1. List

    I have to confess, I’m wholeheartedly averse to public displays of affection. It doesn’t even matter if I’m bathed in a rose-tinted mist myself, all it takes is a pair of slurping snoggers on the Tube and my reflex is to double up immediately and start making violent and theatrical retching sounds, the likes of which are rarely seen outside of children’s telly programmes. With that in mind, this short film by Tatia Pilieva, in which 20 strangers meet each other and then proceed to kiss for the first time, took me completely by surprise with its simple and strangely transfixing approach.

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    It’s not often that you get so hooked on someone’s portfolio that you find yourself engrossed in it, slack-jawed for nearly an hour, but that’s exactly what happened when I came across the work of Elle Perez. Focusing predominantly on American’s gay, gender variant, transgender, and genderqueer community, Elle’s portraits have a friendly rawness to them that comes with being completely immersed in the environment she was shooting.

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    Before you open up your drab CV in its timid little PDF format, you may want to consider what Mark Prendergast sent to Hort as an example of his creative services. Punchy, to the point, visually arresting and, at times very funny, this video – albeit 20 minutes long – is an absolute joy to watch.

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    We were pretty happy with Andrea’s 2D patterns printed and painted on to flat surfaces, until we caught sight of the cement truck that she painted a mural on and our minds were blown — how cool is she?! Andrea is from Queens and spends her days making oil paintings and prints that could be applied to anything from textiles to heavy machinery. If we’ve learnt one thing from Andrea it’s that you don’t always need some super-clever idea to have a great project, you just need some colourful paint and an eye for a catchy pattern.

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    I will apologise in advance that Things this weekend is not Easter themed, but it does include graffiti, lovely publications and a chance to satisfy your stationery needs. So that’s ok, right? RIGHT GUYS?

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    Hey! There’s rats on your shelf! Oh wait that’s also Matt Furie’s shelves, groaning with the weight of some of the best books ever made. Most of these books you probably wouldn’t even know existed before! And the best bit is that with each odd, rare publication comes a brief, yet candid explanation of why Matt likes each one. To know that the creatures he creates are spawned out of this kind of library is at once comforting, and hilarious. Thanks, Matt! And nice rats btw.

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    Question: How do you make Good Friday into Great Friday? Answer: By treating your ears, brain and funny bone to the new episode of the It’s Nice That podcast Studio Audience of course. In terms providing you, our lovely, loyal listeners with art and design chat from the very top drawer (ahem) then we were all like Bank Holiday? Schmank Holiday. So make the most of all this leisure time this weekend,download, ice back and dare to dream – it’s a four-person magazine special!

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    Now I’m really into this project from super-talented duo Jenny Van Sommers and Rachel Thomas. Taking the impossibly-ambitious claims made by shampoos as their starting point, they have created a series of strange follicular still-lifes that lampoon these products’ promises. Created for Italian magazine Flair the series is a funny, effective way of ribbing the hysteria surrounding body image issues and various brands’ promises of salvation. The only catch? It’s called Maybe She’s Born With It after the insanely annoying jingle, which makes it impossible for me to not shout back “Maybe it’s Maybelline” every time I hear it. Apart from that, great stuff Rachel and Jenny!

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    Born in the year of the dragon but technically a rabbit (his words not ours), John Chae also likes to rock out to power ballads on his birthday. I like this guy already. New Levels is a collection of colourful drawings with faces gracing the side of cubes and black holes swallowing you up. Thats pretty normal for John. How about worm-like creatures snaking their way around ladders and waterfalls? Go on then, and let’s have a floating head excreting pink liquid onto a hotdog on the side. Without a doubt John’s work falls under the category of completely and utterly mental – our favourite.

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    Hey remember when we all went crazy for Li Hongbo’s amazing paper sculptures of flowers, guns and skulls (the big three)? Well our pals over at have just produced this excellent behind-the-scenes visit to Li’s studio where they interviewed the man himself about his insane skills and watched him at work as well. It’s nicely shot and insightful and there’s some proper process porn shots thrown in for good measure. It’s always a pleasure to get a glimpse into where great work comes from, both in terms of materials, manufacture and ideas. Take three minutes to enjoy this – you won’t regret it.

  11. Kelley-list

    Texan painter Cheryl Kelley can’t get enough of chrome and the iridescent paintwork that coats the world’s fastest cars. Since childhood, she’s been obsessed with beautiful motor vehicles and has made it her life’s work to render them with her own bare hands and rich, thick layers of oil paint. “I played in the dirt with Hot Wheels cars when I was a small child and was fascinated by their curves. Now I own a ’77 ’Vettte,” she says.

  12. Reeve-list

    Hailing from London but now residing in Brooklyn, Rebecca Reeve is a photographer dealing predominantly in surreal narratives and unsettling landscapes. Her photographic series tell eerie stories of faceless characters leading their lives in midnight darkness and place Dutch death rituals within the lush environments of Florida’s Everglades. Marjory’s World places a selection of scavenged curtains across the vistas of the Florida countryside, evoking a 19th Century Dutch custom of covering mirrors, portraits and landscape paintings with cloth at the wake of deceased family members to aid their passing into the afterlife. In doing so Rebecca transforms these fertile grounds into memento moris that stay with you long after viewing.

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    I can safely say that the idea of helping build an enormous tunnel beneath the cold, creaking mass of a city is probably my worst nightmare, but these photos kind of make it look okay. In a tunnel-in-the-making you’d be forgiven for confusing with the set of a Prometheus sequel, these men toil day and night to create a brand new tunnel underneath New York, as rigorously documented by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Behind-the-scenes shots are always appreciated, and when they’re showing people working hard to improve a city, all the better.

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    Surreal landscapes and detached narratives are the fundamentals for Sam Chivers, a Brighton-based artist and illustrator. His is a world where nature and shapes collide, and monkeys rein free – I suspect something rather mental goes on inside Sam’s head! At a young age, Sam was inspired by Jean ‘Moebius’ Giraud, the God of comic artists, and since then has developed his love for drawing with sumptuous style.

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    As you’d expect from an event that promises to “unite the world’s leading graphic designers in a professional gathering of common interest and intent” the AGI Open website is pretty nicely put together. Simple to navigate, clear in its communication and perfectly pitched to attract interest in this year’s September conference (themed around dialogue) it’s a classically composed piece of design. We’re big fans of the way they’ve laid out their speaker profiles too (a list that includes Jeremy Leslie, Margaret Calvert, Marion Deuchars and Henrik Kubel); a large grid of squares showing a thumbnail of each practitioner’s work alongside their name. Simple, obvious and completely effective.

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    These beautifully composed photographs belong to Porto-born Londoner Bruno Zhu, a man so talented that photography isn’t even his primary discipline. Working under the premise that he doesn’t yet possess the skill to take photographs of people – “I don’t feel I have enough skills to righteously portray the complex puzzles people present themselves to be” – Bruno focusses on abstract occurrences in day-to-day life. Chance encounters with geometric patterns, beautiful contrasts in tone and colour and stark landscapes form the bulk of Bruno’s work, captured flawlessly with the skill of someone who truly understands his craft. All of which is no mean feat given he’s studying fashion design too…

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    So imagine you’re naughty boy Tyler the Creator and your pseudonyms include Wolf Haley, Ace Creator, Thurnis Haley, Tyler, The Creature, Ty Dollaz, T-Dollaz, Creator Ace, Dr. T.C., Tyler Haley and Tron Cat. You get approached by one of the biggest soft drink companies on the planet and offered the chance to create an advert, however you like — what do you do? Well, no-one cares what you would do, becaus you’re not Tyler the Creator, and you would never make anything as good as this, ever. How funny are those goat’s arms?!

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    This is not the kind of carpet you want to sink your toes into, oh no, it’s a carpet made from computer parts and thousands of them. This is the work of Federico Uribe, a Columbian artist known for taking everyday objects and making them into art. From afar, it looks like a rare Arabian carpet with an array of colours, textures and patterns. But once you advance closer, you notice that his attention to detail is unbelievable, and engrosses you in the game of who can name the most computer parts (translation: who is the biggest geek).

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    Thought-provoking to say the least, this beautiful series of screenprints have been created by Edinburgh-based David Lemm. The foundation of David’s work comes from shamanistic imagery and the physical/metaphysical relationship we have with the earth. By “creating imagery that is simultaneously recognisable, yet mysterious and unfamiliar,” it is safe to say I’m feeling unnerved about that man standing idly in the distance. Creepy!

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    We come across so many interesting and innovative approaches to magazine photoshoots that we don’t envy those creatives tasked with coming up with something novel that will stand out from the rest. All the more reason then for us to be wowed when something as good as this pop-art themed shoot for Vogue Nippon comes along. It’s the brainchild of British photographer Lacey, a Royal College of Prinitng graduate and one-time assistant of Tim Walker. She worked with make-up guru Andrew Gallimore, and they commissioned the brilliant Craig & Karl to produce some 2D illustrations that could be mixed into the images.

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    Sometimes projects come through to the It’s Nice That office that are, for one reason or another, so weird they just work. Caio Lekecinskas sent this selection of images through and something about their aesthetic caught our eye, then they made us laugh. A perfect combination!

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    They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and there’s an increasingly burgeoning genre of adverts that spoof Apple’s very particular way of doing things. While Wieden + Kennedy have in the past poked gentle fun at Apple’s own advertising, London agency Fold7 have taken a different tack with this ace new spot for Carlsberg’s Somersby Cider. Spoofing the cult of new releases at the tech giant’s stores, it is an unerringly accurate take-off of both the staff’s demeanour and the customers’ apoplectic excitement. To be honest I could do without the slightly cheesy ending, but all in all this is very, very well done.

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    If fashion designer Markus Lupfer is to be believed, trendy men everywhere will be breaking out polkadot kilts and sweaters with marching bugs on them this summer. I’m all for it. Looking ahead to AW2013 Markus predicts a more restrained selection of gentleman’s skirts paired with camouflage shirts, surfing mice and an agile crab. At least that’s what we’re taking away from this promo video from illustrating whizz Rose Blake and animator Andy Baker that features a colourful array of inquisitive animated wildlife interacting with a rather sombre pair of grey models. Look out for the mouse with the hosepipe tail, he’s a real mischief-maker…

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    Oh film photography, I love you so, with your grainy texture and unintentional light leaks. The work of Momomi, a photographer from Seoul, South Korea, really reflects the reasons for my adoration. Her dream like photographs are a delight to look at, and her use of shallow depth of field is also pretty great. My favourites have to be the sun leaking through the window to conceal the subject’s face, or the hand with the blurred, glistening water in the background. These are wonderful images that will make you feel a little warmer inside.

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    Self-taught artist, maker, sculptor, painter, knitter, crochet master, costume designer and installation-creator Sarah Applebaum makes brilliantly psychedelic, totally surreal 3D work for her own enjoyment and at the request of clients. Giant felt guns, neon yetis and voyeuristic eyes peering from trompe-l’œil holes in the floor all feature in Sarah’s brilliantly engaging portfolio. A resident of San Francisco there’s no denying that the incessant sunshine of The Golden State has come to bear on Sarah’s work; a welcome visual antidote to this period of incessant winter.

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    Looks like Christmas has come early! Well-dressed filmmakers and genii Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola have got their brains together and come up with an idea for a short film for Prada entitled Candy in celebration of the brand’s new perfume. Let’s just forget about the perfume for a minute and concentrate on what’s really important here: the creation of a Jules et Jim-inspired, Jacques Dutronc-soundtracked three-minute masterpiece.

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    Shailesh Chavda has taken it upon himself to scan in hundreds of matchbox covers. Fair play to him, they are pretty awesome. Coming from all over the globe, mainly Europe and Asia, they are an interesting insight into the packaging design of yesteryear and sometimes even propaganda. Handily organised in country of origin folders, be sure to check the whole set out as there are some absolute gems. Marvellous detail with eye-catching colour, these need to make a comeback.

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    There’s always something magically kitsch in eating somewhere that’s been transformed for your dining delight, be it old trains turned into diners, aeroplanes turned into bars or, now, old public lavatories turned into cafes. London’s The Attendant, in the heart of swanky Fitzrovia is a little underground toilet that has, for the last 50 years, remained unused and probably quite filthy. After two years of renovation it’s now a fine eatery, with the little toilet attendant’s office serving as a compact yet ample kitchen. Form an orderly queue, people!

  29. Opinion-list

    This week illustrator and visiting lecturer David Callow looks at why developing a style at university might not be as negative as it is sometimes seen. As ever you can add your thoughts using the discussion thread below.

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    The title of this article suggests that Siggi Odds’ work may be slightly weird, which some may think is a little harsh. But the weird thing about his consistently brilliant work is that it is not inspired by Iceland, the country where he currently resides, it is actually inspired by the native Canadian artwork of his childhood home in Vancouver.

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    The fine fellows at one of our favourite digital design agencies ustwo™ have always thrilled us with their willingness to mix client work with self-initiated projects that take their fancy. The latest fruits of their labours is rando, an app which they describe as “an experimental photo exchange platform for people who like photography.”

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    It’s a universal truth that everything sounds cooler in French, nest pas? The Art Directors Club? Ok. But Le Club des Directeurs Artistiques? Ooh la la. hey have recently given an award to the distinctly English-sounding Paris-based studio My Name Is for a fabulous project Who is John Doe? designed for the photographer Geoffroy de Boismenu. And you can see why; it’s a really tremendous looking publication – eye-catching, interesting and on-trend without any sense of trying too hard. Bravo mes amis, bravo!

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    Hey! What’s Kevin Cooley doing in these remote places with an emergency flare? Is he in trouble? No. In all seriousness, Take Refuge looks at our relationship with nature and how humans are constantly interfering with it. Kevin has disturbed (in a nice way) places like Oregon, Colorado, and the remote Arctic island Spitsbergen to create this beautiful series. A constant work-in-progress, he takes his camera to desolate locations, lights an emergency flare and creates these incredible contrasts between icy environments and the warm glow of the flare. Kevin said in an interview for Co.Design that flares “represent distress, yet remain comforting at the same time.”

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    Czech photographer Pavel Maria Smejkal is responsible for this arresting series of images that are completely familiar yet strikingly alien. Taking iconic photographs of moments that have shaped the course of human history (think Iwo Jima, Tiananmen Square and The Grassy Knoll) Pavel removes the human elements from them, leaving nothing but empty, haunting landscapes behind. They offer an eerily prosaic look at the geographical plainness of sites that have been imbued with such enormous importance.

  35. Vilnus-list

    Lithuania really isn’t a country we see a great deal of design work from; those guys just never seem to get in touch with us. But when they do the quality of work is pretty damn impressive, as with the latest offering from award-winning design studio New. Recently they were tasked with the job of creating a complete visual identity for new haute-cuisine dining destination Stebuklai, in Vilnius. Specialising in modern Baltic food, the venue required an identity that set it on a par with the very best of Europe’s culinary cities.

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    In a short excellently titled by Nowness as “a Quick-Witted Love Letter From Indie Hollywood’s Favorite Cousins” we see the legendary Roman Coppola and Jason Schwartzman discussing love in this day and age. Shot entirely on Vine we are treated with shots such as a cute Jason looking forlornly into the lens surrounded by bubbles, and a truly inspired shot of Roman doing some casual plumbing.

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    It’s that time again, when we at It’s Nice That blow your minds with our kind-of-lame lame, yet paradoxically pretty spectacular playlists. This month our theme is Journeys, which has inspired the studio to dredge 24 fantastic songs out of their memories for your listening pleasure.

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    Johan Rosenmunthe, who is responsible for one of our favourite projects in last year’s It’s Nice That Annual has got a new show on display at Oslo’s MELK gallery. In this mixed media exhibition, Johan displays his recent studies into rocks and the way we use them in our day-to-day lives. In Silent Counts Rosenmunthe “examines rocks as tactile objects through different instruments, angles and compositions. Stones are hard, brutal and dismissive, but also share an oddly romantic aura of transcendence and time. Stones are weight, surface, age, numbers. Organized and systematically he looks at them in a geological perspective, and applies to them a nostalgic, scientific and philosophical point of view.”

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    Fabian Oefner is an artist who likes to try different things. Last year we were wowed by his Millefiori project wherein he added watercolours to the magnetic solution ferrofluid with eye-poppingly gorgeous results. When Fabian got in touch with his latest series Black Hole we were obviously excited, and it didn’t disappoint. The idea behind his new work is simple enough – various shades of acrylic paint are dripped onto a metal rod which is then connected to a drill. When the drill is turned on, Fabian used a sensor to capture the effects just milliseconds after the rod began to rotate.

  40. Lund-list

    I’m not really interested in pictures of celebs – A-listers, Z-listers or otherwise – but I go completely weak at the knees for a well-groomed musician (they’re not real celebs) poised in front of the camera, ready for action. So witnessing the boys from Justice staring erotically against a wood-panelled backdrop, Florence Welch curtsying by an LA poolside and Snoop Dogg (now Lion) looking positively tearful in a darkened room is absolutely my cup of tea. And all these glorious images can be found in the portfolio of Holywood photographer Jeaneen Lund, alongside a pensively smoking Diplo, Daft Punk in the desert and our Adele working hard at cracking America. Awesome stuff!