Emma Eriksson's top five books reveal what inspires her to succeed in advertising

Books always play a part in influencing our career paths. It's why we often ask our creative community about their top five titles, as it reveals so much of their personal experiences and approach. This time, we hear from Emma Eriksson, head of creative at Forsman & Bodenfors in New York.

Emma Eriksson

Emma Eriksson

After heading creative at her own firm for more than a decade, teaching classes in advertising and art directing at Miami Ad School, working for ad giants like TBWA, and producing award-winning creative for F&B in Sweden, Emma Eriksson is a master of the creative process and has a proven track record of work that commands our attention. Her impressive portfolio of brand work includes Absolut Vodka, H&M, Häagen-Dazs, and MTV, to name a few.

As Head of Creative at Forsman & Bodenfors in New York, Emma naturally brings a little Swedish ethos through her approach and style of leadership: egalitarian, collaborative, humble, yet unafraid to speak the truth. Out of that culture of trust, "brave creatives" emerge – and some pretty great work follows, too.

So what have been the books that have partly shaped Emma's career and craft? And what can we expect to discover more about her through her five favourite titles? In her own words, she shares her top reads of all time and why they mean something to her.

1. Teenage by Szabo Joseph

I have many books by brilliant, more famous photographers, but I always tend to return to this one. I bought it in London in early 2000 mainly because Szabo took the iconic picture of a young girl smoking on the cover of Dinosaur Jr.'s Green Mind. I sometimes miss that time, being almost an adult when everything seemed possible. I think he captures it all: the excitement, the self-consciousness, and the heartbreak. The photos are from the '70s and '80s, but I can see my own young teenagers in them. The images have a timeless feel.

2. Gas Book 03 by Geoff McFetridge

I like this book because it brings back memories. I saw a show of Geoff McFetridge at Deitch or Alife many years ago, which was a lot of fun. I like how his illustrations are much like the clean, playful graphic design I lean toward. It's super simple with a hand-drawn touch and excellent colouring. To make something simple that still evokes feelings is hard, but McFetridge knows how to make flat look interesting.

3. Maison Martin Margiela (hardcover) by Maison Martin Margiela

Martin Margiela was a huge inspiration to the fashion students at my design college in the late '90s. I got curious about him and read everything I could find. I loved the anti-movement to the luxury trends with deconstruction, non-traditional fabrics, and exposed seams. Almost as if he consistently did the opposite of all the rules. And how mysterious he was, hardly ever photographed or seen. Unfortunately, I don't look as good in his designs as many of my friends, but his work is incredibly inspiring anyway. Just how he waved it all together with the graphic design, the shows, and the packaging. Everything follows a clear path and is highly recognizable. This massive book designed by Margiela is a piece of art itself, with different print methods, papers, and booklets.

4. Barragán: The Complete Works by Luis Barragán and Raúl Rispa

Barragán created the kind of visual world I wished I lived in. The colours and the simplicity of the lines and raw textures were so before their time. I can't believe he got to build all those magical houses and gardens back in the '40s and '50s. I also read he wanted to create emotional architecture after spending time with Le Corbusier in Europe, and after that, he found his poetic approach. I have wanted to visit Mexico City and see these places since I discovered his work. Hopefully, I can go now when I live in New York. It's much closer than flying from Sweden!

5. Apartamento Magazine

In many ways, I find magazines even more inspiring than books. You get the tactile presentation on paper, but it's still current and updated – the perfect in-between for books and online inspiration. I'm very into interior design and physical spaces, and in this field, Apartamento is probably my favourite. They show homes and everyday life rather than over-styled spaces. It's honest, less polished than the norm, well-designed and written. A small detail I appreciate is the unique and artistic design of the spines. They look like a painting on the bookshelf standing together.


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