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…
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!