Things: belly buttons, football and an illustrated guide to photographing your own asshole

5 September 2017

As the summer begins to disappear and drift into a concept that seems only make-believe, September is a month full of confusion and uncertainty. But fear not, we have a great selection of post that came through our letterbox to clear the air and make you feel like everything will be ok. From insightful illustrations that show you the best ways to photograph your asshole, through to a 302 page book about space travel, a zine dedicated to belly buttons and a collection of life’s phrases that we got heavily wrong throughout most our life; it’s a varied selection to say the least. Here’s the best of September’s Things.

Cakeboy, Issue Four

The latest issue of Cakeboy magazine is jaw-droppingly excellent. Themed around ‘sexual agency’, each page is filled with dynamic graphics, artwork, text and photography that examines the balance between “soft and hard”, “limp and rarin’ to go”, and cleverly delves into ideas surrounding sex and sexuality. Explicit, raunchy, educational and full of love: editor Sean Santiago has crafted a fine specimen with contributors such as Douglas Cornwall III, Dustin Elliot, Theda Hammel, Charles Ludeke, Florian Joahn and many more. Inside the “table of cocktents”, you’ll find features such as 37 Affordable Summer Wedding Ideas You Can Go Fuck Yourself With, plus a well-defined illustrated guide to shooting your own asshole — “Bottoms up, indeed.”

The Genius of Football

Next up is a zine that explores ten of the greatest footballing legends through typography — a controversial topic, one that sparks debate, divides opinions through young and old. But in these pages are some of the most iconic players gracing the earth’s green carpet, all thanks to their pure natural ability to put foot to ball. “Whichever your preference for a top ten, it cannot be denied that the players in this book are worthy of the title ‘genius’ when it comes to the game of football”, says the magazine. Combined with characteristic typography that reflects the individual player, this is a publication for all you footy heads to wrap your boot around — whoever your top ten might be.

Finders Keepers Leaders

“Should there be a space race to mine asteroids?” asks this publication dedicated purely to space travel. What’s great about this hefty book is the attention to detail: expect to find a radio transmitted conversation in space, definitions of ‘Rare Earths’, ‘Nickel and ‘Platinum’, plus a graphically illustrated guide to the best-priced spaceship parts considerably marked with a five-star rating. A bold and retro typeface is scattered carefully across the pages, with black and white thematic designs that definitely transcends its readers into the outer depths of space. It’s a corker!

The Locomotive/Ideolo

With a blank design on the cover, as you open up this publication you’ll soon discover that it’s full of surprises. As one of the hardest publications to photograph — and to do it any justice whatsoever — the pages open up as a never-ending (sort of) illustrated poem of wagons sitting at a station. Designer Malgorzata Gurowska and journalist Joanna Ruszczyk created a graphic reinterpretation of one of the most famous Polish poems for children, The Locomotive by Julian Tuwim. Bringing forward political commentary, inequality and social justice, their version presents railway wagons “full of Jews, aggressive football fans, soldiers, gays and lesbians, animals, as well as inanimate objects”, and challenge ideas such as national identity, racism and anti-Semitism.

Somesuch Stories, Issue Three

The most recent issue of Somesuch Stories is centred around ideas of disorientation, orientation and reorientation. Exploring these themes through writing, 11 pieces in total, the mixture of essays and short stories offer up a beautiful and contemplative selection of content. As a hugely relevant topic, each piece stems “from palpable confusion following geopolitical upheavals, mixed with concerns about the unpredictability of our collective future”. Our particular favourite is a piece written by Josie Thaddeus-Johns titled In Search of Virtual Synaesthesia, and of course the section where the book’s text imposes a disjointing but fantastic 180 degree flip.

Zhang Liang (Ray)

We we’re delighted to receive a collection of posters from illustrator Zhang Liang — also known as Ray — that signify his classically bold, vibrant and well-executed cartoons we’ve all grown to love. “Kiss my Airs” is written across one of his extravagant character’s hats who, with a Nike Air Max for a face, dances profusely in, surprisingly, Nike Air Max’s. Another depicts a beaten moon, galavanting in space with a trainer imploding into his eye — he seems to like it though. A satirical mockery, for sure, but these acid-coloured illustrations are pieces of work that laugh in the face of those who take themselves too seriously, and probably those who wear Nike Air Max trainers.

Ink Zine, Issue One

As the first iteration of the quarterly zine, Ink, this publication aims to showcase the latest talent of Hugers. What’s Hugers, you ask? It’s “the work that we create when not at work, the personal pursuits that inform and inspire our professional ones. It’s not for a client, it’s not for the company. It’s for us”. Themed around ‘proof’, such as the “proof of concept, an evidence of effort, a starting point”, the newspaper-style zine features a lovely selection of creatives, such as Adam Stubbs, Alisha Western, Ana Vasquez, Donald Judo, Yisha Zhou and many others. Ink serves as a nice reminder to keep yourself busy doing the creative things you enjoy — which we think is a great ethos to stand by.

Ella Greatorex: Umbilicus and Things I Thought But Was Wrong

Firstly, here’s a pretty self-explanatory publication that revolves around the photographic display of belly buttons. Small ones, big ones, innie ones, outie ones and the ones that sit somewhere in-between. Hairy ones, bare ones — all kinds of belly buttons grace the papers of Umbilicus in every shape and colour. It’s quite revolting, but there’s also something quite fascinating about this one.

Things I Thought But Was Wrong is similar on levels of wit and charm, as it curates a collection of illustrations sat alongside those phrases, quotes and sayings that we got horrendously wrong (and didn’t know were wrong for an awkwardly long period of time). “I thought Jehova’s Witnesses had something to do with bread”, says Tom from London on the opening page. After forming a message thread and selectively picking the best, Ella’s “only prerequisite was that the submissions had to have been thought into adulthood… My favourite part of this dialogue was when people began responding to other people’s submissions — ‘What!? That isn’t true?’. This was perfectly delightful”.

Post Zine

Post is a new monthly zine by Hi Bye Studio that’s fittingly displayed on both sides of an A3 poster. Each month, the team will interview a different creative and include a free poster by said artist on the reverse. For their first issue, they’ve pleasantly introduced themselves: formed of Holly St Claire and Lily Kong, two recent graduates from Camberwell College of Arts, they both “wanted to form a collective that uses art and design to prompt debate, conversation and thought on the issues that are important to us”. With a simple and expressive illustration by Lily on the back, mixed with the zine’s bold, fractured graphics, this poster ticked all our boxes here in the office.

Double Dot Magazine, Issue Nine

The latest issue of Double Dot Magazine hasn’t disappointed; as each issue explores the cultural and creative relationship between sister cities, and where they part and collide, this issue brings forth Brussels and Moscow as the subjects in play. “The modern concept of Sister Cities, conceived after the Second World War in 1947, was intended to foster friendship and understanding between different cultures and between former foes as an act of peace and reconciliation, and to encourage trade and tourism,” writes the magazine. Teamed with clean and crafty design, spots galore and an abundance of artwork, photography and illustrations, everything in this publication reflects a well-executed display of the two locations at hand. One of our favourite comparisons is an illustrative series by Arina Shabanova, titled The Heart of Moscow, and Triumpth by Antoine Orand that illustrates Brussels.

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About the Author

Ayla Angelos

Ayla is a London-based freelance writer, editor and consultant specialising in art, photography, design and culture. After joining It’s Nice That in 2017 as editorial assistant, she was interim online editor in 2022/2023 and continues to work with us on a freelance basis. She has written for i-D, Dazed, AnOther, WePresent, Port, Elephant and more, and she is also the managing editor of design magazine Anima. 

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