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Bookshelf: Inside the bookshelf of fantastic illustrator Bjorn Rune Lie

Posted by Liv Siddall,

You should never judge a book by its cover, and equally you should never judge a man by his bookshelf. WRONG! You can totally do both, I do it all the time. In the case of wonderful illustrator Bjorn Rune Lie, one look at his creaking bookshelf held in pride of place over his computer, tells you all you need to know. A closer peek into the actual contents of these shelves reveals oodles about the artist’s value of research, his love for fine draughtsmanship and his passion for the designs in nature. Take it away Bjorn…

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    David King: Red Star Over Russia

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    David King: Red Star Over Russia

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    David King: Red Star Over Russia

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    David King: Red Star Over Russia

David King: Red Star Over Russia

This book is “a visual history of the Soviet Union from 1917 to the death of Stalin." It’s hauntingly beautiful and terrifying at the same time. I love the (perfectly reproduced) poster designs and amazing book covers of course, but the incredible photographs really give you a sense of the hope, the chaos and the brutality of the time. It’s almost as if you were there. I keep returning to it again and again.

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    Seymour Chwast: The Push Pin Graphic

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    Seymour Chwast: The Push Pin Graphic

Seymour Chwast: The Push Pin Graphic

In the introduction Steven Heller calls Push Pin Studios “the Beatles of illustration and design,” so I guess their influence in the field cannot be understated. This book focuses on the The Push Pin Graphic, a promotional leaflet or “almanac” that the studio sent out to advertising agencies with impressive frequency between 1957 and 1980. I guess this was a way for them to really cut loose and experiment. I just love Seymour Chwast’s wood-cuts and Milton Glaser’s pen drawings. I often leaf through this book in the futile hope that some of the freshness might rub off on me.

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    Leonard Rickhard: Soft Whispers in the Birch Wood

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    Leonard Rickhard: Soft Whispers in the Birch Wood

Leonard Rickhard: Soft Whispers in the Birch Wood

I picked this book up at the Astrup Fearnley museum in Oslo about 12 years ago, after being completely blown away by Leonard’s solo exhibition. His paintings, graphic rural landscapes with scattered industrial debris and machine parts, are often framed in really massive, almost architectural frames that form part of the artwork. I don’t know anything about him except that he lives and works in Arendal, southern Norway. His internet presence is zero, so I guess he’s too busy painting. The book got water damaged a few years ago and I meticulously blow-dried every page!

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    Jockum Nordsrom: Sailor og Pekka

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    Jockum Nordsrom: Sailor og Pekka

Jockum Nordsrom: Sailor og Pekka

When I was first introduced to the Swede’s work over a decade ago I thought it was a bit too crude. It didn’t take long for me to come around though. A bit like when I first started drinking coffee. Now of course, I think he’s a genius. This is one of his kids’ books: Three stories about Sailor and his dog Pekka. They read a bit like old cartoon strips and the pace is incredibly unhurried which give them a lovely nostalgic feel, only shook up by the inclusion of bizarre characters and random turn of events. Jockum manages to balance intricate drawing with incredibly raw and naïve scribbles to great effect. I try to capture some of his unpredictability in my own work, although I could never be as confident.

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    Ernst Haeckel: Art Forms in Nature

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    Ernst Haeckel: Art Forms in Nature

Ernst Haeckel: Art Forms in Nature

I guess everybody knows this book, but it was an obvious contender as I’ve been very inspired by it the last few years and used it on many a project. It’s pretty amazing. I don’t know what is more impressive, nature itself or Ernst Hackel’s ability to draw it. I can’t imagine anyone not loving this book!

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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.

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    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!

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    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.

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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.

  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!

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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.

  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.