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Microsoft develops AI Drawing Bot capable of sketching based on individual words

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.

Wang_soderstrom-transitionalspeculation-digital-itsnicethat-list Work / Digital Wang & Söderström create digital art you want to reach out and touch in new exhibition

“With one leg in the physical world and the other in the digital realm,” duo Anny Wang & Tim Söderström have gathered quite the following for their satisfyingly real renders. As the creative industry grows increasingly fascinated with the world of virtual reality, Wang & Söderström offer a softer, less daunting introduction, particularly in their latest exhibition Transitional Speculation at Volvo Studio, Stockholm.

Kate_davis.list Work / Digital Sexbots and cybersex: Kate Davis explores "relationship replacements"

State-of-the-art sex robots received extensive media coverage in 2017 as the new animatronic lovers that are programmed to please. Inventors have argued that sex robots could help reduce sex-trafficking and loneliness, but London-based, multi-media artist Kate Davis has her doubts: “Man has created machines in the form of women or children to use as sex objects. This sends negative messages to society and reinforces sexist gender inequalities,” Kate tells It’s Nice That. This criticism is reflected in her ongoing project Logging on to Love where Kate explores sexbots and virtual companions through a combination of photography, video and sound design. 


Arvr-list Features / Review of the Year 2017 Parallel Worlds: how VR and AR became artists’ new canvas, and brands followed suit

In early October, Snapchat announced a novel way to display art that launched with a collaboration with Jeff Koons. With the integration of a new special effects lens, the app invites users to hunt for augmented reality versions of Koons’ sculptures in popular public sites around the world, and artists interested in having their own work similarly shown can submit portfolios online. Snapchat’s big reveal, however, was quickly overshadowed by news that artist Sebastian Errazuriz and his studio Cross Lab had made a replica Balloon Dog in AR and virtually vandalised it as “a symbolic stance against corporate invasion.” The critical gesture smartly asked us to question how companies are managing virtual public space, but it was also yet another reminder of how artists are typically always a few steps ahead of corporations when it comes to innovative design.
This is particularly evident when it comes to virtual reality and augmented reality, which artists have been experimenting with for decades. Now that headsets are more accessible and companies release freely available technologies such as ARKit and Poly that make 3D creation easier, VR and AR are more mainstream than ever. It’s clear that countless brands and artists are using VR and AR for the sake of being part of this movement, but many others, thankfully, continue to create apps that tinker with reality in truly inventive and impressive ways.

Onformative-technology-itsnicethat-list Work / Digital Onformative's kinetic sculpture visualises the thought processes of machines

True/false, is a kinetic sculpture that explores what lies in between the fundamental states of on or off, true or false and which embodies the entities that are able to adopt either one of the two states and switch between them. Comprising rows of tubular lights and rotating black metal segments, the installation is constantly moving, forming an image or pattern and then instantly setting off the next via a series of mesmerising chain reactions.

Claire-hentschker-art-itsnicethat-list Work / Art Claire Hentschker: the artist who recreated The Shining as an interactive 3D space

“Virtual reality projects frequently promise experiences so realistic you won’t believe that you are in VR. I’m interested in the opposite,” Pittsburg-based visual artist, Claire Hentschker, tells It’s Nice That. Claire works at the Studio for Creative Enquiry, a “flexible laboratory for new modes of arts research, production and presentation,” at Carnegie Mellon University and last year spent nine months using every computer in the lab at night to find, process and stitch together thousands of video frames from hundreds of scenes of Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 film, The Shining.

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.

Xzy-publication-itsnicethat-list Work / Publication XZY explores the “visual alchemies of the phenomenon fake" in its debut issue

Contemporary culture and the modern world is dictated by the digital image. As we continue to consume more and more of it through the illuminated rectangles that surround us, many creative mediums are experiencing rapid change. Having witnessed the transformation to her chosen medium over the last ten years, photographer Tereza Mundilová, along with four fellow Berliners and friends, decided to create XZY magazine as a space to reflect on and examine “the electronic image in the era of post-photography.”

Steven-bliss-photography-itsnicethat-list Work / Photography Steven Bliss' distant yet familiar series, Boys

As a parent, the compulsion to document every waking moment of your child’s life is always there, leaving most with boxes and boxes of photos or digital folders full of phone snaps. However, for fine arts photographer and teacher Steven Bliss, it was the spontaneous purchase of an 8×10 camera in the year his second son was born that prompted him to document his children in a more considered manner, resulting in his ongoing project, Boys.

Shopping Regulars / Friday Mixtape Friday Mixtape: Shopping pick a mix of bands to be excited to be about

This week’s Friday Mixtape is by London-based band, Shopping. Today the trio of Rachel, Billy and Andrew release their third record, The Official Body self-described as “100% bangers” and we definitely have to agree. Full of bands with new releases to discover if you’re still listening to the same records from last year, this mix is perfect if you’re looking for something new for 2018. h3. Why have you picked these songs, what do they remind you of or make you feel?

Nicer-tuesdays-december-2017-cecile-dormeau Regulars / Nicer Tuesdays Illustrator Cécile Dormeau on body diversity and defying convention

Illustrator Cécile Dormeau has made her name creating diverse, empowered and hilarious female characters that eschew conventional body image tropes. At Nicer Tuesdays, she spoke about why it’s so important to defy cliche and the mixed reaction she receives online and from clients, plus shares her brilliant response to critics.

Stephwilson-oystermagazine-itsnicethat-list Work / Photography Steph Wilson shoots Marques Almeida alongside a goat, a greyhound, a ferret, a turkey and more

“Regarding the concept, I think I abused a brief to get a load of farm animals in a studio if I’m totally honest,” says photographer Steph Wilson on her latest cover shoot of Marques Almeida’s collection for Oyster magazine. Steph isn’t a photographer who uses the usual studio props, and her work is all the better for it. Yet this shoot in particular, including a goat, a greyhound, a Pomeranian, a turkey, chickens, a rat, a ferret and sheep, Steph created a setting more like a petting zoo than a fashion shoot.

Pavilion-studio-publication-itsnicethat-1 Work / Publication "It's a bit daft and it kind of lies a bit": Pavilion Studio's satirical zine, Ideal Science

Sitting somewhere between a photocopier and a laser printer, the Risograph firmly has a place in the heart of many designers, illustrators and printmakers. Despite being a cheaper and more environmentally friendly option to techniques like screen printing, the process is not without its drawbacks. In a recent zine titled Ideal Science, London-based graphic designer, Nick Greenbank, took the chance to celebrate the flaws and mistakes that arise when using the popular machine under his design studio, Pavilion.

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.

Evan-cohen-visions-comic-illustration-itsnicethat-list Work / Illustration Evan Cohen’s illustrated characters work together to travel through the panels of his comic

Evan Cohen’s latest comic sees a community of characters working together to travel through the panels of their own story. Aiming to create a kind of 21st Century parable, Visions is an exploration of relationships, spiritual and physical, he says. “Set within a story about creation and ancient myth, it’s about the connections we share with our community and the world at large.”

Tadaskarpavicius_faustas06_itsnicethat Work / Graphic Design Tadas Karpavicius's risky opera catalogue creates "fluidity and an organic feeling"

For Lithuanian graphic designer and art director Tadas Karpavicius, his career provides a means for him to indulge his interests by working with a variety of clients from artists to architects or curators and cultural institutions. In a recent project, it was his regard for the opera that he was able to utilise, designing the catalogue for the Vilnius City Opera’s performance of Faust.

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