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Famous French cultural personalities protest against Jeff Koons’ proposed public sculpture

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Markwhalen-art-itsnicethat-list Work / Art Get caught up in Mark Whalen’s bold, playful art

A lot has changed since the last time we spoke to artist Mark Whalen. Having turned his attention away from pastel-coloured landscapes and graceful figures, Mark considers his newest work’s media, forms and themes: “I’ve been wanting to create a broader conversation using different mediums over the past few years. All of my attention has been focussed on evolving scale, how to make engaging work with size, colour, and textural forms.” Mark’s large-scale canvases depict characters struggling to untangle themselves from unyielding linear structures. The bright colours and playful compositions add humour to the otherwise severe predicaments his characters find themselves in.

Andersbraschwillumsen-list Work / Art Anders Brasch-Willumsen on channelling emotion through 3D image-making

Copenhagen-born Anders Brasch-Willumsen is an art director, image maker and the founder and creative director of Stockholm-based Studio Brasch, a creative studio offering “creative direction, conceptual thinking and a distinct design language that results in brand images, campaign images, moving images, set designs and more.”

Th_web_list Features / Art Performance art's "master" Tehching Hsieh on the importance of isolation

As for so many artists before him, recognition came late to Taiwanese performance artist Tehching Hsieh. 30 years stretched between Hsieh’s first performance in his Tribeca studio to the artist’s inclusion in the 2009 Guggenheim exhibition “The Third Mind: American Artists Contemplate Asia, 1860-1989”. Now, the elusive artist is in higher demand than ever, last year filling the Taiwan Pavilion at Venice Biennale with “Doing Time”, an exhibition which took a backwards look at his work. When the Live Art Development Agency presented “Outside Again”, a film directed by Adrian Heathfield and Hugo Glendinning about the artist’s legacy, It’s Nice That took the rare opportunity to sit down with Tehching at LADA’s new home in the Garratt Centre, Bethnal Green in an attempt to find out why the artist gave over his life to art.

Unnamed Work / Art Anna Mond’s cigarette-smoking, beer-drinking Fantastical Beings

Artist Anna Mond’s universe is filled with otherworldly creatures smoking cigarettes and drinking beer. Fantastical Beings is her series of paintings depicting strange, alien-like figures gazing out of the canvas with unsettlingly captivating eyes. After years of working on musical projects, Anna’s creations came about organically when she “rediscovered the magic of painting. Within a short period of time, these wonderful creatures started to materialise,” she tells It’s Nice That.
 
The paintings tease the viewer as Anna masterfully pushes the boundaries of our imagination and incites our curiosity through these strange characters. One being is dressed like a priest with a black cross on its chest and a cigarette poking out of its mouth, while another is ready to take off on the next space mission in its astronaut gear. In Anna’s world, smoking cigarettes inside space helmets is commonplace. “When I sell my paintings they often travel to many different countries. But the Fantastical Beings are always connected and communicate with each other in mysterious ways,” Anna explains. Riddles are at the heart of Anna’s work and her strength lies in withholding easy explanations. Who are these creatures? Are they friendly or hostile? Happy or sad? Or perhaps we should consider how these anthropomorphic characters relate to ourselves. Like us, they wear Breton stripes, cowboy hats and speak on the phone, but their expressions are alien. Anna’s paintings invite us to imagine what might lie behind the faces we encounter.


Marguerite_horaylivewildcollective-art-itsnicethat-list Work / Art “We believe art is due another revolution”: meet the all female collective reviving Dada

“Live Wild” is both the collective name for seven Dada-mad women and possibly the world’s shortest manifesto, neatly laying out the intentions of the group in two syllables. The seven members of the all-female collective currently live and work between France, Russia, the US, Georgia and Canada but come together near daily online via their shared page on Instagram, the Live Wild Collective.

Markwhalen-art-itsnicethat-list Work / Art Get caught up in Mark Whalen’s bold, playful art

A lot has changed since the last time we spoke to artist Mark Whalen. Having turned his attention away from pastel-coloured landscapes and graceful figures, Mark considers his newest work’s media, forms and themes: “I’ve been wanting to create a broader conversation using different mediums over the past few years. All of my attention has been focussed on evolving scale, how to make engaging work with size, colour, and textural forms.” Mark’s large-scale canvases depict characters struggling to untangle themselves from unyielding linear structures. The bright colours and playful compositions add humour to the otherwise severe predicaments his characters find themselves in.

Migrant-journal-bookshelf-itsnicethat-list Work / Bookshelf From 3D scans to musical soundscapes: Migrant Journal shares its favourite books

Since launching in 2016, Migrant Journal has well and truly made a name for itself as a firm favourite at It’s Nice That. Published as a preplanned series of six, it explores “the circulation of people, goods, information, but also fauna and flora, around the world and the transformative impact they have on space.”

Andersbraschwillumsen-list Work / Art Anders Brasch-Willumsen on channelling emotion through 3D image-making

Copenhagen-born Anders Brasch-Willumsen is an art director, image maker and the founder and creative director of Stockholm-based Studio Brasch, a creative studio offering “creative direction, conceptual thinking and a distinct design language that results in brand images, campaign images, moving images, set designs and more.”

Motherdesign-callenlorde-graphicdesign-itsnicethat-08 Work / Graphic Design Mother Design creates an empowering identity for LGBTQ health organisation, Callen-Lorde

Mother Design’s New York office has created a boldly colourful and impactful identity for Callen-Lorde, a community centre for LGBTQ healthcare. Across its programmes, services and two locations in New York, it’s an organisation dedicated to providing healthcare to the city’s “lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities — in all their diversity — regardless of ability to pay”. An institution of such devotion and sensitive care deserves approachable, awe-inspiring graphic design, and Mother Design have done exactly that.

Stephentayo-photography-itsnicethat-11 Work / Photography Stephen Tayo's photographs "create a visual narrative" of everyday encounters

Stephen Tayo is a true flaneur, wandering around the Lagos streets observing and examining everyone he sees. The young documentary photographer recently graduated from the University of Lagos in Nigeria with a philosophy degree, but has chosen a different path for himself: “I got into photography to express what I felt as a young boy growing up. I also wanted to create a story made up of the people I see and the places I visit,” Stephen tells It’s Nice That.

Daniel-weiss-photography-itsnicethat-7 Work / Photography Photographer Daniel Weiss tells the story of the New York he grew up with

“[The images in my series] may be slightly romanticised, but I really do love New York,” photographer Daniel Weiss tells It’s Nice That. Daniel’s images are American through and through, documenting everything from Elvis impersonators to bowling alleys and motorcycle racers. Although his subjects are wide-ranging as well as captivating, it is his ongoing series New York, depicting the city where he was born and bred, that particularly caught our eye.

Studiofeixen-graphicdesign-itsnicethat-list Work / Graphic Design The year of the gif: Studio Feixen’s multitude of moving posters

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.

Veronikaminder-artdecor-itsnicethat-list Work / Publication Veronika Minder's book, Art Décor, explores the life of bon viveur Bob Steffen (NSFW)

Veronika Minder’s book Art Décor explores the life of Bob Steffen, an upscale hustler, nude model, accomplished window dresser and central figure in the bohemian scene of post-war Bern. When he passed away in 2012, Bob left behind 6,000 photographs of himself, his friends and his lovers at dinners parties, cocktail soirées and masquerade balls. “Bob was a friend of mine since the early seventies. I knew he had a lot of photographs because he never threw anything away. He was interested in all the changes he went through during the years,” Veronika tells It’s Nice That.


Annahofmann-illustration-cybersexhidden-itsnicethat-list Work / Illustration Anna Hofmann's slightly grotesque but very, very funny characters

Our love affair with the work of Anna Hofmann came from one illustration of a little creature leaning cautiously out of its car window to lick a cactus. It’s this use of humour, something so silly but brilliant, that means since seeing her work in Eike Konig’s class calendar at the end of last year, we’ve fallen head over heels for Anna’s work.

Cristiantoronicolasgonzalez-manualdeautodefensafeminista-publication-itsnicethat-1list Work / Publication Learn feminist self-defence with Manual de Autodefensa Feminista zine

#MeToo and #TimesUp have placed feminism at the top of the public agenda. Just last week, the media were filled with women wearing black dresses at the Golden Globes in protest of sexual assault and harassment. So what better time to brush up on feminist self-defence moves? Chile-based illustrators Cristian Toro and Nicolas Gonzalez collaborated to visualise women as agents of self-protection in a two-colour folded silkscreen zine named Manual de Autodefensa Feminista.

Lucid and concise, Manual de Autodefensa Feminista systematically lays out a step-by-step guide to self-defence in the event of an assault. Nicolas explains the importance of making the zine a universally accessible publication “that does not need the text to be understood.” He sees the zine “more like propaganda, coherent information with a purpose.” The illustrations themselves are first and foremost functional. They portray women tackling their aggressors by use of single, effective defensive moves that resemble martial arts. The use of only two colours, blue and yellow, keeps the drawings simple and clear, highlighting crucial motions by encircling the relevant body parts. One image, “El Escape,” shows a woman back-kicking an aggressor’s knee while another, “El Rodillazzo” depicts a woman kneeing a man’s face. 

Nicolas and Cristian’s Manual de Autodefensa Feminista is a choreography of instructions that invites the reader to follow its steps and perform the art. In this way, the publication is a crossing of illustration and live art, encouraging women to be a part of the spectacle of feminist empowerment. This participatory quality is also reflected in the zine’s printed form, inviting the reader to touch, scribble, fold and engage with the publication. “I find its material dimension important,” Nicolas explains, “not only in terms of the illustrations themselves but also in terms of its method of printing and circulation.”

Philippeweisbecker-adirondacks-nieves-publication-itsnicethat-list Work / Publication Renowned illustrator Philippe Weisbecker's delicate drawings of Adirondack furniture

One of Nieves’ latest published books is a furniture blast from the past. A sketchbook-like publication, it displays drawings by renowned illustrator Philippe Weisbecker, sketching versions of Adirondack furniture. It’s a style many will be familiar with from the popular Adirondack chair, a wooden outdoors seat and a regular fixture in many suburban gardens.

Lara-kothe-publication-itsnicethat-2 Work / Publication The Lething Compendium by Lara Kothe teaches you how to forget everything

“Books are static, stable objects, which cannot be changed easily after being printed. It is a system that has proven its worth over so many years – more so than any other medium,” states German graphic designer Lara Kothe. Originally from a small town in Bavaria, she studied communication design in Hamburg and now resides in Berne, Switzerland where she is undertaking a part-time master’s degree in design research. Lara’s portfolio is packed full of experimental publications that are intellectually challenging, designed with purpose and with the utmost attention to detail.

Superhi-digital-list Sponsored / Digital Three creatives tell us why coding is crucial to contemporary design

The ability to understand and move with the times, while progressing your work accordingly, is a crucial skill for any designer. With our lives increasingly dictated by the screens that surround us, the importance of coding and digital design is soaring. In a series of articles in collaboration with SuperHi, It’s Nice That will be offering insight into the prominence of this facet of design.

Mariana_malhao-microbios-illustration-itsnicethat-list Work / Illustration Mariana Malhão's illustrations depict "a world inside a world"

You might not believe it at first glance, but Portugal-based illustrator Mariana Malhão’s bold and joyful illustrations are inspired by bacteria. Her series, “Microbios,” is full of lively bodies and colourful shapes that place you in the centre of a surreal fairytale. Her illustrations are about perspective: “We cannot see microbes, there are so many of them and they are everywhere. My illustrations relate to the idea of a world inside a world,” Mariana tells It’s Nice That. The characters that inhabit her universe invite us to change our outlook and re-imagine what might be around us that we cannot see. Perhaps we are surrounded by four-legged alligators with purple hands, four-armed boys with heads between their legs and fox-like creatures wearing rainbow suits.

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