1. List

    Querida is Spanish for “beloved”, and it’s with the same adoration that this Spanish studio named themselves, as they treat their creative projects.“We love typography, illustration, colours, photography and we enjoy new technologies as much as we worship detail and craft.” Their love for what they do makes itself apparent in their work; from art direction and design for Perdiz magazine to an identity and corresponding stationery for Idep , Barcelona’s design school.

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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 don’t know if you’ve seen Toddlers in Tiaras, the TV show about mothers who tote their children at beauty pageants like they’re tiny little dolls in eyeshadow and crunchy dresses, but it’s disturbing stuff. Imagine, though, if you took every little girl from that show and replaced them with a painted hermit crab or a dog with dreadlocks. It would be not only a lot more entertaining, but pretty aesthetically pleasing, right?

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    Alexey Lyapunov and Lena Erlich are People Too, a pair of Russian illustrators who have taken paper sculpture as their medium of choice, and made it entirely their own. Their deceptively delicate and very intricate creations for Amnesty International’s Fan the Flame campaign, which are fashioned entirely from white paper. Depicting acts of violence and brutality with a quiet poignancy that is hard to match is any other medium, the detailed sculptures all the more impressive for their impermanence. Their portfolio is full to the brim with incredible paper sculpture of the more colourful and naive variety, much of which looks more like it has been crafted with clay than with several sheets of humble A4.

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    This animation is described as “a film for everyone who has ever been on a shit night out,” and is a super-fun tribute to those evenings in dingy clubs where the music is too loud, the drinks are too pricey and the clientele is too dickhead-y. Compiled by Kristian Antonelli, James Duveen, Wesley Louis, Tim McCourt, Jonathan Djob Nkondo, Sam Taylor and Bjorn-Erik Aschim (who also directs), there’s a great deal to identify with alongside some more off-the-wall characters. Also keep your eyes peeled for a little Keith Haring cameo about half way through.

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    There’s no avoiding the notion that creative trends have gone full circle when you find yourself writing about creatives who take inspiration from the kind of cheap advertising they should be avoiding rather than emulating. Maybe it shouldn’t be an such a beguiling concept, but Sergiy Barchuk has absolutely nailed our curiosity for it with his bright, ambiguous photographs.

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    Here at It’s Nice That HQ we’ve been looking for an excuse to get together a whole heap of interesting people for regular meet-ups. Given that it’s been cold here in London (any excuse will do), what better way to lift our spirits than by launching our first monthly event, Nice Wednesdays?

  8. Siulist

    Think you’ve seen everything snow globes have to offer? Think again, because Craig Ward has had some fun with the idea to launch a brand new professional awards programme from YCN. Creatives from around the world who’ve graduated within the last eight years are invited to share the best of their work; submitting a portfolio into this year’s categories for either design, illustration or animation.

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    “Now, I’m not going to pretend to you that what I do has any real worth. But then again, can any of us claim real worth?” are the words of Phil Lucas, our new favourite human. With Heat Magazine as his guide, and Photoshop as his sword, Phil has created a list of celebrities, working in dull office jobs and performing particularly mundane tasks that, coincidentally, rhyme perfectly with their name. There isn’t much left to explain other than this has validity because it’s not just some internet tripe, it’s the work of a very clever writer and comedian, who has officially just made our week. All hail Phil Lucas!

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    Say what you like about the Royal Academy, but they certainly know how to put on a whopper of a show. The current Manet exhibition is a collection of his paintings that define the atmosphere of Paris in the late 1800s. Dances in gardens, sun-dappled benches, ruddy cheeks and plenty of wine surround characters of all ages, predominantly people in Manet’s life that he was closest too.

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    London-based photographer Wilson Hennessy has a near faultless visual sensibility which sees him create beguiling and beautiful still-lifes. His new series China Bang features those rather twee figurines you find advertised at the back of certain magazines (“Lady Fortescue comes with a very realistic dress and a the haughty demeanour of someone certain of her place in the world”) at the centre of coloured powder explosions. Almost lost in the haze, the ornaments take on a strange ghostly quality, apparitions amid the brightly-coloured chaos. But whether it’s a sleek new Nike trainer attacked by a monstrous pink plug of chewing gum, or clever takes on packaging shots, Wilson’s portfolio is a real delight from start to finish.

  12. Murder-list

    Eccentric sleuths, private eyes, inexplicably locked-rooms and crucially timed trains: for terror, bafflement and satisfaction, few things beat a good detective novel. A new exhibition at the British Library traces the history of this treasured genre through an enlightening illustrated alphabet.

    From the foxed pages of the earliest forays into crime in the late 19th century to the rubbed spines and cracked joints of well-fingered contemporary paperbacks, there are some choice books on display. Illustrated covers of crime give a wonderful overview of the age: there are the Victorian pen and ink drawings of subterfuge under lamplight, the swift lines of mid-century green-spined Penguins, 1980s watercolours of bucolic villages with ominous shadows and, of course, the red lipped femme fatales with much to hide who frequented the 1940s American hardboiled crimes.

    Along with the books is a miscellany of thrilling finds. There’s Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original manuscript of the later Sherlock Holmes story The Adventures of the Retired Colonel, an annotated script of Agatha Christies’ Murder on the Orient Express, a couple of crime adventures penned by footballers Terry Venables and Pele and some inspiring lady detectives. The Golden Age of detective fiction falls in the period between the two world wars. During that time the fashion for mystery went well beyond books. There were jigsaw puzzle murders and “crime dossiers” stuffed with clues such as human hair and cigarette ends which players had to wade through to solve. Makes Cluedo sound a bit lame, doesn’t it.

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    Anyone who’s ever read any Charles Bukowski knows it’s a fairly unforgiving experience. The brutalist bard of the stalled American Dream writes of drunks and dropouts, of seedy sex and unfulfilled potential, in a way that teeters on nihilism. To illustrate such a singular talent you need a creative with a similarly self-confident style, and Emiliano Ponzi certainly fits the bill. The artist has just won a gold medal at the Society of Illustrators New York for a series of Bukowski covers he did for Italian translations of the work, which communicate both the extraordinary books and the man behind them with atmospheric flair.

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    If you’ve got a weak stomach (especially when it comes to anything medical related) then by all means give this video a go, but I can’t promise it won’t make you flinch. Hanging out in a dreamy meadow by a river, Grizzly Bear lay in the grass whilst stoically performing basic medical tests on one another. Blood tests, ear candles, skin samples and hair tweaking are all shown in twitching, gif form in this beautiful, Dali-esque video by the super-talented Kris Moye.

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    One of the highlights of next week’s Stockholm Furniture Fair is sure to be Nippa Doshi and Jonathan Levien’s installation for Kravdrat for whom they have created a cavalcade of Bauhaus-inspired upholstered objects. To further whet the appetite for The Wool Parade, Graphic Thought Facility have worked with Studio AKA’s Phillip Hunt to produce this really nice animated short, whereby Doshi Levien’s creations flutter and dance across the screen to a serene classical soundtrack. By animating each of these pieces with a really organic vibrancy – that stays consistent with its actual physical form – the promo presents this set of objects as a vivid, uplifting contemporary tribute to designers past.

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    In a climate of increasingly ferocious arts funding cuts, the role of the cultural philanthropist has rarely been more significant. Photographer Stuart Leech is working with Spear’s magazine to exhibit an interesting set of pictures which explores the relationship between altruistic donors and the various ways in which their largesse is recognised. From the solemn stone inscriptions of the British Museum to the modern, monochrome typographic treatment of the Design Museum, and from funny theatre seat dedications to ornate gold leaf inscriptions, Stuart’s series (taken over the course of a single day) tells us something about generosity and the need for it to be validated.

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    Not often does a photographer’s entire back-catalogue of images hit you harder in the face than that of Dana Lixenberg’s. We were bewitched by her work just by the image of the pink curtain flying out into a garden in her “Set Amsterdam” series, but to find out that she has taken some of the most extraordinary portraits of people ranging from Tupac to Taryn Simon to Biggie Smalls is just phenomenal. The Michelangelo-esque shot of P Diddy that captures him sprawled in a fancy hotel, God-like, surrounded by old school mobile phones and remote controls is perhaps one of the best celebrity photographs I have ever come across.

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    Hoorah! New updates from one of our favourite illustrators Mr Tim Lahan. Expect carrots forcing their way through steaks, drinking straws distorted by liquid and a pretty hilarious piece entitled “The Blind Spot” for Mr. Wile E. Coyote (see above). How Tim continues to continually bosh out these remarkable editorial illustrations is a wonder to behold. The fact that big corporations such as Bloomberg want to use his charmingly naive illustrations to brighten up their pages is also a very good reflection on humanity. People like Tim are slowly making the magazine world, or perhaps just the world, a better place.

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    It’s been a whole year since we featured the work of Ryan Gillett after he popped a lovely set of prints through our mailbox. Since then he’s been keeping himself very busy, producing more and more of his trademark, chalky illustration. An aficionado of traditional print processes, Ryan builds his images methodically with hand-drawn layers of colour, meticulously assembled to produce the final image. Not only that but he’s got an effortlessly charming drawing style paired with a real eye for complementary colours. It’s obviously proving a winning combination as Ryan’s building a tidy freelance career for himself only a year on from leaving university. Keep it coming Ryan, we’re itching to see more!

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    Laura Callaghan draws girls. Bookish, Frieda Kahlo-browed girls in patterned vintage wear who never smile. Rarely fully dressed, they spread their white limbs awkwardly in suffocating, multi-coloured rooms. Sometimes the unflinching eyes of another girl will be mirrored in an overwrought frame. There’s lepidoptera and there’s also Lolita.

  21. Lw-list

    Polish photographer Lukasz Wierzbowski discovered photography almost by accident, using it as a method of relaxation in the third year of his Social Psychology studies. He found he had a natural aptitude for colour, composition and narrative and began experimenting with the people, patterns and environments that surrounded him. His images are thick with richly-patterned vintage fabrics, the patina of mid-century interiors and potted plants that come together with striking effect.

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    Brighton-based agency filthymedia turned our heads and cheered our souls with this really good identity for electronica outfit Spectrasoul. The moody, monochrome look is based on band member David Kennet’s photography which reflects the duo’s sound and works well as the foundation for a coherent communicative look that works across vinyl, cds and print collateral. There’s a host of eclectic and interesting work in the studio’s portfolio so well worth having a nose around.

  23. Opinion-list

    This week, in the excitement of Pride and Prejudice turning 200, Anna Trench is wary of the extent to which celebrations of a work peddle pre-conceived readings. We welcome your comments below.

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    About a year ago we featured a surreal and magnificent short film about a communist werewolf submariner. The direction and script were hilarious, but the set and prop design stole the show; all constructed by LA-based creative Adi Goodrich. The hugely talented Californian has a list of clients longer than my arm that include international names like Wieden + Kennedy, Michel Gondry, Pizza Hut and Universal Records, and she’s renowned for her punchy, colourful sets for fashion shoots.

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    Really super work here from someone we’ve never come across before — what a treat! Matthew Feyld is kind if mysterious, but luckily that just adds to the strong appeal of his simple, block colour paintings. Seemingly inspired by the kind of eyeballs seen on Wile E. Coyote, Matthew’s work has a touching naive simplicity, making it almost impossible not to want to buy one of his paintings immediately and hang it in your bedroom where the sun hits the wall — dreamy. Turns out he’s also a rather good photographer.

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    You may be aware that we enjoy a bit of Adam Buxton in our lives. He’s a real wit, that Buxton chap, and it seems he’s got a pretty good grasp of some of the best creative talent out there, regularly collaborating with some of the finest animators on his BugTV show. So when he tweets about an animation enthusiastically you can pretty much guarantee it’s going to be a beauty. Take this beautiful piece of stop motion for Shugo Tokumaru for example; it’s a stunning piece of laboriously layered paper cuts that’s utterly mind-blowing to watch. The attention to detail in the production is flawless and there’s a guy in the middle who vomits a rainbow. Thanks Adam for pointing us to this gem, and congratulations to Kijek/Adamski for producing it in the first place.

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    The first big show of a new year is always a yardstick for any gallery but over in Amsterdam the ever-excellent FOAM has set the bar high with its first offering of 2013. One Group Show is the first major solo exhibition from Thijs groot Wassink and Ruben Lundgren, whose work as WassinkLundgren we’ve long admired here at It’s Nice That. The duo describe their output as “conceptual documentary photography” and this show brings together some of their favourite projects from the past seven years. The Dutch born artists now split their time between London and Beijng and their work is marked with a multinational influence which gives it a unique viewpoint.

  28. Spacefood-list

    Sometimes it’s the simplest ideas that work the best, and never has that been more true than in Venetian photographer Giorgia Zanellato’s magnificent Space Food. Ever imagined what those guys up on the moon were munching in between stints of floating weightlessly and thinking up memorable soundbites? That’s right a NASA-approved foil-wrapped banana and some donuts with pins in them. While we’re positive that the diets of astronauts aren’t predominantly aluminium-based, we love the effort that Giorgia’s gone to in turning a simple idea into an excellent photographic reality.

  29. List-toby

    It’s a bit dull having just the one identity so why not ape a cartoon hero and create two? Toby Leigh sketches dodgy Londoners, makes little comics and uses 0.3mm mechanical pencils. Tobatron creates retro instruction manual parodies, produces satirical tea towels and prefers Adobe suite.

  30. Mcbess-list

    Oh Matthieu you’ve done it again, using your illustrative talents and musical nous to produce something totally excellent! The furiously talented McBess has just knocked out this thirty second spot for brand new music-on-demand service Deezer. The ad features his trademark style of wide-eyed beardy gents and busty tattooed chicks cavorting across a rapidly changing musical landscape. If you like McBess, or animation, or music you’ll bloody love it, guaranteed!

  31. List-neuromantics

    You don’t have to be a card-carrying bibliophile to appreciate that an old book’s better in the flesh. It’s not only the texture and smell, it’s the way the colours change over time. With the sad demise of the UK’s fine libraries, we’ll no doubt be increasingly relying on blogs like Bunker to dust off design tomes for our online perusal. That can, however, bring its own perks.

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    You’d be forgiven for thinking that Max Springer’s website showcasing his work from 2009 to to 2013 was actually a blog of many artist’s work. It’s not though, it’s just that Max has the most varied portfolio we think we’ve ever seen. We don’t know this guy, but it seems that everything Max picks up is considered for a potential sculpture or installation piece. His little sculpture of an apple core is one of the most simple and satisfying pieces of sculpture we’ve seen in a long time, not to mention his crushed cardboard box pieces which have a certain level of sublime beauty about them. Max Springer, we’re watching you.

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    We’ve railed before about the tendency towards po-faced pretentiousness that still characterises the fashion world so give thanks and praise for Adam Morley and Dulcie Cowling. The duo – who tickled us last year with their surreal adverts for unloved foodstuffs like watercress – have teamed up with Rankin’s Hunger magazine to produce three shorts on prints, accessories and colour.

  34. Maddisongraphic-list

    Sibling design duo Maddison Graphic are a Norwich-based agency who pride themselves on working with local clients, embracing all sorts of commercial projects for the likes of ale festivals, architectural practices and, rather unusually for a design studio, churches – they’ve type-set an altar and created a glazed screen for a Cambridge chapel. Such a diverse range of clients means they’re capable of turning their hand to any number of visual styles, from crisp, clean type treatments to bold linear illustrations, but their output is consistently strong, answering briefs with clear, effective solutions.

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    Do you ever think it’s worrying that there’s so much batshit crazy stuff on the World Wide Web that this concept, a dog wearing current trends, doesn’t even seem that weird anymore? Do you know what I mean? Anyway, this Tumblr is only a baby so there’s only four photos on it so far, but it’s enough to get the gist of what it’s going to include from now on, and that’s a fox-like dog from NYC wearing fashionable menswear. The submit section is, so far, empty, so if you’ve got a cute dog and some expensive denim…you know what to do.

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    There’s something about the way these models are standing that’s kind of reminiscent of those cut-out-and-dress dolls with the paper tabs sticking out of them — some trick of the light makes them appear almost collage-like. Truthfully, we thought that’s exactly what they were, until on closer inspection we realised these are just well-lit photographs of models walking along in a studio — how silly were we? Eckhaus Latta’s ethereal, floaty creations are consistently recorded in their notoriously brilliant look books and shows, some of which are more human installations than mere studio shots. Very cool.

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    This tantalising trailer comes from the excellently titled Late Night Work Club, a “loose, rotating collective of indie animators”. They’ve gathered together to reveal their non-commercial, nocturnal creations in an upcoming animation anthology Ghost Stories.

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    In sterile rooms spot-lit chairs take centre stage, ready to seat the next nip/tuck client. Against cold grey walls, liposuction machines on wheels stand with clean beakers and drooping tubes. In a corner, above a large pink chair, a gilt-framed mirror reflects a wet babe emerging from the ripples. Apart from the kidney dish splattered with blood, Cara Phillips’ photographs of plastic surgery clinics move by insinuation. Her photos are of empty rooms: the viewer is invited to imagine the procedure, the real life cutting and pasting, and all the insecurities that must accompany it.

  39. Hp-list

    It would be inaccurate to refer to Harsh Patel as a graphic designer. While he deals primarily in printed matter and the reproduction of multiples and uses the tools of the designer to create his work – typography, grid systems and iconic vector graphics all feature heavily throughout his portfolio – his motivations are those of an artist and the bulk of his output is not employed commercially.

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    Well this is weird. You don’t normally associate strange, grotesque monsters with high-end fashion (unless of course, you do) but these are brilliant! Apolinário Pereira, a Portuguese visual artist and sculptor, makes these little creatures for a living, many of them inspired by the strange and glorious looks seen on the catwalk.