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Five inspiring books from the shelves of illustrator Joe Cruz

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Joe Cruz’s bookshelf: Matisse

The amount of times we’ve checked out new work from Joe Cruz at It’s Nice That and just sat around with our heads in our hands, gobsmacked at how simple and effortlessly beautiful his work is. Not just that, but his style is probably one of the most easily recognised of the editorial illustrators we chat about here. We love him so much that we even asked him to illustrate a piece in our own magazine, Printed Pages. Here’s Joe on the artists, books and African fashion that have influenced his work over the years. Take it away, Joe!

1

Natural Fashion Tribal Decoration From Africa

Natural Fashion Tribal Decoration From Africa

This is a collection of photos from tribes of east Africa and, as the title suggests, their natural fashion/decoration. This book for me has been so useful for mark-making ideas, I was constantly referencing this book when I needed a shake up with my own line work. All the photographs are beautiful, the figures have a strong nobility but also a strong sense of fun especially with the portraits of the children.

3

Max Beckmann: Modern Masters

Max Beckmann: Modern Masters

At school Max Beckmann was the first artist I really engaged with and pushed my interest in art. I am fascinated by German Expressionism and by Germany during this period of history. Beckmann’s works are very dark, strong and expressive. He hugely influenced my way of working, as I was constantly trying to reproduce his drawing style.

6

Pierre et Gilles: 30 Postcards

Pierre et Gilles: 30 Postcards

This book always brings a smile to my face, it pops with its cheeky, fun imagery. Their works play with subject matter I find very appealing in art history and religion, and their aesthetic is graphic, colourful and homoerotic. 

8

Welt Ausstelung Der Photographie

Welt Ausstelung Der Photographie

I collect a lot of photographic books as I find it’s a great way to study composition. This is my favourite photographic book, it’s from Germany and showcases a beautiful collection of the world’s best photographs. The works are fantastic: the layout, the feel of the paper and the abundance of imagery makes it constantly engaging.

2

Matisse

Matisse

I have quite a few Matisse books but this is my favourite due to its simplicity and selection of works. Matisse is probably my favourite artist, his work is warm and is always very aesthetically friendly. He is a constant inspiration, his themes and subject matter are very appealing. His works give me the impression he was a nice man.

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