“There were obviously a million ways I could go about this,” says this week’s Bookshelf contributor Jamie Wolfe. An animator and illustrator, she’s much-loved for her signature wobbly-wobbly, sketchy, and somewhat grotesque style. It’s a style which, in 2018, placed Jamie firmly in our list of Ones to Watch for the year.
She’s produced a multitude of short films, as well as a music video for King Krule and although early on in her career, Jamie’s influence on the aesthetics of many young animators is already being felt.
We got in touch with Jamie to find out which books have helped inform this signature style and what she’s responded with is a list that focusses on “books that put an emphasis on process or the thinking and work going on outside the artist’s ‘main’ art or filmmaking practice. More than half of them are about filmmakers or animators that have been especially influential to me.”
The Collective Hairy Who Publications 1966-1969
I’ve looked through this book so many times the spine is pretty much destroyed. The Hairy Who was the name of a collective of six Chicago-based artists – Jim Falconer, Art Green, Gladys Nilsson, Jim Nutt, Suellen Rocca, and Karl Wirsum – who exhibited together during the mid-60s. This volume collects the self-published books the group created to accompany the paintings within their collaborative gallery shows.
They present as comics, but are, for the most part, devoid of any linear narrative or meaning. It’s instead all about the lines, forms, and the way the works abstract references from familiar visual tropes and pop culture. There’s so much delicious tension in the way they bring you in with bold colours and playful premises, but then immediately repel you with grotesque exaggeration and ambiguous non-specificity. I’ve thought a lot about the energy that comes from that push and pull.
Amy Lockhart: Dirty Dishes
If I had to name my favourite artist/animator/filmmaker, Amy Lockhart would be a strong contender. Dirty Dishes is a tiny book filled to the brim with a selection of Lockhart’s paintings, comics, sculptures, and film stills. It’s fascinating to see her ideas grow and evolve as she dances between different characters and mediums. I defer to this apt quote from Drawn & Quarterly: “All of Amy’s work appears to be part of a complex and complete interior world that we’re only partially privy to, and Dirty Dishes is like a collection of vacation snapshots from it.”
This enormous monograph has travelled with me through so many apartments and phases in my life. (If you could feel how heavy this is, you’d understand why that information is significant!) It’s huge because it’s comprised of two books: one filled with full-colour images of Panter’s paintings, drawings, sculptures, posters and comics. The other is made up of hundreds of scans from his original sketchbooks.
I love Panter’s comics and paintings, but I find the most inspiration in seeing his process work. I like sifting through his unfiltered thoughts and getting clues into what he was paying attention to. It’s interesting to watch him work through stylistic experiments in his sketchbook and to see what makes it over to his paintings. I’ve taken a lot of inspiration from the directness in his line work in the work presented in this book set.
A Portrait of Keiichi Tanaami
Keiichi Tanaami is a master of many media, but for me, the experimental animations he made in the 70s are the tops (especially Sweet Friday and Good-Bye Elvis in the USA). I’m probably cheating a little bit because the book is a physical companion to a DVD release of his films. But in my defence, I’ve probably looked at the book just as much as I’ve watched the animations. I really appreciate the amount of detail he includes in each individual frame, and it’s nice to see them as stand-alone artworks. Tanaami is the master of graphic forms that are simultaneously organic and controlled.
This book was an extremely lucky garage sale find. A good friend of mine introduced me to Mika Rottenberg’s work a few years ago, but it wasn’t until I got my hands on this book that I understood the depth of her genius.
Rottenberg is an Argentine-Israeli video artist who uses her surreal experimental films and installations to explore ideas on female labour and capitalism. I’m especially interested in the way this book reinterprets the textural details and rhythmic pacing of her films. Some spreads of the book are minimal and understated, others are jam pack with rapid-fire transitions. Your eyes almost move through the pages of this book at a similar rhythm to the way time moves in her films.
About the Author
Ruby joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in September 2017 after graduating from the Graphic Communication Design course at Central Saint Martins. In April 2018, she became a staff writer and in August 2019, she was made associate editor. Get in contact with Ruby about ideas you may have for long-form stories on the site.