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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

  1. 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!

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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!

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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…

  11. Main

    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!

  12. List

    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.

  13. List

    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.