An insight into Merijn Hos’ favourite artists, through his Bookshelf

2 October 2019

Merijn Hos’s creative portfolio is so varied, it’s no wonder that we’ve written about the Dutch illustrator so many times here on It’s Nice That. From minimal botanical sketches to sultry abstracts, earlier this year, Merijn told us that above all, he “loves going in different directions as it gets [him] out of [his] comfort zone”. With a “will to explore new things”, the Utrecht-based creative is doing exactly that with this new edition of Bookshelf.

But before we get started on the tour of five influential titles from his shelf, Merijn first sheds some light on his relationship with the printed goods. As a youngster growing up in Twente, an eastern region of The Netherlands, he collected all kinds of books from all genres. In the last few years however, he’s honed his interest to more specific themes. He tells It’s Nice That, “Books about 1960’s design, art and photography are my favourite, or books from any of my favourite artists. Weirdly enough, I tend to collect books that don’t necessarily have anything to do with my own practice, I just love discovering new things.”

Learning the hard way, for Merijn, who in the past has bought too many things to no satisfaction, he now has to feel really attracted to a book before buying it. And so, without further ado, here is Merijn to introduce us to five of these significant titles that continue to spark inspiration and awe in the It’s Nice That regular.

R. Buckminster Fuller: Your Private Sky, The Art of Design Science (1999)

As an engineer, poet, designer, philosopher, researcher and artist, Buckminster Fuller established new standards in his lifetime that can be seen today through his decisive vision for capable design. I always love researching his work in this book edited by Joachim Krausse, Claude Lichtenstein and Lars Muller Publishers. When I’m stuck on my own work, it’s inspiring to see how he flips theories around.

I was introduced to Bucky through my dad who is also a fan since his early twenties. He made both small and large-scale models inspired by Buckminster Fuller. He even illegally placed one of his structures at the University of Twente’s campus and it’s still there after 45 years. 

Graphis Annual 63/64: The International Yearbook of Advertising Art (1963)

I could’ve picked any copy of the Graphis Annual between 1960 and 1975, I’ve collected them all over the years, but this is the first Graphis Annual book I found around 2005. Edited by Walter Herdeg and published by The Graphic Press, the years 1960 to 1975 is my favourite era of design and everything I like can be seen in the books. There is so much good work to look at and all of it is made without computers. I like to think that design in those days was better because people put much more time and love into their work, they had to make better and bolder choices because there was no “CMD Z” back then :) Good stuff!

Tal R: Garbageman (2014)

Tal R is by far my favorite artist, I think I have around 15 books by the Copenhagen-based artist. The amount of energy from the artist is truly amazing and sheer quantity of work he produces. I was initially attracted by his pure and naive forms and the spontaneous feel that the work has, also his use of colours is great. In this particular book of mixed collages from 1989-2013 published by Nansengade 62, Garbageman’s best work is exemplified and it took me a while to find a copy. The book is a collection of collages that the artist made from year’s of collected imagery and gives a great insight into the mind of the artist.

Body Isek Kingelez (2018)

This is one of my more recent purchases. I was not familiar with the work of Body Isek Kingelez until I walked into the exhibition space at New York’s MoMa. I didn’t even know what was on at the time, but when I walked into the space, I was completely blown away by the maquettes created by the artist. They are so perfectly native, pure and honest. The shapes, the colours, practically everything about it struck me with awe. I spent a few hours in the space and I really couldn’t believe what I saw. So I bought the catalogue edited by Sarah Suzuki and published by Moma last year, and now, every time I look at it, it takes me back to that moment.

Chris Johanson: Please Listen I Have Something To Tell You About What Is (2007)

I love everything that Chris Johnson does, and he’s always inspired me. Kind of similar to Tal R, but also a bit different. I’m lucky enough to have seen a few of his shows including Totalities at Deitch in NYC which remains to be the best show I have ever seen. It was a complete equilibrium of painting and installation work. I learnt a lot from the experience in the show, and this book, edited by Alleged Press and published by Damiani, often brings me back to those memorable lessons.

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About the Author

Jynann Ong

Jynann joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in August 2018 after graduating from The Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design degree. In March 2019 she became a staff writer and in June 2021, she was made associate editor. She went freelance in 2022.

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