It’s the Easter Bank Holiday weekend here in the UK, so we are out of the office for the next four days taking a breather and hopefully enjoying some great spring weather. To keep you entertained over the long weekend we have pulled together some of the highlights from the year so far. Below you can find the most read stories of the year to date, some films to watch, our favourite long-reads from 2017, our selection of music-related stories, and last, but by no means least, some of the weird, wonderful and NSFW articles that have appeared this year.
We will be back on Tuesday with more stories showcasing the best and most inspiring work from around the world.
Have a great weekend!
The It’s Nice That Team
Most Read 2017 (so far…)
A chat with the anonymous curator behind Scenic SimpsonsLucy Bourton —
There is an Instagram account that every Simpsons fan should immediately follow. Or even if you’re just a fan of satisfyingly illustrated interiors and landscapes, this account is for you too. Scenic Simpsons is the work of an anonymous curator, whose knowledge of the Springfield area is second to none. The individual behind the account gave It’s Nice That an insight to his findings below.
h3. How did Scenic Simpsons begin?
Eckhaus Latta SS17 campaign features real couples having sex shot by Heji Shin (NSFW)Owen Pritchard —
New York-based fashion label Eckhaus Latta has launched its SS17 campaign that features photographs of real couples having sex while wearing its latest designs. The campaign was shot by Heji Shin who, in 2011, gained recognition for photographing a German sex education book for teenagers. The casting, by Sam Muglia, sees real-life couples from a wide range of ethnicities and sexual orientations modelling for the series. The art direction by Eric Wren Office, design director of Art Forum , sees the most explicit parts of the images pixelated and the models bathed in natural light.
Bloomberg Businessweek designer and illustrator Steph Davidson’s portfolio of internet-inspired workRebecca Fulleylove —
Designer and illustrator Steph Davidson currently works at Bloomberg Businessweek creating visuals and designing layouts for the publication, which has pushed the boundaries of editorial design in the last few years. Steph’s portfolio is chock full of funny, clever illustrations, gifs and images, that play upon internet trends, current affairs and topical news stories. “My job is illustrating, designing feature layouts and commissioning illustrations, all of which are enjoyable,” says Steph.
A new national identity: Smörgåsbord Studio rebrands WalesOwen Pritchard —
Wales has been given a rebrand by Smörgåsbord Studio. The new identity eschews many of the tired and nostalgic cliches about the country to provide a contemporary and multifunctional brand for the Welsh Government. A new campaign, Year of Legends featuring actor Luke Evans, is bringing the message to new audiences and shows the nation as a place to visit, trade, invest and live.
World’s top universities for art and design announcedJenny Brewer —
The QS World University Rankings for 2017 have been announced, naming the UK’s Royal College of Art (pictured) as the top institution globally for art and design for the third year running. The rest of the top five comprises US-based colleges: MIT, Parsons, RISD and the Pratt Institute, with the University of the Arts London slipping from fifth to sixth place. Seven of the top ten are American, with only one outside the UK and US – in Milan – while the University of Oxford and Finland’s Aalto University just missed out, ranked at 11 and 13 respectively.
Japanese graphic designer Ryu Mieno creates type-heavy works fizzing with energyJenny Brewer —
Ryu Mieno is a Japanese graphic designer whose bold use of typography and lettering shows a confident flair for composition. Used together with illustration, heavy pattern and fluid shapes, the resulting works are fizzing with energy and bustle.
Graphic design gems: Chicago gang business cards from the 1970s and 80sLucy Bourton —
Years ago in Brandon Johnson’s suburban Chicago home he came across a keepsake box of his dad’s in the attic. “One object that caught my eye in particular was an aged business card that read ‘Royal Capri’s (Chicago)’ in red ink, and listed names: ‘Jester, Hooker, Cowboy, Sylvester, Lil Weasel’. It had stock graphics – a pair of dice and Playboy bunny logo – and in the top left corner the words ‘Compliments Of’.”
Why creative education for advertising is stuck in the dark agesCameron Temple —
Cameron Temple, executive creative director at international creative agency Stink Studios explains why he believes education for a creative career in advertising is out of date, and is narrowing our perspective.
David Uzochukwu: the 18-year-old photographer already shooting for NikeBryony Stone —
Over the last month, London dwellers will have been hard pushed to miss the distinctive work of photographer David Uzochukwu, whose images of FKA twigs, created in collaboration with the artist for Nike, have been pasted up on billboards around the capital and across the world. Working with Nike and twigs, David tells us, was “very exciting and challenging. I was running on an adrenaline high throughout the shooting days. The campaign was mainly scheduled around the motion aspect and I’d never been on a film set before, I was thriving off of the energy.”
Ten Meter Tower: Maximilian Van Aertryck and Axel Danielson’s tense film captures hesitant diversOwen Pritchard —
Ten Meter Tower, a short film created by Maximilian Van Aertryck and Axel Danielson captures the reaction of 67 hesitant members of the public as they prepare to jump off a ten-metre diving board for the first time. The 15-minute film, created in 2016, has appeared at film festivals all over the world and was recently shown at the Sundance Film Festival.
In chaos lies opportunity: designer Liam Hodges on leading a dystopian armyBryony Stone —
In the three years since Liam Hodges launched his debut collection, the Hackney-based designer has scaled his way to the top of London’s creative pile. With his flag waved by Lulu Kennedy, who welcomed Liam into the Fashion East fold back in SS14, and continued support from Man, Newgen and Woolmark, Liam Hodges has cherry-picked UK culture from far-flung villages and satellite towns and sewn it onto the bodies of a “polysyllabic” tribe of likely lads. Roadies, morris dancers, scouts, cockney market stall-holders, boy racers and pirate radio producers: no corner of British masculinity has gone unprobed. “It’s not blokey for the sake of being blokey,” he insists. “It’s a masculinity that’s a little bit fragile and dishevelled.”
The Ulm Model: a school and its pursuit of a critical design practiceBillie Muraben —
“My feeling is that the Bauhaus being conveniently located before the Second World War makes it safely historical,” says Dr. Peter Kapos. “Its objects have an antique character that is about as threatening as Arts and Crafts, whereas the problem with the Ulm School is that it’s too relevant. The questions raised about industrial design [still apply], and its project failed – its social project being particularly disappointing – which leaves awkward questions about where we are in the present.”
Artist Lubaina Himid on making visible the “invisible histories” of black artistsRebecca Fulleylove —
For Lubaina Himid making art has been a part of her life for as long as she can remember. “I’m not sure what I’d do if I wasn’t an artist. I’ve done a lot of things like working in art galleries as an exhibition officer, as a curator, and in the early days as a waitress – you know, all that stuff you do when you’re in your 20s while all the time making art,” she says.
A creative composite of illustration: ten years of Christoph Ruckhäberle’s LubokLucy Bourton —
“I always like it when things fall into place,” says Christoph Ruckhäberle, the founder, editor and curator of Lubok, a publication that doesn’t stick to the same rules as its contemporaries. Based in Leipzig and sporadically released, the highlight of each issue is the element of surprise. Lubok covers are always vividly patterned, giving no indication to the often monochrome content that resides within it. Issues also differ entirely in terms of contributors, theme, design and weight. Issue nine for instance is as thick as a dictionary, ten is as thin as a standard magazine. However, what you are guaranteed is a publication of mass illustrational delight imbedded with hope, chance and historical context.
The hope featured in each issue is a product of Christoph’s approach to collating the publication. Each double page spread of Lubok is a submission by a different creative given the same tool: a linoleum plate to cut into. His process is to send a plate to the creative, cross his fingers and wait for it to arrive back before going to print. The creatives Christoph commissions differ in numerous ways in order to “gather people from a large range of backgrounds,” he explains. “Each issue contains well-known creatives to the unknown, both the young and old, illustrators, painters, designers or even conceptual artists.” The consequent outcome is a narrative that writes itself. “It develops on its own. You never know what each person will cut into the lino in the end, it is always different to the one before. This is what makes it so interesting.”
Anxiety, speed and rave flyers: artist Mark Leckey on his iconic video "Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore"Bryony Stone —
Artist Mark Leckey is glued to the internet, watching the closing days of his largest solo exhibition unfold across the Atlantic. Mark Leckey: Containers and Their Drivers, taking place at MoMA PS1 until 5 March, is both Mark’s first major US show and the first retrospective of his work.
Physical improbabilities made real: the work of French artist Marguerite HumeauRebecca Fulleylove —
“I see myself as an explorer – I like to question something and then I will try to go as deep as I can,” artist Marguerite Humeau says. “The research for me becomes a bit more of a performance in itself. Not in the live sense of the word, but it becomes part of the story I’m telling. It’s a long journey I have to take before I can actually realise or produce a physical outcome.” Marguerite feels she has a responsibility to “create an experience that tackles issues we have to think about today”. Living and working in London, France-born Marguerite, who graduated from the RCA just five years ago, is unlike many artists in that rather than create works about herself and her own journey, she dabbles with complex narratives and poses the biggest “what ifs?” imaginable. Each project we’ve come to know Marguerite for has been more complex and grand than the last and her research is just as much an artistic and creative process itself.
Uncertain: a spellbinding documentary conflicting epic scenery and societal devastation in TexasJenny Brewer —
Cinematic and yet mesmerisingly subtle, documentary film Uncertain has the viewer completely enthralled from the opening shot. Filmed in the town of Uncertain, Texas, it opens with a view of an eerily still bayou with low light twinkling through trees, and Henry Lewis, one of the films three focal characters, steering his boat through the water. With his expressive face and an accent so incomprehensible that he requires subtitles, Henry – like the scenery – doesn’t seem real, but that’s part of what makes this documentary so bewitching.
Alan Resnick animates the adventures of his odd little character Johnny BubbleRebecca Fulleylove —
Visual artist and director Alan Resnick has created a series of bizarre animated shorts for online video platform Super Deluxe. Based in Baltimore, Alan has created the fictional character Johnny Bubble after Super Deluxe reached out for animation ideas. “He has lived a long and happy life with a beautiful family and has strong ties to the community,” says Alan. “I don’t know where the idea came from. The inspiration was more visual than narrative. I had ideas for material, colour, movement and tone and the details of the story filled themselves in as I was making it.”
Daniel Savage’s superbly executed animation about the late philosopher Marshall McLuhanRebecca Fulleylove —
“A producer from Al Jazeera had seen my short film Look-See – they were planning a series on animating essays about various philosophers so the timing was perfect,” explains Brooklyn-based Daniel Savage on getting the commission for the animated short. The broadcaster sent Daniel several scripts to choose from and the one about Canadian professor, philosopher and intellectual Marshall McLuhan spoke to him most. “[Al Jazeera] was pretty open about my approach, stating they wanted to clearly explain the message with smart unexpected moments and transitions,” says Daniel. “I pitched them the idea of using halftone patterns to abstractly represent content since the focus was the form.”
Lacey’s addictive film for Vogue Japan follows skater Hyojoo Ko through an architectural iconJenny Brewer —
When Korean longboarder Hyojoo Ko released an Instagram video early last year showing her expertly perform a choreographed skate through Han River Park in Seoul, it earned millions of views the world over. Now director Lacey has worked with production company Rita to create a fashion film for Vogue Japan starring Hyojoo, featuring some of the same moves but in an altogether more awesome environment.
Barbara Anastacio, the enviable director behind the lens of My ApartamentoLucy Bourton —
Barbara Anastacio is a name you may recognise in the opening credits to My Apartamento, an interiors series from Nowness. Barbara is the director with enviable access to some of the finest homes in the creative world, and the project is a calming conversational film between Barbara and the tenant of the home.
Director Nick Roney on taking The Lemon Twigs to his grandparents’ houseLucy Bourton —
Long Island musical sibling duo The Lemon Twigs has released a new video for I Wanna Prove To You. Directed by Los Angeles-based Nick Roney, the adorably comical video reflects both the band’s aesthetic and his own, creating a brilliant and honest narrative you’ll definitely watch to the end.
End of the Road festival line-up announced with claymation film by Joseph BrettJenny Brewer —
Velvetyne creates first open-source font between a type designer and bandLucy Bourton —
Velvetyne Type Foundry has created the first open-source font made between a type designer and a band. Velvetyne’s co-founder Jérémy Landes has created two typefaces to coincide with Frànçois & the Atlas Mountains’ new album, Solide Mirage.
Brick Magazine launches issue three with a redesign by CatalogueOwen Pritchard —
Issue Three of Brick magazine launches for pre-order today having undergone a redesign by Catalogue Studio. The magazine is being released with three covers featuring Lil Yachty (shot by Samuel Bradley), Kehlani and Giggs. Inside, there are features on photographer Jonathan Mannion’s New York archive, a road trip with Denzel Curry in New Zealand, a lesson in self confidence with Jay Boogie and a chat with RZA about his veganism. Repackaged with a punkier, more zine-y feel, we caught up with Hayley and Catalogue’s Oliver Shaw (both featured in It’s Nice That’s Ones To Watch 2016) to find out more.
Harry Pearce and Pentagram create a new identity for Pink Floyd’s record labelOwen Pritchard —
Pentagram has created a new identity for Pink Floyd Records. The project saw the team, led by partner Harry Pearce, take the original lettering from the Animals album and extend it into an entire alphabet. The first boxset, comprising a mighty 27-discs covering the early years of 1965 – 1972, from the band’s famous Bedford van.
The weird, wonderful and NSFW
Grotesque student animation shows us what can go wrong in a doctor’s waiting room (NSFW)Rebecca Fulleylove —
A group of students from the The Animation Workshop of VIA University College in Denmark have created this brilliantly grotesque animation that takes place in a doctor’s waiting room. Titled Cream, the short is a graduation film from director Lena Ólafsdóttir and animators Stina Willadsen, Kristian Olesen, Jonas Scott Di Hu and Marie Erkisen
Kirsten Lepore’s creepy clay character is oddly soothing in this brilliant animationRebecca Fulleylove —
LA-based director and animator Kirsten Lepore has created an unnerving, creepy little animation called Hi Stranger. Using stop motion animation, Kirsten’s odd, nude character delivers an unusual pep talk straight to camera. “I’d never seen a stop-motion character speak directly to an audience, so I wanted to create a really intimate space for pillow talk between character and viewer,” explains Kirsten. “Also I pulled inspiration from meditation, mindfulness, ASMR, gender fluidity, spirituality and fat-bottomed girls.”
Doppelglanders: 3D animator Julian Glander interviews his name twinRebecca Fulleylove —
3D animator and illustrator Julian Glander has epitomised the notion of collaboration in his new project Doppelglanders, which sees him track down another Julian Glander through Facebook and then create a series of works with his internet twin. Julian has used the other Julian’s landscape photographs as a backdrop for his blobby, pastel characters, creating new scenes and narratives. The project is a humorous nod to the pair’s creative beginnings and explores themes such as twins, doppelgängers, doubles and parallel lives.
Manabu Himeda’s trippy animation takes us on a colourful car rideRebecca Fulleylove —
Japanese animator and singer-songwriter Manabu Himeda’s latest short is an upbeat, brightly coloured jaunt through town. The animation tells the story of a man who takes his family on drive in a big car. Things go awry though when he drives so fast that his family and friends blow away, as do his clothes and body hair.
Looking back at the work of bum-obsessed photorealist John Kacere (NSFW)Bryony Stone —
It’s an adage straight out the Steve Jobs school of life: choose a job you love and you’ll never do a day’s work in your life. The late American artist John Kacere, reluctant grandfather of photorealism, did just that. Shifting from abstract expressionism towards a photorealistic style in the early 60s, John spent the last thirty years of his life painting the only thing that interested him: the mid-section of the female body. The kitsch paintings make for pleasurable viewing, not least for the sexually-charged subject matter. John’s incredibly tuned hyperreal style lends itself to the flawless skin of the idealised Caucasian bodies he paints as well as it does to the slippery silk and satin folds of lingerie and bedsheets. As the curve of each woman’s hips builds a terrain across each canvas, the scantily-clad female form becomes a landscape of sexual possibility.