While our engorged festive appetites wind down for another year, January’s Things satiates a different kind of appetite, one of the creative kind. While illustrative calendars lead us into the new year, we also see well-designed books continuing to grace the independent publishing industry. Topics of artificial intelligence, as well as two football-related works, are retold through beautiful graphic design and as always, many thanks go out to the generous creatives that have sent in their work. If you would like to contribute to next month’s Things, please send your designs to this address.
Please! is a biannual fashion publication for “strong women who love phenomenal fashion and jewellery”. Founded in 2007, its latest three issues journeyed into our office with their satisfyingly thick, hardback covers and technicolour pages. Each issue has a designated theme such as “Girl Gang”, “Dazzling Paris” and “Bon Appétit”; there is one thing, however, that ties all three issues together: they all showcase bright and empowering images of young women who embrace fashion in highly stylised shoots. The magazine’s design complimentarily frames the sleek shoots as a vibrant mix of colour and pattern echo the attention-grabbing feel of this high fashion publication.
Nick Blakeman, Alex Brown and Craig Oldham: Glory Glory
Though it’s a few years old, we couldn’t not include Glory Glory in this month’s Things when it was recently sent to us. After somehow escaping our attention back when it was first published in 2013, the publication sees design interpretations of football chants in this marvellous compendium. Who writes them and how do they spread? Glory Glory pays tribute to a “unique cultural phenomenon”, visually interpreting some of the most ingrained melodic anthems into a pictorial design. With contributions from design giants such as Studio Dumbar, Wolff Olins, Pentagram, Experimental Jetset and Graphic Thought Facility, the book sees how tribal football chants can be typographically retold through 105 distinctive designs.
Helena Covell: Now the world moves with me
This Yorkshire-based illustrator brought a thrill to It’s Nice That through her charmingly bright and playful characters. Though the characters she depicts may look sweet, the bug-eyed beings grapple with mental health issues, largely told through the ghostlike protagonist that wonders through a pink mist of Risograph-printed textures. A cloud-like and linear being, the character may seem simply drawn, but the real skill in Helena’s practice lies in the subtle facial expressions that glare through the page, illustrated through a pair of eyes and circular nose.
Megan Doherty: Stoned in Melanchol
Megan Doherty, a Northern Irish photographer uses analogue techniques, including Polaroids, to document her native surroundings of Derry. In response to the “monotony and boredom of suburban living”, Megan depicts her reality through a cinematic lens. The images are populated with the photographer’s friends as well as strangers that freely interact and express themselves through a “myriad of identities they choose to adopt.” Through the partly staged scenes and evocative lighting, Megan aims to evoke a variety of sensory experiences: “the smell of cigarettes. The taste of kissing boys. And girls.”
Carol Rollo: Dodekatheon: 2019 calendar
The Milan-based illustrator Carol Rollo works across print, web and character design. She delivers workshops and custom illustrations for editorial pieces for the likes of Scoop and Lahar magazine. In her latest venture, the illustrator has produced a 2019 calendar around Greek mythology. The three-colour Risograph-printed calendar has been produced in an edition of 150 and each illustration focuses on the legend of a particular Greek god. The buzzing scenes detail complex storylines around the gods, and hidden gems within the hectic compositions reveal secrets into such narratives. Witty captions underline the punchline of each image, retelling the ancient myths for today. The calendar sees Carol reinvent the folklores of gods such as Aphrodite, Dionysus, Hermes, Apollo and Zeus (to name a few), in this colourful accompaniment to the new year.
Fix Football zine, Issue 01
Loud and proud Eastbourne Town Football Club supporters Alex Brown and David Bauckham have teamed up to create Fix Football zine. The first issue of the fanzine plays on type-heavy newspaper design, utilising the headline aesthetic to promote a forward-thinking attitude towards “the beautiful game”. With loud subheadings that blare out “Fans, Not Hooligans” and “Boycott The Betting Ads”, the publication focuses on the voice of the fans. In support of the dwindling democracy of the working class’ game, all-in-all, the zine asserts that “Football is for you and me, not for f*****g industry”.
Clog: Artificial Intelligence
This recently published book sees nearly 200 pages of crisp graphic design from Playlab Inc.’s founding designers Jeffrey Franklin and Archie Lee Coates IV. Along with the Brooklyn-based designer Luiza Dale, these three creatives act as editors and designers in a publication that explores how artificial intelligence has “already surpassed human capabilities” in some tasks and, resultantly, is a “ubiquitous, trusted part of our lives”. While the book’s written content is broad – from discussions around what is even defined as AI, to sociological speculation as to how AI will impact the human existence – the book’s design also reflects relevant themes of science-fiction. Fluorescent green pages punctuate the book and separate the various sections of the book through colour. Simultaneously, clear design unites the thematically broad stories, and philosophical thought experiments are peppered throughout the book among interviews and references to AI in popular culture.
Postcards from Penguin: One hundred book covers in one box
A staple of British design, Penguin book covers has made its way into the national psyche as a quintessential part of book design history. The story goes that in 1935, the publisher Allen Lane was looking for a good read to occupy his train journey from Exeter to London. When he failed to find anything satisfactory, he went on to found Penguin Books in 1967. Since then, Lane’s legacy of “good design is no more expensive than bad” has imprinted itself into every publication. From the fundamental classics to contemporary literature, these postcards record significant moments in the history of Penguin book covers. From Chauser and Rossetti, to J. G. Ballard and Roald Dahl, this comprehensive set marks the triumphs of Penguin book cover design; detailing the continuous success of the publishing house today.
Joni Majer: Daily Drawings
For the last few years, the Saarbrücken-based illustrator Joni Majer has been publishing her daily doodles in a tear-off calendar. Each day is assigned an individual drawing which peeks into the illustrator’s “twisted thoughts and ironic observations with a hint of philosophy.” The pocket-sized desk companion is full of surreal illustrations with dual meanings – anthropomorphised objects, recurring hints to phallic symbolism, along with numerous paraphernalia adorned with nipples, feature on the pages of this mini calendar that feels more like an insight into Joni’s sketchbooks.
About the Author
Jyni joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in August 2018 after graduating from The Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design degree. In March 2019 she became a staff writer and in June 2021, she was made associate editor.