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Manshen Lo illustrates the latest cover of The Poetry Review

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Mariaramos-picnic-illustration-itsnicethat-list Work / Illustration María Ramos' illustrations turn picnic food into an assortment of cheeky characters

While we’re constantly surprised (and pleased) by the oddly-elongated bout of sunny days we’re experiencing here in England, long days of sun are a regular occurrence for Spanish illustrator María Ramos. There’s nothing better than a picnic on days like this, and María agrees, illustrating a lunch full of character in her latest book, Picnic, published by Fulgencio Pimentel.

List_kissi_ussuki_yellow_coat_724 Work / Illustration Vilnius-based illustrator Kissi Ussuki on her love affair with the colour pink

Sometimes creativity thrives best under limitations. “I usually get overwhelmed by the variety of colour choices I can make so telling myself I can only use, let’s say, five colours at a time makes my work easier and decisions quicker,” Vilnius-based illustrator Kissi Ussuki tells It’s Nice That. “I don’t really know how to explain my love for pink, it’s just a very uplifting colour and I really loved the pink shade of acrylic paint when I was choosing those first paint bottles at a local store.”

Alicetye-gilbertandgeorge-printedpages-illustration-itsnicethat-list Work / Printed Pages How Alice Tye tackled the daunting task of painting a portrait of Gilbert and George

Gilbert and George, the matching artist duo who go everywhere and do absolutely everything together, are one of the most recognisable faces in contemporary art today. The past year has been a marathon of winning accolades for the duo as they returned to fill galleries with The Beard Pictures and Their Fuckosophy, picked up their title as royal academicians and celebrated 50 years of creating work together.

Listteam-warm-up---burundi-boys Work / Illustration Tim Vyner’s realtime illustrations of the Street Child World Cup made us fall in love with footie all over again

Stick your head outside in parts of the UK right now and I swear you can hear the intro to Three Lions pumping from a distant car stereo or the soft murmur of “Ing-ger-land” on the breeze. World Cup fever has thoroughly taken hold. But no matter how beautiful it is to plummet six sweet goals into the back of your opponent’s net, deep down we all know that the power of the World Cup is to bring together people from all over the globe in celebration of the beautiful game.

Suzannesaroff-fish-photography-itsnicethat-list Work / Photography Suzanne Saroff's meticulously arranged photographs alter perceptions

Photographer Suzanne Saroff began working in her discipline the way most do, developing a love for it through picking up disposable cameras and point and shoots. Hooked, the Missoula-born and now New York-based photographer “endeavoured to learn as much as possible about the art, teaching myself aspects of DSLR cameras and learning lighting techniques while exploring composition and subject matter,” she tells us. Since then, composition has become a part of Suzanne’s work she’s garnered a following for, arranging glasses filled with water to alter perceptions of a well-known object, from a lobster to half a papaya, or a bunch of peonies.

Actualsource-shoplifters-publication-itsnicethat-list Work / Publication Need a guide to LA’s graphic design scene? Shoplifters’ new issue has got your back

Good old Actual Source. In its work as a multi-format publisher, brand and retail store we’re constantly hopping on Actual Source’s website to see what graphic design picks they’ve got for us from books to its own magazine, Shoplifters. We know you’re all big fans of it too, so when we saw the latest issue was a peek inside Los Angeles’ design scene we ate up its brilliantly designed double-page spreads.

Thinkpiece-image-list Work / Opinion Arts cuts are bad for our health – what are we going to do about it?

Jodie Cariss works as part of Forever Curious, a creative initiative set up to work with local east London primary schools. One of the many things they offer is a series of “buddy up” sessions, where industry professionals share stories with a view to make them come to life. Below, Cariss writes how increasingly important it is that these initiatives exist in a climate where cuts are rife and asks: What next for a generation let down by state funding for the arts?

The world feels messy. Politically unstable. A growing sense of slowly mounting chaos and fear over the unknown. One of the UK’s worst-hit areas is the education system. Teachers are leaving in droves. The National Audit Office has tasked mainstream schools with making £3 billion in savings by 2019 – that’s around £800 per pupil. Nearly a quarter of the teachers who qualified since 2011 have already quit the job.

Inevitably, money for creativity and the arts within the curriculum has been fiercely reduced, in some areas to non-existence. Our schools are facing a scarcity of teachers – or at least, many with depleted energy after meeting growing demands – and art cupboards with just one ream of A4 paper for 900 students. I’ve seen it with my own eyes in a Hackney school.

So what happens to a generation of young people, particularly the 4.1 million who are classed as underprivileged, with limited opportunities at home, and fewer at school?

There will be a rise in adolescents with behavioural issues, leading to a less mentally-well adult generation. We know creativity has a direct correlation to the way we feel and how we express emotion, and poor mental health is already on the rise, with one in four people experiencing a problem each year.
Without sounding like the doctor of doom, the education crisis will pave the way for social and creative regression. Why? Because creativity is fundamental to the way we understand the world, form and keep relationships and develop our own sense of self. The ability to create, which begins in early development as play and forms the foundation of the way we find meaning in later life, is essential for a balanced and stimulated generation.

Mariaramos-picnic-illustration-itsnicethat-list Work / Illustration María Ramos' illustrations turn picnic food into an assortment of cheeky characters

While we’re constantly surprised (and pleased) by the oddly-elongated bout of sunny days we’re experiencing here in England, long days of sun are a regular occurrence for Spanish illustrator María Ramos. There’s nothing better than a picnic on days like this, and María agrees, illustrating a lunch full of character in her latest book, Picnic, published by Fulgencio Pimentel.

Turkina-faso-photography-itsnicethat-15 Work / Photography Turkina Faso's cover story for Odiseo issue 12 explores our skin as a uniform

“Evoking thoughts of conformity and lack of change, but also the sensation of equality and unity, issue 12 explores the significance of patterns, and the need for belonging,” reads the editor’s letter of the latest issue of contemporary erotic magazine, Odiseo, published by Folch. Focussed around a central question: “Who are you when you are alone, and who are you with others?” – the issue is dedicated to uniformity, “shaped into a publication”.

Its-nice-that-caitlin-mccarthy_list Work / Animation Meet Caitlin McCarthy and her cute (and sometimes gross) animations

Throughout Caitlin McCarthy’s creative career she has jumped between disciplines, analogue tools and digital programmes. Studying illustration at Camberwell, “which I chose because I loved drawing,” Caitlin then “somehow finished up my degree trying to be a fine artist, making giant silicone ham slices” she tells It’s Nice That. Immediately after graduation, literally just a few days, she went back to drawing and was an illustrator. Now… Caitlin’s an animator!

Moon-publication-itsnicethat-list Work / Publication From magazine worshipper to publisher: a chat with Moon’s founder Verity Pemberton

When Verity Pemberton, the founding editor of Moon magazine, was a teenager, her bedroom walls had a similar wallpaper to many other magazine makers. They were repeatedly pasted with ripped out centrefolds. “My brother used to write for i-D and The Face so I was looking at all those magazines from a young age,” she tells us. “I think when you pick up the right kind of magazine it can really speak to you — with Moon I just wanted to be able to make my creative ideas into a reality and also be able to share the people I find inspiring.”

Ucl-gd-int-6 Work / Graphic Design Plexopolis: a series of games to educate and inform students on accomplished design

Uniform, an independent creative agency based in Liverpool and London, has designed a series of board games to help students solve urban planning problems. A project brought to the agency by the mathematics department of University College London (UCL), Uniform has combined intelligent design and practical materials to create Plexopolis.

Xiaopeng-yuan-photography-itsnicethat-1 Work / Photography Photographer Xiaopeng Yuan draws on childhood memories of fruit markets in series for JNBY

“When I think of fruit, it reminds me of those large wholesale markets in small cities, like the ones I used to visit as a small child,” explains Shanghai-based photographer (and one-third of It’s Nice That Ones to Watch 2018, Same Paper) Xiaopeng Yuan. It was these memories that Xiaopeng drew from when shooting a recent campaign for Chinese fashion brand, JNBY.

List Work / Art Cleon Peterson's new exhibition Blood & Soil attacks American politics head on

Cleon Peterson’s powerful paintings challenge modern-day anxieties; directly criticising global and national politics. Blood & Soil, a title taken directly from a Nazi slogan, opens this Saturday at Over the Influence, LA. Moving from expressive nudes to figures in uniform, this exhibition observes Cleon attacking America’s here and now. Drawing from classical art forms, with his figures reminiscent of those created by the Greeks, the artist highlights how history never seems to progress — justice remains an unreachable ideal, law and order remains violent and corrupt. Concerned that we are slipping into a new form of fascism, Cleon has decided to speak up instead of remain silent. With their bold, uniform blocks of red, white and black, these threatening, ferocious paintings speak volumes.

Irma-boom-publication-itsnicethat-list Work / Publication Irma Boom’s new Viktor&Rolf tome for Phaidon “defies codes of bookness”

A perfect bundle of hot pink acetate, stacks of inverted fashion photography and different weights of paper stock, calling the new Phaidon title dedicated to theatrical Dutch fashion designers Viktor&Rolf a book seems something of a stretch. Designed by Irma Boom – the experimental publication specialist sometimes dubbed the “queen of books” – the tome called Cover Cover has been made from eight-page gatefolds, each of which represent a different Viktor&Rolf collection. Using different thicknesses of paper, the spreads have been layered on top of each other and hand-sewn with matching hot pink thread.

Jim-stoten Regulars / Friday Mixtape Friday Mixtape: Jim Stoten's soundtrack to his solo summer holiday

Happy Friday and happy Friday Mixtape day! As London swelters in a rare heatwave, Jim Stoten, also known by his job title leading name Jim the Illustrator, is off on a solo holiday to Spain. As Jim packs his swimming trunks, suncream and drawing equipment for a week of pondering, he’s also made us a mix that will soundtrack his summer holiday and maybe yours too.

Weapons_of_reason-food-int-02 Work / Publication Weapons of Reason's food issue is designed to inform, not preach, on systems that breed inequality

Weapons of Reason is a publishing project by design agency, Human After All. Edited by James Cartwright, each edition focuses on a particular issue – including power, megacities and the Arctic – and for the most recent edition, the focus is on food. The magazine tackles a variety of questions around our relationship to food, its production, and the corporations who control it. Here, It’s Nice That speaks to James about taking risks, trying to create change and how editing Weapons of Reason has impacted his own choices.

Hugh-kinsells-cunningham-photography-itsnicethat-list-alt Work / Photography Hugh Kinsella Cunningham's photographs show the power and resilience of the Congo's Church

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is a country whose Catholic Church is incredibly powerful, with unprecedented national reach compared to other organisations. It’s also a country in political turmoil, with President Joseph Kaliba refusing to stand down. In response to the country’s corrupt and violent government, the Church’s Priests have become symbols of peaceful protest, attempting to lead their people towards an untroubled transition of power.

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