Design & Living / In Pictures

The Books That Made Me: Margot Bowman

The bold and brilliant British artist reveals her most influential reads

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Margot Bowman, Self PortraitCourtesy of Margot Bowman, @margotbowman

"Making the strange beautiful and the imagined physical," reads the introductory tagline of Margot Bowman's esoteric website – and it serves as an apt description of the digitally inclined artist and designer's creative practice. From a lofty warehouse studio in East London, Bowman dreams up emotive light installations, vivid screen prints, large-scale paintings, animated GIFs and even swimwear designs, fuelled by and incorporating her fascination with digital mediums. Her latest project – a sublime, sexually-charged zine entitled Body Insert, created in tandem with innovative agency The Rig Out – aims to confront and question modern sexuality, capturing the look and feel of real desires through multifarious artworks, poetry and explorative essays. Here, Bowman divulges her most influential reads... 

My Year of Meats by Ruth Ozeki
"I read this after Ozeki's epic A Tale For a Time Being which is chilling, sincere, hyper-real and fantastical all at the same. My Year Of Meats' subject matter is grittier but it came through on my Amazon 'books you might like' at a point when I was thinking about stopping eating meat and it seemed a perfect departure text. Ozeki creates narratives that weave our generally narcissistic lifestyles into the the wider ecosystem we're a part of, creating these very real but emotionally networked worlds."

Crash by JG Ballard
"I love Crash because the world Ballard creates underneath the carpet of suburbia is such a surprise. He reveals so much about the present we are in now and how close, how obsessed we have become with our machines. Ballard is a real source of inspiration for me, because in his work I find a demonstration of how one can use the future to talk about the present and how human stories open our minds up to new possibilities and new ways of thinking."

Story of the Eye by George Bataille
"Someone I was dating once told me to read this because it was 'his favourite book' – which I think retrospectively was complete bullshit, but that aside I'm still glad it crossed my path. The book's far out, but it's a testament to the liberation that should exist through art and culture. We're here to document the whole human experience. Not just the parts where we walk out the front door a buy a new pair of jeans. Bataille's imagination and artistry elevates the extreme sexuality and violence of his characters into something poetic, magic and captivating."

The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf
"Total classic feminist text that put a name and a language around so much of what I'd seen and continue to see in my day-to-day life. I think The Beauty Myth gave me a lens and perspective to understand all of that. I'm visual person working in a very visual industry and beauty is something that plays a huge role in both. Especially in this culture where people and their visual representations are so intrinsic, where these digitally recorded versions of our identities are interwoven with these 'greatest hits' images of ourselves."

You Are Not a Gadget by Jaron Lanier
"Lanier is like the court jester. I saw him speak live, and he's got this crazy genius energy around him, but when he writes his clarity and pragmatism about our current digitally infused world is chilling. As someone who's fascinated by the relationships between us and our machines, his work navigates and highlights both our present and future."

Just Kids by Patti Smith
"I almost felt a bit cliché having this book on my list, but then I remembered that it's totally fucking beautiful. I love Smith's writing and her perspective. It's like poetry, you can feel her words and the way each of them build up the delicate, complicated emotional world her and Maplethorpe live in. I think also life (especially if you don't live in a conventional way) is confusing, and it's not at all linear, which is liberating but also terrifying (at times). Smith lived to tell the tale and her perspective, sincerity wisdom is like a tall glass of water on a hot day."

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