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…
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.