• Garage

    Matt’s Grandad’s Garage, near Preston


Bookshelf: Matthew the Horse takes us on a tour of his shelves

Posted by Liv Siddall,

What an honour it is to have friendly illustration whizz Matt The Horse do a Bookshelf for us. He was so keen to perform the task that he did a tour of Leeds to all the best bookshops to find his favourite tomes as his are all locked away. I’ll let him explain: “I’ve don’t have many books in my life right now. They’re in my Grandad’s garage near Preston. I just moved into my friends basement so had to audit my belongings. Some precious books came with me, but most are in garage limbo until I get some more space. As a result, I’ve pieced together my selection by visiting the bookshops and shelves of Leeds. I miss my books. Thanks Leeds.”

  • 4

    C.F: Power Mastrs

C.F: Power Mastrs

I’ve been into C.F since I was infected by his comic fungus in Kramers Ergot 5 & 6. I notice he has a wiki page but I’m not going to read it. This stuff needs to come from, and continue to exist, somewhere else, somewhere only C.F exists. Familiar but cosmic, these stories are from another place. They make my blood hot. Look at the artwork, the colours, the ruler lines, the book design, the scanned paper, the pacing, the maps, the octopus sex. It is a master class in unconventional. All his work is. Where is issue 4?

Thanks to OK Comics for the picture. There’s a great comics community in Leeds, supported by several good comic book shops and Thought Bubble of course, which gets bigger each year. OK is well stocked, they know their comics and work really hard at keeping people reading.


  • 3

    Freddy Dewe Mathews: Bouvetoya: A cultural history of an isolated landmass

Freddy Dewe Mathews: Bouvetoya: A cultural history of an isolated landmass

This is the most recent book I’ve bought and it’s wonderful. It’s everything a book should be. The graphic design is robust and charming, like a good map book. In fact reading it is a lot like map reading. It feels reassuring to study its collected passages, diagrams and photos. It is an adventure in itself. I am finding little moments within my days to spend time with its philosophies and history. I would recommend it to anyone interested in psycho-geography, or – if that seems too grand – if you like going outside when you’re sad. It’s also waterproof.

Thanks to the super swag Village books for the recommendation and photo. They are doing a great job championing artists books, mags and photography in our city. They hold monthly shows that support the local scene and have good beards. Joe & Ben love books and their passion comes through in how they curate the titles on their shelves.


  • 2

    Rambharos Jh: Waterlife

Rambharos Jh: Waterlife

Published by Tara books, Waterlife is absolutely stunning. It is impossible not to turn its pages, not to smell its ink or to be spell bound by the artwork on its pages. Tara books are handmade in every aspect, the result is an artefact glowing with authenticity and charm. It resonates with the same magic as all great picture books. It makes you look a little closer.

Thanks to the always outstanding Colours May Vary for putting me onto these books, along with many others. Everything in this book shop is chosen with an informed eye and passion for books, journals, design and graphic art. It is a design book shop worthy of any city in the world, it always makes me happy that its in Leeds. If you’re going to visit, be prepared to leave with some new books.

  • 1

    Creative Illustration: Andrew Loomis, 1947

Creative Illustration: Andrew Loomis, 1947

I’m lucky enough to work in an art school. An art school with a great library. These facsimiles of Loomis’ original guides to illustration are fantastic. He writes with such authority and passion, reminding you that illustration is a highly skilled profession. One that has methodology, principles and mastery. Its a bit of an antidote to those content thin compendiums of slick contemporary illustration. There’s loads of amazing information in here, I’ve found the chapter on composition really useful, though some of the grids he starts to introduce are mind bending.

Even if you don’t think this content is relevant to your practice, it is humbling to admire such levels of understanding. This book woke me up to the fact that showing off alone won’t cut it and that the applied art of illustration requires some investment of craft, theory and methodology. However you make pictures, I think its important that you recognise thats there is probably a better way to make them, if you just read a book.

  • 5

    Elizabeth David: An Omelette and a glass of wine

Elizabeth David: An Omelette and a glass of wine

This is a very elegant book. The eggs are painted by Cedric Morris. What a beautiful image. I’ve looked at it so many times and it still makes me happy. Elizabeth David talks about food in a way that goes beyond food. I think her writing is wholly applicable to design. Keep it simple. Demand the most from your ingredients. Learn to be a connoisseur through experience. And don’t separate process from consumption. Savour the small things, the ritual and people.

Photo taken in Kirkgate Market Leeds.


Posted by Liv Siddall

Liv joined It’s Nice That as an intern in 2011 and is now one of our editors. She oversees itsnicethat.com and has a particular interest in illustration, photography and music videos. She is also a regular guest and sometime host on our Studio Audience podcast.

Most Recent: Bookshelf View Archive

  1. Spuren_cover_00-int-list

    Brighten the Corners (the name comes from the Pavement album!) is a design studio split in two – it’s made up of Frank Philippin and Billy Kiosoglou and based in both London and Odenwald, Germany – so it makes sense that it has two bookshelves to show for it, too. The studio’s portfolio of work includes some very impressive stuff for the likes of Anish Kapoor, Frieze, the British Council and the Department of Education, and with fingers in such diverse pies we were keen to see the books Billy and Frank were drawing on for inspiration. So here they are!

  2. Allbook_spines-teal-triggs-int

    What a treat we have for you today! The one and only Teal Triggs, professor at London’s Royal College of Art and all-knowing figure in everything concerned with print, graphic design history, self-publishing and feminism, has spent some time digging five of the most influential and inspiring books she owns out of her bottomless collection to share with us.

  3. Laserigraphie_cover-int-list

    If you aren’t already familiar with Atelier Bingo then I can’t think of any better way to introduce their joyous work than to have them present five of their favourite publications, in their own words. The atelier consists of Maxime Prou and Adèle Favreau, a creative couple living in an impossibly beautiful barn in the French countryside where they experiment with illustration, graphic design, surface and textile design on a daily basis to create an endless array of utterly unique and distinctive works for clients including Vogue, The Plant, Wanderlust and Wrap magazine. But also just for fun, because why wouldn’t they?

  4. Main-books

    Guys it’s World Book Day! One of the only “days” of the year that people should really give a shit about (yeah I’m looking at you “National Play your Ukulele Day”). People all over the world are encouraging kids and adults to get their hands on a brand new book, or just glance at the spines of your well-thumbed publications on your dusty shelf that perhaps changed your life at some stage or another. In honour of this sacred day, we book-lovers at It’s Nice That have decided to pay homage to our own favourite tomes by listing them here for you today in our very own It’s Nice That Bookshelf. So in no particular order, here are the It’s Nice That editorial team’s favourite ever books. Tweet in yours too!

  5. Just_kids_cover-list-int

    How best to describe the enduring and ubiquitous influence of COS? The brand has become almost cult-like in its appeal since it was founded a mere eight years ago, creating designs which are somehow timeless and classic and simultaneously innovative.

  6. Dominic-wilcox-bookshelf-list-int

    There aren’t many designers out there who can count a pair of shoes with GPS tracking, a race against a 3D printer and a stained glass driverless car among their recent projects, but Dominic Wilcox isn’t just any old designer. In fact, the job title “inventor” seems to be more appropriate, given that he spends his days identifying gaps in the objects we use, and experimenting with materials to develop new and intriguing ways to fill them.

  7. 4_int_bookshelf_americasfav2-list

    Brooklyn-based graphic designer Elana Schlenker is not only the creator of “occasional pamphlet of typographic smut” Gratuituous Type, she’s also a freelancer with a magnificent array of colourful projects on her (frankly quite beautiful) website, a very good speaker, an exhibitor at exhibitions in Edinburgh and at London’s own KK Outlet. And she’s won a bunch of awards, too. Her aesthetic is pastel coloured without being sickly, innovative without feeling audacious and involves the kinds of books which just seem to make life nicer.

  8. Stevie-gee-rumble-fish-list

    Illustrator and art director Stevie Gee has a pretty solid place in our hearts; his work is a glorious collection of iconic retro elements, moustachioed men, skateboarding and surfing know-how and the occasional dollop of sleaze for good measure. His Bookshelf, however, secures him in It’s Nice That history forevermore; never before have a classic skateboard, several pairs of silken panties, such a delightful collection of textiles and a cat called Olive featured. His book collection is pretty good too, jumping from vintage erotic comic books to 70s psychedelia is one fell swoop. All hail Stevie Gee!

  9. Gourmand-list-int

    If you’ve passed an independent magazine stand or stepped into a newsagents of late then without a doubt you’ll have some idea of what The Gourmand is. The biannual journal focuses on food in all its guises, and it’s invariably too enticing not to pick up. Founded by David Lane and Marina Tweed, the magazine is something of a pulsating hub for cultural references, with every page bearing the kind of striking imagery that challenges accepted patterns of independent publishing, urging the whole industry forward. You can see why we decided to grab co-founder and creative director David Lane to run us through his five favourite inspirational books from the studio Bookshelf.

  10. Teoconnor-bookshelf-list-int

    If you’ve laid your eyes on a poster for one of Somerset House’s exhibitions recently then you’ve more than likely been looking at the work of Teo Connor’s eponymous east London design agency. Teo, who previously co-founded No Days Off, has since worked on a bunch of chic campaigns for the cultural institution, not to mention projects for Tate, Nike and the V&A. She’s also co-founder of The W Project, which champions women in the creative industries through a series of events and exhibitions, which means she basically ticks every box. Brilliant woman.

  11. Fonshickmann-bookshelf-2

    It’s not very often we have a selection of vintage porn magazines masquerading as a book about the history of cinema on It’s Nice That, and for this special occasion we have Professor Fons Hickmann, founder of Berlin studio Fons Hickmann m23, to thank – he stumbled across the rare finding at a French flea market.

  12. List

    Last week Apartamento’s co-founder and art director Omar Sosa mentioned an upcoming collaboration with artist Nathalie Du Pasquier in his Bookshelf feature, and purely by chance this week we have Nathalie herself running us through her favourite books. What a nice coincidence!

  13. New-omar-list_

    You know how, when going to the hair salon, you automatically and perhaps unfairly expect your hairdresser to be perfectly coiffed? We had a similar sense of anticipation when it came to admiring Omar Sosa’s favourite books – a kind of nervous hope that the man responsible for getting together with Nacho Alegre to co-found Apartamento, an eclectic and deftly-curated compilation of cool characters and the spaces they inhabit, has a similarly intriguing collection of books in his own home too.