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    Ben Newman’s Bookshelf

Illustration

Bookshelf: Illustrator Ben Newman shares his top five tomes

Posted by Liv Siddall,

SUCH a good Bookshelf from illustrator Ben Newman here on this wonderful Tuesday afternoon. If you know Ben’s work, you’ll immediately understand how this truly beautiful collection of books has inspired his unique visual approach to illustration. Slightly retro and meticulously skilful in the printing department, I often think Ben could have time-travelled to earth in a 1960s spaceship to bless us with his creations. Did that make sense? I hope so. Here he is.

  • 1a

    Gwen White: A World of Pattern

  • 1b

    Gwen White: A World of Pattern

Gwen White: A World of Pattern

I’ve been an avid collector of old design and children’s books for years and often friends will recommend books that they have seen on their travels for me to track down and buy. My friend Jon McNaught stumbled upon Gwen White’s A World Of Pattern whilst looking through a host’s book collection in Portland, US. It is one of the most perfect, most beautiful books I own. The book is all about how to make repeat patterns by hand using different grid systems. It guides you through the wonders of nature (plants, animals, trees, fish) as inspiration for creating your own two to three colour patterns. It is called a “Lift-Up” book because each black and white page has a colour page on the back of it so that when lifted up to the light you can see the full image of line work and colours together through the paper.

  • 2a

    Salamander Schule (illustrator Heinz Schubel): Lurchis Gesammelte Abenteuer – Book One

  • 2b

    Salamander Schule (illustrator Heinz Schubel): Lurchis Gesammelte Abenteuer – Book One

Salamander Schule (illustrator Heinz Schubel): Lurchis Gesammelte Abenteuer – Book One

I stumbled across these amazing children’s books whilst in Zurich, which where produced by a German shoe company. Lurchis is a salamander created to advertise and sell shoes to children. This 1962 book is a collection of the booklets released since 1951 and contains lots of fun stories about Lurchis and his gang of merry animals getting into trouble and managing to advertise shoes at the same time. They even force their brown brogues on an entire race of aliens.

  • 3a

    1970s Japanese Space Book

  • 3c

    1970s Japanese Space Book

1970s Japanese Space Book

This book was passed onto me by my friend, Alex as inspiration for my latest book with Dr Dominic Walliman called Professor Astro Cat’s Frontiers of Space (due out October 1 through Nobrow’s children’s book imprint, Flying Eye). The whole thing is in Japanese but the illustrations are fantastic at depicting how the Apollo astronauts went to the toilet and how eclipses work. The drawings range from super-detailed, fully painted aliens to two tone cartoons of astronauts pooping in space. I find the juxtaposition of images really odd but somehow it looks incredible and very accessible, even to a non-Japanese speaking reader.

  • 4

    Jacques Nathan Garamond: Affichiste

  • 4b

    Jacques Nathan Garamond: Affichiste

Jacques Nathan Garamond: Affichiste

Easliy one of the most inspiring books that I own – Garamond’s range of work is breath-taking. This French book collects the majority of his design work from the 1930s through to the 1970s and also some of his personal paintings and drawing observations. There are black and white photos of some of his exhibitions that make me long for such interesting display methods nowadays.

  • 5

    Yasaburo Kuwayama: Trad Marks & Symbols

Yasaburo Kuwayama: Trad Marks & Symbols

Printed solely in black, these logos from various designers are brain-meltingly awesome. Collected in two volumes and containing over 3,000 beautiful and innovative designs, these books are what thinking and designing is all about. These trademarks look so good decades after their creation and have had a big influence on me to try and create images that look good now and hopefully will in the past and in the future.

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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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    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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    When we received a copy of illustrated sine Steak Night through the door a couple of weeks ago (check it out in Things here) we were pleasantly surprised to find that Bloc Party’s Kele Okereke is not only a musician, but a keen writer too. Intrigued, we hunted him down and grilled him about his Bookshelf, which turns out to be an incredibly well-stocked selection of graphic novels and comic books, with a little photography thrown in too. He’s multi-talented and he’s got great taste! Here’s Kele telling us about his choices.