Bookshelf

Every week we invite someone from the creative industries to share a rundown of their five favourite books in the whole ruddy world, which have inspired, excited or educated them.

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    The It’s Nice That Bookshelf is widely regarded to be the best feature on any website in the history of the internet. I like to think of it as a cheerful consolation prize for people that aren’t famous enough to go on Desert Island Discs yet. Here we look back at five of the most interesting shelves we’ve had this year. Get your pens out, you’re going to want to write some of these down.

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    Who better than to give us a well-curated selection of some of the finest books around than KARMA books, one of New York’s most well-respected art bookstores. Founded by Brendan Dugan of An Art Service this little Aladdin’s cave of knowledge and aesthetic fudge collates some of the most difficult-to-find books in the world and publishes those that must exist. Their selection is, unsurprisingly, informative and beautiful in equal measure. Check out their site to get your hands on some of these publications for yourself.

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    Oh my Goodness what a treat! A bookshelf from friendly and fun artist Misaki Kawai. Misaki has been making us go warm and fuzzy and feel silly for years with her utterly unique paintings, illustrations and designs. As well as designing some of the most loveable characters ever created by an artist, Misaki is also responsible for making some of the best and most inventive merchandise you can imagine. Unsurprisingly her five most inspirational books are a cosmic medley of some of the strangest tomes I’ve ever seen, accompanied by some of the most hilarious captions we’ve ever been sent. Enjoy!

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    When we look back in years to come we’ll all slap our hands to our foreheads and realise that in his crass, Beano-ish drawings Kyle Platts was actually the Pied Piper of an enormous movement in illustration. His meticulous, often hilarious work spills out of his head, past his eyes, and on to the page at such an alarming rate that it’s genuinely hard to keep up. So what books inspire a man who is fast becoming one of the most well-known illustrators in London? Read on to find out.

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    We have Sonya Dyakova to thank for some of the most pleasurable, well-designed books and magazines (including frieze) that have graced our site in the last few years. Her work is feminine without being cliched – it’s strong and humble, always allowing the work of the artists that adorn the pages she designs to shine brightly while she takes a demure step back. Unsurprisingly her bookshelf is packed with a concise selection of intelligent, classical tomes that suggest her true love for art in all of its forms. Here she is…

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    Patrick tried to pick some novels to show us, but it didn’t last long. His enormous bookshelf is made up of nearly 100% zines, comics and reference books and he’s not ashamed. But then again why would be be with a collection as magnificent as this? The best thing about this selection is the undeniable fact that Patrick’s collection of publications is a clear nod to his wonderful, weird illustration – just how we like it. Here he is…

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    Tom is the creative director of Drawn and Quarterly, and as someone who provides the world with some of the spectacular graphic novels and comics you can only imagine what a treasure trove his bookshelf is. From typographic books found in thrift stores that he has “borrowed” lettering from, to a Sears catalogue from the 60s, Tom shows us which books have inspired him along the way. CHALLENGE: See if you can get to the end without eBay-searching at least one of these books.

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    Director and animator Abbie Stephens came to our attention when she directed a spectacularly psychedelic, glam rock-inspired music video for the latest Temples single. She’s also made animations for Primal Scream and some spectacular short, personal films. Trained in design, Abbie has an eye for what looks just right, which perhaps is part of the reason why she’s been able to take some of the coolest photos of her book collection we’ve ever seen on this feature. Without further ado, here she is…

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    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.”

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    Illustrator and graphic design student Jan Buchczik has been one of our favourites since we stumbled across his work a couple a months ago, so it only made sense for us to pick his brains and find out what his five most inspirational books are. Read on to discover why Spiegelman’s Maus means so much to him, which old cassette tape he loved the most as a child and why he can’t quite bring himself to throw his Warhammer collection away.

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    There are plenty of New York-based creatives whose bookshelves we long to have a nosy around – digging out their gems, admiring their knick-knacks and generally basking in the well thumbed pages of their favourite tomes – and Tim Lahan, one of the busiest chaps in illustration is certainly one of them. It’s a good job that we have a feature whose sole purpose is to allow us to do just that then, isn’t it? Hurrah!

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    We love illustrator Lewis Stringer because he’s unashamedly LOVES fast food. Lewis loves food so much that nearly all of his work is inspired by it, but it’s not really boring food like porridge or potatoes, it’s fun, exciting, greasy food like burgers, hotdogs, pineapples pizzas and steaks. So what does such an artist hold on his shelves apart from Mcdonald’s toys and singing Coke cans? We’re about to find out.

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    This is the bookshelf of the editor of my favourite fashion magazine Oyster Magazine. Zac Bayly has sent us his top five most inspirational tomes all the way from Australia! Oh, the beauty of the internet. As well as editing the good ship Oyster, Zac has written for other fashion powerhouses such as Dazed & Confused, Candy, Wonderland_, Love, and has even interviewed the likes of Thom Yorke – yikes! And he’s only 24 years old! Let’s see which books have inpspired him along the way…

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    What a treat this is! A totally sci-fi themed selection from artist Fergus Purcell. Fergus (or Fergadelic if you’re going by his revealing pseudonym) has carved quite a name for himself in the underground art scene, with his trippy illustrations and designs for Palace Skateboards. Fergus loves the weird, the wild and the wonky, as you can see from his clothing label Aries and his absolutely spectacular collection of rare sci-fi reads. Without further ado, here he is…

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    Seetal has come a long way since being an exceptional Central Saint Martins grad. She now runs her very own studio which does everything from styling to screenprinting workshops, from menswear design to creative direction. What they really specialise in however is textile design – and what textile designs! Seetal has a serious talent when it comes to designing some of the most beautiful, well-informed repeat pattern you may ever have come across. No wonder she’s got the entire fashion world queueing up to collaborate with her. Her bookshelf is, unsurprisingly, injected with fashion, style and a big ol’ dose of craft. Enjoy!

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    We featured photographer Stuart on the site a few weeks back when he brought out Pig’s Disco, a book of photographs depicting British army soldiers going to raves in the late 1980s. His work often covers the gritty subjects that are more often than not swept under the heavy carpet of time, which is all the more interesting when you see his top five selection. Expect Diane Arbus, Hunter S Thompson and Henri Cartier Bresson in this fascinating collection of documentary-photography publications – a must-read for any budding photographer.

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    SUCH a good Bookshelf from illustrator Ben Newman here on this wonderful Tuesday afternoon. If you know Ben’s work, you’ll immediately understand how this truly beautiful collection of books has inspired his unique visual approach to illustration. Slightly retro and meticulously skilful in the printing department, I often think Ben could have time-travelled to earth in a 1960s spaceship to bless us with his creations. Did that make sense? I hope so. Here he is.

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    Like figure skating and expert-level baking, set design and prop styling is one of those crafts that looks mega easy but is most certainly not. Sarah McNabb used to put lovely objects in wonderful positions at Wallpaper* and is now with her skills honed, she is embarking on a freelance career doing what she does best. Her work is angular, vibrant and incredibly stylish, but always with a pinch of fun thrown in for good measure. Let’s see which books have inspired her through her career so far…

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    Will Robson-Scott has broken the rule of Bookshelf and chosen seven books instead of five, but we let him get away with it because his selections and write-ups are so interesting. Will is a freelance photographer and has worked for the likes of Vice, The Independent, Dazed Digital and many more. Fearless, and with a gritty, grimy edge to them, Will’s collections of images will have you transfixed. Before you spend a good chunk of time on his site, have a read of the delights of his book shelf to get you in the mood.

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    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.

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    You don’t often get a personal look into the brains behind a famous online publication, but this is your lucky day. First a royal baby, and now this! Cool Hunting is a blog that’s pretty dominant in the art and design world. They seem to cover pretty much everything that’s cool, be it bikes, shops, design, illustration, art, films, food, booze…I could go on. So what better people to ask to recommend us some ultra-cool books than the people that make the website happen?! Picking one publication each (well, in Evan’s case, two) to tell you about, here are the Kings of Recommendation, The Content Excavators, the Cool Hunting staff…

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    Although he’s still a student (with a whole year left until graduation no less) Luke Evans has produced one of the most innovative and engaging photographic projects we’ve featured on the site this year. Forge was an enigmatic series of images that appeared to be simple photographs of extraordinary landscapes. But what made the pictures truly extraordinary was that Luke had made them on his kitchen table with a variety of household objects. For such a young guy he’s clearly not short on inspiration (Forge is just one of a handful of exceptional projects) so we presumed he’d have at least a few interesting books knocking about the place to give him a creative kick. We weren’t wrong either.

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    Bianca Wendt is more or less our neighbour in the close-knit design community that surrounds east London, which we consider to be a privilege and an honour as she’s one of the best designers going as far as we’re concerned. We featured her in last year’s Annual for her work on Viewpoint magazine, a publication she continues to art direct, but she’s also constantly occupied with a huge range of fashion and arts-based clients, creating the kind of publications we like to unashamedly lust over. For someone with such a prestigious background in print we thought Bianca would surely be able to provide some interesting insights into her own personal bookshelf. And we weren’t wrong.

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    Maya Fuhr’s gritty portraits of men and women came crashing into our world a few months ago, resulting in is featuring her messy bedroom series which went on to be one of our most successful articles this year – fact! We couldn’t wait to find out which books inspire someone whose work is so closely connected to fashion, pop culture and contemporary youth, and her fantastic selection has not disappointed. Here she is…

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    If you don’t know what Haw-Lin is then go home later, make a hot chocolate, turn the lights off, go to their website, lean back and scccrrroooolllllll. Haw-Lin is a meticulously curated selection of some of the finest images in the world, ever. Largely based around pop culture, vintage babes and Michael Jordan, the website also offers images as doorways to some of the best art, design and sartorial picks the web has to offer.

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    We love Nat Russell over here at It’s Nice That. If you haven’t seen it before, Nat’s body of work is made up of fantastical paintings, prints and illustrations that are pretty hilarious on the surface, but are actually infused with a really strong sense of loyalty and love that is so rare in so many people’s work. It’s fascinating to have a peek into his shelves, and to see the corrrelation between his literary habits and the work that he creates. Welcome to Nat Russell’s incredibly dedicated fan-base, you’re going to like it here.

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    What an honour this is! This week we have Jeff Hamada, founder of Booooooom, one of the most inspirational art and design blogs out there. As well as running this absolute mothership of a creative resource, Jeff also creates his own spectacular artwork,including some really great murals which you can see over on his site. One of the great things about seeing Jeff’s top five books is thinking about how it all intertwines.

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    Meet the man behind the very well-designed pages of Dazed and Confused magazine, Claude d’Avoine. Claude is renowned not just for being one of the most stylish men on Old Street but also part of the Brighton talent-gang that burst on to the creative scene a few years back along with Suzi Kemp, Tom Edwards, Lydia Garnett, the list goes on…Claude, who has worked for such big dogs as BOB Design and Colors magazine, now spends his days as a designer at Dazed and Confused. His very neat, colour coded(!) bookshelf is an absolute treat. Read on…

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    What a selection! It is written in blood on the It’s Nice That Rules and Regulations list that the chosen one for Bookshelf must choose five books and five books only, but Julia’s gone and picked seven like it’s no big thing. That’s fine by us though, as her selection includes a Buffy the Vampire Slayer study guide and the Rookie yearbook – two titles you’d be mad not to purchase off Amazon immediately. Julia is an animator and once warmed our hearts with this First Crush animation. She’s now living it up in Brooklyn being all creative and great. Here’s her top seven titles…

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    If you haven’t yet seen Anton Alvare’s spectacular thread-wrapped furniture, you’re in for a treat. With the typical RCA-graduate mix of staggering intelligence and creativity in one go, Anton now spends his time constructing incredible furniture utilising machines that he designs and builds himself. Not bad, eh? His bookshelf is, unsurprisingly, an incredibly enjoyable read. Until, of course, you reach the bit about the limited edition Misaki Kawai book, then you just find yourself wondering how best to break an enter into his home.

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    Ever seen Anna Lomax’s creations? If you want to see some of the most exuberant, fun-infused set design you’ll maybe ever set your eyes on, you should check it out. Anna’s enthusiastic, colourful work has caught the attention of brands such as Topshop and Selfridges, and has made her the go-to girl for fantastically art directed music videos for the likes of Toddla T. So what’s on her bookshelf? Confetti? Ribbons? Sellotape? Probably, yes. But also some magnificent books…

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    What with Bookshelf’s shiny new midweek slot, who to show us their top five books than a man whose entire career has been based around the fascinating history of objects? Marc Allum is a miscellaneous specialist on much-loved BBC programme Antiques Roadshow and is also a freelance art and antiques journalist. His book collection and incredibly well-written captions reveal his wide-ranging variety of historic passions, and the objects scattered around them (human skull included) confirm his self confessed “collectoraholic” nature. Perhaps one of our best ever bookshelves. Here he is…

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    If you don’t know what Jim’ll Paint It is then SORT YOUR LIFE OUT. Just kidding, have a look at his website and see the magical commission-based, Microsoft paint world that is his pasttime. From requests ranging from “Please paint me the T-Rex attack scene from Jurassic Park, but the T-Rex is the band T-Rex.” to “paint me Timothy Dalton having an intense arm wrestling match at Stonehenge with Oprah Winfrey as William Shatner forcefeeds her Spandau Ballet cassette tapes” Jim makes people’s dreams a reality. So what’s on his bookshelf? Well, it’s a nice mix of sci-fi, soft porn and Doctor Who merch. Enjoy!

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    It’s safe to say we’re pretty big fans of Osma’s photography. He’s been featured and commissioned in our two most recent publications, and we’ve wasted no time in putting his work on the site as often as we can. We know that Helsinki-based Osma likes to linger around middle-eastern markets and in Finnish woodland to capture his perfect shot, but which books inspired him to choose to do this as a career? No time to lose, let’s find out. Over to you, Osma.

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    I don’t think any Bookshelf has brought me as much joy as this one by Tom Edwards. A long-standing favourite illustrator of It’s Nice That, Tom once walked on his knees across the office floor to shake hands with someone, which was really funny. Seriously though, Tom is one of the best illustrators in London, and he is also holds the crown of being one of the capital’s biggest medieval enthusiasts, letting his passions creep into the Bruegel crossed with Beano drawings that make up his body of work. You can see some of his exciting new work exhibited at Pick Me Up next week.

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    Lover of all things rainbow miss Jen Stark is here to brighten up your Saturday morning with her exuberant, super-visual book collection. A self-confessed pop-up book lover, Jen’s books tend to be the type you can move and play with, which is fitting considering the fun-filled colour explosions of her of her artwork that we’ve been admiring for many years now. She’s also got a pretty cute dog to boot. Here we go…

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    Hey! There’s rats on your shelf! Oh wait that’s also Matt Furie’s shelves, groaning with the weight of some of the best books ever made. Most of these books you probably wouldn’t even know existed before! And the best bit is that with each odd, rare publication comes a brief, yet candid explanation of why Matt likes each one. To know that the creatures he creates are spawned out of this kind of library is at once comforting, and hilarious. Thanks, Matt! And nice rats btw.

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    What would you expect the editor-in-chief of Dazed and Confused, one of the world’s coolest magazines to have on his bookshelf? Some big, clunky fashion titles? Some sort of bicycle book? A map of Hackney? Well you’re wrong. The very lovely Tim Noakes has kindly shared with us his selection of seriously fascinating books, a photo of his very cute son in their very nice living room, and some stories about Wu-Tang that will blow your balls off. Take it away, Tim!

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    Could you get a much cooler scenario than two young brothers getting their brains together to melt down years of eating sugary cereal in front of cartoons as kids into an actual career involving animating videos for Adam Buxton and making gloriously juvenile illustrations? I can’t. Paul and Matt Layzell have been blowing our minds with their hilarious videos and drawings for a few years now, so we were curious to see which books inspired them to become the fine young men they are today. With minimal squabbling they have chosen six books, and boy are you in for a treat…

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    Patrick Fry is GREAT. We at It’s Nice That had the pleasure of working with Pat for most of last year, and watched him blossom from a sandwich-loving freelancer into a…well, I guess he’s still the same. One look at his portfolio will show you what he’s capable of, and the huge range of people who have commissioned him to re-brand their whole company is testament to his talents.