a blog quite like this – a run-down of some of the best and worst places to cry in New York.

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    So here’s the issue; kids find learning boring but love violent computer games, right? Well maybe here’s the solution – Sesame Street Fighter. A terrific find by our pals over at Wired, this is a beat-em-up fight-fest with a difference; you inflict damage on your opponent by typing out words that drop from the sky. The more difficult the word, the more powerful the impact (and the touch typing tests range from animals to Russian cities). It’s a really fun idea, executed with aplomb but maybe there’s a serious point to be made about rethinking traditional educational tools? Maybe not though – wave goodbye to your productivity this afternoon!

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    I know what you’re thinking. “Well now you come to mention it, Elizabeth Taylor does look a little bit like Ariel in The Little Mermaid, doesn’t she?” She does! And Michael Jackson looks a bit like Simba! And Brigitte Bardot like Snow White! We can’t take the credit for this revolutionary realisation – Portuguese artist Rui Pinho is the one responsible for bringing the matter to our attention with this funny series of portraits aligning icons with their animated lookalikes. Rui might not be the first person in the creative stratosphere to come to such a conclusion, but it’s Friday! And if Buzz Lightyear doesn’t coax a titter from you today then, frankly, nothing will.

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    We first started to sing the praises of Barcelona’s creative scene in the very first issue of Printed Pages, when we interviewed Folch, Hey and Two Points about the burgeoning design consciousness in the city. That being a year ago, it seemed high time we take a trip back to Spain’s nicest city, where the sky is blue and the people are chatty and the weather’s actually alright even in January, to check up on what’s been happening.

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    This year’s D&AD New Blood briefs are already attracting a lot of attention among young creatives and the deadline for entries across the 16 industry-set challenges is now less than six weeks away. But as much as us, D&AD itself or the brands involved can argue for the scheme’s significance, who better to explain what winning means than one of last year’s victors? Josh Ogden was part of a team from Arts University Bournemouth which scooped both a Yellow Pencil and a Student of The Year award for its BBC Suitcase response to the digital brief.

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    Have you ever thought about how often we are exposed to pretty violent imagery as we go about our day-to-day lives? Not in a tubthumpingly moralistic “won’t-someone-think-of-the-children” type way; rather it’s a simple observation about our visual environment. Jon Burgerman has explored this idea in a nicely leftfield way with his new series Head Shots. It follows on from a project he undertook on the Korean subway last summer when he used simple sketches to transform his fellow passengers into something surreal and silly.

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    One of the great things about having niche interests in Japanese comics that nobody else in the office cares about is that sometimes I stumble across a piece of historic gold. This time round I came across an archive of behind-the-scenes stills from various Godzilla films, shot between the mid-1950s and early 1960s, while on the hunt for some god-awful Manga. And because it’s Friday, how could I not share these gems with you. Look at that shirtless man tramping around a tiny Tokyo with his lizard legs! Thank me later.

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    Ding ding ding! It’s procrastination time! Join me in a spot of time travel back to when you first played on a computer, when the internet didn’t exist and all you had to entertain your unpolluted mind was MacPaint! (Or Microsoft Paint, whatever). This “painting tool” program has been coded by Martin Braun as a homage to the original MacPaint creators Bill Atkinson and Susan Kare, and is incredibly enjoyable. Sit back and have the pleasure of getting reacquainted with some of your long lost paint tools such as the simple shape tools and bucket fill. Am I getting old or is PhotoShop just getting too complicated these days? Gimme Cloud Paint any day.

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    There are many types of people I’m glad exist in this world. Those who have the dedication and strong stomachs to be doctors. Those selfless enough to look after the elderly. And those willing to scour computer games for paintings that exist in the likes of Super Mario and Final Fantasy and collate them together on a blog like the Video Game Art Archive.

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    It’s that time of year again; late nights in the studio amid feverish attempts to win one of the most prestigious young creatives’ awards around. That’s right D&AD’s New Blood Awards are back for 2014 with 16 exciting and engaging briefs for entrants to get their teeth stuck into.

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    I’ll give you a minute to compose yourself and scroll around this webpage like it’s the best day of your life. Once you’re done losing your shit about how cool this is (it’s SAND) we can then tell you that this is the work of scientist Dr Gary Greenberg whose work has led him to being a world expert on all things tiny and beautiful.

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    Now before I get started here I feel I need to get two things straight. The first is that beauty really and truly is in the eye of the beholder. The second is if one of these is your house, I’m really sorry. Please refer back to point number one.

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    I may well spend my days gazing fixedly into the cyberwebs with my eyes as wide as saucers, but sometimes even I am surprised with the sheer brilliance of the stuff that the internet throws up in my face. Such is the case with this; a series of photographs of disconcertingly realistic seeming spaceships parked outside garages, zooming past trees and abandoned in the snow. Because they weren’t taken by an off-duty astronaut wandering around the car park at NASA, no sir, but by a bored dad playing with his kids’ Star Wars toys.

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    If – as has been repeatedly claimed over recent years – science is the new rock n’ roll, then this website is like unfettered access to John Peel’s record collection. In 2009 an initiative called the Oral History of British Science was launched, part of which was a project called Voices of Science which aims to “tell the stories of some of the most remarkable scientific and engineering discoveries of the past century using oral history interviews with prominent British scientists and engineers.”

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    Syracuse University graduate Derek Brahney is a man of multidisciplinary leanings; an illustrator of pictures, designer of objects and ceator of one-off items of fashion. His practise sits somewhere between fine art and product design but sees him applying great ideas to every facet of these different disciplines. But we want to celebrate Derek for the less conceptual side of his oeuvre; his daft but brilliant series of abstract images that pay homage to Mark Rothko, created on his iPhone. Why has he created them? Presumably to demonstrate the fast-decreasing level of skill required to create visual material in the digital age (depressing), or perhaps his motivations are less sinister. Either way we’re enjoying them very much.

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    Five years ago a few Californian guys set up a cyclocross racing team called Mudfoot with the intention of riding together on the weekends, executing hundred-mile mid-week cycles and competing when the time was right. These days they’re a much bigger group than they were back then and have some pretty impressive riders in their ranks. Why do you care? Because one of their founding members is the legendary Geoff McFetridge, who also happened to design their logo and kit.

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    Did anyone catch that BBC Ladybird Book documentary that was on just before Christmas? It was a fascinating look into the creation and the artists behind the books most of us grew up with. Whether you wanted to read about how to tie knots, the difference between villages and towns, or just animals that hibernate, Ladybird Books had a publication dedicated to nearly every subject on the earth and beyond.

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    Well this is just all kinds of tremendous. New York based studio Dark Igloo have created this parody advert for “the greatest game never made” and they have absolutely smashed it. Billed as “a little holiday homage to the must-have toys of our childhood” it purports to be a commercial for Bored Game a frankly baffling coming together of various toys and games you’ll recognise and many you won’t.

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    Good news this morning for all those who find themselves glancing idly over the text in library books, as they flick through the pages to look at the photographs and illustrations instead. Those jammy folk over at the British Library have got a fair few drawings and illustrations from historical books stashed away in their archive, and the digital world was delighted to find that they had kindly popped one million of them up on Flickr for the rest of the world to share.

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    Christmas has different associations for people – some positive, some negative – and Cliff Richard, like sprouts, has the power to polarise festive opinion. But like it or not Sir Cliff has become a part of our collective Christmas consciousness and so what better time to celebrate the croon-meister general? Only maybe we all need to give Sir Cliff a break? As this excellently silly Tumblr Cliff Richard Dying Inside makes clear, it appears that from dolphins to Formula 1, we’ve forced him into some utterly surreal photoshoot situations. As ever the truth is in the eyes, which seem to give away the baffled, bemused and befuddled reality of being a national treasure. Come for the images, stay for the write-offs…