Archive

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    Who better to give us a mix than the man in charge of A&R at the legendary Warp Records? Embarrassingly I had to look up what A&R meant when Stephen told me that’s what he did. Turns out it stands for “artists and repertoire” which basically means that Stephen spends his time scouting new talent and overseeing their climb to fame like some sort of lovely, knowledgable father-figure with a good taste in music. Despite his busy schedule of sorting out what music we’re all going to listen to in the future, Stephen’s kindly put together a mix of Friday-themed music. Unsurprisingly it’s really good and very, very cool. Enjoy!

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    It’s been four whole years since we last posted about Paul Wackers, and four years is the same amount of time it takes to be conceived, gestate, be born, and learn to walk and talk, so it makes sense that he’s also created truckloads of new work in that time. I don’t know what the images are of, exactly; often collage, usually mixed media and occasionally reminiscent of a lovely interior complete with houseplants and bunting. The beauty of this work, though, is that you don’t need to know. Each piece makes perfect sense on its own, having achieved a playful kind of balance not entirely dissociated from, art, graphics or illustration. Cheers to you Paul!

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    Artist Marie Rosen’s brand of surrealism is a very specific one; her images seem to be sinister circumstances masquerading as hazy pastel-dominated images, delivered via the medium of delicate brushstrokes and strangely realistic-looking figures. Twins crop up a lot in the Belgian artist’s work, as do geometrically patterned carpets and tiles, rainbow-coloured horizons and legs without bodies, not to mention the odd bare mattress. If it all sounds a bit like something out of The Shining then I’m not doing justice though; the eery peculiarity here is balanced with an equal dose of sweet, in the form of marshmallow skies and a quiet, soft calm. Lovely stuff.

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    We really enjoyed this year’s Pick Me Up festival (as you can see from our glowing review) but others were not so convinced. Here Lawrence Zeegen, dean of design at the London College of Communications, argues that the graphic art world needs a wake-up call.

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    I’m an unashamed geek when it comes to journalism (my favourite Twitter feed is easily the Guardian Style Guide for goodness sake) so this new publication from The Times is right up my street. Byline is a quarterly magazine for the newspaper’s subscribers which provides “an exclusive insight into the news-gathering process.”

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    Unless you’re born a gifted arithmetician, maths tends not to be an awful lot of fun; those most opaque of school-taught subjects – trigonometry, calculus and algebra – all blend into one to create a giant, indelible knot of difficult questions and tricky excuses. This is where Spanish studio Tata&Friends come in. Specialising in art direction, brand identity and editorial work, they’ve illustrated a series of numbers from joined, jumping and moving parts, to make those tricky subjects that little bit easier. They even had the equally great Cuadro Post animate them to create playful, unmissable gifs.

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    Last night we dressed up to the nines for our fashion-themed Nicer Tuesdays supported by Park Communications. Our four speakers boasted a significant sartorial pedigree and gave us four very different perspectives on the fashion world.

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    German graphic designer Hagen Verleger produces all manner of beautiful print design for a roster of fashion and arts-based clients. He’s particularly adept at the creation of book covers and crisp typographic layout having studied at both the Muthesius Kunsthochschule and Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst, Leipzig. His reductive approach to design means that all his work exudes a refined simplicity with only rare additions of devices that feel purely ornamental – and it’s this skill that particularly distinguishes a recent personal project.

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    Annu Kilpelainen has long been providing the happy splodge of rainbow colour on our grey London lives, and the new work we trundled across on her site has us wondering if the inside of her brain isn’t entirely coloured in tropical brights and sumptuous neons. Her new work bears no small resemblance to a summer water fight, on your front drive, all dripping hair and hand-me-down cotton dungarees soaked to the skin, except these scenes have technicolour cars where your Dad’s old brown Volvo should be. As ever, we’re huge fans of her vivid style and we’ll be even more into it when the sun comes out. Finally.

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    It’s more than possible to lose whole afternoons in the weird and wonderful world of stock photography. Whether I am preparing a presentation or researching a magazine article, once you delve in it’s hard to break free; just one more abstract concept into Google Images to see what comes back.

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    People look better under coloured lights – think nightclubs or Icelandic people smiling beneath auroras – and that’s especially true when they’re prancing around with their naughty bits flailing around all over the place. Beautiful humans lit with rainbow colours and smoke is my idea of a perfect project, which is why Maciek Jasik is a surefire new favourite. His hazy portraits of men and women of all shapes and sizes careering around in a studio evoke a strange feeling in my gut that I haven’t had since I first discovered Ryan McGinley – as if Maciek’s discovered something about humans that we weren’t previously aware of but now we have to live with.

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    Us Brits are known for our sense of humour, but some things you just don’t mess with and our much-loved fried breakfast is one of them. So when photographer David Sykes and model maker Jessica Dance decided to pay homage to the artery-clogging national institution, they knew they had to get it right. Luckily for them (and us), they nailed it, thanks to the duo’s superb attention-to-detail.

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    There’s a reason why everyone stopped watching Pimp My Ride and that’s because the before-and-after process isn’t as effective when you’re making something look fundamentally worse. In this much more appealing makeover tale, director Laurie Lynch has taken a vehicle and transformed it into something inexplicably better, and used it the new video for I Wanna Feel by Second City.

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    I knew the Bookshelf of Present & Correct would be beautiful, but I was in no way prepared for this. Each of Neal’s books makes me so jealous that I’m working out a way to break into his house and raid his shelves for more beauties. From rare Ken Garland books to old publications dedicated to stitching typography, Neal’s got it all, and it’s beautifully photographed too. Wait a minute, who exactly is Neal? He told us in his own words.

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    I’ll happily throw my hands up in praise of a filmmaker who can flirt with controversy in order to create a truly clever piece of advertising, and Raf Reyntjens from content agency Caviar Brussels is one such director. Dvorak is an advert he made for B-Classic to encourage listeners to engage with classical music, specifically in this case Czech composer Antonin Dvorak’s 9th Symphony, which was composed 120 years ago.

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    Sagmeister & Walsh are not known for doing things the easy way, and their latest work for New York’s Jewish Museum is no exception. With a collection comprising 30,000 objects and a challenging mission to engage a broad inter-generational audience, the museum needed a new look and feel across print, physical and digital collateral that would reflect and enhance its modern role.

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    Like hyper-real paintings or 3D printed sculptures, it’s easy to hear the words “biro art” and feel like shrugging and wandering off to look at literally anything else instead. In this case, I think we can let it slide, as Kevin Lucbert has blown our presumptuous minds apart with his work this morning. That specific Bic colour of blue used in all of his work reminds you of exams or filling in forms, so when it’s used to portray doorways into parallel universes, suburban streets with a mystical glimmer or a white-robed being strolling through an enchanted nay dangerous forest, it’s something of a breath of fresh air. His ideas aside, Kevin is also a spectacular draughtsman with a diploma from the National School of Decorative Arts in Paris and in his spare time he “realises drawings for the French Press.” What a guy.

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    I’ve had Benjamin Swanson’s portfolio bookmarked for about nine months now and I like to check back in on him every once in a while to see how he’s getting on. The BA Photography student from Nottingham Trent University has consistently showed such promise that it feels like he’s constantly on the verge of producing something really extraordinary. Looking at the list of people he’s assisted (Sam Hofman, Michael Bodiam, Thomas Brown, Sarah Parker) it seemed obvious that when the time came, that stand-out project would be a still life shoot – and indeed it is.

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    Next up from our prank-themed Nicer Tuesdays is London based designer John King talking about the power and possibility of seemingly silly ideas. Josh began his talk by showing both good and horrendous examples of brands trying to piggyback on current news events before moving onto a prank he and his creative partner Andy Dawes played last year.

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    In the four years since we first featured him, Mitch Blunt has transformed from a fresh-faced graduate with a penchant for traditional print processes into an editorial illustration maven whose images are in demand by the most elite publishers of breaking news. This demand is the result of Mitch’s innate ability to tell complex and often politically charged stories with the simplest of imagery; analogising the current climate in Ukraine with a rowdy bear or transforming handcuffs into a pair of swimming goggles to accompany a story about an Olympic athlete’s fall from grace. Their universality means they’re always a welcome addition the the accompanying editorials, summarising succinctly what a journalist may take hundreds of words to communicate. Always a pleasure Mitch!

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    Josh McKenna (jshmck to his mates) is in his final year studying illustration at Falmouth where he’s become “A passionate screen-printer, competent in Photoshop and Illustrator,” taking inspiration from the "tropical way of life.” What this means is that Josh’s work is awash with pastel-shaded images of busty women sunning themselves by modernist poolsides and gentlemen in panama hats conducting shady business in angular rooms. Alongside the rich visuals there’s also a growing understanding of editorial imagery in Josh’s portfolio, something we’re excited to see him develop in the future.

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    Fantastic choice today from famed animator and Pick Me Up Select Julia Pott. Julia’s cute but informed work is known and enjoyed by many, particularly because it’s usually pretty hilarious, cute and touching all at once. Here she is telling us about why Jamie Thraves’ video for Radiohead’s Just is the best music video ever made. After you’ve checked this out, have a read of a great interview with Julia we did a few years back, it’s a real insight into her career as an animator.

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    Brooklyn-based illustrator and graphic designer Daniel Zender has something of a fixation upon things that go bump in the night; so much so that he has created an entire project devoted to them. Light Terrors is a series of images depicting dream-like states and the nightmares that accompany them, from losing teeth to drowning in a mysteriously water-filled bed and being melted by a spooky-looking witch. His bold, bright, graphic shapes may undermine the scariness of the characters featured but they sure are nice to look at, and his client list, which includes publications from Bloomberg Businessweek and the New York Times Book Review, proves that we aren’t the only ones who think so.

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    Life ain’t bad if you’re a freelance photographer as good as Thomas Prior, he just spent a few weeks roaming around Turkey and Greece taking shots of sun-drenched stairways, charcoal skies and craggy rock faces dotted with humans for travel magazine Afar. These are in no way your clichéd travel shots of old men clutching baguettes or stray cats asleep in rhododendron bushes – Thomas has managed to document fairly touristy places without making them look cheap or tacky at all. If anything he’s actually embraced the tourism and dwelt on it, mixing in images of souvenirs, tourist police and water-slides with honest shots revealing the true characteristics of the country’s landscapes and inhabitants.

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    It’s almost exactly a year since we last revelled in the brilliance of Swiss artist Zimoun who explores sound and movement through his ambitious installations. Seeing as his prodigious work-rate matches his creative talents, it was no great surprise to see that he’s populated his portfolio with a host of terrific new projects in just 11 months. Personally my pick of the bunch are the churning waves of plastic packaging chips for the Lugano art museum and the amazing sea of crinkled brown paper for the Orbital Garden in Bern, but everywhere you look there are intriguing studies in the physical forces which usually go unnoticed.

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    Paris-based graphic design studio Les Graphiquants has a very firm grip on typography. Made up of Romain Rachlin, Maxime Tétard, Cyril Taieb et François Dubois, the studio have created a whole series of flashy typefaces with equally flashy names from Athens and Berlin to Sofia, making graphic lines, bold curves and often monochromatic colour palettes their namesake. You can see a detailed breakdown of each typeface in their portfolio, where you can also view them implemented across identities from clients from the Pompidou Centre, Christian Dior and several biennales; a high-end list, no? They describe their practice as “abstract, poetic, and demanding” and “a fancy taken seriously… backed by a rigorous working methodology," which sounds pretty accurate to me. Revel below.

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    Interstate US Studio Public Library have just finished work on an app that we’re very excited about indeed. 5 Every Day is a web and mobile platform that presents a curated selection of five daily events, exhibitions, activities and venues to explore in Los Angeles. All the research is done by the band YACHT, so you know their recommendations will be fun. Each list only lasts for 24 hours and then is completely refreshed, meaning every selection is unique and you won’t ever repeat your day’s activities.

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    You know how eating a pile of fish and chips makes you feel like if someone pushed you over and you fell on a puddle you’d drown? Or how watching scary films makes you feel like you can’t go upstairs? Or gossiping behind someone’s back is really mean but really fun? Well, the Weekender is there to make you feel warm. Not nice warm, uneasy warm. The warm you feel when you run for the bus in a polyester turtleneck, or the warm you feel when you arrive on said bus and sit on a seat to find yourself asking “Is this heated?”

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    Cornish Ninja Tune singer songwriter Fink has kindly made us a Friday mix! If you know Fink’s music then you’re going to absolutely bloody love this, 12 tracks of his personal favourites to get you through this afternoon. It’s got everything: BB King, Paul Simon, Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, Joni Mitchell and more. He’s got a new single out called Hard Believer which you can listen to over here if you prefer his own music to his recommendations. Until next week!

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    Now I’m no mathematician, but surely the internet + the ancient craft of ceramics = slick pots with a rainbow fade. These are like online catnip to girls who are into Flight of the Conchords, zine fairs, and houseplants. Ceramicist Angel Oloshove is way, way ahead of the pottery game with these sherbert-coloured beauties she calls Little Creatures.

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    We’re unapologetic Wes Anderson fans here at It’s Nice That. We’re also very partial to an insight into the astonishing world of visual effects, particularly where big blockbusters are concerned – previously we’ve scraped our jaws off the floor after behind-the-scenes- glimpses at The Wolf of Wall Street and The Great Gatsby. So we knew from the off that this reel from Look FX showing their work on The Grand Budapest Hotel was going to be similar, but it’s still tremendously enjoyable.

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    We’re not sure why there is such an obsession with seeing everyday objects made alien and otherworldly in super close-up photography. It’s a recurring fascination for creatives too, and over the years we’ve come across various projects centred on weird and wonderful microscopic explorations.

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    Sure the branding for Daft Punk’s merchandise leans towards the more sexist types of adverts from the 70s, but boy is it done well. The tongue in cheek posters that look like something out of an old copy of LIFE magazine are promoting the French duo’s latest range of merchandise, which in itself is as cheesy as the ads.

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    Stationery Compositions is the favoured extra-curricular activity of much-loved online stationery store Present & Correct. It’s a blog dedicated entirely to the ingenious and aesthetically pleasing layouts that the creators stumble across when photographing their products, and you’d be surprised at just how lovely those patterns can be. Right angles and straight lines are their bread and butter, and there’s nary a mangled paperclip or a coffee-stained notebook in sight. If this doesn’t have you tidying up your desk sharpish, nothing will.

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    This week’s Things is brought to you from our glorious brand new studio! Not only does this mean that we now have far more places to put them, but we also have a new address, which is It’s Nice That, 21 Downham Road, London N1 5AA, so please be sure not to send any of your nice stuff to our old one!

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    We already praised Made Thought’s considered G . F Smith rebrand to the skies earlier this week but hot on the heels of the announcement we discovered this terrific book too. Throughout the overhaul of its look and feel, the paper company has been obsessed with promoting its story, justifiably proud of George Frederick Smith’s founding principles and the way they endure in a contemporary commercial climate.

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    As part of this year’s DesignMarch in Iceland, one of our favourite illustrators and designers, Siggi Odds, got together with a few collaborators to produce something 3D and tangible. He and Geir Ólafsson, Hrefna Sigurðardóttir and Þorleifur Gunnar Gíslason all work in a predominantly digital fashion, producing things that are transient and rarely made physical. To counter that they partnered with product designer Jón Helgi Hólmgeirsson, and working under the name Børk created a selection of bespoke quilts, printed with custom graphic imagery that’s evocative of Iceland’s landscapes and natural environments, borrowing elements from traditional mythology and folklore.

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    After a week-long hiatus while we moved studio, Studio Audience is back and wasting no time delivering some effervescent art and design chat to your lugholes. There was a slight delay getting the episode together as we wanted to get the news and views from graphics arts festival Pick Me Up but we think that’s for the best and we hope you agree. As ever you can listen using the SoundCloud embed below or you can subscribe via iTunes here

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    There are various figures whose names I recognise – who have seeped into the contemporary cultural consciousness for some reason or other – but who I know nothing about. Think Zsa Zsa Gabor, Imelda Marcos and Evel Knievel. The latter it turns out (thanks Wikipedia) was an American “daredevil, entertainer, and international icon” who shot to fame in the 1970s and 1980s.

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    I love Pick Me Up, especially the private view. Fine cheese, meats, booze and the best illustration and graphic arts you can hope for under one roof. In its fifth year the festival seems to have graduated from being a trade fair at which members of the public could by prints and knick knacks they wanted to hang in their kitchen, to being a place that celebrates the true craft of the world’s youngest and most talented artists.