Archive

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    Last night’s Nicer Tuesdays supported by Park Communications was an exhilarating joy-ride into galaxies far, far away with four speakers talking us through their space-inspired projects.

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    Ryo Kuwabara is a master colour coordinator and a geometric genius: scrolling through his Tumblr page, it’s kind of unbelievable when you realise that he has designed every single one of the decorative, eye-popping posters in the spectacular online portfolio. His work is space age but also early computer age, composed out of highly artificial patterns and rounded shapes that contain just a hint of Keith Haring. I’m not entirely sure what the posters are for, as the only English words that I can decipher are “Circuit Disarray” and “Blink” and “Symphony of the form,” but I do think that all of these words are very evocative of Ryo’s fantastically playful designs.

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    Andy Warhol once said that “My idea of a good picture is one that’s in focus and of a famous person.” The legendary Australian photographer Rennie Ellis’s Famous and Infamous series is both in focus AND features famous faces, but the series is more than just a collection of good pictures: it’s a collection of great ones.

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    Takeru Toyokura’s work contains something of a sentimental hark back to the days of yore, when we spent hours happily sticking felt shapes to fuzzy boards and coming up with nothing that can really be labelled an actual composition. He’s ever so slightly more skilled, however, and by ever so slightly we mean his paper and felt recreations are nothing short of miraculous.

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    It’s been over three years since we featured any of Jack Teagle’s work on the site – which is nuts really as he’s been so prolific for the duration of that time. The South Western illustrator and ex-Falmouth student is still producing the kind of balls-out crazy work we’ve always loved him for, taking universal pop culture references from his (and our) 1990s childhood and turning them into fantastically fun comics and illustration. When he’s not doing that he’s creating his own characters: troubled wrestlers, a pestering Grim Reaper, steroidal ducks who want to change your life and armies of reanimated skeleton warriors. In fact I’m prepared to concede that Jack loved Thudercats even more than I did as a child, as he’s spent his entire career to date replicating that same feeling of excitement that saturday morning cartoons engendered in us all.

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    Jason Nocito was a teenage rebel who failed all his classes at school. Fast forward X-amount of years later he’s a bonafide photographer who is probably near the top of most amateur photographers’ inspiration lists. His photos are pure, unadulterated fun mixed in with a healthy dose of appreciation for the world’s bottomless beauty. Whether he’s pointing his lens at some sexy lips (I think those are Azealia Banks’ lips) or some gangly, freckled teenager, every shot Jason produces has got a raw weirdness and silliness to it that I just think are the most attractive traits ever when it comes to the medium. There’s a really good interview with him over here on HUH that tells you all about his road trip with Tim Barber, the time he met his wife, and his dick. After you’ve read that just go and browse his back-catalogue – it’ll probably be the best thing you do today.

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    We first posted about Rosa Rendl’s photography last year and with the shining report we gave back then it seems appropriate to revisit her work now that she’s holding her first solo exhibition, entitled HOW ALIVE ARE YOU, in Vienna. The exhibition “deals with notions of loneliness and the creeping feeling of emptiness disguised by online hyper-socialism and consumerism.” It’s a complex amalgamation of concepts, but one that’s dealt with neatly by Rosa’s photographs. A richly coloured, angular wooden background features a mobile phone, a packet of cigarettes and an advertising campaign for Jaguar cars in three different images, aligning the notion of consumerism with a sharp, polished finish and the sensuous colour palettes that seem to run throughout her portfolio.

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    Can you believe Mr Bingo has never done a Bookshelf for us? We’ve been posting about his work, reading his vulgar Tweets and laughing at his books for years and never thought to ask him. Well, maybe we did ask him and he said no – that sounds more like it. In between Tweeting at Alexa Chung, writing alarmingly insulting hate mail and illustrating for big companies, Bingo is a seemingly avid collector of weird-as-shit books. Are titles such as Dancing with Cats and Self Defence for Women up your street? Then read on dear friend…

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    One of my favourite columns in the New York Times, apart from all of the important news bits of course, is Modern Love. While I’ve only been able to read the ones they publish online, it’s still a fascinating glimmer into the absolute highs and desperate lows of love. The stories and the honesty within them are what make them so compelling and because love is so universal you can somehow connect with each author.

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    This advertising world descended on Cannes last week for the annual sun-kissed celebration of some of the best work created during the past 12 months. With multiple winners across the 16 categories you’d be forgiven for struggling to keep up with who won what, but the excellent official winners’ website is the best place to get acquainted with the big picture. Here we’ve picked out a few examples of winners that caught our eye; some bits we’d championed on the site before and some we came across for the first time via the Lions.

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    Whenever Tom Darracott and Carl Burgess join forces the results are spectacular. The two directors and digital specialists are experts at creating polished 3D-generated worlds that feel part computer game, part hyper-real dream – every element a slightly altered version of a recognisable, real-world object. Even when they’re advertising clothes the pair produce unconventional results that delight and disorientate your eyes with their effortless surrealism. Their latest campaign for Loft is no exception, showing the brand’s brightly coloured collection folding itself into a state of geometric order.

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    Harriet Lee-Merrion’s emotionally charged, complex and thoughtful work is absolutely breathtaking. Mostly rendered in black and white but with occasional flashes of pastel colours, Harriet’s compositions combine traditional Japanese influences with strikingly modern and dream-like imagery. We love her fine, delicate strokes, and the magnifying bubbles which subtly reveal complex emotional narratives. Harriet is part of the Beginning, Middle, End collective, a group of Falmouth-based illustrators who frequently publish a hand-bound publication of sparse narrative strips, which is well worth a look at. Harriet’s drawings are simply beautiful, and it is easy to get lost in the stories contained in her thoughtful, evocative lines.

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    Since 2001 Sebastian Cremers, Tania Prill and Alberto Vieceli have been working together in Zurich under the name Prill Vieceli Cremers, producing work for reputable cultural institutions, a selection of fine artists and working on personal projects ranging from the cute to the bizarre. With an approach to design that could easily be branded experimental they attack each project with an impressive vigour, tailoring their methodology to the project at hand – meaning their portfolio is loaded with fantastically diverse work.

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    The only real auction action we get exposed to regularly is top programmes like Bargain Hunt or Flog It! but recently the whole auction concept has started to be used in a way that removes our cliched expectations of a collection of people (eccentric oddballs) bidding on antiques (old stuff).

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    The news cycle is a curious thing, or maybe just wearyingly predictable. The story that dominates TV bulletins and newspaper headlines for days disappears barely mentioned once media managers decide we must be bored of it. It’s often left to photographers to persevere where the TV crews once stood, and so it is with the situation in Ukraine, where a turbulent few months have racked the country physically and emotionally.

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    This is GREAT! 2006 Brighton graduate Sarah Lippett has just finished her very first book, a touching portrait of her grandfather, Stanley Burndred. Rather than merely making a printed zine or graphic novel, Sarah has invested in creating a truly charming website through which you can navigate yourself around the details of Stan’s very interesting life. Old black and white photos and stories from the days of yore are 100% my bag, so this kind of thing is a total melt-fest for us nostalgic types – particularly in the section of the site that shows off Stan’s curiously brilliant artwork. I don’t know about you, but if my talented granddaughter makes a brilliant comic and rather epic project inspired by my boring old life, I’ll die a happy old lady indeed. Check out the rest of Sarah’s work over here on Crayonlegs.

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    “Turn and face the strange” – that’s how David Bowie advised we all deal with ch-ch-ch-changes and we think, as ever, Brixton’s favourite son was spot-on. It’s been more than two years since we last changed up itsnicethat.com and we felt the time was ripe for a refresh. The main change sees us move away from the content grid on the homepage back to a linear, blog-style format, a lay-out with which those of you familiar with our earliest iterations will be familiar. Hopefully this makes it slightly easier to browse the articles and work out what you’ve already seen on the site.

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    Say what you like about music videos, for me the most successful have to be two things: simple and cool. Sound easy? It’s not, but when you think of any fantastic music video that’s stuck in your mind for years afterwards, it’s usually both those things combined seamlessly to create something magic (see Michel Gondry’s famous Chemical Brothers video). Back in the present day, this video for Uumellmahaye (gesundheit!) by Lithuanian artist Manfredas ticks the boxes perfectly. Director Ruta Kiskyte assembled some enormous inflatable letters in a disused plaster dump in the middle of Lithuania and got a guy to take his clothes off. The question is, is the naked man going to pop the smoke-filled letters we see before us? Wait, what’s that in his hand? Is he? He’s not…Oh yes, he’s going to bloody pop the letters! Perfect.

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    Parties thrown to celebrate getting your first period aren’t really a thing, but if they were then uterus piñatas, “pin the pad on the period”, bobbing for ovaries and vagicians should be 100% obligatory. Created by the same absolute geniuses who dreamed up Camp Gyno last time around, Jamie T. McCelland and Pete Marquis, this brilliant advert for monthly sanitary care packages by Hello Flo is just as hilarious as the last one, but with more one-liners – see “your Grandpa is bobbing for ovaries like a champ!” – than you can shake a big, unadvertisable sanitary towel at. I’ll stop now for fear of ruining the fun, but this might be the best advert we’ve seen this year.

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    As well as making some of the wittiest comics and illustrations we’ve seen for a long time, R. Kikuo Johnson lives in New York and spends his time teaching young artists valuable lessons in editorial illustration at the design-world equivalent of Hogwarts, the Rhode Island School of Design. We were wondering for ages why that school churns out so many incredible graduates – and no we know! Like Ghost World crossed with some of Adrian Tomine’s work, R. Kikuo Johnson’s warm, clever illustration is appealing to pretty much anyone – which is probably why it appears in some of the most important magazines around. Oh, to be one of his students…

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    Absolute banger this week from London-based filmmaker and photographer Phoebe Arnstein. As well as spending her days taking rather uncompromisingly beautiful photographs of her loved-ones, Phoebe has spent the last few years as a professional camerawoman, operating enormous machinery and creating videos for the likes of Jamie Isaac, South London Ordnance and Gang Colours among others. She kindly took time out from behind a lens of some sort to tell us about her favourite ever music video, and it’s an absolutely summery, 90s corker. Here she is…

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    It’s a popular misconception that graphic design is practiced solely by tight-lipped Europeans in freshly-starched shirts who sit around planning white space on fresh pages – it’s an industry renowned for its neatness. But Hong Kong’s finest documenters of design trends Viction:ary have just released a new volume that proves quite the opposite; that there’s room in design for fast, loose, expressive graphics that speak of an energy no Swiss Modernist could possibly convey. Making A Splash brings together over 150 of these projects that utilise tactile media and fluid forms to create striking visuals that express a wilder side to design that we often fail to acknowledge.

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    As artist mediums go, paper cutting has its limits, right? Fine spindly branches supporting layers of luscious foliage for example might be a challenging one to recreate with scalpel and paper, for example, as might the rippling shadows that fall across swimming pools. Not so if you’re Lucy Williams. The London-based artist is redefining the nature of mixed media artwork with her absurdly detailed paper cuts. No line is too fine, no detail too small for her to recreate, and it’s precisely this unstoppable eye for detail that’s basically crowned her the queen of the method. Her penchant for mid-20th Century architecture and landscapes has taken her work across the world in exhibitions, and her awe-inspiring portfolio spanning no small number of years functions as a fantastic heap of evidence to explain why. Rub your eyes and gaze on in wonderment at these beauties.

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    I love how Ryan McGinley will just burst on to the scene with a bunch of new work every now and again to remind everyone of his utter greatness. As soon as you see the new shots you realise that while you’ve been peddling backwards at a nine-to-five, Ryan’s been photographing kids jumping into phosphorescence-filled bays, streaking wildly through prairies or lying in meadows of fluff given off by procreating trees. Some people call him a one-trick pony, sure, but it’s pretty obvious that they’re just jealous. At the moment, Ryan’s work is on show at the high-rise Galerie Perrotin in Hong Kong where it seems to hover, hundreds of storeys up, looking down over the city, so go check it out if you’re in the area.

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    I’ve been noticing a lot of really bad hats whenever I read through the Metro in the morning, specifically lots of terrible meshy and pokey headwear at Ascot. Looking through Dolly Faibyshev’s shots of the 146th Belmont Stakes in the US, I’ve come to the conclusion that American’s do their horse racing hats much better than we do. And instead of wearing silk pastel powdery gowns and sharp heels that get stuck in grass, the visitors at the Belmont Stakes go for chunky turquoise clogs and clownish bow ties and blazers, and they adorn themselves with novelty horse heads. The images look like what might happen at an Ascot-themed children’s party.

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    Ah Paris. Romantic, good-looking, delicious (just the food mind) and stylish. These sentiments are what we think of when dreaming about the City of Love and why not if the glove fits? Perpetuating this ideal is Paris-based Acmé Studio whose body of work is a cool collection of well-designed, well-considered and well, beautiful projects.

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    Video games have come on miles since the days of perching at the end of the sofa in our living room avidly clutching a Playstation control and racing Crash Bandicoot repeatedly down the same strip of the Great Wall of China. They’ve come on so far in fact that the kids of today don’t even need controls, apps, or to download any software. They don’t even need to be kids, for Pete’s sake!

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    There’s a simple, iconic power to the work of Magnus Voll Mathiassen whether he’s immortalising Krautrock legends Kraftwerk or sultry pop princess Rihanna with his trademark crisp lines. His reductive approach to image-making means he’s ideally suited to creating bold work for album covers, but to really appreciate his work it’s best to blow it up MASSSIVE. Which is more or less what he’s done for his new show Hybridio in Oslo, enlarging some of his most iconic work to the size of an actually human man so you can appreciate his skill up close. He’s also showing a selection of hand-drawn work and some incredible watercolours, thereby proving that there’s even more strings to his bow than we’d first thought.

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    Next up from our night of football-themed Nicer Tuesdays talks is Alice Devine, co-founder of blog The Illustrated Game. She explained how they learned about the “necessary immediacy” for satirical illustrations and showed how the work was boiled down “to one concept, with no need of an explanation” – Arsene Wenger in a weirdly massive Arsenal duffle coat for example. From the blog has grown a podcast, a Pick Me Up show and various publications amongst other projects; an inspiring example of the potential of finding a rich creative furrow to plough.

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    If I could, I’d don a sparkly, silver cape and a severe black bob wig while gazing into a crystal ball à la Mystic Meg to envision what all of you lot are going to get up to this weekend. I like to think I’d spot all manner of illicit affairs, summer solstice-inspired weirdness and wild, finger-forsaking parties.

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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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    The Royal College of Art’s graduation shows are now in full swing and unsurprisingly the reaction to Show RCA 2014 has been terrific. Continuing with our video portraits of some of those students taking part, here are some more insights into the projects and personalities of those whose work is currently on show across the Kensington and Battersea campuses. From a ceramicist and a sculptor to an animator and one of those graduating in the brand new Service Design course, meet these four talents and then make a date to get down to the shows during the next week or so.

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    For us, there is absolutely nothing better than a fantastically insightful, informative article accompanied by beautifully executed illustration or photography. This is why we, and most other magazine readers, enjoy The Gourmand so much – it is absolutely full of well-thought-out, intelligently considered combinations of curious text and image combinations. In their latest issue they asked prolific writer and chef Simon Hopkinson to delve into some of London’s oldest and most treasured butchers, bakers a food-peddlers – some no longer standing, some still going strong.

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    This morning at the It’s Nice That office we’ve been listening to Editor Liv Siddall’s “Dad Car Mixtape”’ which includes all the greats like U2 and B.B King and The Kinks. It therefore seems kind of like fate that we stumbled across Eilon Paz’s blog Dust & Grooves, an incredible archive of photographs and interviews with record collectors from around the world. The pictures are refreshingly natural and celebratory, and the collections documented are not too Dad-rock or nostalgic at all. Instead they’re unusual and surprising, kind of like Steve Buscemi’s immaculate collection in Ghost World.

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    Last weekend we spent an intermittently rainy Saturday traipsing up and down ELCAF’s rows of tables, laden with brightly coloured printed matter of all kinds. There were comics, zines, pots and prints, giant hardbacks printed by the thousand and tiny little editions of hand-made graphic novels, not to mention the talks by titans of the comics community like Jesse Moynihan, Seth and Chris Ware. For those of us who compulsively collect anything that pairs paper with ink it was an extremely satisfying day out so we thought we’d give you a quick (and limited) rundown of some of the great stuff on display.

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    Another week, another slightly delayed podcast. We think it’s worth the wait (as we would) and we promise to tighten up and do better from now on in providing your aural art and design treats on a Thursday again. But cast aside your judgements for a second and enjoy a slightly elongated pod in which we learn a little, laugh a lot and live life to the full (ok not the last one). As ever you can listen on the SoundCloud embed below or subscribe via iTunes here.

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    Imagine how great it would be if you could play a video game where you got to interact with all of the characters and settings from you favourite film. For Stars Wars fans, this isn’t too much of a problem, but as a Mean Girls fan, I’ve always felt that there was a big gap in the market. Well, finally this gaping hole has been filled by 8-Bit Cinema, who have just made a video imagining what Mean Girls would be like if it was an 8-Bit game. It’s even got that incredible pixelated music from the graphic adventure games that you used to play as a kid, with a hyperactive Nintendo version of Blondie’s One Way or Another coming on whenever something important happens.

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    If you’d listened hard enough a couple of weeks ago on May 23 you’d have heard a collective gasp sweep across Great Britain as the news spread that a fire had taken hold of the Charles Rennie Mackintosh building on Renfrew Street in Glasgow, a much-loved and iconic piece of Scottish architecture. A campaign has since been launched to restore the building to its former glory, but in the meantime, former alumni and students of the school have created the Mac Photographic Archive, a brilliantly interactive website allowing contributors to click freely around different parts of the building and to publish their own photographs of the interior.

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    You don’t get many portfolios as rich and as varied as Urs Fischer’s – his somewhat prolific sculptural work ranges from enormous rooms full of objects imprisoned in steel cubes, John Stezaker-esque collages and gargoyle-like characters that look straight out of Labyrinth. But you know, we’re It’s Nice That, so obviously we’re really into the paintings he did of people through history with hard boiled eggs masking their faces. Really though, these are incredibly beautiful pieces of work. Depending on how much you like eggs, they may or may not make you feel a bit nauseous. For me though, this is the best thing ever.

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    We’ve featured Jessica Backhaus’ images before and while this series Jesus and the Cherries isn’t one of her most recent projects being shot back in 2004, it still feels relevant in the type of work we’re seeing more and more of these days. The difference being is Jessica has been capturing people, objects and places in this style for more than a decade now so there’s a real authenticity to her work.