December might be a time of festive joy and giving, but it’s also the month of unsigned Christmas cards, weird crackers and press releases disguised as Christmas gifts, so naturally we decided to eschew all of the above and bring you all the other brilliant stuff we got sent this month, with little or no relation to the 25th. It’s not that we’re Scrooges, we just really love handmade zines, independently published books, funny printed plates and build-your-own virtual reality players, so we’re channeling our festive spirit through that instead. Okay? Great! Enjoy.
TRIP Magazine: Issue #4
I was irresistibly drawn to TRIP Magazine partly because the large red £7.99 sticker on the cover made it looked like it belonged on the magazine shelf of a Woolworth’s branch back in the 90s, and I was duly rewarded for my nostalgia as soon as I’d picked it up. It’s a magazine of photography about youth culture, in all of its loud, brash, bright colours and angry, sulking and laughing faces, but it’s completely impossible not to succumb to the magazine’s charms.
Nathaniel Russell: Autobiography of a Plant
Illustrator and artist Nat Russell has a whole section on his website dedicated to fake books, so it seems about time that he made a real one. Autobiography of a Plant is, in fact, not the autobiography of a plant at all, but a blank journal with several different cover sleeves to deter nosy friends or little brothers from having a read. Clever! And funny! And so aesthetically pleasing! Anybody else wishing Every Night I Go Out Walking by the Light of the Moon was real?
Cruelty to Animals: A Handbook
French publishing house Les Requins Marteaux are responsible for a great deal of wonderful books, relatively few of which we can read, but happily they send them to us anyway because the pictures are GREAT. That said here’s one that’s actually in English, too. Cruelty to Animals: A Handbook might not be the perfect book for the animal lover in your life, more the weird uncle with a sense of humour so dry he has to rehydrate after every anecdote, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a slice of brilliance in its own right. Learn how to surf on crocodiles, sneak hand grenades into kangaroos’ pouches and feed a snake to itself inside.
BBY Magazine: Issue #1
The brainchild of Sara Andreasson and Josefine Hardstedt, BBY Magazine was thought up as a printed zine intended to reclaim the word “baby” as a feminist word, but brilliantly, as they explain, “the name is also a reference to Dirty Dancing, where Baby is a confident, strong female protagonist who will never ever find herself in a corner.” It’s a gem of a publication with contributions from the likes of Laura Callaghan, Annu Kilpeläinen, Hattie Stewart and Lynnie Zulu. A riot grrrl zine for a new generation.
Madara Krievina: Plate for the Cirulis Graphic Design Project
We don’t very often get sent ceramics and we lose an IKEA plate to the bin on a weekly basis, so you can imagine how chuffed we were when this one popped through the door. Designed by art director Madara Krievina as part of Cirulis Graphic Design Project, in which different creatives are asked to design a plate, this one sees her transpose her favourite printed medium onto porcelain. And it also leaves something nice for you to look at when you’ve finished your beans on toast.
Smartphone VR Viewer and Virtual Reality Beginner’s Guide
This strange cardboard contraption is a kind of phone holder that sits on your face, with a space allocated for your iPhone or Android, in order for you to watch video content in a hands-free virtual manner. It’s even accompanied by a special app which divides the videos into the ideal format. We tried to build it but had some trouble (five minutes might be a bit optimistic), so unfortunately you’re going to have to make do with these photographs of the box, and take our word for it that it looks very cool.
Christopher Nunn: Ukrainian Street Dogs
Christopher Nunn has spent months out in Ukraine working on a personal photography project, as we have already documented on the site, and Ukrainian Street Dogs is another branch of work that he made and decided was too good not to share. We’re inclined to agree. Featuring black and white photographs, it presents the turbulent reality of life there via the canines that prowl the country’s dangerous most streets. Subtle and hard-hitting.
River Thompson: Prints
Even in the midst of stacks of magazines filled with hundreds of images, River Thompson’s photographs seemed to stare up through the lot of them. They feature rural scenes and the weathered face of an old man staring out into the distance and are beautifully printed, achieving depth of tone and sharpness that most magazines can’t quite muster.
Amanda Berglund and Erik Kirtley: Rainy Days Zine
Another lovely example of a homemade zine for you here in the shape of Rainy Days, designed by Amanda Berglund and Erik Kirtley and composed of the consistent and basically infallible theme of what various illustrators get up to on wet weather days. Riso-printed at Peow! Studio it’s a nice little catalogue of some creatives to watch.
Nat Russell: Notebooks
The wily among you will notice that this is the second time Mr Nat Russell has popped up in this month’s Things, but when he keeps sending over so much good stuff what do you expect? These three little notebooks (waking, waiting and walking) are stamped with an illustration of his, and come with a nice little concertina illustration of who to do each of the three activities. Also, notice how everything he draws is packaged in such a way as to encourage other people to draw? Nice. You’re a good man Nat.
- Photographer Anne-Sophie Guillet’s stunning portraits challenge gender binaries
- For Jan Horcik, type design and graphic design cannot work without one another
- “Like a little factory making picture books”: The wondrous work of Marie Neurath
- What’s the purpose of prison? This series captures a horse rehabilitation programme in Arizona
- Tina Schwizgebel-Wang’s etchings are filled with detailed scenes of everyday life
- “I want to show that the world is actually very simple”: meet artist Hisami Tanaka
- New study claims to pinpoint the most creative time of day, down to the minute
- Singapore-based studio Swell explores the idea of the banished book
- "My little niece and my grandmother like the game equally": how Playables made the simply addictive Kids
- In being "open to possibilities" still life painter Duane Keiser paints the everyday joys of life
- What the cluck? KFC releases limited-edition bucket hat
- For Bizzarri-Rodriguez, book design “is everything except a science”