Big Ego Books arose from the desire to bring together a library of great artists and writers whose original, inspiring and sometimes maniacal work resides on the fringes of popular culture. A passion project for Sydney-based collaborators Raquel Caballero and Emily Hunt, Big Ego Books is a personally sourced and curated online collection of fascinating, hard-to-find, and frequently unusual titles that reflect the singular tastes and preoccupations of its creators.
Some say the origins of this partnership are shrouded in mystery, that Mses. Caballero and Hunt met when the former, a gypsy grifter raised by a family of lemurs, unsuccessfully attempted to enroll in the latter’s offshore pro-wrestling academy for senior citizens. Others maintain their first encounter was really at art school, after Ms. Caballero remarked favorably upon Ms. Hunt’s Velcro footwear—as was the style at the time. Whatever the case, the devil—or more accurately, their beloved David Bowie—was almost certainly involved.
In the ensuing years Caballero and Hunt pursued both art careers and a shared obsession with thrift shopping, and this fiendish union resulted in their widely loved and reviled underground cult magazine, DUKE. Published over five hotly-anticipated issues between 2006 and 2009, DUKE employed a feverish collage of absurdist and kitsch styles to satirise magazine culture, drawing on humourist tradition while creating an influential aesthetic of its own (not to mention hosting Sydney’s now-legendary dance-off nights.)
Between publishing escapades and their work appearing in numerous gallery shows, Caballero and Hunt worked across the spectrum of bookselling, from retail to vintage to trading “first-edition” Bibles with gullible carnies (a story for another time, perhaps.) Together they realised they’d accumulated the knowledge and taste to create a new and unique bookshopping experience, one free from the fruitless hours spent trawling through generic titles and enduring the eye-rolling attitude of sarcastic store clerks (behaviour that they somewhat dubiously claim to have never engaged in.)
Big Ego’s core catalogue encompasses Art, Photography, Architecture, Craft and Erotica, but the store also maintains a hand picked selection of Children’s Books for the discerning and/or negligent parent. And for the truly adventurous reader, the site’s “Trust Us” section is the place to go for all the weird, wonderful and wholly unclassifiable titles Mses. Hunt and Caballero insist—and demand—that you enjoy.
Consider yourself warned.
Raquel Caballero is an exhibited artist, reformed librarian, and literary obsessive with a decade’s experience in publishing and bookselling. Her fine art work occupies a peculiar space between homespun craft and pop culture, merging outsider influences with celebrity fascination in unpredictable, engaging ways.
Emily Hunt is an internationally exhibited artist who works across a variety of mediums, employing everything from ceramics and dioramas to etching and watercolours in her pursuit of a catharsis of the grotesque. She has worked in publishing and bookselling for over a decade, while continuing to confront audiences with the vulgar, profane and intemperate nature of the present.