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    Bookshelf: Austin Kleon

Art

Bookshelf: Austin Kleon

Posted by Bryony Quinn,

Austin Kleon is a Venn diagram of creativity as his practice shifts perceptively between pictures, words and the web. Newspaper Blackout is a project in which Austin (surprisingly) blacks-out whole columns of text, save for a few floating words that form short, witty and quite brilliant poems revealed from the daily news. He’s also responsible for the wildly popular Steal Like An Artist, a list of ten things he (and everyone else as it turned out) wished he’d been taught at college. This week he fills our Bookshelf post with a collection of artists’ memoirs, after recently hearing someone say that "biographies are the best self-help books.”

Decoded Jay-Z

It surprised the hell out of me, but Decoded is some of the best writing about art and music I’ve read. Totally fascinating, and beautifully designed — you have to get the paper version. The bits where Jay-Z “decodes” his lyrics get a little tedious, but the straightforward prose bits — his readings of hip-hop culture, Basquiat’s work, and his own rise to fame — are fantastic.
www.amazon.co.uk/decoded
www.bing.decodejay-z.com

Just Kids Patti Smith

Kurt Vonnegut wrote: “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.” This book is about two friends, Patti Smith and the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, pretending to be artists, and therefore, slowly becoming artists. I don’t know anyone who read this book who didn’t like it.
www.amazon.co.uk/just-kids
www.wikipedia.org/patti-smith

American Elf Volume 1: The Collected Sketchbook Diaries Of James Kochalka James Kochalka

Kochalka has drawn a daily comic strip diary in his sketchbook for over 10 years. The original strips have a black and white simplicity to them that I love. I think the heart of the strip is really Kochalka’s marriage. At the beginning, Kochalka and his wife are going out in the rain, drinking and smoking and partying, and towards the end, they’re having a baby and becoming grownups. Amazing work — still in progress! — and one of my favorite comic strips of all time.
www.amazon.co.uk/american-elf
www.wikipedia.org/james-kochalka

I Remember Joe Brainard

This is a book to put on your nightstand and dip into a little bit every night before bed. A true memoir in the sense that it’s simply a a collage of hundreds of sentences that start with the words “I remember.” Brainard recalls both his post-war Oklahoma childhood and his days as an artist in New York City. A magical thing happens in this book: while recalling specific details of his life, what Brainard really does is help us remember our own lives. “I remember Saturday night baths and Sunday morning comics.” I do, too.
www.amazon.co.uk/i-remember
www.joebrainard.org

Memories, Dreams, Reflections Carl Jung

Jung’s not technically an artist, but I’m throwing him in here anyways. The famous psychologist started his memoir at the end of his life at the age of 81 and worked on it with his assistant until his death. He covers everything from his childhood to his dreams to his relationship with Freud to his struggle to somehow combine religion and science. There’s a particularly brilliant passage where he recalls a childhood memory of imagining God dropping a gigantic turd on the roof of his church. (No, really, it’s great.)
www.amazon.co.uk/memories-dreams-reflections
www.wikipedia.org/memories-dreams-reflections

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Posted by Bryony Quinn

Bryony was It’s Nice That’s first ever intern and worked her way up to assistant online editor before moving on to pursue other interests in the summer of 2012.

Most Recent: Art View Archive

  1. Karinhagen-itsnicethat-main

    Pottery has had a bit of a bad rep until recently when people have slowly begun to realise that it’s FUCKING BADDASS. The pottery world is creaking under the weight of the amount of thrill-seeking clay-spinners popping up all over the place making vessels for cool people to put their cacti and fennel seeds in, and so we thought we’d highlight a few people who are taking the clay world by storm. Think for a minute, if you will, how few kilns there are on this earth, and how many universities have in recent years completely shut down their ceramics department due to lack of funding and demand. Then get your head around how these guys manage to create such brilliant work at such an astonishing rate while still keeping up their day jobs. Seeing as pottery is well trendy right now, I thought I’d run down a list of my personal favourite pot-heads out there.

  2. Jr-newyorktimes-itsnicethat-list

    It’s always a joy when two creative forces we like collide and produce something that harnesses their collective talents. We’re huge fans of the team at The New York Times Magazine (so much so we interviewed design director Gail Bichler for the new issue of our Printed Pages magazine) and we love the work of JR, so the coming-together of the two was right up our street.

  3. List

    Have you ever wondered what the world might have looked like after the great Old Testament flood? What bizarre events might have followed such a freak occurrence in weather? Me neither. It’s honestly never crossed my mind. But illustrator Samuel Branton has been fixating on the idea, imagining the strange fusion of land and sea that a tumultuous rise in water levels might effect. He’s gone one step further and illustrated these fictional scenarios in miniature, taking this Regency medium and making it weird. Witness crabs beating up a wild boar, monkeys tossing an elephant in the air and a sad old sperm whale incapacitated in a tree. And Deluge is available in book form too!

  4. Aakash-itsnicethat-list

    When we last wrote about Aakash Nihalani we described his practice as a series of interventions, and now that he has graduated from playful street art compositions to full blown technological mind-blowers, that vaguery seems even more apt. His newest piece sees him create a series of interactive installations which respond to the movements of the subject stood in front of them. The video demonstrates it better than I could ever hope to, so wrap your eyes around it and try to keep your jaw off the floor. Aakash is entering a new age, people; just imagine the possibilities!

  5. Ines-longevial-itsnicethat-list

    Inès Longevial is an art director and illustrator based in Paris, whose beautiful paintings of intertwined bodies are likely to have you looking twice. She breaks up the human figure into segments in a fashion Picasso himself would admire, rendering different parts in contrasting but muted colour palettes to disguise the physicality of her subjects. The effect is quite beguiling; hands play across hips and colour distinctions hint at the seams of clothes, but nothing is clear cut. It’s a geometric play on anatomy, and it has clients including fashion brand Amélie Pichard and sportswear giants Nike coming back for more.

  6. Hannahwaldron-itsnicethat-list

    “I wish I knew how to weave,” I found myself sighing longingly while clicking through Hannah Waldron’s portfolio. The UK-based multi-disciplinary artist and designer has transitioned seamlessly from grid-based image-making to create works in textile form since completing an MFA in Textiles at Konstfack, Sweden, and it looks like she’s well at home in the medium. Map Tapestries is a series of woven works inspired by various city scenes – Kreuzberg, NYC and Venice, for example – in bright colours, evocative shapes and simple geometric forms, and it’s wonderful.

  7. Jen-stark-whirl-side-int-10

    If it isn’t broke then there’s absolutely no need to even think about fixing it, as artist Jen Stark is fully aware, and there’s nothing broken about her geometric papercut sculptures. The LA-based artist has been making such work for literally as long as It’s Nice That has been running – here’s the first time we ever posted about her, back in 2007 – and although her work continues to grow in intricacy, she’s stayed true to her roots. These days her sculptures are made more and more often inside huge, unassuming black and white boxes, recreating the feeling that you’re a child about to unbundle a giant parcel of joy on Christmas morning, and they’re still as impressive as they were eight years ago.

  8. Everybody-razzle-dazzle-1-photo-mark-mcnulty-int-list

    Sir Peter Blake has designed this fabulous dazzle ship, a Mersey Ferry that will carry commuter passengers for the next two years. Named Everybody Razzle Dazzle, Sir Peter says it’s his “largest artwork to date,” and that he was “honoured and excited to have been asked to design a dazzle image for the iconic Mersey Ferry.”

  9. Boyocollage-int-list

    Some budding young design talents fresh out of university might harbour resentment about being thrust into a new job at a design studio as a “photocopier boy” (his words), but Patrick Waugh is not one of them. Instead he took full advantage of the rich archive at his disposal in his earliest and most junior jobs to make copies. Lots of them. And then took a scalpel and some masking tape to them, and transformed them into something altogether more exciting.

  10. Stephenabela-int-main

    At first, Stephen Abela’s images are all glorious bronzed bodies, sun-drenched beaches and hazy holiday reveries. But beneath the heat, there’s something else at play too, which feels a little more disquieting. In that oft-cited Edward Hopper thing: even in the densely populated scenes there feels like there’s a loneliness. Even the speech bubbles are lonely – in fact, they’re vacant – suggesting that for all the beautiful scenery, the folk that populate it aren’t quite sure what to say or what to do. There’s a joy there, for sure, but the great thing about Stephen’s work is this complexity, and the sense that all isn’t necessarily as it seems.

  11. Int-list-carsten-holler-pic

    Merging the fun of the playground with the beauty and cerebral qualities of art, a slide will transport visitors to the Hayward Gallery entrance this summer thanks to the forthcoming Carsten Höller show, Decision.

  12. Traceyemin-mybed-int-

    Sometimes I don’t really “get” modern art, but I get Tracey Emin’s My Bed. She displayed it as a piece of art in 1998 after practically living in it for about a month following a bad breakup. Back then she was rake-thin and impish with an appetite for booze and fags, in that odd age where you’re left to fend for yourself but are not perhaps quite ready.

  13. Serenmorganjones-int-list

    With the centenary of British women receiving the partial vote coming up shortly, artist Seren Morgan Jones decided it was time to focus on the Welsh suffragists who helped to make it happen. “I think it is important to show that there is more to Wales and its history than coal mining, rugby and men,” she explains, “and to draw people’s attention to the fact Welsh women were so involved in the fight for women’s rights.”