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Katharina Cibulka embroiders a feminist slogan onto the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna

Sophianarrett-art-int-list Work / Art Sophia Narrett's intimate embroideries explore the complexities of human relationships

Sophia Narrett’s embroideries require you to look more than once; in fact, they will make you stop and stare. With their minute details and beautiful intricacies, they push sewing to the extreme. We question how it is humanly possible to create such miniature, elaborate scenes. “Embroidered images are immediately intimate and visually tactile”, Sophia explains. “The pace that embroidery dictates has become a meaningful way for me to commit to images, feelings and ideas”. The artist spends days working on a single piece; this means that she has time to commit to a narrative and understand the story that she actually wants to tell. As she is making with her hands, there is an even stronger relationship than usual built between her and her art, mimicking the human connections that she recreates within her work.

Sethbogart-lick-art-int-list Work / Art Seth Bogart uses ceramics to recreate a brilliant but dysfunctional sex shop

Seth Bogart’s exhibition Lick is raunchy, fun and provocative, with 20 abstract paintings, plastered in oil paint, and around a 100 seductive ceramics forming the show. “The ceramics were intended to make up a pretend sex shop where nothing is functional," Seth explains.

Audunalvestad-art-int-list Work / Art Audun Alvestad creates tender paintings of the “ordinary Joe”

Audun Alvestad paints the unexpected, in the sense that he depicts moments that most forget about. His art is repetitively filled with variations of the “ordinary Joe” — light, pink men, rounded, hairy and often speckled with tattoos. They’re pictured drinking an evening glass of wine, taking a shower, ironing a shirt, eating dinner or having a smoke. This seemingly harmless and often melancholic character is certainly not a figure we’ve seen represented across art history; and as the contemporary world highlights continual issues with toxic masculinity, his is a figure being quickly left behind. “As our world is changing, so do our expectations and ideas about what we should be or how we should live”, Audun explains. “I enjoy to play and explore these ideas about society, gender roles and other social structures”.

Audun’s art celebrates the banalities of everyday life. “I am a routine enthusiast," he tells It’s Nice That. “I like my coffee and a cigarette in the morning". The characters he depicts are familiar; he could be the bloke from next door. “I have a tendency to make up stories about the people I encounter”, he tells us. “From these ideas, I somehow end up building fictional characters that I use for my paintings”. However, this repeated motif is not symbolic of one individual, “but rather something more general he or she represents”, the artist explains. “Creating generic archetypes gives me more space to play with painterly or formal aspects”. As the figure appears so often, our eyes are turned to other qualities in the painting, the narrative and the painterly techniques.

Paola-antonella-london-design-biennale-art-itsnicethat-list Media Partnership / London Design Biennale 2018 Emotional States: why the theme for 2018's London Design Biennale is more important than ever

The theme of the 2018 London Design Biennale, hosted by Somerset House in September of this year, is an undeniably provocative one. Indeed, Emotional States could mean many different things to many different people, let alone designers, artists and those blessed with naturally imaginative, curious minds. Speaking to It’s Nice That, senior curator at MoMA and member of the Biennale’s jury, Paola Antonelli, proffered that that was what made this year so exciting for her: “that’s the beautiful aspect of the theme – that it is very open. There’s a nice ambiguity to it which makes for a lot of possibility.” The theme has been chosen specifically to provoke a broad interpretation from the contributing countries across the world, and to inspire work that covers a wide spectrum of how design affects every aspect of life, be it day-to-day, individual human emotions – from sadness to anger to joy – to the mood of a community, and on an even larger scale: unrest at country-wide level. It’s the scope for designers to challenge the current political, social and economic climates that have such a huge effect on both individual emotional states and nation-states, that interests us most here at It’s Nice That. “The news stories that we are facing are so blatantly important, urgent, and electrifying – for good and for bad – that I think everybody (unless they don’t have a pulse) is really heated up by them” agrees Paola, “and what artists and designers do well is that they channel that energy into proposals and ideas, or demonstrations.” In a time of closing borders, maniacally villainous presidents and Brexit, there are arguably more factors than ever influencing our emotional states, and even more of a need for designers, artists, curators – anyone and everyone, in fact – to channel those emotions into something positive.
Whilst it might seem like a lot of pressure to put on anyone, let alone someone outside of political office, Paola argues – both in our conversation with her and in her 2007 TED talk – that the capacity to incite change is well within designers’ remit, “designers are the biggest synthesisers in the world; what they do is make a synthesis of human needs, current conditions in economy, in materials, in sustainability issues and then what they do in the end, if they’re good, is much more than the sum of their parts.”

Alixmarie-art-int-list Work / Art Alix Marie’s photographic sculptures celebrate bodily experiences

Throughout history, the body has always been deemed as a place of abjection, particularly with regards to the female form. Alix Marie’s artwork strives to make us come to terms with our own bodily experiences, forcing us to face what is natural. Breaking away from the narrow western capitalist standards of beauty advertising, Alix aims to “picture bodies genuinely,” she says. “I don’t understand why a scar or a stretch mark has to be considered ugly or disturbing. We all bear witness to events on our skin, and I think it’s important to consider and represent them”. At times grotesque, and definitely enough to make the viewer squeamish, Alix displays magnificent magnified images of the skin — deep purple bruises, pink, plush pimples, wet lips and dried, cracked blemishes.

List Sponsored / Converse x JW Anderson Five creatives visually respond to the question: What makes something art, anyway?

It’s Nice That has teamed up with Converse and JW Anderson to celebrate the launch of their latest collaboration. A sculptural tribute to colour and gloss, the new collection sees the classic Chuck ‘70 reimagined in ultra-slick vinyl and conflicting graded colourways. High-energy and provocative, the project explores the intersection of art and fashion, questioning what art is, and can be.

Johan-elmehag-graphic-design-itsnicethat-list Work / Graphic Design Johan Elmehag’s typeface Coastline warns of the dangers of our melting ice caps

During his teens, it was the natural sciences and maths which occupied Johan Elmehag’s studies. However, in the evenings, he would turn to graphic design as a tool to visually translate his scientific ideas. Eventually the latter overtook the former and Johan headed to Malmö University to study BA Graphic Design, from which he has just graduated.

Sophianarrett-art-int-list Work / Art Sophia Narrett's intimate embroideries explore the complexities of human relationships

Sophia Narrett’s embroideries require you to look more than once; in fact, they will make you stop and stare. With their minute details and beautiful intricacies, they push sewing to the extreme. We question how it is humanly possible to create such miniature, elaborate scenes. “Embroidered images are immediately intimate and visually tactile”, Sophia explains. “The pace that embroidery dictates has become a meaningful way for me to commit to images, feelings and ideas”. The artist spends days working on a single piece; this means that she has time to commit to a narrative and understand the story that she actually wants to tell. As she is making with her hands, there is an even stronger relationship than usual built between her and her art, mimicking the human connections that she recreates within her work.

Jackson-bowley-photography-itsnicethat-list Work / Photography Xerox by Jackson Bowley juxtaposes glossy beauty portraits with gritty texture and tone

“I think subconsciously, and when I really reflect on my photos, my photography tends to be a bit of a projection of my mood,” explains London-based photographer, Jackson Bowley. Originally from the outskirts of Nottingham, Jackson has developed a strong beauty portfolio, shooting for the likes of Notion, i-D, Wonderland and Beauty Papers but it was his evolving personal project, Xerox which really caught our eye.

Tintedwindow-regularpractice-publication-itsnicethat-list Work / Publication Tinted Window dives into one person, place, or object to the point of obsession

Tinted Window is a new publication with an editorial angle that focuses on one person, place or object. Although its subject is very focused, thematically the publication touches on a wide range of areas, tapping into multiple audiences too. Its editors, Oscar Gaynor and Alex Bennett, evidently relish in the details, noting that the publication’s defining feature “is its commitment to exploding its subject; to seeing it from multiple angles.”

Zero-digital-int-list Work / Digital Zero: A new publication that proves print and digital don't have to be mutually exclusive

Zero is a digital and physical publication realised by Dagnė Petraityė, Inês Silva and Nathalie De Vallière of Central Saint Martins. The three creatives noticed that the publications that most inspired them, such as Aspen and Fluxus largely relied on “traditional analogue techniques”. Although George Maciunas incorporated objects into Fluxus, moving beyond the usual format of a magazine or a book, his was a project before the impact of digital technology. Many magazines today still cling to the archaic notion of print, and fail to interact with the internet – Zero aims to change this. “We thought it could be exciting to merge some of the things we love about magazines with more experimental characteristics of digital media”, they explain. The result is an amazing digital platform that explores the infinite possibilities of the internet and a printed, physical product that is “based on an unconventional folding system that mimics the online component”.

Igor-pjorrt-photography-itsnicethat-list Work / Photography Igor Pjörrt’s intimate portraiture is rooted in astronomy and celestial ideas (NSFW)

Born and raised (for the most part) on the Portuguese island of Madeira, photographer Igor Pjörrt’s remarkable portraiture had us transfixed from the first intimately beautiful shot we saw. Currently in the process of moving from London to Lausanne to pursue a master’s in photography at ÉCAL, Igor’s images are dramatic and tender, making use of dappled light and warm sunsets.

Sepus-noordmans-graphic-design-list Work / Graphic Design Graphic designer Sepus Noordmans experiments within flexible formats and parameters

“Working on the Billytown identity last year was a true playground,” explains graphic designer Sepus Noordmans of the project which, last time we spoke to him, was a work in progress. This process saw him getting to know the gallery, which is located in The Hague, in order to establish its identity. Now, the designer has put in place a set of rules which allow him to experiment freely within certain parameters, simultaneously developing a signature approach and visual language for his wider practice.

Badesaison-superframe-graphicdesign-itsnicethat-list Work / Graphic Design More envyingly good graphic design from Swiss studio Badesaison

Long have we gazed and adored the work of Swiss Studio Badesaison made up of Lukas Ackermann and Andreas Sporri. So, when we noticed the studio had created not one but three projects with photographer Thomas De Monaco we thought it was time for a catch up with the busy pair.

Felix-geen-digital-itsnicethat-list Work / Digital Half-Life, The Matrix and Alien: meet the sci-fi inspired motion designer, Felix Geen

It was while scrolling on Instagram that we first discovered the work of motion designer Felix Geen, courtesy of an ident he created for online music broadcasting platform, Boiler Room. Slick and reminiscent of many a sci-fi interface, the short clip sees smoke billowing in various shapes, interlocked with green strobes, eventually forming the Boiler Room logo. Intrigued, we checked out the rest of Felix’s work only to find an impressive roster of 3d videos and digital art.

Giulia-mangoine-photography-itsnicethat-list Work / Photography Photographer Giulia Mangione explores why Danes are the happiest people in the world (NSFW)

“This turned out to be a very personal journey of observing other people’s happiness, to try and understand what happiness means to me,” remarks visual artist and social documentarist, Giulia Mangione, of her series Halfway Mountain. Originally started in 2014 while studying advanced visual storytelling at the Danish School of Media and Journalism in Aarhus, the project explores what it is that sees Denmark, and its Nordic neighbours, consistently ranking in the top three spots in the yearly World Happiness Report.

Williamluz-publication-int-list Work / Publication William Luz's new publication shows how abstract art can sometimes make sense

William Luz makes up one-third of the much loved Nous Vous Collective and has recently released a brilliant publication, The Shape It Makes. Over the past few years, William has accumulated sketchbooks full of abstract forms. These drawings usually act as the starting point for more significant projects, but the illustrator felt that they “had a quality of their own”, which he wanted to expand on. “I’d been trying a few methods to replicate the quality of coloured pencil drawings in print and risograph seemed to do that perfectly”, he tells us. “I got in touch with Tan & Loose Press to see if they’d be into putting a book out with me”.

Rodriguez-photography-int-list Work / Photography Luis Alberto Rodriguez photographs use contorted and twisted limbs to express emotion

Luis Alberto Rodriguez uses the body as a vehicle for communication. As a professional dancer of 15 years, Luis’s photography is filled with poetic shapes and contorted bodies. “I’ve been observing the human form for as long as I can remember," he explains. “Questioning how gravity affects the bones inside our skin, how nothing is ever static, how no gesture is ever neutral”. The photographer highlights, in an almost animalistic manner, how movement is a signifier of meaning. “The endless possibilities of expression is a lifelong quest of mine”, he explains, and the images reveal their emotion through the various twists of limbs. Sometimes we witness pain, with arms lifted to the sky, other times a leg suggests confusion, fear or intense jubilation.

List Partnership / British Council: Venice Architecture Biennale 2018 “Create a flag that represents your own Island” – The amazing entries from the #MyIslandFlag Insta brief

We’ve teamed up with the British Council to create a design brief that explores the themes surrounding Island: The British Pavilion presentation commissioned by the British Council for the 16th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia.

World_cup_list Features / Miscellaneous We ask Nadine Redlich, Wieden+Kennedy and more to visualise their highlights of the World Cup

So, the World Cup is officially over for another four years… But what a tournament it was! With 32 teams and a total of 65 matches played across 12 venues, Russia proved itself a worthy host for one of the most entertaining World Cups ever. Packed full of sensational goals, the most expensive tournament to date was also one of the friendliest, bringing people together from all over the world, and allowing the underdogs (see Iceland and, of course, Croatia) to rise, with fewer than ten red cards for the first time ever.

Sethbogart-lick-art-int-list Work / Art Seth Bogart uses ceramics to recreate a brilliant but dysfunctional sex shop

Seth Bogart’s exhibition Lick is raunchy, fun and provocative, with 20 abstract paintings, plastered in oil paint, and around a 100 seductive ceramics forming the show. “The ceramics were intended to make up a pretend sex shop where nothing is functional," Seth explains.

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