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Regulars / Review of the Year 2017

La La Land or Moonlight: a recap of February 2017

Words:

Lucy Bourton

Although the shortest month of the year, February still managed to be packed with inevitably bad news stories, creative goodness, one terrible (but hilarious) awards ceremony announcement mistake, and the return of some TV gold in its short 28 days.

While Donald Trump still stole the show in most headlines with his proposed travel ban, liberals around the globe continued to stand up defiantly in protest. But elsewhere, the “Queen of Soul” Aretha Franklin revealed her plans for retirement following an astonishing 50-year career. While the singer was taking a break, another longstanding treasure, David Attenborough, presented a comeback: Blue Planet II was soon to grace our TV screens with his comforting narration. In other telly news, it was announced that British dating favourite, Blind Date was to be revamped and revived for all the lost singletons.

February also saw new, exciting ventures as Phillip Pullman unveiled his latest givings to the epic fantasy literature genre announcing The Book of Dust a trilogy based in London and Oxford. Other creative endeavours were also praised at the Oscars, but unfortunately one wrong winner was named by Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway. The infamous award reveal which announced La La Land as best picture when Barry Jenkin’s Moonlight had actually won was all anyone could talk about for days.

The return of an old musical friend

February saw the return of the Friday Mixtape, an old regular feature brought back to the site with a host of new DJs and a new identity courtesy of It’s Nice That’s art director, Ali Hanson.

The new Friday Mixtape allows a variation of creatives to take the reigns each week. One could be an illustrator picking tunes that keep them motivated, and the next week could be a band talking about their love of making the album artwork rather than the music they’re known for. Below, we pick three of our favourite Friday Mixtapes of the year so if you haven’t had the chance to listen yet, now’s the time to tune in.

Back in May, photographer and cultural curator Nina Manandhar put her talent for picking apart the best bits of modern culture to music videos. Her mixtape, a soundtrack to listen to while wandering around London, was made to coincide with her late event at the Museum of London, Our Streets, displaying how “generations have used the city streets as the backdrop to their audio visuals to make a cultural stamp”.

When we heard that It’s Nice That’s founder Will Hudson was going to be doing a talk with David Shrigley, we realised we now had an opportunity to convince (bug) the artist into doing something with us. A multi-faceted artist always, many know David has a keen taste for music and this mix of his latest record finds was a real treat.

In October, we got a very exciting email saying that John Carpenter, soundtrack and directing hero, had created us a mixtape. He didn’t answer any of our questions, because he’s 80 and can do what he likes, but his mix of Abba and The Beatles showed a softer side to the master of horror films and we loved every second.

You can catch up with all the Friday Mixtapes here.

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In the news…

Two days into February this year a news story landed in our inboxes that caused a stir like no other. David Hockney, national treasure and the friendliest artist, had redesigned the newspaper logo for controversial British tabloid, The Sun Although this was offering the nation the opportunity to take home their own Hockney, it meant you had to buy The Sun, so probably not worth the money really.

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Just a few days later another logo redesign had It’s Nice That’s design fiends in a frenzy. Raf Simons revealed a subtle redesign of the Calvin Klein logo ahead of launching his debut collections as creative director in Autumn 2017. Using a new typeface, closer spacing and capitalised lettering, the logo was created in collaboration with graphic design hero, Peter Saville and everyone had an opinion on it.

In February we unfortunately experienced the loss of renowned photographer Ren Hang whose work inspired, motivated and moved photographers and the artistic community alike. His work, and subsequent legacy will continue to voice the power of the medium.

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Ren Hang

Mrzyk & Moriceau are masters of illustrating and animating the captivatingly silly, so when they created Dick the Dog, a short promoting safe sex for MTV’s Staying Alive Foundation (below), the results were bonkers – with an important underlying message.

Elsewhere on the site…

Following on from the polarising win and the inauguration of Donald Trump that followed over in the states, Clay Hickson and Liana Jeggers launched The Smudge, a monthly newspaper which put something positive into a world of seemingly consistent doom and gloom. Launched in January 2017, we caught up with the pair in the swing of things around the publication of issue two in February.

At a time where “it seemed so important to spring into action,” the pair used their experience in publishing and commissioning to create each issue — “find the tools you know best and use the hell out of ‘em,” they say. The Smudge’s success since launching in Feb is down to the fact that its articles make politics approachable, including articles on how “recycling, eating local, or driving a car” all represent a political stance. “Each choice you make contributes to a stronger sense of your being, so we also want to offer advice or thoughts on how to be moving forward from here.”

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The Smudge: Issue One

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The Smudge: Issue Two

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The Smudge: Issue Three

We were also introduced to the photography of Trent Davis Bailey whose project, The North Fork in Colorado saw him return to the rural town two decades after staying there with family as a child. The softly lit images featured in the series were a hit with us and you too, for his tender observation of the rituals of the rural community.

On the other side of the photography spectrum, we had an exclusive look at Gavin Bond’s behind-the-scenes shots at the Bafta awards. Gavin regularly shoots portraits of the glamorous winners and his insight is great for a nose at “a rollercoaster of an evening”.

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Gavin Bond: Bafta 2017

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Gavin Bond: Bafta 2017

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Trent Davis Bailey: The North Fork

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Trent Davis Bailey: The North Fork

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Trent Davis Bailey: The North Fork

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Trent Davis Bailey: The North Fork

February also saw the release of one of our favourite music videos of the year for I Wanna Prove to You by The Lemon Twigs. To find out more, we had a chat with director Nick Roney on how an unscripted narrative also starring himself and his grandparents took over the shoot.

In February, Manchester’s Whitworth Art Gallery began a series of late night events in celebration of self-published artist books. One of its speakers, Craig Oldham, took to the stage to discuss his book, In Loving Memory of Work: A Visual Record of the UK Miner’s Strike 1984-1985. For those who missed it, Craig also wrote an astounding opinion piece on the power of creativity in a social movement, which feels more relevant than ever this year.

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Craig Oldham: In Loving Memory of Work, photograph by Colin Clews

This month also saw us receive one of our biggest and most high profile Bookshelf features, a collection of tomes chosen by The New Yorker’s design team. All members of the magazine’s creative team got involved, from photo editors to directors, in this very special edition.

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The New Yorker design team’s bookshelf

Long-form insights into creative working

Continuing on from January’s introduction of more regular features on the site, this month also saw us learn about the chameleon-like nature and design ethos of revered set designer, Gary Card. Shot by Elliot Kennedy the feature gives an insight to Gary’s multi-disciplinary approach to work, spanning illustration, art and sculpture.

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“It’s a great thing being a set designer: you’re constantly making new things, you’re constantly shifting. By our very nature we have to be chameleons to be able to apply a brand new set of skills to each job.”

– Gary Card

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February was very much the month of David Hockney also due to his show at Tate Britain. In order for kids to enjoy the joyous show as much as us adults did, Tate Publishing commissioned Rose Blake to create David Hockney: Meet the Artist an art activity book.

Described by the illustrator as her “dream project”, we caught up with Rose who gave us a detailed insight into the makings of the publication, even letting us into her screenshots of folders with some of the best Hockney references we’ve seen. From his lime green suits and studio set up, to ciggies and sausage dogs, the feature is a treat for any Hockney fan.

“I did a shitload of research! I read lots of Hockney literature and interviews, listened to as many radio interviews as I could find, watched documentaries, and looked at a lot of his paintings.”

– Rose Blake

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Supported by Google

Google is proud to support It’s Nice That in championing a broad and inclusive creative community with its annual Review of the Year. We believe that design is critical to building great products and experiences, and we’re committed to fostering best-in-class results with efforts like Material Design, a unified system combining theory, resources, and tools to help designers and engineers craft beautiful, digital experiences, as well as through our cooperative efforts at Google Design.

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