Ever wondered what’s on the bookshelf of some of your favourite creatives? What books they turn to in need of inspiration or reference? Well look no further, in the first in a brand new feature we invite San Francisco based illustrator Michael Gillette to share with us his most notable five titles and the stories behind them.
Oxtoby’s Rockers (also published as Rock Visions) David Oxtoby
When I was twelve I had chickenpox, and whilst recuperating, my mum bought me this book. It really left a huge dent on my fresh little itchy mind. I copied the drawings in this book over and over again in a mix of worship and frustration at my limited abilities. Oxtoby distilled rock and roll in to visuals with great panache. He really set a blueprint for me. When my teachers dismissed my fanboy music pictures I could turn to this book for encouragement.
Heart & Torch Rick Griffin
Around about the same time, in the early 80’s, I discovered Rick Griffin. He is my favourite of the San Francisco poster artists of the late 60’s but his career extended from surf to psyche to Acid Christian born again. He was a radical unique visionary, with a real trip of a life. My first impressions of San Francisco were formed by his work, so he really was key to me moving here. I live 2 streets away from where he lived during his poster era and it all makes perfect sense.
Spaced Out Alastair Gordon
A great architectural book with a deal of focus on Northern California. I keep hoping that the uncertainty of the times will seed a revival of some of the attitudes and movements documented in this book. The photos really inspired me to start my blog of San Francisco Sun Architecture
Treasury Great Childrens Book Illustrators Susan E. Meyer
This book introduced me to a lot of amazing work of the Victorian/ Edwardian era- Kay Nielsen and Edmund Dulac in particular. Reading the life stories of these artists made me realize that the more things change the more they stay the same. Evidently the struggle to stay afloat and keep inspired in those bygone times was no different to the current day. We really face the same problems, and that is heartening somehow.
A Nasty Piece of Work Roger Law
Roger Law is someone I’ve been lucky enough to get to know and greatly value. This book documents, with great wit, his journey from early 60’s illustrator to Spitting Image and beyond. Really inspiring how he kept things moving (and still does). The work in it is totally fantastic and he has Attitude with a capital A. He’s a force of Nature.