The Easter weekend here in the UK has given us at It’s Nice That the chance to put our feet up for a few days, but we still want to provide you with your regular dose of creative ideas and inspiration. So we’ve decided to pull together some highlights from the year so far, including a handful of the most popular articles of 2019 and a few of the team’s favourites as well. From an in-depth study of the benefits of boredom (worth reading if you’re heading out of town to visit the family this weekend) to a story about Michael Bierut’s fresh identity for Mastercard, we’ve got all angles covered. There are even a few alpacas thrown in for good measure, courtesy of photographer Daniel Gebhart de Koekkoek. Check out all this and more below.
We’ll be back in a couple of days with more stories showcasing the best and most inspiring creative work from around the world.
Until then, have a great weekend,
The It’s Nice That team
Our favourite articles of the year (so far…)
In praise of doing nothing: How to turn boredom into brilliant ideasKate Hollowood —
Think back to when you were a child. Filling up the empty days when you weren’t at school was easy, whether drawing on walls, acting out plays or den-making was your thing. Since those simpler times, scientists have proven the link between boredom and creativity. When we’re not interested in what we’re doing, we create new ways to occupy our minds.
Apple, Adidas and Netflix logos get Bauhaus makeover to celebrate the school's centenaryLaura Snoad —
A group of international designers have redesigned famous logos in the style of the Bauhaus to celebrate 100 years of the influential art school. Identities for Apple, Adidas, Burger King, BBC and Netflix have each been given the Bauhaus treatment following a competition set by creative platform 99designs.
Photographer Ryan Duffin embraces the quirks of his subjects and the outtakes of lifeRuby Boddington —
Originally from Canada but now based in New York City, Ryan Duffin captures the world, the things he interested in, the objects or places he loves as still images. His photographs are nuanced and humorous, embracing the quirks of his subjects and the outtakes of life, elevating those he documents to “make them look like pop stars, even if they aren’t already”.
“Allowing a modern audience to see Helvetica for the first time”: Charles Nix talks us through the newly released Helvetica NowJyni Ong —
“For people who appreciate Helvetica on a deep level, the why around Helvetica Now is a no-brainer,” says Charles Nix, type director of Monotype and lead designer on the new typeface Helvetica Now. “It was always a question of when.” Released today, the typeface updates the classic Helvetica, first developed in 1957, for today’s users. Long cemented as the “most famous and widely used typeface in all of typographic history”, it has now been over 35 years since Helvetica’s last redesign in 1982. In this time, concerns have been raised regarding its inability to perform well at technological heights.
Introducing It's Nice That's Ones to Watch 2019It'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 the coming year. Our selection for 2019 has been chosen from a global pool of creative talent for their ability to consistently produce inspiring and engaging work across a diverse range of disciplines. Whether in photography, art or graphic design, each of our selections continually pushes the boundaries of what is possible with their creative output. Ones to Watch 2019 is supported by Uniqlo.
“For the new generasian”: a look back on long lost design treasure, Yolk magazineJyni Ong —
In the first half of the 1990s, before the term “cultural appropriation” was a widely understood concept, a group of 20-something Asian Americans were seeking to improve their visibility. Gathering together in Los Angeles’ media capital with two Macintosh LC’s (those old solid beige blocks of computers,) and an edition of QuarkXPress (otherwise known as InDesign’s great-great-grandma), a magazine priding itself on expressing unheard stories from the East and South-East Asian diaspora in the US was formed. That magazine, was Yolk. A one of a kind title in its celebration of Asian and Asian American identity, Yolk ran from 1994 to 2003. Since then, not a single publication has come close to rivalling its mantel for championing people of Asian descent. It was innovative in its art direction, experimental layouts and not to mention its original content. It featured interviews with highly visible film directors such as Ang Lee, to features on lesser-known creatives like Pedro Flores, the inventor of the Yo-yo. Yolk created a platform not only for Asian faces but for wide spanning editorial storytelling and cutting-edge graphic design, highlighting ten years of Asian creativity during a period of very little non-white representation in the mainstream media.
Celebrating International Women's Day 2019It's Nice That —
Over the past three years, we’ve taken the opportunity on International Women’s Day to devote It’s Nice That to the brilliant women who impact and inspire the creative industry. Each year the women we speak to span wholly different creative worlds. Whether they’re a photographer or an animator, someone who has worked in the industry for decades or a wide-eyed graduate, they represent the voices so often ignored but that we want to hear more from.
Alexandre Luu on his refreshingly refined animations and illustrationsDaniel Milroy Maher —
Growing up in Paris, illustrator Alexander Luu would obsessively copy artwork from mangas such as Dragon Ball and Akira, comics like Spider-Man and Uncle Scrooge, and work by painters like Pablo Picasso (his childhood drawings) and Georges de la Tour. Captivated by the finer elements, he says: “I think what I liked was the amount of detail that could be seen in their art. It fascinated me.”
McDonald's paints a blurry picture with an intriguing new campaignJosh Baines —
Here in the UK, fast food big boys McDonald’s has found itself in hot water, with Labour front-bench MP Tom Watson asking the chain to drop its longstanding annual Monopoly campaign, describing it as a “danger to public health”.
Samantha Cabrera Friend documents her time aboard a 1,188 ft-long quinceañera cruiseRuby Boddington —
Having first encountered working with the still image in the darkrooms of her high school, photographer and writer Samantha Cabrera Friend has since developed a practice dedicated to telling stories. Mainly working on long-term projects, the Chicago and New York-based creative focusses on “the cultural expectations of women and female youth in my community,” a topic which recently led her to board one of the largest cruise ships in the world to document the phenomenon of the quinceañera cruise.
The Final Fontier: Accept & Proceed on designing a typeface for NasaJosh Baines —
“We try to find the story, the human angle amongst all the data, in every brief that comes through the door,’’ says Matthew Jones, the creative director at London-based agency Accept & Proceed. “We’re constantly asking, how do we find the point of resonance? That’s what we build around. We want the work to go beyond the creative community.”
Daniel Gebhart de Koekkoek shows how your life could be better living with an alpacaLucy Bourton —
Daniel Gebhart de Koekkoek’s personal projects often see the photographer working in one of two ways. Sometimes he’ll gather up subjects and encourage them to act in an unfamiliar way. In another project he’ll turn this on its head, instead placing subjects in an unfamiliar environment. Either way, Daniel ensures those who come across his work will certainly look twice. He’s photographed cats hurtling through the air, for instance, and more recently herded alpacas into front rooms and walk-in showers, all in order to show how life (maybe) is Better Living With Alpacas.
Jenny Schweitzer's latest short is an uplifting account of life in an American retirement homeJosh Baines —
Those of you with a memory for such things will likely be able to recall the last piece of work by filmmaker Jenny Schweitzer we featured on It’s Nice That. Girls in Chess was, as the title suggests, an exploration of the gender gap in the world of competitive American scholastic chess. It was charming, funny, warm – the sort of short film you foist upon friends and family, knowing full well that they’ll love it as much as you did. Now turning her lens towards an open, honest, and at times hilarious account of life in a retirement home nestled on the shore of the Hudson River in the Bronx, New York. We’re almost certain that her latest project, The Blessings of Aging, will garner the same reaction.
Mastercard reveals new nameless logo courtesy of Michael BierutJosh Baines —
Big news in the world of personal banking: Mastercard has a new – and crucially nameless – logo, put together by Pentagram partner Michael Bierut.
Illustrator Manshen Lo’s ability to capture an atmosphere is second to noneRuby Boddington —
We’ve long admired the tranquil, delicate scenes illustrator Manshen Lo creates with just brushes and ink. So when we found out she’s stepped into the world of animation, we couldn’t wait to see how her quietly-powerful characters moved off the page.
Dinamo creates two new type tools for the benefit of the design communityJyni Ong —
If you’re interested in type design, then this is the article for you. The Swiss type-design agency Dinamo has just released two new type-design tools along with a new typeface, Whyte. While each design has an individual purpose, they all share the commonality of celebrating the variable font.Variable fonts surfaced in the mid-1990s during an ambitious revamp of the Macintosh graphics system. One variable font file contains all the weights, sizes and widths of a typeface meaning that users have access to a whole range of in-between fonts under the umbrella of one typeface. Though variable fonts went through a rise in popularity in the 90s, the early internet couldn’t support the font families the way it can today. With hyper-advancements in web development, studios like Dinamo are now able to experiment with variable fonts like never before, crafting new tools like the Dinamo Dark Room and the Dinamo Pipeline to fulfil their typographic curiosities.
A study of gender and colour over 14 years: JeongMee Yoon on The Pink and Blue ProjectJyni Ong —
Few colours come laden with as many associations as the colours pink and blue. Whether you think they denote femininity or masculinity, both or neither, it’s difficult to deny that these two colours are charged with gender politics. This is a subject that has continuously fascinated the Seoul-based artist JeongMee Yoon over the past 19 years. Since 2005, she’s been working on an ongoing photography series The Pink and Blue Project, which captures children and young people in their bedrooms surrounded by their hoards of pink and blue possessions.
“There is no value in change for change’s sake”: an exclusive look at Spin's update of Mubi’s visual languageLucy Bourton —
“I’ll tell you something,” says Efe Cakarel, the founder and CEO of Mubi as our conversation around Spin’s new visual language update to his company’s identity begins. “For me, the definition of a client is someone who, every time someone presents a piece of work, they say: ‘great, but can you make it a little worse,’” he continues, between laughing. “I try very hard not the be this person.” This attitude is one that has led Mubi’s subtle, but detailed visual update, unveiled today and designed by Spin.
Mothercare UK calls for new mums to be proud of their post-birth bodiesJyni Ong —
In the latest celebration of body positivity, Mothercare UK has launched its #BodyProudMums campaign in collaboration with the creative agency mcgarrybowen. While new mum’s tums are often airbrushed or photoshopped to resemble a body that has not just gone through nine months of pregnancy, Mothercare’s latest campaign sheds light on the wonderfully natural post-pregnancy body. Photographed by Sophie Mayanne, known for challenging the media’s unrealistic beauty standards through photography, the campaign sees the photographer turn her attention to capturing the blissful joy between mother and child.
“I've just always liked drawing people”: Haley Tippmann on her observational illustrationsRuby Boddington —
“The most exciting aspect of illustration, I think, is that there are so many different directions to take it,” states New York-born, Germany-based illustrator Haley Tippmann, “there are so many different perspectives and ways of drawing an idea or a feeling, that it feels limitless.” An observational drawer, Haley’s work sees her filling each frame with crowds of strangers, projecting narratives onto their mundane interactions, all in her signature, over exaggerated style.
Shot in Nigeria, Elena Heatherwick's photographic story for the IRC is one of tragedy and resilienceMatt Alagiah —
One of photographer Elena Heatherwick’s favourite times of day to shoot is in the early morning. “It’s not just because of the gentle light, but also because it’s a time of day when lives can’t just stop because I’m there with a camera,” she says. “Breakfast is being cooked, sleepy faces are being washed, bodies are dressing up and getting ready for work or school. Amidst the hustle and bustle, I’m almost forgotten and those are the moments where good pictures often start to appear.”
Jaeha Kim channels different discplines of art through his graphic design practiceJyni Ong —
“I love making posters,” says Seoul-based graphic designer Jaeha Kim. “It is the one medium that can contain all the elements of graphic design.” Jaeha’s posters, not to mention all his other outputs, draw on many aspects of the visual arts, which he then refines using his graphic design knowledge. Elements such as illustration, photography and fine art are drawn out in Jaeha’s designs. He tells It’s Nice That on this subject, “I like the idea that I can bring any other forms of art into this genre and make it a part of the visual system.”
Illustrator Isabella Cotier’s characters are a celebration of dressing to expressBillie Muraben —
Illustrator Isabella Cotier’s work has an expressive energy to it that can only really be achieved when you’re working from life. Her depictions of characters observed as they go about their daily lives are funny, vivid, loose and immediate; capturing moments without necessarily being literal.
Alexis Jamet's animations are warm, nostalgic and beautiful in their simplicityDaniel Milroy Maher —
Growing up shooting skateboard videos with his friends, Paris-based designer Alexis Jamet was tasked with making the titles and illustrations for these early creations. Eventually branching into producing zines about the Paris skate scene, he coupled this creative pursuit with clothing and board design for his local skate shop. “I then wanted to study filmmaking, but I wasn’t academic enough, so I found a hand lettering school which was a better option me,” he tells It’s Nice That. “After that, I naturally drifted into graphic design and, more recently, animation.”
Jackson Bowley on how he exaggerates a subject's personality in his portraitureRuby Boddington —
“I feel that I approach makeup from quite an outsiders perspective, so I don’t really see it as a tool to enhance somebody’s beauty but to exaggerate somebody’s personality or to create vast characters,” says London-based photographer Jackson Bowley. “I find makeup really exciting, having never really used makeup myself I think I approach it with a childlike naivety.” An adept portrait photographer who often works in beauty, Jackson utilised this interest for a recent collaboration with makeup artist Athena Paginton for Office Magazine titled Colour Me Bad.