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    Abbie Stephens’ Bookshelf

Film

Bookshelf: The inspirational books of music video director Abbie Stephens

Posted by Liv Siddall,

Director and animator Abbie Stephens came to our attention when she directed a spectacularly psychedelic, glam rock-inspired music video for the latest Temples single. She’s also made animations for Primal Scream and some spectacular short, personal films. Trained in design, Abbie has an eye for what looks just right, which perhaps is part of the reason why she’s been able to take some of the coolest photos of her book collection we’ve ever seen on this feature. Without further ado, here she is…

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    Ken Robinson: The Element

Ken Robinson: The Element

I bought Ken Robinson’s book after being inspired by an RSA Animate talk on Changing Education Paradigms. In his book he talks about how, by putting a higher value on academic subjects, the public education system has guided many people away from where their true talents lie. Therefore many brilliant people remain undiscovered and don’t really know what they are capable of achieving. Not only is this book massively inspiring to keep pushing yourself in the direction you want your life to take by following your passions, but he also talks about not being scared to make mistakes along the way and to keep doing things that excite you.

If ever I get a bit stuck on a project, dipping into this book often lifts me and makes me think about things in a new light. One of the quotes that is really exemplary of this is: “One of the enemies of creativity and innovation, especially in relation to our own development, is common sense. The playwright Bertolt Brecht said that as soon as something seems the most obvious thing in the world, it means that we have abandoned all attempts at understanding it.”

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    Aperture Foundation: Erwin Olaf

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    Aperture Foundation: Erwin Olaf

Aperture Foundation: Erwin Olaf

This is not technically my book, I borrowed it from a friend, but it is definitely one the most looked-at on my shelf at the moment. Not only are the images exquisitely composed and cast, but Erwin manages to really beautifully expose a great vulnerability to the characters in his portraits. He wrote that on occasions his picture s
were taken in a moment where he had asked the models to wait while he adjusted lighting. It’s really interesting to see the honesty in the expressions of these people that he captures under no direction. He calls it: “A moment between action and reaction, between turning from happy to sad. There is just emptiness”. It’s just beautiful. I studied graphic design and so have a really appreciation for print and beautifully crafted books. The blue ribbed book cloth and gold foil-blocked text really makes this book a thing of beauty.

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    Daniel Mason: Materials, Process, Print

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    Daniel Mason: Materials, Process, Print

Daniel Mason: Materials, Process, Print

This book was recommended to me but two of my design tutors, who have the design studio Eat Sleep Work/Play. It still remains one of my favourite books. From posters to packaging, this book breaks everything down into it’s material parts and manufacturing processes, with a real emphasis on craftsmanship. I used to make a lot of books for my degree, I find working with paper and bookbinding really therapeutic. I have just recently picked up this book again and become really inspired to start doing some more print-based work.

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    Candice Breitz exhibition brochure

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    Candice Breitz exhibition brochure

Candice Breitz exhibition brochure

This is the exhibition brochure to Candice Breitz exhibition at the White Cube Gallery in 2005. It was this exhibition that made me start working more seriously with film. In Candice’s film’s Mother and Father she hijacks snippets of poignant mother and father rolls in Hollywood films. Isolating them on a black background, she re-edits the material in a way to make new meanings from scenes that have become so iconic. After seeing this installation whilst on my foundation, I was inspired to make my final project, which was a video installation of my grandparents, recorded separately and then edited to appear as in conversation. This was the beginning of my fascination with film as a medium to express ideas.

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    Gestalten: Precursor: The Creativity Watchlist

Gestalten: Precursor: The Creativity Watchlist

This book is a showcase of tactile and beautifully art directed work. I love how this book celebrates multidisciplinary practice. A lot of the work is a result of collaborations between disciplines all of which are incredibly exciting. The emphasis being put on the concept, and the medium being chosen as the best means to support the idea. There is something for everyone in this book. I often pick it up to free up ideas when getting a little bogged down. This year alongside directing I have been making a lot of stills and installations. Working across disciplines is something that I find really exciting and keeps my ideas flowing.

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Posted by Liv Siddall

Liv joined It’s Nice That as an intern in 2011 and is now one of our editors. She oversees itsnicethat.com and has a particular interest in illustration, photography and music videos. She is also a regular guest and sometime host on our Studio Audience podcast.

Most Recent: Bookshelf View Archive

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    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.

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    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.

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    “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…

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    Yay! Hato Press! We love them. A lot. Neighbours of ours, Hato have spent the last five years collaborating with some of the coolest young creatives and oldest institutions to create impeccably beautiful printed matter and design solutions. A number of the publications these guys have produced are some of the most beautiful I’ve ever had the pleasure of holding/smelling, and it seems that every single thing they do or work on is covered in a glimmering magic dust that is exclusive to only them. Before you go and wet your pants over their multi-disciplinary work on their very nice websites (here and here) check out the books that have inspired them over the years below. Enjoy!

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    Satirical artist and very funny woman Miriam Elia is something of a pro when it comes to books; last year she self-published We Go to the Gallery, a satirical reinterpretation of a 1960s Ladybird book which seeks to help parents explain sex, death and contemporary art to their young ones, complete with a handy glossary of new words to learn. She’s since co-curated an exhibition about Pastiche, Parody and Piracy at London’s Cob Gallery, while other past works include I Fell in Love With a Conceptual Artist… and It Was TOTALLY MEANINGLESS about her relationship with Martin Creed. Hilarious? Yes. Yes it is. Miriam’s Bookshelf includes lovingly weathered books about typography, photography, flesh-eating plants and Butlins holiday camps, giving a neat insight into her brain.

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    John Tebbs is an English gardener who, frustrated by the fact that “many of his working days are held hostage to the weather” founded The Garden Edit in the winter of 2013. His idea was to spend his downtime as productively as possible, creating an online store of beautiful objects which he sourced and sold himself. The resulting curated collection reflects John’s faultless aesthetic, selling “minimal, well-designed products from craftspeople, artists, publishing houses and family-run businesses” alongside a Journal which features short articles by some of his favourite figures about their own horticultural escapades, from rooftop gardens to illustrations of plants.

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    Want to know a surprising secret about self-proclaimed “book obsessive” and Dazed & Confused editor Isabella Burley? She can’t stand big coffee-table-sized fashion books. “I’ve always taken my references from art, pop culture, photography and sex zines rather than fashion,” she told us. “That’s really come to shape the way I approach our fashion content within Dazed.”

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    With 25 years experience in magazine design, not to mention eight years of covering the extensive subject under the title magCulture, it’s a wonder we haven’t already metaphorically burst into Jeremy Leslie’s house and insisted he share his five favourite examples of printed matter right then and there. Instead, we caught him in the build up to The Modern Magazine 2014, the conference which takes place annually in the midst of London Design Festival to shine a torch on the current state of editorial creativity, as well as new directions for the industry.

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    Danielle Pender is the brain at the helm of Riposte magazine, one of the most exciting new publications created to champion the women doing exciting work in the creative industries today, as well as working at KK Outlet, the London outpost of communications agency KesselsKramer, so can you blame us for wanting to have a poke about her bookshelf? Her selection gives a generous insight into the process behind putting together a magazine, from the issue of National Geographic which led her and Riposte’s creative director Shaz Madani to consider a text-based front cover for the magazine (“I’m really happy we had the balls to go with it”) and the all-time hero she dreams of interviewing, with a few other gems thrown in for good measure. She technically stretched her five books to seven, but we let her off because they’re all so damn interesting.

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    I always had a hunch that Bruno Bayley was the kind of guy with a great bookshelf – you can just tell that he’s a hoarder of the weird, the kind of person who would rather stumble upon someone’s diary in a forest than, say, a suitcase full of cash. London-based Bruno is the European managing editor of Vice, which allows him to take his curiosity for the dark corners of the world and pump them out to those who want to know but perhaps can’t be bothered to look. His articles are some of the best on Vice at the moment, so go and check them out after you’ve read his deeply interesting, peculiar top five books. Excuse us while we go and subscribe to the Fortean Times

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    London-based photographer Catherine Losing is exactly our cup of tea; working with the crème de la crème of collaborators from set designers to food stylists, she takes photographs which are colourful, dynamic, bold and immediately recognisable. Unsurprisingly then, her bookshelf is among the very best-stocked of them all, complete with Martin Creed, Barbara Hepworth and Toilet Paper magazine, and most importantly they’re all seriously well-thumbed and chockablock with Post-its.

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    When you ask a couple of creatives who work in a former kindergarten in east Berlin (as we learned in an interview many moons ago) to show you their book collection, you hope to see some pretty cool and quirky publications. Doris and Daniel of Golden Cosmos have not let us down.

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    Design and animation are maybe a bit overlooked when it comes to selecting people whose bookshelves we’d like to share with you. With that in mind this week’s collection comes from the very lovely folks at interactive design and animation studio Animade. They recently incorporated Hover Studio into their midst too, making them collectively one of our favourite groups of creative brains in a five mile radius. Their bookshelf has a serious digital and animation lean, so budding animators and interactive designers, gather round to find out the tomes that’ll yield the secrets of your trade.