It’s not exactly easy to pick out the best books from 2014. For a start, books are no singular thing – they’re a receptacle, whether for words, photographs, images, art projects or anything else you care to put to paper. As such, we’ve got something of a mixture here, ranging from indispensable advice for creatives to a peek at a Dalí-curated dinner party to a sublime compendium of the best bits of BUTT magazine. It’s by no means an exhaustive list, more a teeny shelf from the great library of 2014’s best and brightest publications.
This sweet little project from Lenka Clayton needs little in the way of explanation – it’s a book of photographs of things she’s nabbed from her son; a small man with an unusual appetite, it seems. There’s a sponge animal, a cigarette butt, metro tickets and coins amongst the gubbins, gathered together in a beautifully shot tome that manages to sidestep sentimentalism into something rather more creative.
We couldn’t get enough of this perfect pink compendium from Taschen of content from gay zine BUTT. Drawing together some of the choicest bits of the mag – described by its tagline as an “INTERNATIONAL FAGGOT MAGAZINE FOR INTERESTING HOMOSEXUALS AND THE MEN WHO LOVE THEM” – it’s a glorious mixture of interviews, essays, photo shoots and images. While there’s a lot of cock, there’s even more heart to Forever BUTT, and it’s editorial prowess and images like these that make us gaze on with envy at the those of the world BUTT draws on and inhabits.
From naughtiness to nostalgia, we couldn’t resist putting this criminally cute book into our list of 2014 favourites. If we’re being honest, anything boasting pics of Bagpuss (Emily really does love that saggy old cloth cat) would pique our interest, but this book is so beautifully put together and boasts such sublime imagery from shows like The Clangers, The Pogles & Pogles’ Wood and Ivor the Engine that it proves the huge importance of Smallfilms in shaping not only many a childhood, but children’s broadcasting and animation.
When he’s not undertaking such post-conceptual digital wizardry as hacking Super Mario games or popping glockenspiels all over Bruce Springsteen songs, New York artist Cory Arcangel takes an interest in nascent novels and their novelists. This fascination resulted in a wee book called Working On My Novel. The book showcased snippets from Cory’s Twitter feed of the same name, which automatically retweeted people whose digital missives featured the phrase “working on my novel.” And the nice thing is, it’s not an exclamation of “smug, deluded little blighters!” in print form, but as Cory puts it, a project about “the act of creation and the gap between the different ways we express ourselves today… it’s the story of what it means to be a creative person, and why we keep on trying.”
This mammoth in size and mammoth in hilarity tome showed Shrigley at his comic best, distilling situations both normal and abnormal into strange, brilliant little images. Shrigley told It’s Nice That’s Liv Siddall that he hoped, among other things, that people would get “joy”, “a sense of purpose” and “relief from neck and back pain” from the book; and he’s definitely achieved at least one and a half of those goals.
Unit editions’ Adrian Shaughnessy and Tony Brook never fail to excel in the world of big heavy graphic books, and Type Plus is no exception. The book is a stunning collection of images that combine typography with images. A simple idea, but one until now, perhaps not explored as fully as it could be. Many thanks to Unit Editions for taking on that task, and doing it so superbly.
What a treat it was to have a ganders at cookbooks by people like Salvador Dalí , or for some very groovy indeed sounding “singers and swingers" in Phaidon’s The Cookbook Book. Authored and designed by Studio AKFB and published by Phaidon, the book showcases 125 noteworthy cookery publications including the very tasty Singers and Swingers in the Kitchen, the philosophical-sounding Time and Place in Nordic Cuisine and Dalí’s aforementioned jaunt into gastronomy, Les Diners de Gala.
Of all the designers out there, Aries Moross is surely one with the most get-up-and-go. We’ve seen them talk a few times, and their enthusiasm and passion is infectious; but they show us all that these admirable qualities aren’t enough alone to really make it: you have to get off your arse and work bloody hard too. Giving us an insight into their practice and work ethic is Make Your Own Luck, a book beautifully designed by Praline that runs through their multifarious projects and approach, as well as offering genuinely indispensable advice like “if you don’t know how to do something, YouTube it.”
About the Author
Emily joined It’s Nice That as Online Editor in the summer of 2014 after four years at Design Week. She is particularly interested in graphic design, branding and music. After working It's Nice That as both Online Editor and Deputy Editor, Emily left the company in 2016.