Archive

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    A joy for all Sofia Coppola fans here in the form of Lick The Star, her debut film made back in 1998. The film is a 14 minute black and white tale of a gang of high school girls who, after becoming obsessed by Virginia Andrews’ cult novel Flowers in the Attic, plan to use rat poison to kill the boys in the school they dislike. The interesting thing about this short is that it is absolutely chock full of nods to Coppola’s later works, for instance the humour, the way the girls are shot, and the adolescent, dreamy, relaxed pace of it all. The opening scene of her debut shows the lead girl being driven along in a car – a running theme that has remained in almost every single opening scene in her films since.

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    They’re sneaky little devils, rocks; lodging under toes, hiding in the soil for unsuspecting spades or jamming between the ruts in your shoes making you tap dance as you walk. But we seem to love them at the It’s Nice That studio, as the last year confirms, we have seen rocks balanced on scanners, rocks with faces, rocks being laid on and even hand made, hand painted rocks. But this new publication from Your Mind Bookshop, Kyoungtae Kim’s On The Rocks takes it back to the basics, back to the metaphorical earth or sand, if you will, appreciating these pebbly beauties for just that, for being rocks.

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    Beyonce’s pretty good at the whole behind-the-scenes blogging thing, posting up candid snapshots that make you melt inside (sorry cynical people) like this one which is currently my desktop wallpaper. Well if you like that, you are going to absolutely wet your pants over dark horse Solange’s Tumblr entitled My Damn Blog.

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    There’s something in the water at It’s Nice That towers (it’s more of a bunker actually) at the moment. Everyone’s gyrating and that to a whole bunch of smooth tunes. There’s a party afoot and it seems like this is where it’s at. So let’s get a party going, let’s get a party going, now it’s time to party and we’ll party hard. Let’s get a party going, let’s get a party going, when it’s time to party we will always party hard. Anyway, probably time to head home before someone loses an eye.

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    The weekend is nigh on upon us and there’s just the weekly Friday traditions to navigate before we can all go streaking in the quad (or whatever you’ve got planned). Chief among these hurdles is the new episode of Studio Audience, the It’s Nice That podcast, but if it is a hurdle it’s one built of wit and insight (!) rather than clattery metal and that. So let’s do this!

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    It’s not the first time a technology ad has been parodied brilliantly but College Humor’s latest spoof, Every Tech Commercial has got the tone of modern technology advertising down to an absolute tee. It’s scripted to perfection, timed with skill and absolutely nails the way ‘family friendly’ communications companies like to patronise us in their online and television promotions. Take note Apple, IBM and Vodafone, College Humor have got your number. Might be time to modify the template a little.

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    A fantastic new show opening in London today celebrates half a century of the best international poster design. Posters from the likes of Wim Crouwel, Roger Hargreaves and Julian Palka are among the 45 works selected from the amazing archive of the Icograda (the International Council of Communication Design) by 15 leading contemporary design figures including Anthony Burrill, Noma Bar, Emma Thomas from A Practice For Everyday Life and our very own Will Hudson.

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    It’s not exactly hard to please the viewers of the internet these days, and this website is the online version of catnip. There isn’t even much point in me telling you what to do here – when you go on a website like this you know the rules. If you are stuck, move your mouse around and maybe do a few tentative clicks until you get the gist.

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    Great news for the epicureans among you, there’s a new magazine in town that’s got its lips wrapped around some of the finest beverages available to man. Alquimie is a new title from the design team that produced Process Journal and focusses on the “periodic research and analysis of wine and beverage culture.” That might sound a bit dry to all but the most die-hard viticulture fan, but the content and tone of the magazine aims to be much more accessible than the strap-line makes out. Alquimie is all about the stories behind the drinks we love to quaff; the roasters, brewers, distillers and fermenters that make it all possible – not to mention the foods you should wash down with their produce.

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    I never pass up an opportunity to praise the great city of Birmingham and see myself engaged in a crusade to protect it against the unfair barbs so casually and caustically lobbed at it. My job becomes even easier when the Venice of the Midlands (you heard!) unveils superb new buildings like the new Library of Birmingham designed by wonderfully-named Dutch firm Mecanoo Architects.

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    There are a number of artists who seem to descend upon It’s Nice That from absolutely nowhere with a project so completely brilliant that we’d rather pull our eyeballs out than pass up the opportunity to feature it, and then immediately disappear never to be seen again. However, there is another school of creatives who the site seems to have grown up with, who we find ourselves coming back to every year or so just to see how things have be getting on.

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    Unsure where to pop that pin you’ve just pulled out of your newly repaired hem? Well do not fret, friend, Eleonor Boström has designed a ceramic dog with a pin cushion for a head which will be suitably equipped to meet all your pinning needs. Not a sentence I ever predicted I’d write, but I’ll embrace it with open arms because not only has Eleonor designed tiny ceramic pups for fans of needlework, but also as salt and pepper shakers, and peeking out over the rims of teacups, and with eggcup pots for heads. And other less functional kinds which are just as lovely.

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    Wimbledon might be long gone but we’re still really enjoying these impromptu shots of Centre Court and Court Number One from the excellent Jamie Stoker. Jamie bagged himself a choice piece of kit in early July, a Contax 645 with an 80mm F2 Zeiss Planar lens, and set about capturing a day at the world’s favourite tennis tournament with this legendary piece of hardware. Keen to acquaint himself with his new gear, he was lucky enough to have the opportunity to put it through its paces in an environment where both he and the camera would be tested. We think the results are pretty tasty and capture the spirit of Wimbledon is a wonderfully unfussy way.

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    Brazilain-born Welsh-bred animator Luiz Lafayette Stockler studied at the University of Wales before heading to London to pursue a Masters in animation. His projects are pretty darned strange; outpourings of innermost fears and strange desires that seem intensely personal but immediately recognisable for their simple humanity. What’s more they’re incredibly funny, drawing slapstick humour from the tugging of genitals, flashes of crudely-drawn breasts and immaculate comic timing.

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    We first championed Laura Callaghan in January, and the south London-based illustrator’s minutely detailed, super colourful, lady-orientated work is coming out at such a rate that we couldn’t miss an opportunity to flaunt her wares on the site once again.

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    Now I know that for some of you this is going to be too cheesy by half and that’s ok – I recommend you give this video a miss and carry on with your lives. But for some of you this charming piece of storytelling is sure to strike a chord. When the Green Shoe Studio launched an online community songwriting contest, they were surprised to receive one entry packaged up in a large envelope. It was sent in by 96-year-old Fred Stobaugh who had penned a tribute to his wife of 75 years called Oh Sweet Lorraine. Moved by the simplicity of the sentiments and intrigued by the story, Green Shoe got back to Fred and made his song a reality.

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    At its best, creative culture feeds itself with different disciplines influencing and inspiring each other to create urban hotspots greater than the sum of their parts. That’s precisely what Cutty Sark is celebrating at their inaugural Cutty Cargo event taking place next month, and the whisky brand is kicking off its global campaign right here in London with an evening of music, food, performance and art and design.

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    If you’re going to get a brilliant artist to have an enormous show at your gallery, you may as well give them full run of the place and make it one of the most eye-catching exhibitions in the country. To step inside the Palazzo Grassi in Venice now is to step inside a world that resembles the depths of an eastern souq, and it’s all down to Rudolf Stingel. Rather than simply hang 30 of his conceptual paintings on the already beautiful walls of this magnificent, crumbling gallery by the famous canals, he chose to completely cover the interior of the building in blood-red, ottoman-influenced carpets. Wow. Can’t get to Venice to have a look yourself? Here’s a virtual tour.

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    Ah the drag of sorting the recycling out! We know it all too well. But persist, you are doing the right thing because even if rinsing your yogurt pots out for those weekly green bin empties doesn’t stop the polar ice caps melting straight away, you are one of millions of people agreeing that climate change is happening.

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    Even if you don’t love to eat tinned fish straight from the can –if you’ve never guiltily wished that your partner would make evening plans just so you could gobble down a can of sardines in tomato sauce while watching old episodes of Breaking Bad on the sofa (just in pants) – even if you’re not one of those sick, fish-obsessives like one or two of us, you’ll still be able to appreciate the excellent design and charming illustration adorning the packaging of Jose Gourmet’s tinned products.

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    What better way to create a thought-provoking portrait of way young people are often portrayed in contemporary culture than to take a whole series of sleazy, not-before-the-watershed images and render them in through a time-honoured craft reminiscent of the Bayeux Tapestry? This somewhat brutal juxtaposition of the sordid with the traditional has the effect of creating a satirical and brow-furrowing reflection of modern society, and Erin M. Riley is leaving no stone unturned in her search for subjects.

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    There’s nothing inherently romantic about an escalator (it’s moving steps for goodness sake) and yet that doesn’t stop these mundane parts of our everyday lives assuming certain cultural characteristics. Maybe it’s because in our turbo-charged, techno-centric world, the escalator is a defined time period where all we need to do is stand and stare at those passing us in the opposite direction, or just lose ourselves in indulgent reverie. Most urbanites will recognise the momentary thrill of falling in love with a passing hottie as your lives cross for a few seconds, plunging in opposite directions; almost certainly never to meet again.

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    We don’t really need to say very much about the brilliant new collection of artist Amy Woodside’s because they speak for themselves – literally. Silkscreened on paper or painted, words geometrically arranged, stack into themselves, overlapping or slipping away from form. Playing with colour, the letters move between warm pastel shades breaking occasionally into sky or splitting completely as though slicked with oil.

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    Grant Harder’s life sounds, well, enviable. After sending in his unbelievably beautiful photography publication that saw dramatic landscape shots of Chinese mountains run across double page spreads, followed by crisply photographed people going about their everyday lives – driving huge hangings of garlic on the back of motorbikes, walking across spectacularly coloured bridges or just sitting in markets– all of which was then printed upon newsprint and surrounded by delicate Chinese type, we did some research. And it turns out that his practice is, very simply “a process of placing himself in situations that allow for interesting things to happen.”

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    You can imagine what goes through a director’s head when they hear the trippy, distant melody of a psychedelic band like Temples: “Okay, we’re gonna need some dry ice, glitzy clothing, an afro comb and a shitload of mirrors.” And that’s exactly what seems to have happened here in the case of director Abbie Stephens’ in her stupendous video for the band’s latest single Keep on The Dark. Abbie’s previously worked with other bands such as Primal Scream, Haim and Public Enemy and has a real knack for getting the band’s message across in simple, effective imagery. I love the way that the spotlight shines through the band members’ curly locks in a nod to the footage of bands in the 1960s and 1970s. Mmmm.

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    This week assistant editor James Cartwright attempts to add a reality check to all the hype surrounding Peckham. As ever your comments are encouraged below…

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    Roll up roll up one and all. To celebrate this prolonged summer of clement weather (it’s not often we get to say that) we’ve restocked the Company Of Parrots shop with all our most popular products. The last lot sold out super fast and we know we left some of you disappointed, but put all that heartache behind you because now you can get your greedy little mitts on the very finest T-Shirts we have to offer. That means more cheerful multi-coloured suns, more dancing couples and yes, more of that cheeky little chap we use as our logo. There’s also more totes in stock too so you can carry the It’s Nice That smile and Company Of Parrots parrot about your person all the time. Chop chop though, these guys are hot to trot and once they’re gone, well, they’re gone!

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    When you’re launching a brand new vinyl-only record label producing releases in limited runs of only 300, it’s pretty important that you get the design of your new music empire nailed from the start – it’s easy to get lost on record store shelves after all. Maintaining some kind of visual consistency for at least the first few releases is a simple and incredibly effective way of bolstering a label’s identity in the early days. It’s worked wonders for Sacred Bones whose early releases for bands like Zola Jesus and Psychic Ills all conformed to a strict template.

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    If you’ll allow me to get a bit literary on yo’ asses for a second, Mitch Dobrowner’s utterly spellbinding photographs of storms bring to mind Alexander Pope’s 1734 poem An Essay to Man. In bombastic couplets, Pope rails against what he saw as the arrogant philosophical questioning of the world around us, and warns that God and his plans are unknowable. Mitch’s work feels like a visual exploration of the same ideas; terrifying photographs of storms that could have come straight from a admonitory Renaissance painting.

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    Think of those dreams you have after watching too much Twin Peaks where you find yourself walking across delirious landscape shots that just keep on repeating and you will come somewhere close to the Royal College of Art graduate Neil Raitt’s painting. It is a pretty extraordinary experience, from canvases cratered by mountains to multiplying forests barely broken by their trunks; perspective slips your grip, abandoning you somewhere between the cinematic and an untrustworthy reality.

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    Toronto-based illustrator Mike Ellis is a whirlwind of editorial illustration. With work for clients from The Boston Globe to The New York Times tucked firmly under his belt, his cheeky characters have been hungrily swallowed up by eyes the world over, which is quite a testament to the power of his pencil. To subtly convey a carefully assigned significance armed with nothing but colour, line and character is no mean feat, but somehow Mike consistently succeeds in building intricate and yet accessible metaphors upon frameworks of buildings and natural landscapes. All in a way which is aesthetically pleasing to boot. Pretty impressive, no?

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    It’s important not to underestimate the significance of where you place your behind. Not that I’m going to judge you for, say, a misjudged grassy patch (the modern world is rife with dogs, after all) or a a triple pronged camping chair (we’ve all been there) but when thrones such as these are a feasible option, you might want to rethink your choices. Besides, the stool may well have been shunned by comfort-seeking hedonists left, right and centre since sofas became a thing, but if Ikea has taught us anything it’s that independent interior design should damn well play a part in your Swedish mass-produced life, and that means the stool is on its way back in.

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    We featured photographer Stuart on the site a few weeks back when he brought out Pig’s Disco, a book of photographs depicting British army soldiers going to raves in the late 1980s. His work often covers the gritty subjects that are more often than not swept under the heavy carpet of time, which is all the more interesting when you see his top five selection. Expect Diane Arbus, Hunter S Thompson and Henri Cartier Bresson in this fascinating collection of documentary-photography publications – a must-read for any budding photographer.

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    And so to Dusselfdorf, one of the most pleasingly named places on the planet, where the Morphoria design collective have tickled everyone of our print-loving fancies with their work on loslegen. It’s a magazine about “social projects and social organisations in Germany” which could sound a little dry but regardless of whether the content is up your strasse, the publication looks superb. Clearly aware of contemporary design trends but confident enough to put their own spin on them, the Morphoria folk combine striking layouts with exceptional use of imagery to create something really eye-catching.

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    Lizzy Stewart last featured on the website all the way back in 2009 as one of our graduate selections of that year. Back then we were bowled over by her mysterious illustrations that enmeshed tales of Eastern European folklore within those beautiful, dreamlike drawings of hers.

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    You know the golden McDonalds rule, do not under ANY CIRCUMSTANCES look inside your burger before you chow down. It’s like looking at a nightclub with the lights on. Naughty photographer Jon Feinstein’s broken the golden fast food rule tenfold in this project examining our favourite guilty treats up close on a high-res scanner.

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    As if you needed any more reasons to take an interest in the work of Finnish graphic powerhouse Kustaa Saksi he’s recently added more skills to his already impressive arsenal, making use of the jacquard loom to move his work into exciting new territory. Kustaa’s latest exhibition, Hypnopompic takes inspiration from the state of sensory confusion that exists between sleep and wakefulness, using the visual delusions experienced during this strange period of consciousness to inspire a set of intricate psychedelic tapestries, busy with distorted flora and fauna. There’s strobing monkeys clambering through trees, some giant technicolour grasshoppers and a particularly ominous looking spider haunting a tapestry of deep reds and blues.

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    You may have missed it but a few months ago when Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson announced his retirement, a piece of his chewing gum went on eBay claiming to be his “last gum.” Word spread, and within two days the bidding war on the gum had reached nearly £200,000. The gum wasn’t Fergie’s, and eBay took it down before the deal was done, but the clever person behind that genius idea was Josh King.

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    Meet 79-year-old Jerry Gretzinger, a very methodical worker. For 50 years now he has been creating a map of a fictional world, and not just any, fold-it-up-and-shove-it-in-the-glove-compartment map; spreading over more than 2,500 sheets of A4 paper, Jerry copies and adds to the imagined landscape each day in his coffee break, deciding which sheet he will work on according to which card he draws from a specially customised deck.

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    Just when you thought these were backstage pictures from a Mumford & Sons gig, think again! This is a series of beautiful photographs from the young and talented Eleanor Hardwick, who recently got to go to the circus to take photos for a Rookie Mag feature. I don’t know about you, but I always thought (quite cynically) that behind the scenes of the circus could be quite grim in this day and age. WRONG! It’s just as magical as you thought it would be, with incredible costumes, magical characters and some really rather touching talent. What I’d give to hang out with bacchanalian fawns all day and braid horses’ fetlocks.