If you check out Jiro’s London flat on this recent edition of The Selby, you’ll see kitsch objects, weird art, ethnic rugs and enviable clutter EVERYwhere. One look at this floor-to-ceiling mass of artistic and hilarious memorabilia was enough that we presumed a very meaty bookshelf. We weren’t wrong. Jiro’s selection is full of rare and exciting tomes that he’s picked up throughout his life. Aside from the way he’s photographed his books – which could be one of the best examples ever, perhaps save Jaimie Warren – what we love about Jiro’s selection is his insightful description for each one.
The Viper’s Fang by Fergus Purcell AKA Fergadelic
The Viper’s Fang is a small book/zine by iconic London artist Fergadelic, which was published in 2002 by Perks & Mini. This book is especially important to me because, more than any other, it opened my eyes and made me realise that I didn’t need to listen to my teacher’s advice in college and could draw whatever I liked. Studying Graphic Design at St. Martins, there was definitely an emphasis on traditional design, especially typography, which I took on board but there seemed to be far too many rules that I was constantly being told I wasn’t following. When I came across this battered display copy in Magma walking home from college one day everything seemed to make sense; there was someone who was drawing stuff I loved and seemingly making a career out of it. It was incredibly liberating seeing someone referencing Parliament records, Akira comics, old 60s/70s patches and also, importantly, not taking themselves too seriously. My copy that I bought back in 2002 has pretty much completely fallen apart but, thankfully, Fergus recently sent me a pristine copy that I’m very grateful for. Cheers, Fergus!
The Secret Museum of Mankind by ???
I first discovered this book online a while back and managed to get a copy on eBay. The book is an incredible collection of photos of tribes and cultures from all over the world (from around the early 20th century). Although fascinating to look at, the book very much feels like it was made to be more of a curious, voyeuristic, freak-show book for people in the West to look at and enjoy rather than some kind of educational, National Geographic-esque piece. Even so, it’s still a very interesting book with tonnes of cool imagery.
Nanoo by Yamantaka Eye
One of my favourite artists, Yamantaka Eye (who is probably more well known as the leader of legendary Japanese band The Boredoms), is one of the finest artists around, with a special knack for creating some of the most amazing, full-on, spazzed-out photo collage pieces. A massive influence on contemporary artists such as Bjorn Copeland (Gore is a very similar book), Misha Hollenbach, Peter Sutherland and Hisham Bharoocha, what makes Eye’s work so interesting for me, like so many of my favourite artists, is the complete freedom and energy his work creates. I’ve been after this book for sooooo long but finally managed to get a copy a few months back. So good.
Raymond Pettibon: The Books 1978-98 by Roberto Ohrt
One of the illustrators I became fascinated with while at college was Raymond Pettibon. I guess like a lot of the artists I like, his connection to music is a big reason for me being a fan. Pettibon got his break through his older brother, Greg Gin, who was the founding member of Black Flag and record label SST and got Pettibon to create the flyers, album artwork and zines for the band and label, which went on to become the iconic visual identity for so much of the Punk/Hardcore scene that was coming from California at the time. This book is epic – it compiles EVERY zine Pettibon made from ’78 to ’98 with easily over a thousand pages of Punk visual gold. I managed to find a copy of this book on eBay; some art dealer living in west London was selling it but rather than sending it in the post she wanted to see in person who was buying it so came all the way over to my house to personally deliver the book. She was some crazy old punk lady dressed head to toe in BOY and chatted to me for about two hours about punk music and art. She then went to the toilet and puked and passed out, which was pretty weird.
Fiorucci The Book by Eve Babitz
For the past few years I’ve gotten heavily into 1970s and 1980s Italian design and fashion – I think partly because there is some element of nostalgia, growing up seeing all this crazy glamorous stuff in movies, but mainly because it’s so fucking good. This book (along with Barbara Radice’s Memphis) has always been on the top of my 1980s Italian design want-list but the copies I kept seeing were going for stupid money. Then one day a friend emailed me out of the blue with a link to Amazon Germany and BINGO! Some i̶d̶i̶o̶t̶ amazing person was selling a copy for €10, which has easily been one of the best €10 I’ve ever spent. The book is filled with beautiful naked 1980s Italian ladies, references to 1950s rock’n’roll, robots and generally just awesome artwork. Everything in the book is so ludicrously camp, sexy, colourful and fun that it’s impossible not to like.
Avant Garde #8: Picasso’s Erotic Gravures
Growing up where I did, in Bournemouth, there wasn’t a great deal of culture to take in. One of the highlights was getting hold of copies of The Beastie Boys’ brilliant Grand Royal magazine, which, more than anything else I saw growing up, informed me about so much music, film and art counter-culture from the 1960s onwards. Along with the legendary ‘Mulling Over the Mullet’ article, one of the pieces I remember most of all was Geoff McFetridge’s excellent article on Herb Lubalin’s Avant Garde magazine from the 60s and 70s. Over the past few years I’ve slowly tried to collect these beautiful pieces of design, with my favourite being Issue 8, which is an issue entirely devoted to erotic engravings from Picasso. Being an illustrator, it’s always fascinating to see ‘real’ artists working in line drawings rather than painting and seeing how ridiculously good they are. I recently visited Dalí’s museum in Catalunya, which had a whole corridor dedicated to his stunning line drawings, which you hardly ever see for some reason.
The Art of Mœbius by Byron Press
In the grand scheme of things, I’m not particularity good at drawing. I was probably the best in my year at school (especially drawing Garfield and Dragon Ball) but after that, nothing special. This assessment gets reaffirmed every time I look at the work of French comic book artist Jean Giraud, AKA Mœbius. Every single element of Mœbius’ work blows my mind – his line, the composition, the detail, the facial expressions, the energy, the delicateness, the style, everything blows my fucking tiny, useless mind into pieces. For some silly reason, there isn’t anything around that compiles his work in a single book – the closest and best is this one which was published 24 years ago and is completely out of print and, sadly, now goes for stupid money online. Mœbius passed away last year; hopefully in the near future a new book compiling his work, including everything from the past 24 years too, will be made. The man was an absolute genius.
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