Archive

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    Where can you find a giant bronze thumb, a chair made out of a female mannequin and a statue of a cowboy all in the same London location? That’s right, The Barbican! And it’s not a collection of weird, semi-fetishistic memorabilia, but an excellent exhibition of some of the most notable works to mark Pop Art’s takeover of the design scene in the latter half of the 20th Century.

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    At last! For those looking for more from fluffy felines, a publication to cater to you! We’ve had cat cafés, brides throwing cats instead of bouquets and cats doing funny/cute/weird things in every corner of the internet; assistant editor James even wrote an opinion piece debating whether cat blogs will one day represent the legacy of internet culture. So it’s probably high time we had a magazine about the people who love them, right?

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    We were intrigued after Carl Partridge popped into the studio the other week to drop off some of his wares for us to admire, and when we dug a little deeper and discovered all the cool stuff he gets up to we decided he’d warranted a proper introduction on the site.

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    I can only imagine that it must be quite daunting as a designer, to be confronted with the brief “design an identity for an event which brings together some of the most exciting creatives in one giant hot pot of ideas.” How can you represent diversity of all the different mediums participating in a way that’s clean and free of clutter? Presumably California-based studio Manual are the ones to go to when faced with such a problem, as the identity they’ve created for San Francisco Design Week 2013 is a fantastic example of how to go about it.

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    That’s right guys, we’re back! After a long summer break of lazing around in our underpants and getting part time work in our hometowns it’s back to university to get that creative whip cracking again. You guys are probably about three weeks in to the new academic year now so we thought we’d check in and see how you’ve been spending that time. It turned out you’d all been pretty busy creating some really rather impressive stuff that included some weird sculptures and some terrific photography. In the end though we had to pick three people to wear that crown of red plastic cups and here they are, our Students Of The Month!

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    I like a man who can stick two fingers up to the InDesign grid and whip up a photo of the Pope in sunglasses faster than you can say “spliff.” Jaime Zuverza is that man, and in between playing bass guitar for Bill Callahan, he spends his time creating some of the best posters I’ve ever laid my eyes upon. Drawing inspiration from the gross, the rebellious, the toothy and the gnarled, his no-holes-barred approach to making posters is so up my street it’s basically my house. Jaime very kindly agreed to answer some questions about his work. Onwards! Let him inspire the shit out you…

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    Following on from a review of our intern programme, this week’s Opinion piece spells out our new approach to junior positions at It’s Nice That and internships on our Jobsboard. As always you can join the debate below…

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    Last year was the 200th anniversary of the first publication of the Brothers Grimm fairytales and to mark the occasion FleaFolly Architects decided to do something very special. They ran a five week summer workshop on the outskirts of The Black Forest in Germany (archetypal Grimm territory) where a group of architects and designers envisaged a cityscape inspired by the iconic tales the brothers popularised. Grimm City is an astonishing combination of technical skill and fertile imagination – from churches to music halls, factories to The Golden Compound the joy of exploring this world is infinite.

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    At our creative symposium Here this summer, we were delighted to welcome Oscar Romagosa and Nicolás Méndez from Barcelona-based directorial collective CANADA. The duo gave us a run-down of some of their music videos for the likes of Justice and The Vaccines, before giving us on a meticulous insight into their creative process. Using their latest video for the Phoenix single Trying To be Cool the pair took the audience on the journey from initial phone calls with the band and early doodles right through to the rip-roaring finished product (which you can also see below).

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    I know there are no equations that you can follow to create a beautiful fashion editorial, but if you were to dig one out then the concept that Jasmine Deporta’s photoseries Orchid follows, in which you take several beautiful models, dress them in lovely vintage clothes and then send them running amok in a greenhouse full of orchids is undoubtedly bound for success. Her very beautiful photographs keep all of the grainy goodness that only film can capture and seem to fall somewhere between art and fashion photography. Very lovely indeed.

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    We’ve spoken about this before – in fact we sometimes think we go on about it too much – but the documentation of graphic design is often as important as the design itself when trying to communicate your practice through digital media. Witness the phenomenally documented portfolio of Amsterdam’s Main Studio. These guys not only produce some of the finest work going across print, digital and branding, for art, architecture and fashion clients, but their website is an exercise in polish and restraint. They never give you too much visual information, but what they do looks incredible and presents them as one of the foremost practitioners of their craft. Doubtless they’ve employed a terrific photographer to capture the images for them, but if you’re one of the best design studios around why not splash out on someone who’s equally good with their lens? Seems sensible to us…

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    Have you ever seen a stylist work alongside an estranged artist to collaborate on a pig-themed fashion feature? Well, if you picked up issue 5 of Hot and Cool magazine you will have done, as Alice Goddard and Sally Cruikshank collaborated together to make one of the most original mag features we’ve ever seen.

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    For October’s Nicer Tuesdays we welcomed four very different creative talents to Downstairs at Mother London to explore the world of satire. Each brought their unique perspective to bear on this long-standing source of creative inspiration.

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    Trust Devendra Banhart; beautiful melody-maker, artist, lover of Ana Kras and style icon to pop up with a game-changer of a video like this. Expertly shot, the story is of a young, black nun who escapes the confines of her convent and runs away to the big city where she becomes a glitzy, sexy television presenter. In between haunting imagery of her running through a monochrome forest in her habit, we are met with serene shots of her and Devendra dancing slowly side by side in a hypnotic, finger-clicking rhythm, the whites of their eyes boring into our own through our screens. This is how music videos should be: hypnotic, entrancing, stylish and perfectly in time with the music.

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    Whenever I write about illustrators who create perfectly repeating patterns and scenes I’m reminded about that book The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, about a woman who finds herself trapped in a bedroom papered with intricate floral patterns, and starts to believe she’s living in the jungle depicted on the walls.

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    Albert Elm was one of our Students Of The Month way back in March, having wowed us with his incredible eye for detail and canny ability to capture moments of intrigue that abate the mundanity of everyday life. What was most impressive about Albert’s work was how new to photography he was. Even among our plethora of talented students Albert’s work stood out immediately for it’s obvious skill. Now that a few months have passed he’s a tiny bit more experienced but his skill is no less impressive.

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    Fish and chips, beer and a jolly good laugh, beaches and great weather; all examples of things which are great on their own but BRILLIANT in combination. Add to that list photographer Jenny van Sommers and art director Rachel Thomas who wowed us earlier this year with their super project lampooning the over-the-top promises on the back of shampoo bottles. Now the pair are back with an excellent series for the Anya Hindmarch Autumn/Winter collection which captures the idea of obsession through our relationship with classic games like chess, dominoes and backgammon.

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    Last week we were thrilled to unveil the cover for The Annual 2013 and this week we are dialling that excitement up to 11 by giving you the first look inside its hallowed pages! The super-talented Commission Studio wanted to make sure this year’s book gave the brilliant work featured inside the flexibility to dazzle and delight readers and they’ve pulled it off in some style. Big, bold, colourful dividers introduce each month and the Commission guys have let the work lead their layouts, giving the whole thing a great visual rhythm. The Graduates 2013 is printed against a stark black background – a serious treatment for some serious young talents – and the exhibitions of the year are presented as big images of the shows themselves.

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    Some cultural figures are so entrenched in the public consciousness that other creatives shy away from making work that references them, unwilling or unable to cut through the baggage that inevitably comes with such individuals. Huge credit then to photographer Romain Sellier and stylist Vanessa Deutsch who created this really excellent series for i-D Online inspired by David Hockney. I like that the duo haven’t been too clever – eschewing some of the obvious connotations the artist evokes – but equally they’ve avoided the clumsy, the obvious and the pastiche. What you’re left with is a strong visual treatment that proves Romain and Vanessa are both creatives well worth keeping an eye on.

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    You know that little square in the middle of a viewfinder of a camera that subtly “suggests” that maybe you should “aim” your camera at “something?” Well the reason that’s there is that if you use it, you will end up with better photographic results (take note aimless iPhone photographers.) A good example of someone who uses this magic square is Sara Naim whose latest project Bhumi + Loga captures extraordinary humans, animals and top-knots trekking through rough and tropical terrain. The one thing they have in common is that they are all the centre of the photograph, making for a truly simple and beautiful series of travelling portraits indeed.

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    Kirsten Rothbart’s comic art is busy. Very busy. It’s almost overflowing in fact, full of memorabilia which is stereotypically connected with adolescent girls but which is here turned upside down and scattered around bedrooms in a colour palette of sickly pinks and purples that deliberately juxtaposes with Kirsten’s parental guidance subject matter.

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    It can take a lot for a student project to create a lasting impression, but graphic designer Guillem Casasús seems to know what he’s doing. In response to a university brief he created Power, a publication which focuses on the lack on information given by the government about wars over energy resources, claiming that the people in power, from political figures to oil companies, rarely reveal the real reason for the armed conflicts which continue to be fought.

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    You’ve probably already clocked that most “spooky” Hallowe’en content isn’t actually that creepy, but this new music video from Glass Animals properly made us shudder. Maybe it’s because it shows beautiful orchids and wild flowers bursting out of the bloody wounds of some men lying in a dark, autumnal forest. The whole video, directed by Rafael Bonilla Jr, has a superb, jerky, stop-motion aesthetic kind of reminiscent of the style you see in that old Radiohead video for There There, but creepier. Watch if you dare!

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    Director and animator Abbie Stephens came to our attention when she directed a spectacularly psychedelic, glam rock-inspired music video for the latest Temples single. She’s also made animations for Primal Scream and some spectacular short, personal films. Trained in design, Abbie has an eye for what looks just right, which perhaps is part of the reason why she’s been able to take some of the coolest photos of her book collection we’ve ever seen on this feature. Without further ado, here she is…

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    Manchester-based studio Modern Designers have recently updated their website – a simple, functional piece of interactive design that’s an absolute pleasure to use – and with it added an impressive array of new projects to their portfolio. There’s terrific work for the likes of outdoor apparel brand Hilly, urban gardening festival Dig The City, and luxury clothing brand Albam. But we keep coming back to their ongoing work with Manchester’s premier culture guide, Creative Tourist.

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    Nguan was born and raised in Singapore and studied film and video production in Illinois, which perhaps explains the curious freeze-frame-like stillness to his photographs. Singapore sees him capture the hazy atmosphere of the place he grew up in, with its seas of pastel apartment blocks and dreamlike landscapes interjected with children and adults alike caught in moment of reflection. The images are eerily washed out, like somebody has swept in and stolen all the colour along with the excitement, staying true to Nguan’s documentary-like records of places and atmospheres. The result is a series which is as enchanting as it is uncanny in its paralysis and tranquility.

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    When a book is described as “The enchainment of science fiction, supernatural effects, magical oriental rituals and mythological figures” and “somewhere between 19th century book illustration and persian miniatures, seen through the eyes of a contemporary,” you can almost guarantee it’s going to be an absolute banger. In this new Nieves publication by Edouard Baribeaud, whose sketchbooks we featured on the site a few weeks back, we travel to distant lands where the smokey mountains are made of speckles and the wild, natural environment is formed of a two colour risograph. What a dream. One for the Christmas list.

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    I’m going to level with you dear readers, I don’t really know what’s going on here; I just know that I like it. Murat Sayginer is a Czech-born, Istanbul-based artist whose work spans photography, graphics and digital animations such as this one. Ratio is weird, unsettling and dramatic with a level of technical finesse that is pretty astounding. There really isn’t much else we can suggest here apart from give it a proper watch, and try not to have nightmares…

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    It’s always interesting to see online editorial platforms trying new and interesting ways of presenting their content to make full use of the digital experience, and we’ve written before about Pitchfork’s particular penchant for impressive visual journeys. In a slightly different media space, The New York Times is also keenly exploring different ways of bringing articles to life in the multimedia age, with their Snow-fall piece on the Tunnel Creek avalanche often cited as one of the best examples.

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    Kuhl and Leyton are Brad Kuhl and Monique Leyton, two graduates from Miami who began collaborating while studying at Cornell University, Ithaca. Their fine art practice deals predominantly with illuminating the darker side of contemporary culture, creating pieces that act as a social commentary and a critique of capitalism. In this series, Elite Deviance, the pair explore the fraudulent crimes of the United States’ super-rich, creating a day-glo visual indictment of their extraordinary crimes.

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    David Lunch, I mean Lynch, is not necessarily renowned for being a connoisseur of pulses. These two short films paint a different picture of the man we more commonly associate with such spine-tingling, unique cinematic creations as Twin Peaks or Mulholland Drive. Whether it’s old age turning this man a bit soft, or just his love for “real, real, real tight little grains” getting the better of him, there’s no doubt that this is typically weird Lynch up to the tricks he knows best. How can someone make the process of boiling some water in a pan so downright menacing?

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    The 12-year relationship between Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg is one of the most well-documented in modern history, both through their musical collaborations, film projects and constant presence in the public eye. Though plenty of images of the couple have been published there’s a vast archive that have never been seen before. Taken by Jane’s brother Andrew, Jane and Serge. A Family Album brings together over 1,000 of his personal photographs of the couple and their young family spending time in cafés drawing pictures of each other, or at home playing with their rabbits. It’s a pretty grounding portrait of a couple who so often courted controversy and aroused public attention.

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    Illustrator Michael Kuo seems to thrive on the kind of wriggle-inducing awkwardness that other people flee from. His work focuses on the mean, the naughty and the downright uncomfortable; from a gang of despondent-seeming petty criminals, a scantilly-clad woman on a string of weird dates with a bald hairy-chested man and a series based on people who do odd things under the cover of darkness. Bold, bright and colourful in a way that seems to defy his subject matter, his illustration borders on comic art. Particularly charming are his Bad Type illustrations which see letters composed of uncomfortable looking and violently-inclined people. Here’s to Michael for providing a space in the illustration world for the rude, the dirty-minded and the slightly awkward.

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    We can’t tell you too much about the upcoming winter issue of Printed Pages but I can tantalise you with the news that last week myself and photographer Jasper Clarke headed to one of the city’s best galleries to speak to and take the portrait of a major cultural figure. Interested to know what Jasper gets up to when he’s not working with me, I asked him to step up for today’s A Week On Monday which he duly did…

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    There are few subjects I can scour my brain for that photographer James Day hasn’t turned his camera to; his portfolio boasts a massive amount of work of a quality which is seldom seen, and in that goldmine his portraits are among the best and weirdest bits of all. My favourite set is a collection of shots of the most handsome old gentlemen I’ve ever laid eyes on, suited and booted in their finest black tie and funeral gear. Complete with buttonholes and respectfully grief-stricken faces, the series has drama, sober style and a good dollop of eccentricity to boot.

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    Did you know that Elton pronounced backwards is “piano?” Well, now you did thanks to the guys over at Manchester animation studio Young. They’ve just released a charming and informative video teaching us all we need to know about lilac-spectacled ivory-tinkler Sir Elton John which we’ve been chuckling about to ourselves for the whole weekend. Why? Because this short animation is probably funnier than everything Elton John has ever done in his life. Mmmm, perhaps barring the time when he wore novelty piano-shaped glasses to sing heartfelt ballad Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word (not the Blue version). We cannot wait to see what this studio full of talented funny-men are going to come up with next in episode two of I Didn’t Know That.

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    Sophie specialises in that hard-to-spot part of visual communication where graphic design and illustration meet really good storytelling. Employing her French and Italian heritage to rich effect in her work, she has designed and illustrated publications about stories both family and travel-related, from On M’a Dit Que which looks family gossip and the tales passed down from one generation to the next to Fables Trans-Alpines which documents journeys. With careful use of illustrated emblems to increase the impact of her meaning both in brand identities and books, her work is deliberately understated and all the more lovely for it.

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    “Let me tell you, there are few things as satisfying as cutting a bunch of things out of heavy wood and painting them and dragging them around. It’s like being a shape lumberjack. I want to make a lot more of these until I am dead.” Yep, those are the words of one of our favourite illustrators Nathaniel Russell whose work has just made the leap from residing on paper to enormous pieces of wood. If you’re going to write a caption to go along with your project and it’s even half as good as what Nat said about these joyous new pieces of work, you’re on to something special. We hope you do keep it up ‘til you’re dead Nat, because this new work is wonderful.

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    Following on from It’s Nice That directors Will Hudson and Alex Bec’s recent sojourn to New York, here’s another batch of short, sharp audio interviews the guys recorded while they were out there. Posing the fundamental question “Why New York?”, these snippets give us an insight into how the city and its creative scene informs and inspires their work. So scroll down to hear wit and wisdom from the likes of Rafael Rozendaal, Timothy Saccenti, Willy Wong, Craig Ward and Ian Wright.

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    I was lucky enough to meet the irrepressible Cathy Olmedillas, founder of Anorak magazine at MagCulture’s Modern Magazine conference recently. The quarterly kids’ mag has gone from strength to strength ever since Cathy – formerly of The Face and Sleazenation – set it up seven years ago and it’s not hard to see why when you hear her passion for the title first-hand. She used her speech at The Modern Magazine to announce the launch of Teepee, a new title for teenagers, but as well as looking to the future, the Anorak team are also revelling in the past seven years of success with the publication of this brilliant behemoth of a book.