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Morgan Powell's animated industrial finger machines will unnerve and hypnotise you

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.

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.”

Cesar-pelizer-animation-itsnicethat-lis Work / Animation César Pelizer animates your daydreams at work in Looking for Something

“The idea came a long time ago when I was about 18 years old and living in Argentina,” explains illustrator and animator César Pelizer of his latest personal venture, Looking For Something. “I was working in a boring part-time desk job and I would do anything to look busy even though I had my eyes half closed for a good part of the day.”

List-new Work / Animation Nikita Diakur’s chaotic animations are a gross study in dynamic computer simulation

Warning: do not watch the above video if you’re sensitive, hungover or a bit stressed. The work of Russian-born, Mainz-based filmmaker Nikita Diakur might just break you. As part of a hotshot team of animators, Nikita has created Ugly, a film project inspired by stories mined from the internet, each filled with bizarre characters, high-octane urban environments and terrifyingly unpredictable physics.

List2 Work / Animation Paul Cabon confronts the inevitability of going bald via a surreal animated short

“Being a bald man sucks,” says French animator Paul Cabon in the intro to his animated film The Bald Future. “Knowing you’ll become one is worse.” A surreal and charming exploration of the inescapable combination of genes and time, the film takes you from Paul’s initial realisation of his eggheaded fate during a family meal consisting of entirely bald relatives, to outlandish fantasies of his thick-maned alter ego – a life that Paul will never lead. “I knew going bald was not such a serious problem,” Paul tells It’s Nice That, “yet it was really hard to get some distance and feel ok about it. I realised it could be interesting comedy material because of that – there was some tension behind it.”

Studio-creme-animation-itsnicethat-list-alt Work / Animation Studio Creme's 3D scanned campaign film for Heresy is inspired by "mysticism and folklore"

We’ve seen our fair share of lookbooks and campaigns in our time. However, we’ve yet to see one that is completely fabricated in a fantasy 3D world, with models wearing the actual clothes 3D scanned and incorporated in that world. However, this is exactly what London-based Studio Creme has created for clothing brand Heresy’s S/S 2018 campaign.

Nxs-publication-itsnicethat-list Work / Publication NXS magazine builds a network of contributors who reflect on "the self" in the digital era

“We came up with the idea of NXS while studying on our master’s programme at Sandberg Instituut,” recalls Monika Grūzīte, Juliette Lizotte and Florian Mecklenburg, the founders of the tall, skinny publication exploring “the self” in the digital age of technology. NXS, which stands for nexus, is true to its name with every issue building a network of contributors where each is asked to reflect and comment on a previous contribution.

Morgan-powell_finger-machines_animation_itsnicethat-list Work / Animation Morgan Powell's animated industrial finger machines will unnerve and hypnotise you

Merging the two disparate worlds of human and machine in a slightly gross but strangely hypnotic way is Finger Machines, a new animated film by Morgan Powell at Seed. Softness and tactility are “the direct opposite of what you’d expect from machines,” he explains of the animation’s conflicted visuals, which show dismembered digits on a mass scale, engaged in various mechanical processes. And it is the film’s materiality that makes it so unnerving – an apt application of Morgan’s plasticine-like, super-smooth and hyperreal animation style. You can see more of this on his hilariously naughty ident for MTV involving lewd balloons.

Junocalypso-whattosowithamillionyears-photography-itsnicethat-7list Work / Photography Juno Calypso's eerie new series sees her posing inside Nevada’s plushest bunker

Imagine your average Doomsday prepper’s underground bunker; a low-ceilinged, dark, dingy room with a make-shift sofa bed and cupboards jam-packed with tinned food. Luxury and fallout shelter don’t seem like an obvious match. Juno Calypso’s latest surreal self-portraits, however, prove this assumption wrong. Her series What to do with a Million Years, which is currently on display at London’s TJ Boulting gallery, sees the artist posing inside Nevada’s — perhaps even the world’s — plushest bunker.

Elenaheatherwick-liberianmidwives-photography-itsnicethat-list Features / Photography Elena Heatherwick captures the spirit of hope and happiness embodied by Liberian midwives

The act of holding a camera has a distinctive charm to it. It starts conversations, but it’s an opener before a word has even been spoken. It intrigues people to come on over, to ask why you have it, what you’re doing, who you are. These pleasantries and the inevitable conversation that follows is an experience every photographer has undoubtedly had, but the accounts photographer Elena Heatherwick has from a trip to Liberia are some of the most joyful, heartbreaking and life affirming ones we’ve heard.

Subin-yang-illustration-itsnicethat-list Work / Illustration Subin Yang's joyful illustrations capture the fleeting and unobtainable moments in life

“Drawing started with my obsession for recreating something I saw that I couldn’t have in person. But by recreating it, I could somehow own it,” explains New York City-based illustrator Subin Yang. With a love for books, zines and any printed material, Subin’s joyful illustrations act as a means to capture the fleeting and unobtainable moments in life, all awash in a Lego-inspired palette of primary colours and pinks.

Nicer-tuesdays-april-max-siedentopf-list Regulars / Nicer Tuesdays Max Siedentopf explains why creative perfection is a dead end

Max Siedentopf is a creative working in advertising, who on the side creates a myriad of brilliantly oddball and original personal projects. But it is this eclectic output that can sometimes confuse people, he admitted at Nicer Tuesdays. “I’m pretty sure that no one here has any idea who I actually am,” he joked, and attempted to clear things up by telling us about his work at KesselsKramer – where he recently became partner – as well as his latest passion projects including a sticker book, gif series Instructions for World Peace, and Ordinary magazine.

Canyang-whitetigerbluedragon-graphicdesign-itsnicethat-1list Work / Graphic Design Designer Can Yang's book visually presents ancient Chinese elixir recipes

Chinese designer Can Yang is currently studying graphic design at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). Born in Shenzhen in southern China, Can moved to the US four years ago where she has been working toward her degree alongside her freelance work. “Most of my projects are situated between design and cultural communication and draw on brand identities, editorial and conceptual art,” says Can. “They are visually characterised by abstract forms and Chinese characters that signal a reflective and critical stance to global affairs,” Can tells It’s Nice That.

Adobe99u-conference-itsnicethat-list Work / Events From being bad to burping glitter: things we learned at The Adobe 99U Conference

Last week I was in New York at Adobe 99U, a conference which brings together a selection of the best creative leaders from the industry to share new ideas. The talks explored how to be a creative leader today, from the design process to directing a team and everything in between. It also, refreshingly, featured one of the widest ranges of creative voices we’ve seen at this type of event, which made for an inspiring, interesting and original few days. Below, we share a few learnings from the week on how to become a better creative leader and practitioner.
h3. It’s ok to be yourself at work

Practica-interactive-itsnicethat-list Work / Interactive Gravient's adaptive typographic identity changes depending on where you look at it from

“When working, we’re always orbiting an idea. The concept has to ride everything,” explains Barcelona and New York-based design studio Pràctica. Founded by Albert Porta, Anna Berbiela, Carlos Bermúdez, Guillem Casasús and Javier Arizu, the studio recently collaborated with graphic and motion designer David Galar and coder Thomas Hoek to demonstrate its concept-first process.

Cassidyaraiza-itsnicethat-list Work / Photography Cassidy Araiza's dreamy photographs touch on youth, camaraderie and sportsmanship

“I always knew I wanted to make work around baseball but I just never knew what it would be until I moved back to Tucson, Arizona,” photographer Cassidy Araiza tells It’s Nice That. “I grew up playing baseball in the desert and developed a strong love for the game. I have always thought that Tucson was a baseball players’ paradise as it stays warm all year around and has some of the best light during evening games.” As it turned out, Cassidy’s intention materialised through photography. In his latest series, inspired by his nephew’s sports enthusiasm, the artist captures the subtle interactions that take place during a children’s baseball game. 


Nicer-tuesdays-april-marion-deuchars-list Regulars / Nicer Tuesdays Marion Deuchars on how to make a great picture book

The idiosyncratic brushwork and hand-drawn typography of illustrator Marion Deuchars is instantly recognisable, and have charmed children and grown-ups alike in her many books. Recently, Marion has been both educating and inspirational in her books about the art world, particularly in Bob the Artist, which aims to teach kids about well-known artistic techniques while also encouraging individuality. The new follow-up Bob’s Blue Period is about expressing emotions through creativity, and is loosely based, she explains, on Picasso’s story of loss.

Davidkasnic-alphaandomega-photography-itsnicethat-list Work / Photography David Kasnic
 sees photography as a collaboration between artist and sitter

In his latest book Alpha and Omega, photographer David Kasnic turns his lens on a regional community church in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and presents striking portraits of the local neighbourhood. The Chicago-based photographer spent his time getting to know the local families, engaging in local church practices, and asking his sitters how they would want to be photographed. It is this thoughtful approach that renders Alpha and Omega a unique insight into an otherwise tightly-knit community.

Corentin-corneau-graphic-design-itsnicethat-3 Work / Graphic Design Corentin Corneau gives "strength and substance to images and text" through editorial design

Specialising in editorial design, whether in the form of a publication or a poster, Corentin Corneau’s work places archiving at its heart. Working with found photography, video stills and texts, the French designer’s portfolio explores the possibilities of print: “shaping, ranking, cutting and publishing,” in order to “give strength and substance to images and text.”

Listimage2 Features / Art Sound and vision: Parquet Courts' A. Savage on life as an artist and musician

A. Savage is an artist who is always walking the ledge between two creative worlds. The first is a musical one, where he throttles through songs playing in Parquet Courts. But the second is a slower paced painting career, where his enviable talent for building a narrative shifts from songwriting onto canvas. While he has no plans to settle in either camp permanently, his painting studio is “wonderful” the artist tells It’s Nice That. “It’s my favourite place in the world.”

Daynacasey-studiumgenerale-graphicdesign-itsnicethat-list Work / Graphic Design Dayna Casey's book of university talks is derived from the act of sitting in the lecture theatre

Designing posters for a series of university lectures appears to be a right of passage for many graphic designers. But Dayna Casey, an Australian-born, Hague-based graphic designer has gone above and beyond the usual one page InDesign layout. A graduate of The Royal Academy of Art in the Netherlands, she has created a whole publication, Studium Generale: Transmission Lexicon, on her old university’s lecture series.

List Work / Publication Super Paper is the cultural journal with regular design overhauls by Bureau Borsche

Super Paper lives up to its name. The Munich-based magazine is both superbly designed and informative; it updates its readers on art exhibitions, music and club events in the local area; it offers insightful articles on wider cultural and social issues; and it entertains its readers with satirical essays on the Bavarian lifestyle. “Each issue introduces a young as well as an established design studio, photographer or painter who accentuates a specific theme. The spreads include articles on art, fashion, places to be, exhibitions, literature, parties, and a chronological calendar. Most themes appear up to four or five times in a row. The magazine will then get a complete redesign," founder Hubertus Becker tells It’s Nice That.

Zhangkechun-betweenthemountainsandwater-photography-itsnicethat-13 Work / Photography “An unstoppable force is spreading across our natural landscapes": photographer Zhang Kechun

Zhang Kechun is a Chinese photographer based in Chengdu, a city located in the country’s southwest. Zhang spends his days working as a freelance designer, which gives the artist an opportunity to travel across the country on the lookout for new places to shoot. His latest series Between the Mountains and Water is a result of Zhang’s extensive travelling and features grand landscape shots of large, expansive mountain ranges and immense, concrete bridges. “Ten years ago, I spent three years shooting my last series Yellow River. After completing this project, I decided to continue looking for remarkable settings. Instead of shooting the river shore like I did in Yellow River, I ventured inland to look for impressive natural phenomena and man-built structures,” Zhang tells It’s Nice That.

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