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    Bookshelf: Sam Ashby

Film

Bookshelf: Subversive cinema and the characters therein, all on the Bookshelf of Sam Ashby

Posted by Bryony Quinn,

This week’s Bookshelf is a cinematic crop of alternative texts from designer and editor, Sam Ashby. We are well familiar with his creative consultancy especially when it comes to poster design for some of the coolest films from the last few years. As do we know about Little Joe, a regular magazine published from Sam’s studio about “queers and cinema, mostly” – what we don’t know is what he would save from the flames of the rapture (when it comes), that is, until now…

Amos Vogel: Film as a Subversive Art

I was first introduced to Film as a Subversive Art by my friend Thomas Beard who co-runs the amazing Brooklyn-based film space Light Industry, which was itself inspired by Vogel’s Cinema 16 film society. In his introduction, Vogel says that “subversion in cinema starts when the theatre darkens and the screen lights up.” Reading this book makes me realise how little I know and much I still have to see, and it is exhilarating.

The design of the second issue of Little Joe is a direct homage to Film as a Subversive Art and I like to think the magazine fosters the spirit of the book’s mission to document a more liberated cinema. Sadly Amos Vogel died earlier this year. As a tribute, we are hoping to screen a number of the films featured in the book as part of the Scala Beyond season organised by Little Joe’s deputy editor Michael Pierce.
www.amazon.co.uk/film-as-a-subversive Art
www.wikipedia.org/amos-vogel

AA Bronson and Philip Aarons: Queer Zines

I’m borrowing this from the bookshelf of the wonderful Martin McGrath who I share my studio with. It has been an incredible resource and very exciting for me to place my work on Little Joe within this rich history of queer zine-making. I recently hosted an evening of films with the Kunstverein gallery in Amsterdam to coincide with their current exhibition, Closer: The Dennis Cooper Papers. The exhibit features Dennis Cooper’s own personal collection of queer zines. Being able to hold and read these publications was an incredible experience and really underlined the importance of creating your own content, your own culture, your own world.
www.printedmatter.org/queer-zines
www.halfletterpress.com/queer-zines

Kenneth Anger: Hollywood Babylon

One of the single most influential books of my life, I constantly return to Kenneth Anger’s Hollywood Babylon; it has informed my view on the world and fed my obsession with cinema. Anger is in thrall to the glamorous veneer of Hollywood and yet cuts through it with his sardonic humour, gleefully describing the downfalls of Hollywood’s most tragic figures with his purple prose. We recently screened Mark Finch’s BBC Arena documentary of the same name from 1991 which boldly fuses reenactments of some of the book’s most famous passages with interview footage of Anger describing his career and clips from his extraordinary films. An expert myth-maker, it’s fascinating to see how he blurs the lines of fact and fiction with his own life.
www.amazon.co.uk/hollywood-babylon
www.wikipedia.org/hollywood-babylon

Gore Vidal: Myra Breckinridge

I found a beautiful hardback 2nd edition of Myra Breckinridge while browsing the shelves of Counterpoint Records & Books on Franklin Avenue in Los Angeles, the first stop of my trip to the States in 2010 which saw me lugging copies of Little Joe – No. 1 from city to city in the hopes of finding stockists. I read it poolside at my friend’s parent’s house in Los Feliz, from where I could see the Griffith Observatory (immortalised in Rebel Without a Cause). Somehow the adventures of Myra, the film-buff transsexual with a hard-on for Parker Tyler and the films of Hollywood’s Golden Age, merged with my own and even now my memories of that trip are intrinsically linked with this book. There is a film adaptation starring Raquel Welch, Rex Reed and an almost catatonic Mae West which contains one of my favourite opening title sequences ever, ever, ever (it’s just a shame the rest of the film can’t live up to Vidal’s perverse masterpiece).
www.amazon.co.uk/myra-breckinridge
www.myrasite.tripod.com

Yoshiro Tatsumi: A Drifting Life

I loved the film Tatsumi, which interweaves Japanese manga artist Yoshiro Tatsumi’s autobiographical A Drifting Life with a number of his dark, dark short stories, so I was very excited to receive the book as a gift from Soda Pictures, one of my clients, who released the film. A Drifting Life documents Tatsumi’s struggle to find a unique voice as an artist and is completely absorbing even as it goes into detail one might find dull such as the minutiae of the manga industry. I identified with many of the frustrations of Tatsumi as I all too often feel despondent or overly self-critical about my work, or disappointed by the industry I have put so much energy into. It gave me hope and sparked a renewed appetite for graphic novels which is continuing with Alison Bechdel’s Are You My Mother?.
www.amazon.co.uk/a-drifting-life
www.drawnandquarterly.com/tatsumi

  • Sam-asbhy-lead

    Bookshelf: Sam Ashby

Portrait9

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: Bookshelf View Archive

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    “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…

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    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.

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    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.

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    With 25 years experience in magazine design, not to mention eight years of covering the extensive subject under the title magCulture, it’s a wonder we haven’t already metaphorically burst into Jeremy Leslie’s house and insisted he share his five favourite examples of printed matter right then and there. Instead, we caught him in the build up to The Modern Magazine 2014, the conference which takes place annually in the midst of London Design Festival to shine a torch on the current state of editorial creativity, as well as new directions for the industry.

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    Danielle Pender is the brain at the helm of Riposte magazine, one of the most exciting new publications created to champion the women doing exciting work in the creative industries today, as well as working at KK Outlet, the London outpost of communications agency KesselsKramer, so can you blame us for wanting to have a poke about her bookshelf? Her selection gives a generous insight into the process behind putting together a magazine, from the issue of National Geographic which led her and Riposte’s creative director Shaz Madani to consider a text-based front cover for the magazine (“I’m really happy we had the balls to go with it”) and the all-time hero she dreams of interviewing, with a few other gems thrown in for good measure. She technically stretched her five books to seven, but we let her off because they’re all so damn interesting.

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    I always had a hunch that Bruno Bayley was the kind of guy with a great bookshelf – you can just tell that he’s a hoarder of the weird, the kind of person who would rather stumble upon someone’s diary in a forest than, say, a suitcase full of cash. London-based Bruno is the European managing editor of Vice, which allows him to take his curiosity for the dark corners of the world and pump them out to those who want to know but perhaps can’t be bothered to look. His articles are some of the best on Vice at the moment, so go and check them out after you’ve read his deeply interesting, peculiar top five books. Excuse us while we go and subscribe to the Fortean Times