January 28, 2015

Article Summary: Chelsea Hantken

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Featured in Nicework’s 13th edition we have a profound, soulful freelance illustrator and full-time hospitality student from down under, Chelsea Hantken.

Chelsea’s illustrations focus on portraiture with inspiration gathered from motion and nature. In this article Chelsea talks about art as an escape, happiness, and relaxation. She also shines light on her digital world of visual biography, shies away from self-portraits, and talks to us about Tori Amos, Breaking Bad art pieces, and some slightly NSFW photography of naked men.

Chelsea Hantken artical screenshot

All of this and so much more can be found right here. You could also click the image below to download NICE Magazine: Contrast & Contradiction. We promise, it’s a great read.

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January 21, 2015

Magazines are Nice

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Can you say, ‘hello, inspiration’?

With the release of our latest issue of the Nice Magazine, carefully choreographed with visual and narrative virtuosity, we couldn’t help but indulge further into a series of creative showcases from like-minded magazines featured from all over the world.

Here is a directory of some of our favorites:

Janine, the publisher, editor and designer of Uppercase took to textiles this month in her newest issue of Uppercase. She expresses that although paper will always be her first love, she has found herself becoming increasingly drawn to the tactility of textiles. Each issue has a swatch of vintage feed sack fabric hand-applied to the cover!



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Bureaugraphy is a magazine produced by a graphic design student in Oslo, Norway. The artist, Marcus Pedersen explains that the different bureau’s that feature all work within different fields of design. The magazine uses an abstract style with its different geometric shapes and loose grid system, which expresses the diversity of the issue.






Elephant magazine is comprised of contemporary art and visual culture. Their content includes visual material, new faces and original voices. “We tried to visually translate the new editorial changes by letting the content speak for itself. This is what helped us to find the graphic voice of the magazine: the design is based on the content and not the other way around” , says creative art director, Astrid Stavro.






Nevertheless, a creation from Vienna, Austria, took its initiators across the globe from Hong Kong to Huehute and back to bring you this design. Their adventures attempt to lead them to discover a galaxy of unusual insects and ghosts, comprehend space and rest under palms and pelargoniums. What more could you want?







And as if these were not enough, click the link below for your ultimate guide to eye candy- and its FREE!

Nice Magazine

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January 20, 2015

Jean Jullien – ‘Us’

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Observer-illustrator Jean Jullien created a lovely body of work that pays homage to the funny little moments in life. ‘Us‘ makes us laugh at ourselves (sometimes in shame when realising the serious undertones that lie beneath the surface).










On a separate note, Jean Jullien has also been put under observation himself - watch ‘A little film about… Jean Jullien’, where Handsomefrank goes behind the scenes on some of the finest contemporary artists. Have a look.


Just like illustrations communicate ideas, design also poses unique ways to get the message across. Take a look at how Nicework approaches the branding process, to make sure every brand tells a story.

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January 20, 2015

Roger Ballen: Asylum of the Birds

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Last year, Roger Ballen collaborated with director Ben Crossman to create a launch film for his monograph, Asylum of the Birds. The film brings a new dimension to the world Ballen explores through his photographs. You can watch the film below, or purchase Asylum of the Birds right here.

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To find out more about Roger Ballen’s upcoming talk at CreativeMornings Johannesburg, and to book tickets, you can go to the event page. See you there!

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January 19, 2015

365 Postcards for Ants

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For the year of 2013, South African artist Lorraine Loots undertook a project to create one miniature painting a day for 365 days. The project, titled 365 Paintings for Ants, was a wild success – enough so that Loots decided to repeat it in 2014, with 365 Postcards for Ants. Drawing on the fact that Cape Town was 2014’s World Design Capital, she themed the year’s paintings on Cape Town and its surroundings and landmarks.

The final collection of tiny paintings is showing at 6 Spin Street in Cape Town – it opened on Saturday and closes on the 5th of February, so if you’re in the Mother City, get down there!

You can also browse and purchase prints of 2014’s paintings on Lorraine’s website.







If you’d like to know more about how the project first got started, check out the video below!

365 Paintings for Ants with Lorraine Loots from Gareth Pon on Vimeo.

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January 19, 2015

NICE Magazine 13: The Contrast & Contradiction Issue

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Hello, everyone!

Those of you who are loyal readers of the NICE Magazine might just be falling out of your chairs right now, because we haven’t put out an issue in over a year. We’ve put our blood, sweat and tears into this one*, and we’re hoping you’ll agree that it was worth the wait – it’s the Contrast & Contradiction issue! You can click the beautiful banner below to grab it, and scroll down to read more.


Some of our wonderfully talented contributors include:

  • Richard Ankrom
  • Michelle van Aswegen
  • Kevin Cooley
  • Jono van Deventer
  • Antonin Forneau
  • Chelsea Hantken
  • Andrea Hasler
  • Christopher Jonassen
  • Jee-Young Lee
  • Connie McDonald
  • Doyelle Blane Muise
  • Mathieu St-Pierre
  • Sean Tucker



This issue also features a brand spanking new feature – Art Fight! We pitted our favourite local illustrators against each other in a challenge to end all challengers. Twelve noble champions competed:

  • Alice Edy vs. Andy Wyeth
  • Gerhard van Wyk vs. Louis Minaar
  • Gerhard Human vs. Kirstin Uken
  • Renate van Rensburg vs. Ruschka du Toit
  • Lize-Marie Dreyer vs. Brent Swart
  • and even a pair of our very own team – Candice Bondi vs. Luci Badenhorst



We hope you enjoy.

Keep an eye out for the tasteful sideboob and a pair of fuschia panties.

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January 19, 2015

CreativeMornings Johannesburg: Ugly | Tickets now available

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Happy Monday, everyone!

It’s that time of the month again, when you all scramble to get tickets for the next CreativeMornings talk. This one’s a doozy, too – our speaker is revolutionary, world-renowned photographer Roger Ballen. We know it’s early and your brain hasn’t woken up yet, but before you pour your first coffee of the day, make sure you click this link! Tickets are free but limited, and these ones are going to go fast.

Roger Ballen’s talk will be happening at JoziHub on Friday the  23rd of January, from 8.30am to 10.am. Free coffee and breakfast, as always!


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January 16, 2015

Why do people like Hipsterism, Real and New Retro Design ?

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Maybe its just me, and maybe I’m totally off the mark but with the recent revival of New Retro Design and all things vintage and hipstery, a question kept popping to mind. WHY ?
Why is it that creatives were suddenly drawn to hand-drawn, rustic, textured design ? Why was DIY Pallet Wood Furniture the new in-thing to have, with creative spending up to R6000 for a single piece of pallet wood painted white with wheels ?

I think it can be narrowed down to a few things,  but lets take our first steps in that direction.

Lets have a look at the branding of : SALTVERK by Denmark Based,  Bessermachen Design Studio.


1. Traditional Executions / Brainstorms 
Now, more than any other point in history, are we able to access massive amounts of information, inspiration and execution techniques. We have programs that allow us to create almost anything , and 3D printers that allow us to take our sketches and concepts into a real tangible format. Our phones, tablets and laptops allow us to work on the run, and our coffee cups are always full. You can browse YouTube and access tutorials on almost anything enabling a need beyond a technical skill, because almost anyone can learn that given the time.

But what we lost was the tangibility of design, the literal elbow grease that used to get placed into each and every step of the design process. If almost anyone can grasp the Programs needed, how do we ensure we stand out ? How do we create something unique when its so easy to make something within a couple of clicks ?

Handmade design. Its the search for authenticity and the real in a overstimulated, over accessed world.

2. Beautiful, Real Flaws

Think about a clean pristine plastic or metal table.  Polished, angular and perfect form of design.  Then comes along a single menacing coffee cup, and one “Oops” away from creating a permanent scratch. Just like the one on your brand new iPhone.  Now what does the table look like ? Terrible.

Then you grab a classic oak table, grain, not a single solid straight line, but with character that builds with every scratch. Each line, scratch and mark adds to a story of the of the table. A realness thats inherent in the world.

3. Identity 


This branding works fantastically well considering how flawlessly they integrated clean solid design, with some solid textures and using the product in its actual design execution. But what it does really well is give you a subtle narrative about the products themselves without being “too in-your-face”.


For me, the thing I notice most is a sense that these brands know exactly where they come from, why they are doing what they do and the the story behind it. There is reason behind every step of their design, and every elements has significant historical meaning, beyond making something flashy for flashy sake.  They have a real brand identity, character and personality. This is gives creatives all kinds of inspiration and elements to build on.  A blank canvas with tonnes of small pieces that they can use and rearrange over needing to just make something hot that people will like.



Know your story.
Do you have any idea how many brands exist in the world ? How many marketing messages you receive daily ? 2000 – 15 000.

Considering this, looking at something which has more substance beyond just flash tends to grab your eye more.

Get Dirty & Log Off
Design with your hands. Play with your product. Use it in its native form and it something else. Can you make something with it ?


Did you find this spiffy ? Or was it a piece of soggy old toast ?
Let us know in the comments, and if you would like to find out more about how great brands and design can work for you, pop along below !

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January 15, 2015

Inspiring pixel illustration and how animation can make it 100 times better.

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Hello everyone!

Today we will be exploring the work of illustrator Paul Robertson and how the use of animation can really transform an illustration concept and bring it life. Mr. Robertson specializes in pixel art and though some of his compositions can be exceptionally NSFW, his imagination knows no bounds. Here are a select few of his more conservative pieces for you to feast your eyes on.

(Health warning: Nicework will not be responsible for any epileptic fits induced by this blog post. Readers view at own risk.)







If you are an illustrator and think you would like to transcend your work into the living and moving world, take a look at this lovely little offer.




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