In 2010 Jon Cockley set up illustration agency Handsome Frank with his cousin Tom Robinson. The agency has grown an incredible amount over the last five years and the pair now represent 34 illustrators across the world including Malika Favre, Jean Jullien and Thibaud Herem. Before Handsome Frank, Jon worked in publishing for ten years for platforms including Creative Review and Design Week. In that time, Jon’s experience in the industry and passion for all things design has continually grown, so it seemed like a no-brainer to get him to show us what’s on his bookshelf. Lucky for us, Jon’s selections don’t disappoint, with graphic design, photography and even a book of positivity all featuring in this creative-minded hotpot.
Phaidon editors: Phaidon Design Classics
I absolutely adore these books, they’re an endless source of inspiration. It makes you realise just how prevalent good design is in our everyday lives and how much we take it for granted. What I love is how the book celebrates design as something that’s very utilitarian and not just a luxury. The writers laud as much praise on Johan Vaaler (the inventor of the paperclip) as they do on Charles and Ray Eames. These are always the first books I’ll grab if I have a spare 20 minutes and a quiet house.
I worked at Intersection for a relatively brief period in 2006. Professionally it was probably one of the most difficult experiences I’ve ever had. I left from working in the relative comfort of a big publishing house (for Creative Review) to working for a magazine that was at the time being run out of a studio flat in Old Street. I really struggled adapting to a new way of working that was seemingly unstructured and free. Looking back on it now though, it was one of the most influential periods I’ve ever had. The founders for the magazine were a big source of inspiration and a huge contributing factor to what I ended up doing by setting up Handsome Frank. The book, as well as being beautifully designed, is a great reminder that good things often come out of difficult times.
Paul Arden: It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want to Be
A very obvious choice, but I just couldn’t leave this out. The book is a wonderful exercise in the power of positivity and creativity, and encourages you to challenge and question everything. When I was at Creative Review we hosted a tribute to Paul Arden, which was a great celebration of his life and work, and which his late wife spoke at. Among other things this involved convincing the venue (a Westminster church) to allow a fully naked man to sit in front of the audience throughout the talk. It was quite a challenge.
Music: Stuff We Really Like
Published by creative agency Music back in 2011 this is just a brilliant idea and a book that I wish I’d written. The agency wrote it as they wanted to design a piece of self-promotion that could be mailed to potential clients. So they produced a 784-page book filled with stuff they really like, which was “intended to resonate with people and attract like-minded personalities.” It’s just a glorious read that you can dip in and out of and always find something new in.
Clement Cheroux: Henri Cartier-Bresson – Here and Now
I’ve always been a huge fan of Henri Cartier-Bresson and I was lucky enough to see his exhibition at Centre Pompidou in Paris last year. His work is incredible by any standards, but even more so when you think about the equipment and technology he was using and the differences between film and digital photography. The concept of the ‘decisive moment’ is one that we’ve never been further from in a generation of Instagram and iPhone photography and this book is a brilliant collection of his best work.
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