• Bookshelf-hero

    Bookshelf: Margot Bowman


Illustrator, designer and DJ Margot Bowman gives us a cheeky peek at her Bookshelf

Posted by Rebecca Fulleylove,

Margot Bowman is the type of artist that brings to life and refines what’s in our daydreams. She creates work we can’t help but be drawn to and immerses herself in her field. Her colourful hand-drawn aesthetic is inviting, charming and has this whimsy about it that ushers us to join in. Her work is diverse exploring various mediums like illustration, painting, sculpture and animated Gifs among other things, making Margot’s portfolio an exciting journey into her multi-coloured mind.

As a designer and DJ and creative director of fashion publication The Estethetica Review as well, she’s open to a range of creatives which inspire and shape her work. Margot manages to keep her artistic fingers in a multitude of creative pies with all their wonderfully fruity fillings at her disposal. So welcome Margot to Bookshelf where her passion for what she does drips magically into the worn pages of these books.

Max Bill: Form, Function, Beauty = Gestalt

I read this book when I was still at Central St Martins (CSM). There’s one chapter where Max Bill talks about the function of beauty; how the physical space that objects or work take up in our habits has an effect on us and he justifies this in a very rational, Swiss, objective way. He also talks about how in the design world functionality is so often placed above beauty because the question, “Does the tap work?” is far easier to question to answer than, “is the tap beautiful?” I found my training at CSM was very much based around functionality – beauty wasn’t ever really discussed. This really shut out my illustration work, and my interest in fashion, from being the kind of serious topic that could be discussed or brought in to my degree.

So while I was at CSM I had two parallel bodies of work; the work I did at college that was continuously trying to make functionality emotional with almost no colour in it, and the work I did outside of college. This was full of colour and wove in and out of fashion, psychedelia and interest in the intangible, things that you feel but you can’t put into a grid, or find a typeface to express. For me, this book gave me the confidence in this second body of work – I realised this is just as valid and just as functional as the more traditional ideas about what “design” is.


Wolfgang Tillmans: Wolfgang Tillmans 3 Volume Anthology

Even though our work is contrasting in terms of medium, I feel this affinity with Wolfgang. His work finds unexpected beauty in so much of what’s around us, the standardised things we completely take for granted. I think this ability to slow down and re-look, is such an important role for an artist. The idea that someone like him will see better and allow us to do the same, to see the mundane afresh is hugely empowering. It allows the viewer to appreciate that their reality is flexible and that they can change things.


Yohji Yamamoto: My Dear Bomb

This is an anti-chronology biography from the one and only Yohji. When someone is so well-known for a non-verbal form of communication, i.e. clothing, it’s hugely satisfying to get inside their head in the form of book. I bought this after seeing the exhibition he had at the V&A last year and I think what was so great about that exhibition was the intimacy in which you could experience the clothing. For some reason they decided you couldn’t draw the garments but you could touch them. So after a few hours of doing that I suddenly moved past the iconic imagery that I initially associated with his work, (in particular the relationship with Peter Saville & Nick Knight) and into the much more sensual and complicated narratives he was telling with each garment. The book is a very candid and sincere map to the source of all these narratives; his early experiences, his thoughts on gender etc.


Aaron Rose & Mandy Kahn: Collage Culture

Finding this book was one of those fantastic experiences when you find someone else who has more eloquently expressed everything you’ve been thinking. For me the omnipresent nature of the constant bombardment of nostalgia is totally f*cking repressive. Coming out of the Jubilee extravaganza was particularly trying. Why is the only imagery around being British totally rooted in the war and post-war years? It’s not 1952 anymore and I’m very thankful for that!

Culture, in all its forms, should provide a pathway for its audiences to imagine new futures. Unfortunately there are plenty of brands and creatives who are simply not interested in that – nostalgia is cheap and easy. So we are constantly fed the same overly simplified lies about how things used to be. The past has lead us into plenty of sticky situations; global warming, the financial events of the last five years etc. Now we must move away from that and provide new solutions with our new cultural language.


Michael Braungart & William McDonough: Cradle to Cradle

In a strange way I would say that this book and Tillman’s collected works have a lot in common. Cradle to Cradle is a much more practical but equally imaginative re-assessment of what is taken to be the status quo. For the last 50 years we’ve all been buying a huge amount of stuff and throwing it away when we are bored of it or it stops working; the object ceases to have use to us or anyone else. In the last ten years, this ideology has shifted slightly with the rise and ubiquity of recycling culture. But we still only ever see our waste downgraded into less meaningful objects: book to magazine to newspaper etc. This is because all of our consumer goods are designed with only one life-span in mind. Instead Braungart & McDonough propose a 360 degree design culture that takes into consideration the end of the product’s life, and more importantly, its future lives. So we start owning precious raw materials: rubber, mercury, iron etc. for our whole lives instead of short-term incarnations.



Posted by Rebecca Fulleylove

Rebecca joined us as an editorial intern after studying at Norwich University College of the Arts. She originally wrote for the site between March and June 2012 and returned in the summer of 2014 for a four-week freelance stint.

Most Recent: Bookshelf View Archive

  1. Fonshickmann-bookshelf-2

    It’s not very often we have a selection of vintage porn magazines masquerading as a book about the history of cinema on It’s Nice That, and for this special occasion we have Professor Fons Hickmann, founder of Berlin studio Fons Hickmann m23, to thank – he stumbled across the rare finding at a French flea market.

  2. List

    Last week Apartamento’s co-founder and art director Omar Sosa mentioned an upcoming collaboration with artist Nathalie Du Pasquier in his Bookshelf feature, and purely by chance this week we have Nathalie herself running us through her favourite books. What a nice coincidence!

  3. New-omar-list_

    You know how, when going to the hair salon, you automatically and perhaps unfairly expect your hairdresser to be perfectly coiffed? We had a similar sense of anticipation when it came to admiring Omar Sosa’s favourite books – a kind of nervous hope that the man responsible for getting together with Nacho Alegre to co-found Apartamento, an eclectic and deftly-curated compilation of cool characters and the spaces they inhabit, has a similarly intriguing collection of books in his own home too.

  4. Lenka-list

    Artist Lenka Clayton has been a mainstay on It’s Nice That since way back in 2009, whether she’s doing very slow magic tricks, making drawings on a typewriter with friend and collaborator Michael Crowe, or making books about the 63 objects she has removed from her son’s mouth. With such a multidisciplinary practice we knew Lenka would have stacks of wonderful books tucked away, and we weren’t mistaken. “A few years ago I moved to America from England,” she explained, “so I have far fewer books at home than I used to, making this exercise quite easy. The books I chose are the ones that I sacrificed clothes space for in my suitcases.” It seems a good tactic, as these five are a wonderfully eclectic insight into Lenka’s work. Read on!

  5. Unnamed

    As co-founder of London-based studio 8vo, co-editor of Octavo, International Journal of Typography for all of its eight year-long life and now one half of typographic powerhouse MuirMcNeil, you’d imagine that Hamish Muir has built up a fairly comprehensive collection of design and typography-based publications over the 30 odd years he’s been working. Fortunately for you, we’ve done the legwork and gotten cold hard proof of it in the form of photographs of his top five, and it’s even better than we imagined.

  6. List

    Antenne Books is to independent art bookshops what cool kids are to playgrounds – generously exchanging the very best in Pokemon cards from their reserved spot on the climbing frame – except for the Pokemon cards are beautifully made books about art, photography, design and illustration, and the climbing frame is a neat website. They shared five of their favourite out-of-print publications, including some absolute bangers from Ari Marcopoulos and Ed Templeton, leaving us envious and awestruck in equal parts. For their full range, check out their website.

  7. List

    Last week Clive Martin from Vice called him “the David Bailey of grime” which sums up Ewen Spencer’s oeuvre beautifully, really. The documentary photographer has made British youth and subculture his bread and butter, photographing the UK garage scene in all of its gritty glory as well as working for the NME, photographing The White Stripes, making the very brilliant Brandy & Coke and producing a host of books and exhibitions as well. As far as perspectives on Britishness go, Ewen’s is basically unrivalled.

  8. List

    Yesterday marked the launch of the brand new issue of bi-annual hardback Twin magazine, the defiantly substantial glossy publication that clubs fashion, art and culture together through interviews and gorgeous imagery. This issue includes photographs by Petra Collins, an archive of childhood shots of Kate Bush taken by her older brother and an interview with the remarkable Neneh Cherry, so to celebrate we thought we’d have founder Becky Smith show us the five books which have inspired and influenced her. In the process, we learned who her favourite photographers are, whose rare books she’s lucky to have laid her hands on and the unlikely inspiration behind the name “Twin”. Read on!

  9. List

    When we get in touch with the people whose work we admire to ask if they’d like to be involved in the Bookshelf feature, we ask them to pick books which have been particularly inspiring or influential to them in their lives, and this brief might never been more closely followed than by Jessica Svendsen. Jessica is a graphic designer at Pentagram and teaches Typography at both Parsons and Pratt in New York, as well as working on a number of freelance projects which are as remarkable for the degree of research which informs them as for their bold, impactful imagery.

  10. Lisst

    Longtime fans of Toro Y Moi will already know Chaz Bundick to be a man with impeccable visual stylings, and a portfolio which stretches way beyond logos and album covers to include album launches turned art exhibitions, screen-printed posters and a heavy involvement with the concepts behind his music videos as well. Today marks the launch of Chaz’s debut album Michael under the name of his dancier side project Les Sins, which we decided made for an ample excuse to get a look at his Bookshelf. And my god it’s a good one.

  11. List-2

    Where some printed publications shy away from British culture as it exists beyond Union Jack flags and Yorkshire tea in floral china, LAW Magazine, which stands for Lives and Works is already knee-deep in the grit and the grime. Now in its fifth issue, the staple-bound bi-annual describes itself as a platform for “the beautiful everyday… A window into the world of the current undercurrent that nobody is catching and which is therefore of greater importance to document.” It’s a kind of Britishness so ubiquitous that you’d have to be wandering the streets with your head in a bag to miss it – one defined by full-suspension mountain bikes, Sunday League referees, Hackney estate maps and Vauxhall Novas.

  12. List

    Having founded London-based design studio Build in 2001, creative director Michael C. Place has amassed his fair share of books in his time, with a healthy combination of design knowledge to be found tucked between the spines on the studios (admirably well-organised) shelf. We’ve been championing Build’s work on the site for some time now, so what better way to get an insight into the inspirations behind their snazzy work than by hearing from the creative director himself about his favourite reading material? Between Letraset catalogues, reflections on legend Wim Crouwel and Michael’s mate Blam (who has excellent taste in books) we were not disappointed.

  13. Main1

    “In February 2013, 18 weeks pregnant, I was diagnosed with bowel cancer.” That’s the opening statement on the website of graphic novelist Matilda Tristram, who channeled this painful chapter of her life into a bestselling comic entitled Probably Nothing. We interviewed Matilda a while back on the site and were so intrigued by her story, we had to know more. In this revealing, insightful Bookshelf, Matilda shows us the fantastic books that have inspired her to be one of the most important and engaging graphic novelists working today. Here she is…