We’ve got four days off! It’s the Easter Bank Holiday so we’ll be out of the studio, having a bit of rest and probably sheltering from the rain rather than walking around in the spring sunshine we’d hoped for. Even though we won’t be around to update you over the next few days, to keep you entertained we’ve chosen not only the most read articles from 2018 so far, but some of our personal favourites. From discipline-spanning long-reads to the finest graphic design, photography, illustration and animation, the team have hand-picked the articles we’re still thinking about months later for you to enjoy again.
We’ll be back on Tuesday (3 April) to continue to share the best creative stories from around the world.
Have a lovely weekend,
The It’s Nice That Team.
Most Read (so far…)
Lacoste swaps famous crocodile logo for ten endangered speciesDaphne Milner —
For the first time in the fashion brand’s history, Lacoste has changed its logo and replaced the famous crocodile with ten endangered species, all of which face imminent threat of extinction. The launch marks Save the Species, a three-year partnership between Lacoste and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to support and raise awareness for endangered animals. The IUCN has been a global authority on the status of the natural world for 70 years.
Netflix unveils Netflix Sans, a new custom typeface developed with Dalton MaagJenny Brewer —
Netflix has unveiled a new custom typeface to be used across the streaming platform’s brand identity, developed by the in-house design team in partnership with foundry Dalton Maag. According to Netflix brand design lead Noah Nathan, the move away from Gotham and to creating a bespoke font was driven by escalating costs and the ability to make the identity more “ownable”.
Paris Syndrome: photographer Francois Prost explores a replica city in ChinaBryony Stone —
“I will always remember the first time I went to Venice,” photographer François Prost remembers. “I was 23. I arrived there by train on my own, and as soon as I got out of the train station, I had this strange feeling of not knowing if what I saw was real or not. The same thing happened when I went to Rome, to India and to New York. Those places are such full of history, references and fantasy that when you go there for real, it kind of mess up things in your brain: you’re suddenly confronting the reality of the images you have seen. I later learned that this was called Stendhal Syndrome, and that it was a phenomenon happening a lot to Japanese tourists coming to Paris or Florence.”
Introducing It's Nice That's Ones to Watch 2018It's Nice That —
It’s Nice That’s Ones to Watch shines a light on 12 emerging talents who we think will conquer the creative world in 2018. From a global pool of creative talent, we have chosen our 2018 Ones To Watch for their ability to consistently produce inspiring and engaging work across a diverse range of disciplines. Each of our selections continually pushes the boundaries of what is possible with their creative output. Ones to Watch 2018 is supported by Uniqlo.
Aron Klein's captivating images of the Bulgarian demon chasersDaphne Milner —
“Kukeri is an ancient pagan ritual practiced annually across the Balkan mountain regions where local men wear carved wooden masks of beasts’ faces and hang heavy bells around their waists as they perform arcane dances,” says London-based photographer Aron Klein. The Kukeri Project is Aron’s magical and dreamlike series that consists of hypnotic images of large men in carnivalesque costumes, posing menacingly in the wintry Bulgarian mountains. These figures are intended to dispel evil spirits and protect their community from ill fortune. The project came about after Aron started working as a photographer for Meadows in the Mountains music festival in the Rhodope Mountain range between Bulgaria and Greece. “I’ve fallen madly in love with this forgotten corner of Europe with its tiny villages, steeped in ancient folklore and mysterious traditions,” he tells It’s Nice That.
Coca-Cola reveals custom typeface, TCCC Unity, inspired by its modernist heritageRuby Boddington —
Why Design Thinking is bullshitNatasha Jen —
For the fifth consecutive year, It’s Nice That has media partnered with Design Indaba. We will be delivering news, interviews and insight live and direct from each day of the three-day conference in Cape Town. The event will be live broadcast via simulcast to a number of South African cities allowing each presentation to resonate around the country.
The rebrand for Russia’s tourist board uses Suprematist geometry laid out as a mapJenny Brewer —
A team of five designers has created a new brand identity for Russia’s tourism board, using a logo that references the country’s cultural history and geography. Employing the aesthetics of Suprematism, an art movement coined by Russian artist Kasimir Malevich that featured abstract compositions of bold geometric shapes, the logo uses such shapes in the form of a map of Russia. An important, avant-garde era of Russian culture, not least thanks to its ties to the revolution, the design team says it used Suprematist techniques because – in its time – it “personified advanced thinking” in the country, and is still associated with Russia around the world.
“The crimson tide has turned”: PornHub tells women to “F Your Period” in its latest campaign (NSFW)Ruby Boddington —
In the latest instalment that sees the website tailoring more and more content towards women, PornHub has released a campaign about “the dirty deed” titled F Your Period. Launched last week, the campaign is inspired by studies showing that orgasms can help alleviate period pain.
Pee on this Ikea print ad, and if you’re pregnant, you get a crib half priceJenny Brewer —
Ikea is known for pushing the creative boundaries of advertising but this latest experiment literally takes the piss. The retailer has published a print advert in Swedish women’s magazine Amelia that acts as a pregnancy test, inviting readers to pee on the paper and, if the result reads positive, they’ll get a crib for half price.
“We need everyone to wake up.” Google’s Tea Uglow on intersectionality in the creative industriesTea Uglow —
Tea Uglow is the creative director at Google’s Creative Lab in Sydney. She works with both cultural and creative organisations across the globe exploring the space between technology and the arts and what can happen when they intersect. Her impressive output spans everything from responsive and reactive reading interfaces to immersive, 360-degree performances. She is also a transgender woman. To celebrate International Women’s Day, It’s Nice That got in touch with Tea to find out her opinions on representation and intersectionality within the creative industries.
“Eigg is magic”: Danny North's beautiful portrayal of an isolated, self-sufficient communityRuby Boddington —
On 12 June 1997, the Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust took control of the Isle of Eigg: one of the Small Isles, in the Scottish Inner Hebrides, seven miles off the west coast of Scotland. Under the previous landlord system, the Islanders suffered poor housing conditions, unemployment and a lack of adequate infrastructure. However, after its successful community buyout, structures were set up to make sure that the Islanders would always have an opportunity to be involved in decisions that affected their community and this year (2018) will mark the centenary of Eigg becoming completely self-sufficient and off the grid via three forms of renewable energy.
Why is there a lack of women in animation, and what can we do about it?Jenny Brewer —
Where are all the women? It’s a question that comes up time and time again in conversation with animators and animation studios alike. According to advocacy group Women in Animation, 60% of animation students in the US and Europe are women, but the drop off rate as they move into industry is staggering, with only 20%–40% of professional roles held by women. But why exactly is there a lack of females in animation, and more constructively, what is the industry doing about it? To find out, we spoke to a variety of important voices in the sector, from educators and leading animation studios to female animators themselves (they do exist) about their experiences, and what actions are being taken to redress the balance.
A chat with the Orwellian mastermind in charge of the UK town known as ScarfolkDaphne Milner —
Scarfolk is a quaint town in the north west of England. At first glance it appears perfectly ordinary. Neighbours chat to each other over hedges while children play in the quiet, suburban streets. Yet this provincial place has received a lot of media attention over the past five years. Rumours have surfaced claiming that the town has not progressed since 1979 and the local council’s poster production points to a community that is stuck in the 1970s. It’s Nice That decided to find out more about the local society and its notorious designs.
“I'm not a designer – I was just an activist”: how The Smiling Sun became one of history's most iconic logosRuby Boddington —
The Smiling Sun is well known across the world as the face of the anti-nuclear power movement. Worn as badges, stuck on lampposts or held aloft as flags its gleeful grin has become synonymous with the fight for a world powered by renewable energy. Despite its widespread popularity, the logo’s designer has remained largely aloof. It’s Nice That managed to track down The Smiling Sun’s creator, Anne Lund – now a university lecturer – to find out more about how it came to be and how she feels looking back on it, four decades later.
Ways of Seeing: Laurie Rowan fills FACT's architectural space with a troop of exploring charactersLucy Bourton —
It’s Nice That has teamed up with Canvas to make a triptych of films which peer inside the walls of three of Britain’s best-loved cultural institutions to turn all your expectations about art galleries upside down.
The year of the gif: Studio Feixen’s multitude of moving postersLucy Bourton —
During 2017 Swiss graphic designers Studio Feixen expanded its impressive portfolio even wider. The studio redesigned the widely read Swiss newspaper 20 Minuten for the day, it created a Hermés Christmas perfume campaign with ping-pong balls and diamonds, it made a digital music playing poster for cultural evening Oto Nové Swiss, and contributed to a campaign for trainer fanatics’ favourite day of the year, Air Max Day. Due to these landmark design achievements it’s safe to say the studio had a pretty brilliant year, one that was met with personal achievements too, and to celebrate they made an animation for each.
"Oddities, clumsiness and dogs": the mischievous output of designer Félicité LandrivonRuby Boddington —
“I don’t want my work to be fashionable, I just want it to travel time and still be relatable when I’m an old woman with Alzheimer’s… I’m really not into elitist design for designers,” explains Lyon-based graphic designer Félicité Landrivon. Having first encountered design (“although I had no clue what it was back then”) collecting xeroxed posters off the streets when finishing high school, Félicité first got a degree in humanities before officially studying graphic design at the age of 21.
Graphic designer Bryan Rivera references mistakes and imperfections in his portfolioRuby Boddington —
Born and bred in New York City, Bryan Rivera’s work is full of gritty energy, incorporating textural elements, manipulated imagery and decorative type all in a colour palette of dark tones and primary colours. For someone so early on in their career, Bryan has carved out a distinctive aesthetic and has worked on projects for Post Malone, Kanye West and Kim Kardashian.
Team Thursday's print work proves how implementing design rules can actually be funLucy Bourton —
Across Team Thursday’s work, the graphic design studio made up of the fab, fab designers Loes van Esch and Simone Trum, there are a couple of graphic elements you’re guaranteed. Whether it be a visual identity for a cultural event or an exhibition, its work is always colourful, typographically driven and to describe it simply, it’s just refreshingly fun.
Meet graphic designer Jonathan Isaacson and his hybrid portfolioLucy Bourton —
“I got into design kind of by accident,” explains London-based graphic designer Jonathan Isaacson. Despite studying illustration at Brighton, Jonathan admits he became far more inspired by the work his friends were producing across the discipline bridge in graphic design, an area which appeared like “it was as much about the idea as it was about the final outcome,” he tells It’s Nice That.
Photographer Cécile Baudier explores Costa Chica's Afro-Mexican communityDaphne Milner —
Photographer Cécile Baudier’s enchanting series Diaspora; Costa Chica captures the Afro-Mexican community living on the margins of society in southern Mexico’s Costa Chica. Her images are intriguing, graceful and expertly shot, but when Cécile was studying photography she didn’t receive the support you’d expect. “I was constantly told that my work was too aesthetic or too personal and that I should try to be more objective. I think that’s the worst advice I have ever received. If you know who you are, your work becomes a reflection of how you see the world. That is what will set you apart from the many great photographers out there,” Cécile tells It’s Nice That. Her distinguished photographs are an intimate representation of a group of people who have largely gone unnoticed.
Photographer Sam Gregg shoots the true face of NaplesLaura Snoad —
“See Naples and die,” Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe of Faust fame espoused in his book Italian Journey in 1786. Leaving behind his claustrophobic fame, his duties as Privy Councillor in the Duchy of Weimar and a long-term flirtation, Goethe, like many rich men of his day, travelled to Naples as part of a Grand Tour and found the city so beautiful, so opulent, that he knew that he would die without regret after visiting its shores. That and the fact that there was hella debauchery going on.
Photographer Dham Srifuengfung's endearingly fabulous shoot starring his childhood nannyLucy Bourton —
“My parents wanted me to be an architect, I always wanted to do fine art,” Dham Srifuengfung tells It’s Nice That. Dham, a Bangkok-born and now London-based photographer, obeyed his parents’ wishes for a while studying architecture at university before switching pathways to create his own route, completing a masters in cinematography and photography.
The legacy of late NYC street photographer Arlene GottfriedLaura Snoad —
Crouched in a Manhattan storage unit, curator Daniel Cooney was wading through 50 years of work by late New York photographer Arlene Gottfried. With so much material – enough for 18 shows, he imagines – the “huge responsibility and huge privilege” of putting on the first show since Gottfried’s passing in the summer of 2017 felt very real. “I would just close my eyes and say, ‘Arelene, I need your help.’ I just tried to tune in on a very personal level and think, who is Arlene? Who was she to me?”
Kim Jakobsen To's honest and impeccably stylish photographyDaphne Milner —
“I got interested in photography during my teenage years when I worked as a performance artist and DJ at various Norwegian goth and metal clubs. I would take pictures of my friends and the people I would meet,” photographer Kim Jakobsen To tells It’s Nice That. After completing a year of sociology and film-making at a Norwegian college, Kim enrolled in the Photography BA at UCA Farnham. There he studied under Anna Fox, Jason Evans and Gareth McConnel, all of which he says played an integral part in shaping his photographic language.
Illustration and Animation
Steve Smith's slick yet absurd animations induce uncomfortable laughs and ASMRRuby Boddington —
When someone states Home Depot and their dog (called Shoe) as inspirations for their work, you can pretty much guarantee that you’re in for a treat. With a portfolio packed full of intricately satisfying but often satirically witty short films, it only took one video for us to fall in love with the work of Los Angeles-based animator Steve Smith.
Grace Helmer's intricate paintings and sketchbook pages from a trip to Japan and TaiwanLucy Bourton —
Looking through illustrator Grace Helmer’s paintings from a trip to Japan and Taiwan made us envious for a number of reasons. Firstly and obviously, was the fact she spent time travelling around each country on what looks like a dream holiday. But more importantly and to the point, Grace’s documentation of her trip – sketchbooks full of train ticket stubs stuck next to delicate oil paintings – put our iPhone snaps and thumb-lensed disposable camera shots of holidays to shame.
Will Anderson’s Bafta-nominated animation Have Heart follows a gif stuck in an infinite loopJenny Brewer —
After earning a Bafta nomination and winning best short at the British Animation Awards, Will Anderson has released his film Have Heart in full online. It follows a beleaguered animated gif as he endures an existential crisis, stuck in a loop on the internet. Visually simple yet profoundly innovative, the animation comments on a world of infinite content and how we measure our own self worth via social media, all through the character arc of its protagonist, Duck.
"I observe people’s behaviour with curiosity": meet the people-watching illustrator Łukasz GolędzinowskiDaphne Milner —
Łukasz Golędzinowski is a Warsaw-based illustrator who depicts daily encounters through his vibrant images. “My illustrations show scenes of local life. The main goal of my works is to make people smile and to provoke a reflection. Everyone has their own interpretations so it’s not for me to say much more,” the artist tells It’s Nice That. His work exposes a beautifully optimistic attitude towards human relationships, materialised through the bold colours and fluid shapes in his illustrations of common people.
Stella Murphy's psychedelic and Viz-inspired illustrationsLucy Bourton —
Upon looking at Stella Murphy’s work with no context or background information, all starts to make sense when the London-based illustrator starts to name her influences. From artistic references like the Chicago Imagists, psychedelic underground print presses from the 70s, Oz magazine, Alan Aldridge’s work and quite rightly Viz magazine for its black comedy, the humour, colour palette and illustrated voice Stella has drawn out for herself is both recognisable and fresh.