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Gucci and Frieze team up on major new video series, The Second Summer of Love

2001-a-space-odyssesy-film-itsnicethat-list Features / Film "Something bold, something pure" – the 50-year long legacy of 2001: A Space Odyssey

When 2001: A Space Odyssey premiered on 10 May 1968 – 50 years ago today – it somehow captured the imagination of its viewers: an audience who was yet to experience footage of the moon landing over a year later. Packed full of lengthy sequences and free from dialogue or even sound, its imagery, directed by Stanley Kubrick, is tranquil to the point of being static at times. This combined with its understandably puzzling ending meant the film received mixed reviews from critics upon its release. Despite this, it quickly garnered a ferocious cult following and became the highest grossing film of that year: the only Kubrick motion picture to hold this status.

Folder-studio-film-itsnicethat-alt-list Work / Film Folder Studio's interactive documentary K-Town '92 highlights our "desensitisation to societal trauma"

The 1992 Los Angeles riots were a series of riots, lootings and arsons that occurred from 29 April – 4 May. The unrest began after the acquittal of four officers from the Los Angeles Police Department who were involved in the brutal beating and arrest of African American taxi driver, Rodney King. The riots began after footage of the incident was broadcast and widely viewed on television resulting in the most destructive civil disturbance in America’s history, totalling in over a billion dollars of damage.

Duncancowles-film-itsnicethat-list Work / Film Duncan Cowles' new film explores the panicky feeling that a creative idea might not be amazing enough

Following on from Duncan Cowles’ brilliant Taking Stock film at the end of last year, the director is back with a new film which again uses generic stock footage to piece together a very relatable narrative. Where Taking Stock touched a nerve with freelance creatives through Duncan’s own tale of trying to make a side hustle from selling stock footage online with little financial success, It’s Not Amazing Enough, commissioned by Ted, explores the panicky feeling of worrying your work might not quite be up to scratch.

Tom-fisher-catherine-prowse-the-need-to-be-alone-the-school-of-life-film-itsnicethat-list Work / Film Rod puppets in intricate felt sets profess The Need to Be Alone for Alain de Botton

Not long out of Kingston’s Illustration and Animation course, Tom Fisher and Catherine Prowse have directed a charming and impressively detailed short film for The School of Life, made entirely from hand-stitched felt. Featuring a cast of rod puppets shot in a live action format, The Need to Be Alone stars a red-spectacled, introverted protagonist called Alan – a tribute to its writer and narrator Alain de Botton. Throughout the film, Alan navigates a series of potentially awkward social scenarios as Alain professes the importance of having time alone to process these interactions.

Baloji-peaudechagrinbleudenuit-film-itsnicethat-2list Work / Film Baloji's latest music video is a dreamscape of electric hues and intriguing characters

An immaculately dressed man adorned in azure feathers stands against a cloud of blue smoke holding a bouquet of flowers. The man’s gaze commands the camera as a soft voice whispers “bleu de nuit” – “midnight blue” – over a kalimba rhythm. This is the opening scene of Congolese-Belgian musician Baloji’s latest music video Peau de Chagrin / Bleu de Nuit, taken from his album 137 Avenue Kaniama. Conceptualised and directed by Baloji and photographed by Kristin-Lee Moolman, Peau de Chagrin / Bleu de Nuit is a dreamscape of electric hues and intriguing characters. Although Baloji’s career is now firmly cemented within the music industry, the singer’s strengths stretch across creative disciplines. “I’m a visual artist when I work as a film and art director and sometimes even a stylist when funds are tight,” Baloji tells It’s Nice That. 

Peau de Chagrin / Bleu de Nuit follows a bride and groom during the hours leading up to their wedding. Baloji avoids a linear narrative, creating instead a series of metaphorical images that condense fleeting impressions into unsettling emotions. “Many shots depict an absent partner, which implies that one of them has gone back on their promises; changed their mind. The film illustrates this allegorically, showing the two protagonists alone in their wedding finery in front of the ceremonial installations. The backdrops become clearer as the cloud of yellowish smoke dissipates,” Baloji explains. These wedding frames, seeped as they are in vegetal embellishments, construct a theatrical stage that allows Baloji to play out his symbolic tales of love, lust and eventual apathy.

The hand-crafted masks worn by the characters throughout the film further highlight Baloji’s desired dramatic effect. As the figures wait in vain, “the masks come to represent the love that becomes a ghost. In this way, the masks separate the symbolically-charged waiting shots from the more figurative parts of the video,” Baloji says. This contrast is made all the more poignant by the intricately decorated wooden backdrops, which draw on Pygmy culture and its visually rich wedding rituals; “the installations are historically used as altars for wedding ceremonies,” the artist explains. In drawing on a long-established tradition, Baloji emphasises the pain felt by the lonesome character waiting at the altar and transforms a conventionally celebratory occasion into a harrowing betrayal. 

Peau de Chagrin / Bleu de Nuit is an aesthetic triumph; vibrant, atmospheric and undeniably compelling. When asked how the final outcome compares to his initial visions, Baloji admits that “it’s pretty close. We just didn’t have time to shoot everything. I made sure to be extremely prepared since the budget was very low. I knew the whole shooting list by heart, which meant we could focus our attention on the acting on set.”

Seungwhankim-illustration-itsnicethat-list Work / Illustration Seungwhan Kim's sweet illustrations delve into inner emotions

Over in Seoul illustrator Seungwhan Kim sweetly illustrates the “paradoxical situations that we face in everyday life,” he tells It’s Nice That. Both a little strange but also relatable, Seungwhan’s illustration style picks up on life’s double-sided contradictions implying them in his work. He does this by noticing and drawing inner emotions, “jealousy, inferiority and dissatisfaction” for instance, as the illustrator finds “behaviours and situations associated with such emotions intriguing”.

Listgen_image_01 Work / Graphic Design Wolff Olins on the tech-fuelled future of the humancentric rebrand

As many companies rebrand in a way that increasingly seems generic and homogenous, the way we consider branding needs to change, argues Chris Moody, chief design officer at brand consultancy Wolff Olins. Chris suggests that we have come to a pivot point where virtual reality, augmented reality and voice-activation are changing the way we define brand presence. A brand identity must now be an ‘intelligent identity’, that uses responsive assets, new platforms and technologies to create a conversation on a human level, and at scale.

2001-a-space-odyssesy-film-itsnicethat-list Features / Film "Something bold, something pure" – the 50-year long legacy of 2001: A Space Odyssey

When 2001: A Space Odyssey premiered on 10 May 1968 – 50 years ago today – it somehow captured the imagination of its viewers: an audience who was yet to experience footage of the moon landing over a year later. Packed full of lengthy sequences and free from dialogue or even sound, its imagery, directed by Stanley Kubrick, is tranquil to the point of being static at times. This combined with its understandably puzzling ending meant the film received mixed reviews from critics upon its release. Despite this, it quickly garnered a ferocious cult following and became the highest grossing film of that year: the only Kubrick motion picture to hold this status.

01-list-img-template-margins-2-up Work / Publication Nataal’s debut print magazine captures the creative energy of Africa and its diaspora

“This is a magazine for anyone who wants to engage with, be inspired by or learn about the abundant energy coming from visual arts, fashion and cultural communities inspired by the spirit of Africa,” says Helen Jennings, the editorial director of Nataal. Established as a digital platform in 2015 and growing to include exhibitions and now its debut print magazine, the Afrocentric showcase champions the artists who are shaping new global narratives around the continent, via fashion shoots, long-form writing and visual essays.

Buffalo_replacement Work / Publication Buffalo Zine are back with issue 7 and it’s a fashion fiesta

Independent print might be thriving, but there are fewer magazines we look forward to more than the eternally shapeshifting Buffalo Zine. With every issue comes a complete redesign, the magazine bowing deferentiently to the theme that dictates it’s format. With past issues masquerading as shopping catalogues, home and interiors magazines and tabloid newspapers, nothing is quite what it seems.

Scamp-publication-itsnicethat-7 Work / Publication Scamp magazine is a must-have item for any “art and fashion shiterati” (NSFW)

In the late 1950s, a Playboy-aspirant magazine was established that delved deep into life’s big enigmas like “A Short History of Undress” and “How to Make it Big in Café Society”. Despite its undeniable contribution to literary culture, the publication was sadly discontinued shortly after its launch. The magazine’s influence, however, lives on in the form of the brilliantly hilarious and wonderfully tacky modern-day Scamp, which has just seen the release of its second issue. Run by Oskar Oprey, Jam Steward and John William, Scamp is a must-have item of any “art and fashion shiterati”.

Studiodumbar-graphicdesign-itsnicethat-1list Work / Graphic Design Studio Dumbar on its dynamic identity for youth foundation Jeugdfonds

The legendary Rotterdam-based Studio Dumbar is known for some of the most iconic identities since its establishment in 1977. Its creative team has designed some of the Holland’s most recognisable visual identities, including rebrands for the Dutch railway systems, the Dutch government, Mauritshuis Royal Picture Gallery and the budget airline Transavia. The studio can now add another impressive project to its list of achievements: the dynamic and vibrant work for children’s cultural institutions Jeugdsportfonds – Youth Sport Foundation – and Jeugdcultuurfonds – Youth Culture Foundation.

List4 Work / Animation Jun Seo Hahm’s animated characters straddle the terrifying line of cute and icky

In French there’s the term ‘jolie laide’, or pretty-ugly, to describe a unconventional hottie whose attractiveness hinges on a crooked nose or a scraggle of teeth. In Japan the phenomenon of kimo-kawaii (cute-gross) illustration has ballooned in popularity in recent years, with even Sanrio, the creator of kitsch queen Hello Kitty, getting in on the creepy character game (see Kirimi-chan, an anthropomorphic salmon steak). There’s something about human nature that means this intersection between sweet and weird, sexy and repulsive, really gets under our skin. And it’s at this oh-so-freaky juncture that the work of animator Jun Seo Hahm sits, waiting to lick your hand affectionately – or bite off all your digits.

Matthewkramer-illustration-itsnicethat-list Work / Illustration Matthew Kramer's endearing illustrations made from swift line marks

For most comic artists, trying to cram in as much of an illustrative narrative as possible into a panel drawing is a very difficult task. However rather than pushing it to the maximum, illustrator Matthew Kramer creates an instantly digestible drawing with just a few swift line marks and always the same cream background.

Chantal-jahchan-publication-itsnicethat-list Work / Publication Chantal Jahchan explores the Arabic type design landscape and concepts of modernity in En Route

“I was born in Rabieh, Lebanon and came to the US when I was five years old,” New York-based graphic designer Chantal Jahchan tells It’s Nice That. “Ever since then, I have been interested in the ways that language can be both a barrier and a tool for communication.” In a project that fully embodies this experience, Chantal explores what “modernity” might mean for Lebanon, specifically through a typographic and linguist lens in her publication En Route.

Louiebanks-photography-itsnicethat-22 Work / Photography "I aim to inject my work with a sense of empowerment": photographer Louie Banks

We have been following Louie Banks for some time now; partly because of his impossibly cute snaps of pets Babs and Pig but, more so, because of his endless turnover of honest, perceptive and arresting portraits. Louie has worked with the likes of iD, Vogue Italia and Love magazine and photographed legendary club icons like Amanda Lepore, fashion it-girls like Aweng Chuol, not to mention half of London’s underground scene.

List2 Work / Animation Peter Tomaszewicz’s CGI animation riffs on Brutalist architecture and chemistry

“Many Brutalist buildings have the sense of something dark, sometimes negative in meaning,” says London-based motion graphics designer Peter Tomaszewicz as he chats to It’s Nice That about his new animation States of Matter. “I wanted to distort Brutalism in such way that it would provide a feel of a dystopian, imaginary scenery but to add in more humour and playfulness.”

Department-of-new-realities-bookshelf-itsnicethat-list-alt Regulars / Bookshelf A 3D-rendered Bookshelf from Wieden and Kennedy's Department of New Realities

If you’re a regular reader of It’s Nice That, we’re sure you’re familiar with the advertising powerhouse Wieden and Kennedy (W+K). Founded by Dan Wieden and David Kennedy, the agency now has offices in Portland, London, New York City, São Paulo, Delhi, Shanghai, Tokyo and Amsterdam, the last of which is home to The Department of New Realities (DPTNR) which has curated the week’s (3D-rendered) Bookshelf for you to drool over.

Nicer-tuesdays-may-launch-list Regulars / Nicer Tuesdays Get tickets now for May’s Nicer Tuesdays

This month at Nicer Tuesdays on 29 May, we’ll be hearing about the graphic design for Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs, plus brilliantly odd illustration, inspiring publication design and how to Be More Pirate in our work and life. Get tickets now to hear from Erica Dorn, Sam Conniff, Kyle Platts and Offshore Studio at Oval Space.
If you stopped to admire the incredible graphic details in Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs, you were most likely admiring the work of Erica Dorn. As the lead graphic designer on the film, Erica was responsible for bringing together everything from the Japanese woodblock-inspired artworks to printed documents, product packaging and signage, which added beautifully intricate detail to the dystopian future world Anderson was creating for his canine stars. Erica will be showcasing her research, references, sketches, final pieces and behind the scenes snippets from the project.There’s no mistaking the handiwork of illustrator and animation director Kyle Platts. Vivid and cartoonish compositions filled with strange, wobbly characters, their ballooned foreheads in profile bearing enlarged eyes, are his forte, and a long-time favourite of the It’s Nice That team. He’ll be joining us to share insights to his creative process, particularly for recent projects for the likes of Vice, Bloomberg, Zeit Leo and GQ_.In past lives, Sam Conniff was the founder of creative network Livity and media platform Don’t Panic, but recently he’s gone rogue with a new mission: to encourage everyone to "_Be More Pirate.":https://www.bemorepirate.com/ Born from research into the radical strategies of Golden Age pirates, his new ethos and book of the same name (with an added explanatory strapline “Or How to Take On The World And Win”) adapts these strategies for 21st Century work and life, and aligns them with modern day innovators or “rebels” like Elon Musk and Malala Yousafzai.Zurich-based graphic design studio Offshore is one of It’s Nice That’s Ones to Watch 2018 and with good reason. Founders Christoph Miler and Isabel Seiffert are behind the design of Migrant Journal, for which the duo created a bespoke typeface and visually arresting design. Politically conscious, sensitive and striking all at the same time, it sums up the designers’ capability way beyond their years. They’ll be telling us more about their recent work, and the aesthetic combination of Swiss design sensibilities and international influences that makes their work truly distinctive.

Listbelka-bellt_party Work / Illustration From sex stories to dogs in space, Katja Gendikova’s illustrations tell the fantastical tales of real life

Describing her work as “playful, whimsical and a bit wobbly”, Berlin-based illustrator Katja Gendikova creates distinctive characters whose lanky limbs flow with movement. Switching between digital and acrylic paint, heavy black outlines and no outlines at all, Katja’s work is full of charm because of these unruly bodies. “I love odd looks – beautiful is regular, which means for me it is not of so much interest,” Katja tells It’s Nice That. “I also love bodies and body movements and mistrust faces a bit – in the end, a face is not much more than five holes.”

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