1. List

    Our famed Things feature is back this week, and like the 35 year old man who has finally decided to move out of his mum’s house and into a bedsit all of his own, it’s shuffled uneasily out of the Weekender and now has a whole post to itself! On a Thursday, no less!

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    Last night we were at Mother London for this year’s second instalment of Nicer Tuesdays, with four fantastic creatives from the publishing industry speaking to us about the charms and challenges of the printed page. As ever, our fantastic event sponsors Park Communications were showing off their wares with a whole array of their own printed works – Printed Pages and Riposte among them!

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    When it comes to mural painting there’s no image too big or too daunting for Stephen Powers to broach; giant Post-It notes splayed across several stories, roller-coasters, stair-sets climbing the entire length of buildings. His work adorns structures all over the world, and always with an unrelenting palette of vibrant colours, strong type and joyous messages, making it immediately recognisable whether or not you know his name.

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    James Jarvis is one of those people that, when scrolling through the infinite chasms of Instagram, you stop when you see his name because you know it’s going to be something good. More an artist than an illustrator, James’ signature characters are round, colourful men grappling with the world around them. We’ve been curious about the content of his bookshelf for a while, so we are very proud to announce that he has agreed to share it with you all. Enjoy!

  5. Utec-potable-water-generator-list

    Often billboards do no more than clog up the sky with uninspiring advertising. But in Lima, in the midst of the Peruvian desert, one has been made that does nothing less than create drinking water from thin air. There’s a dire lack of clean water in the region and rarely any rainfall. Atmospheric humidity, however, is at 98 per cent.

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    Some people have a mission in life, and this man’s mission was to recreate a poster that inspired one of the key songs in one of the most revolutionary records ever released. The story goes that John Lennon purchased an old circus poster in an antiques shop that inspired, pretty much word for word, the lyrics to Being for the benefit of Mr.Kite by The Beatles. Peter Dean, a big fan of the band, then spent a lot of time, money, blood, sweat and tears to recreate this poster from scratch with the help of a typesetter and woodblock carver. What a story! Luckily, filmmakers Nick Esdaile and Joe Fellows were on hand to docuemnt the whole process. Extraordinary.

  7. List

    Rightly or wrongly, Instagram has become something of trek through the mundane and formulaic – the sunset, a trendy burger, infinite cats. But Jung von Matt and Alster are trying to turn those cliches on their head with their new Untamed campaign for Mercedes. The challenge is simple – Instagram users are invited to take and upload an image which encompasses the idea of “the natural enemy of the average.” They’re looking for unusual, intriguing, provocative and inspirational photographs with the best projected as part of a digital installation in Paris throughout April. So spare us another snap of your dinner and let’s start seeing something out of the ordinary.

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    Last summer Dylan Spencer-Davidson created a gang. Based everywhere and nowhere, what connects its members are shared values and hand-made boxer shorts. The gang is free to join – membership and boxers are bought with ethics.

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    Is there anything more splendid than walking slowly around the corridors of an old English house? Something about the feel of those old floorboards and the sound of the birds in the enormous, palatial gardens sends me a little bit funny even thinking about it. Now, visiting a country house is something that for some of us, doesn’t happen as often as we’d like, but Justin Barton has come to save the day. In his photography series Interiors he has collected some beautiful images of some of the most incredible rooms in the country. Just looking at them makes you almost feel yourself sinking into the fireside chairs to munch on an apple, or imagine your hands rifling through dusty papers on an old leather-topped desk. Magic.

  10. Ze-jian-shen-list

    Zejian Shen’s comics are inky and bloody and consistently surprising. From the snogging couple pulled over for drink driving in the cosmos, to the murdering motorcycling cactus-haired skeleton, her comics go on speedy, surreal, jam-packed trips. And from two shipwrecked alcoholics spinning for the first sip to the insatiable bee buzzing randily from one flower to another, although you’re never sure where these comics will take you, you’re sure to be met with things you’ve not even contemplated imagining.

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    To be honest we don’t know much about Stefano Colombini, other than that he obviously gets to go on some lovely walks. Only yesterday his Tumblr was a sea of enormous, full-screen, grainy photographs of a heady mix of urban and natural landscapes. Today, though, he’s made his images smaller, supposedly because people like me want to cheekily click and drag his work without asking. Stefano’s already a bit of a dab hand at black and white film photography, but we’re looking forward to seeing more colour photos in the future as the ones he has taken so far are so vivid and well-composed. I wonder what else he’s got up his sleeve…

  12. List

    Do you remember how viscerally exciting it was when a dog got into your school? All rules were suspended, teachers lost control and the communal excitement spread through the corridors in an almost tangible way. There’s something of that heady excitement about this ace new project from Brooklyn-based studio which was inspired by the recent sighting of a dolphin in a New York canal.

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    In January this year Melbourne-based Hunt & Co was officially formed after Hunt Studio and Published by Process were amalgamated (get me) into a single operation. Maybe best known as the brains behind the beautiful Process Journal, but in their newest updates we are treated to a real smorgasbord of lovely work across branding, print and art direction, plus a great new website for Process and a fine-looking instructional make-up app.

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    My friend Steve once spent about two weeks creating the most elaborately detailed Christmas scene on Microsoft Paint. Nobody was quite sure why (I’m still not) but it did point to the potential results when sheer bloody-mindedness and everyone’s first digital art love come together. Steve’s efforts have now been superseded though in my mind by the utterly wonderful Jim’ll Paint It which its creator describes thus: “Ask me to paint anything you wish and I will try no matter how specific or surreal your demands.”

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    Finding out Brecht had uploaded more work on to his Flickr was the internet equivalent of finding out there’s extra gravy and potatoes after a Sunday dinner. I don’t think any other artist or illustrator anywhere churns out as many crazily detailed pictures as Brecht, each one seemingly getting weirder and weirder.

  16. Police-log-list

    Owen Cook mines the Carmel Pine Cone police log of Carmel, California and creates the most wonderful comics with the goods. The brief, unabridged transcripts produce excellent short stories. From mysterious beginnings they often end in mundane anti-climax: a fire was only smoke blown from a nearby chimney, and a smashed window was the result of a stray pine cone. Sometimes, though, they are left to hang without explanation, like the deserted easel in the parking lot, the inconclusive squirrel problem or the juvenile warned for sitting on plant life. Drawn and paced beautifully, let’s hope banal petty crime at Carmel-by-the-sea goes on forever so Owen’s comics can too.

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    So here they are, our top three students of this month – meet photographerJoe Earley, product designer HyunYoung Park and illustrator Cynthia Kittler. Out of all the entries this month (and there were a lot!) we really felt that these three had submitted not just something original and very high quality, but also projects that seemed advanced for their tender years. Our relaunched Student of The Month competition is kindly supporetd by Laurence King and the three winners will receive a book each as well as our undying love and respect.

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    “Kodachrome! They give us those nice bright colors, they give us the greens of summers, makes you think all the world’s a sunny day” sang Paul Simon in 1973. These incredible Kodachrome transparencies shot for the Office of War Information date from a few decades earlier. Taken on the home front in the thick of the Second World War, they’ve been adjusted by the Shorpy webmaster from originals held in the Library of Congress to give us those nice bright colours Paul Simon loved.

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    Ooooh this is fun! Lots of palm-tree leaves, tropical colours and androgynous women make up the fun-filled designs of Confetti, a Melbourne-based design studio. Confetti have the ability to put the energy and excitement seen in their design for album covers, such as their eye-popping work for Midlife, and whack it straight into their magazine design like it’s no big thing. Photographing well-designed things beautifully is definitely a bonus, but these guys (Tomas Shanahan and Kevin McDowell) are truly doing something exciting and fresh with the design itself.

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    Those of you near the top of the It’s Nice That class will remember a few weeks ago we showed you some tantalising teaser trailers for a new collaboration between Nokia and Somesuch & Co documenting America’s emerging music scene. The films were released recently and screened back-to-back in east London last night – and it turns out the hype was very well-founded. Of course with directors of the calibre of Emily Kai Bock, Tyrone LeBon, Bob Harlow and Abteen Bagheri involved it was always going to be special, but the final pieces surpassed my expectations being both beautifully shot and genuinely illuminating. Everyone will have their favourites, but if you do nothing else today I urge you to watch Abteen Bagheri’s extraordinary piece (above) about bounce music and gay rap in New Orleans and I loved Bob’s Detroit piece too but across the board this is a creative offering of the highest order.

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    Every night before I shut down my computer I kneel beside the monitor, light a candle, and give thanks to Buzzfeed. Now we don’t know where they’ve got most of this absolute treasure trove of old, questionable cereal from the 1980s from, but we do know that some of it is from the online archive of New York candy-lover Jason Liebig. Jason’s site is a homage to the spectacular, colourful packaging to be found on the shelves of the supermarket. You can see why people actually collect these old boxes — the bubble-type, the lurid colours and the hand-drawn cartoons are such a far cry from nutritional advice and pictures of healthy people you get on cereal these days, and are actually brilliant pieces of design that define an era. Check out some more drool-worthy packaging over on Jason’s Flickr page.

  22. List

    Case Studyo are an interesting proposition, working with a roster of amazing artists to produce interesting and affordable sculptures. Brilliant Dutch artist Parra, whose work we have long held dear here at It’s Nice That, has just unveiled his latest collaboration with Case, in the form of Lay Down…Lay it all down a limited edition new porcelain piece which brings a typically Parra surreal form to 3D life. Released to coincide with Parra’s New York show, it follows the 2010 piece The not so happy bird (below) and proves once again that there’s really nothing Parra can’t do that doesn’t excite us. Dental floss? Crampons? His and her bumbags? We’re on board.

  23. Blind-maps-list

    Although Blind Maps is only a concept at this stage, it really is a remarkable one. The device, conceived by designers Andrew Spitz, Ruben van der Vleuten and Markus Schmeiduch during a 36 hour project at the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design, is a handheld interactive smart phone maps accessory made for the visually impaired. Using tactile-sensitive haptic technology, the interface has a perforated braille-like screen with pins which move to show navigation. Constantly receiving information and adapting, Blind Maps warns of changes to the user’s route, responds the user’s progress and gives options for bird’s eye or line view. Very impressive concept, let’s hope it becomes a reality.

  24. List

    Before you get excited and start counting your gold coins to see how many of these rugs you can cram into your house, I must warn you that these are no ordinary rugs and it may be somewhat tricky to get your little paws on them. Swedish design team Oyyo commissioned townsfolk near the Indian city of Jodhpur to make the rugs that are released on a very, very limited run (we’re talking two per year). The result is a selection of some of the most beautiful soft furnishings — if you can even call them that — that we’ve ever seen. Or is that down to the stroke-of-genius look book photography? We’ll leave it up to you to decide.

  25. Opinionlist

    This week editor Rob Alderson looks at the somewhat derided magazine cover of the century shortlist and asks how we can really pit these kind of things against each other. As ever you can join the discussion using the thread below..

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    Hey there. Nice watch you’re rocking on your wrist. No yeah you’re right – stylish. It’s just that no timepiece is ever going to feel enough after you’ve feasted your eyes on this remarkable new installation from wonderfully-named Swedish studio Humans Since 1982. A Million Times uses 288 analogue clocks programmed via an iPad to create a series of swooping, swirling visual patterns, a digital clock face and lettering. It was commissioned by the design and art dealer Victor Hunt, who said: “Locked in its functionality to show the time, the natural character inherent to an analogue clock – with its two arms constantly dancing in slow motion around the center – unveils hidden figurative qualities without denying its primary purpose.”

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    We first posted Jamie Hawkseworth on the site in May last year when we were floored by the brilliance of his series depicting the coolest-looking kids we’d ever come across. This new work is doing something completely different but the quality remains sky-high. Jamie was commissioned by AnOther magazine to travel to Beijing and photograph the iconic Chinese artist Ai Weiwei in his studio.

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    It’s very, very depressing here in England as we crawl on our hands and knees to the end of February, which is why we look to our Californian friends to help us through it. Luckily we’ve just seen that illustrators Andy Rementer and Honet have released two fun, quick animations for LacosteLIVE. Andy’s focuses around a shade-wearing, graffiti-spraying alligator created using what can only be described as a palette more often seen in an ice cream parlour. The second animation, by Honet, The Story Behind The Mask features an array of cleverly-illustrated tribal scenes to celebrate the famed Lacoste alligator logo. Nice!

  29. List

    New York-based artist Peter Halley is, according to his online biography, interested in exploring “the increasing geometricization of social space in the world in which we live.” I think what this means is that he is drawn to the way in which the connected contemporary world is ranged around grids and cells and flows that, whether we can see them or not, underpin almost every aspect of modern life. The 13 new works for his upcoming show in London are painted in retina-jarring day-glo combinations, bringing a sense of colour and even fun to a world of greys most of us only really half understand.

  30. Mixtape

    Seeing as a specially-made, handcrafted playlist is the most romantic of gifts, this is the first instalment of what will hopefully prove to be a long and fruitful relationship between the It’s Nice That studio and you, our audience. Yep, that’s right. It’s only a bloody It’s Nice That Monthly Mixtape. Seeing as this is the first playlist to grace the pages of It’s Nice That, we decided to give it the theme of Beginnings, which is perhaps more evident in some songs than others.

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    We like to give you a fair amount of contemporary art and design here at It’s Nice That, but we recognise that it’s sometimes good to dip your toe into the murky waters of the olden days. Life Magazine’s archive website — which may as well be labelled #NSFW for its ability to distract you for longer than any other website ever — has an extraordinary amount of old, incredible series of categorised photographs for your viewing pleasure.

  32. Thomas-matthews-list

    Ingmar Bergman produced some of the most powerful images in cinematic history – haunting, beautiful and stark. Illustrator Thomas Matthews has taken four Bergman titles from the fifties and sixties – Cries and Whispers, The Seventh Seal, Persona and Through A Glass Darkly – and created his own striking, A3 posters for them in graphite.

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    It’s nice when you come across an illustrator whose work has elements of many other artists, but is entirely unique. HuskMitNavn (bit of a mouthful, but apparently it translates into “remember my name” in Danish) makes fantastic, genuinely funny cartoons that have hints of Studio Ghibli about them — no mean feat. Personal favourites include the couple bumping faces and the man whose arms have flown away. Scroll to the bottom of this page and you’ll find a charming illustration of an elderly lady in a Slayer t-shirt, naturally. This is the kind of illustration we like – silly, colourful, clever, and weird.

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    Last year photographer William Miller wowed us with his Ruined Polaroids project, a stunning study of colour and texture produced using a broken Polaroid SX-70. The same unerring eye for finding visual gold in unlikely places is present in his newest body of work, Gowanus Canal. William is able to capture some real beauty in the scummy surface of this Brooklyn waterway, strange patterns and colours that take on the ethereal quality of abstract art under his expert lens. Flotsam and jetsam has never looked so good.

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    Folding the pages of centuries’ old illustrated books and periodicals to reveal fragments of the pictures while obscuring the words is bound to infuriate some bibliophiles. But what you lose in legibility, you gain in visual preservation. In her ongoing series Between Folds, Francisca Prieto transforms rare books into patterned origami structures. The pages are folded back to create tantalising windows into the past: glimpses into the streets of nineteenth century Paris, showcases of early twentieth century surgical appliances and etched and hand-coloured birds half-caged within the paper folds. Delicate revitalisations of dusty tomes.

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    There’s a lot of people on the good ship internet speaking very highly of Mads Teglers, whose photographic editorial work is slowly popping up almost everywhere you look. Yes, it’s lots of beautiful, talented people rolling around on the floors of great-looking buildings and parks, but whoever said anything was wrong with that? Thanks to Mads (good name) we can peek behind the scenes of a suitably exuberant Little Dragon band practice, and into the bedroom of overly-photogenic Devendra Banhart and earth angel Ana Kras. Need your magazine spicing up with some golden-skinned, writhing bodies? Mads Teglers is your best bet.

  37. List

    Of all the speakers at our creative symposium Here last summer, BAFTA-winning animator Grant Orchard was one of the most honest. Grant spoke about the challenges of trying to find time to do fun stuff amid the personal and professional whirlwind and was refreshing and funny about the difficulties this poses. Most of the talks from last year’s event are now live as we crank up the expectation ahead of this year’s Here which takes place in London in June. We have already confirmed Adam Buxton, Nelly Ben Hayoun, Erik Kessels and Rafael Rozendaal and we are poised to unveil some new names shortly.

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    The Odyssey is one of those stories which has a pivotal place in the pantheon of great literature but The Paper Cinema bring it to life with more charm, wit and drama then I have seen for a long time. Using hundreds of beautiful illustrations but no words, the company re-tells Homer’s famous story of Odysseus’ attempts to return to his beloved Ithaca and his wife and son after the Trojan War. The illustrations are projected onto a giant screen, “allowing them to use the complete language of film including panning, zooming and jump cuts but with hand held illustrations.” With three musicians on hand as well, it is one of the most compelling live performances I have ever seen, and the illustrations at the centre of the piece are gorgeous, breathing new life onto the famous tale with quietly heartbreaking flair.

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    Jochen Gerner’s work is difficult to place, not least because a lot of it’s about displacement. Blacking out (and censuring?) old comics, covering pages with coloured patterns, turning sequential art into something abstract and taking well known images from the history of art, zoning in and reconfiguring them, Gerner is an illustrator and cartoonist dedicated to doing something different. Aa a member of OuBaPo (Ouvroir de bande dessinée potentielle) a group using formal constraints to push the boundaries of comics, he’s part of a movement seeing and creating comics in a new way.

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    Seriously strong graphic design portfolio from Brooklyn’s Elina Asanti. Having the sensational and powerful Paz de la Huerta on the cover of a magazine is never a bad thing, but it’s Elina Asanti’s experimental, and non-showy layouts and her clear knowledge of typography that make her work stand out. Elina has already made covers for trendy and fantastic magazines such as S Magazine and Rika Magazine and has also made some charming identities. Unsurprisingly, Elina was educated at the Rhode Island School of Design, which produces some of the most promising design graduates year on year. If she carries on at the rate she’s going, Elina could well be one to watch in the next few years.