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    Bookshelf: NoBrow

Graphic Design

Bookshelf: NoBrow

Posted by Bryony Quinn,

For Bookshelf this week we invited NoBrow to share five worthy books that define their shelves and inspired their own endeavours. Their choices reflect their independent sensibilities, love of print and a high quality product as well as their unerring eye for artistic and illustrative talent. It’s nice to see the influence in print behind a publishers own creative motivations and NoBrow have covered it all from the individual to the form of the book and the quality work of the people who published it.

Permagel Charles Burns

If it was only for the impressive brooding and menacing black and white illustrations in this book it would be understandable to single it out. But everything about this book chimes with some unspoken ideal of the pure, unadulterated, self-indulgent art book: its monumental size, thick coat of double hit black ink and intricately textured paper make it a delight to handle and even though it is a meagre 24 pages, to gaze upon any one page of Charles Burns’ artwork for less than the time it took him to draw it would be sacrilege to say the least, besides being nigh on impossible. The book is a refreshingly unpretentious monograph of what has to be one of our favourite artist’s work and for that we can’t help but place it firmly on our Bookshelf.
www.boingboing.net/charles-burns…

A Ladybird Third Picture Book Ethel and Harry Wingfield

There’s at least 5 of these books from the historically groundbreaking Ladybird book series, and this is by far our favourite. The illustrations are genius, so simple and beautiful you just fall in love with them at first sight. However, it’s worth saying that for this choice, we could pick out just about any of the hundreds of Ladybird books (and we’ve got most of them!) as to us they represent an awe-inspiring and largely unsung body of illustration work that deserves far more attention. The concept of this mass produced little hardback book is in its own right something to behold. Printed in their entirety on just one sheet of paper, each ladybird book is an exercise in thriftiness and efficiency; the economy of their production coupled with the quality of their output remains a beacon of inspiration for us in our own work. We consider them easily as iconic as the first Penguin paperbacks.
www.amazon.co.uk/ladybird_third_picturebook…

1960s Japanese Godzilla Annual

We don’t speak or read Japanese so can’t tell you the correct name or author of this book… but we love it all the same! The paintings of apocalyptic monster invasions in various and disparate settings (from the middle of the ocean to the peak of a volcano, from the centre of a bustling metropolis to an isolated Buddhist shrine) are pure illustrated confectionery, you can sense the artist was enjoying a much deserved break from drawing kittens and handbags in little girls’ annuals. But this book is also significant because it was the starting point for our foray into our now fairly well recognised spot colour process, as tucked away in the back of the book were a series of anatomical monster drawings that made stunning use of duo tone (black and orange) and were the starting point for the design and visual concept of our first eponymous issue.
www.ebay.co.uk/rare_vintage_godzilla

Saisons BlexBolex

Put simply: this is probably the most beautiful illustrated book we have ever seen! BlexBolex is someone we are delighted to have the opportunity to occasionally work with and this book is a shining testament to his incredible talent. The book has been translated into English, but we stick to the French version. Honestly, the European Ministry for Culture should have Blex on a retainer, somehow in this book, he manages to encapsulate the romantic ideals of continental life in all its beautiful colour – it may help that the artist has spent a number of years himself European city-hopping, leaving a trail of wide eyed admirers in his wake. If you haven’t seen it, come and buy it from our shop… (shameless plug!)
www.amazon.co.uk/saisons…

Jimmy Corrigan, The Smartest Kid on Earth Chris Ware

In a way this is a bit of an obvious choice and potentially a bit of a boring one. That’s only because this is one of the few graphic novels to achieve it’s rightful notoriety. If it wasn’t for this book I don’t think we’d be doing what we are doing now. Chris Ware set a bench mark for excellence, not only for graphic storytelling but also in book production which has scarce been surpassed to this day. This is an incredible book that is already a modern classic so it would be impossible to leave it out of our list.
www.amazon.co.uk/jimmy_corrigan…

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Posted by Bryony Quinn

Bryony was It’s Nice That’s first ever intern and worked her way up to assistant online editor before moving on to pursue other interests in the summer of 2012.

Most Recent: Art View Archive

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    The worlds of conceptual art and functional graphic design cross perhaps less often than they should. But creating a piece of design that has to perform in a commercial sense and the expression of complex, looser artistic ideas can come together beautifully, as exemplified in the little corner devoted to graphic design at the Barbican’s current show by Doug Aitken, Station to Station: A 30 Day Happening.

  2. Jarvis-cocker-its-nice-that-tlist

    Pulp frontman, solo artist and deep-voiced saviour of Sunday afternoon radio Jarvis Cocker has turned his hand to art, in the form of his Paris exhibition 20 Golden greats. The works on show are “gold records” – fictitious awards that explore the mythology of the artefacts of the same name so often cited in rock biographies. In truth, the accolades have no value whatsoever, according to the gallery showing Jarvis’s work, “not only because they usually aren’t at all made with gold, but moreover because they are generally crafted in a manner at best vaguely artistic, and at worst, perfectly kitsch."

  3. Basquiat_warhol_guggenheim_int_list

    From subway graffitist to art world darling, Jean-Michel Basquiat was perhaps the quintessential New York artist. Before he came to embody that particularly urbane trinity of poetry, jazz and painting, the Brooklyn prodigy was spray painting cryptic messages on Lower Manhattan buildings under the moniker SAMO and selling sweatshirts and postcards emblazoned with his work. Basquiat was one of several graffiti artists to transition to the gallery, but the only one with such a meteoric ascent and with such staying power. By his early twenties he counted Andy Warhol as a friend and collaborator, and his impassioned brand of countercultural painting had completely taken New York by storm.

  4. List-sculpture-in-the-city-its-nice-that-tomoaki-suzuki-'zezi'-courtesy-corvi-mora_-london

    As this week’s public art-themed Nicer Tuesdays reminded us, it’s all too easy to take the masterpieces in full view around the city for granted. And while there’s a plethora of work to see all year round in many cities across the UK, from next week the City of London is placing work by the likes of Damien Hirst, Ai Weiwei and Adam Chodzko around the Square Mile to add a little culture to the landscape of our wolves of Threadneedle Street. This is the fifth year of the programme, Sculpture in the City, and will see a total of 14 works go on show. They will remain in situ until May next year.

  5. List-ai-wei-wei-an-archive-its-nice-that-

    Ai Weiwei has printed five years worth of his many, many tweets onto rice paper to form a new piece called An Archive . The artist has long used Twitter as a platform from which to protest Chinese government oppression, leading to a ban from Chinese Twitter. In an interview with The Creator’s Project, Ai tells how the piece, which is formed of thousands of pieces of printed rice paper, showcases a time when he could use the social network for “discussions and memories of the past, as well as predictions for the future. Twitter was an exercise for the mind and one where you are fully exposed to the public."

  6. Royal_academy_summer_exhibition_poster_list

    I never thought I’d use the word irreverent to describe the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy. Since 1769 the RA has taken a fairly unwavering and conservative approach to the world’s largest open submission exhibition, hanging up to 1,000 works by both amateur artists and great names. Long the lacklustre foxhole of stuffy Academicians and part-time painters, this year marks the greatest effort the RA has made yet to reinvigorate the English summer stalwart.
     
    It’s no surprise that the man behind the brightest, boldest edition yet is Michael Craig-Martin, this year’s curator and the artist best known for his Pop Art palette and his tutorship of YBA trailblazers Damien Hirst and Sarah Lucas. Among his modernisms for the show is the decision to repaint the three central galleries in colours lifted straight from his work: hot pink, turquoise and baby blue. Far from playing to mere spectacle, Craig-Martin’s trademark penchant for polychrome is a bold statement that does away with both the white cube mis-en-scène of contemporary art and the fusty grandeur of the Academy. Regular attendees might also notice he has made the print galleries more central.

  7. Jim_lambie_zobop_ra_it's_nice_that_list

    For this year’s Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy, Scottish artist Jim Lambie has transformed the storied art institution’s grand staircase with one of his kaleidoscopic floor installations and shaken up the English cultural calendar highlight. Using hundreds of strips of adhesive vinyl tape, Lambie’s eye-catching floor work follows the architecture of the Academy and is part of his ongoing series Zobop. The 2005 Turner Prize nominee’s slightly riotous, technicolour stairs breathe new life into the neo-classical space, and the optical effect packs huge impact, fittingly leading the way to the boldest, brightest edition of the Summer Exhibition in its nearly 250-year run.

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    The carnivalesque colours and vibrant busyness caught our eye in Nina Chanel’s work; her attitude and subject matter kept us looking. Nina is based in New Jersey, and uses bright brushstrokes and text to explore issues of race, politics, sex and the strange world of celebrity. How? Through a strange troupe of aliens, strange symbols and rainbow colours. Surrealism plays with pop art and high-brow plays with low-brow in her huge e-number fuelled pieces, which carry a depth belying their initially saccharine appearances.

  9. David-shrigley-football-mascot-its-nice-that-top

    David Shrigley has designed a rather strange mascot for Scottish Premiership football team Partick Thistle. Shrigley – a fan of the team – was appointed to create the little yellow jagged character, named Kingsley, as part of the team’s new sponsorship deal with US investment firm Kingsford Capital. The artist also created the brand mark that will appear on Thistle kits and around its home stadium.

  10. Luis-vasallo-itsnicethat-list

    Life drawing classes are more often than not the conservative preserve of academic art, but Luis Vassallo’s nudes tell a different story. Luis’ series A Life Drawing Class, made as part of a collaboration with Hot and Cool magazine, is a refreshing take on a somewhat strait-laced tradition. Over the course of several weeks the Madrid-based artist transformed the models in front of him into adventurous images that juxtapose the classical with the surreal, mixing and matching a number of drawing styles – often in the same sketch – from hard-edged geometry and soft, rolling forms that alternate between clean pencil lines and those in thick jagged charcoal. Finding inspiration in the Italian avant garde and the 60s revival of figurative art, Luis is clear that his work is less about looking back and more about finding a way to pick up where these 20th Century movements left off. The results are unlike any nudes we’ve seen before.

  11. Jackson-pollock_-number-34-1949-its-nice-that-list

    As one of the most instantly recognisable modern artists and a GCSE art staple, it’s tempting to think there’s little we haven’t seen of Jackson Pollock’s work. A new exhibition at Tate Liverpool, however, proves us wrong. The exhibition, entitled Blind Spots, is the first in more than 30 years to show his late black pouring works. Some we’ll know, many we won’t, but all prove – if proof were needed – what an important, inspirational figure Pollock was. He managed to bring tricky concepts of Abstract Expressionism into the minds of a far wider audience than the art world inner circle, and his works are surely some of the most oft-seen, yet never tiresome artworks of the last century.

  12. Matthew_craven_demiurge_it's_nice_that_list

    Matthew Craven’s dizzying mix of ink patterns, cut-outs and ancient culture is as powerful as it is studied. We’ve written about the New York artist’s vivid collages before, and in his most recent series demiURGE, Matthew pairs both tribal and Greek sculpture with his hand-drawn designs and recurring motifs. His images play with materials as much as they play with time, and with their lost relics and archeological curiosities it’s as if Matthew has picked through old history textbooks and back issues of National Geographic for the mystic effect that makes his work so instantly recognisable. Pairing busts, masks, vases and classical bric-a-brac with optical patterns, Matthew’s collages always prove greater than the sum of their parts.

  13. Richard_prince_new_portraits_it's_nice_that_list

    Richard Prince’s New Portraits have proven to be nothing short of sensational. The artist’s controversial series has seen him take other people’s Instagram posts, print them on six-foot canvases and sell them for up to $90,000. The only changes made to these images of everyone from Pamela Anderson to total unknowns are the bewildering or lewd remarks Prince adds to the comments thread. As of last Friday, ten of these new works are on show at Gagosian London. “The iPhone became my studio,” Prince says somewhere in the seven-page stream of consciousness that makes up the press release.

    For the last 40 years the New York artist has inspired everything from acclaim to outrage for the unapologetic appropriation that has defined much of his work. As the man who reprinted copies of JD Salinger’s classic teenage anthem Catcher in the Rye with his own name in place of the author’s, Prince has found himself on the wrong side of copyright lawsuits multiple times. Resulting opinions of him tend to violently swing between genius and good-for-nothing. In the case of the New Portraits series, Peter Schjeldahl writing for the New Yorker’s response to the screenshot-cum-paintings was “something like a wish to be dead,” whilst sex writer Karley Sciortino has said she felt honoured to be included in the series.

    In an unexpected but fitting turn, people seemed to feel slightly vindicated when some of Prince’s unauthorised Instagram reproductions were recently reproduced and resold by some of their original subjects, namely the LA-based group of alternative pin-up girls and burlesque dancers operating under the moniker SuicideGirls. “Payback!” headlines screamed, but this ceaseless loop of feedback and mirroring perfectly plays to Prince’s raison d’être. Even this is not the artist’s own, and in his ideas about enshrining banality and popular culture he is most definitely walking in Warhol’s slightly worn-out silver shoes.

    Mining the internet for source material is not new either, but as abhorrent as they may be, Prince’s portraits eloquently teach a powerful lesson in the trappings of social networking. They test public and private limits and have started an important and much-needed conversation about copyright and art in the digital age. They have also been sharp reminders that our self-exposure and digital exhibitionism doesn’t exist in the vacuums of our various feeds, but very much enters into public territory.

    The most absurd part in all of this postmodernist pageantry however, happened during my exchange with Gagosian’s PR when I asked for press images and was told, “I’m afraid that we don’t have permission to use any images of any individual works.” Irony is a beautiful, twisted thing.