Brain Pickings

Author Archive

04 OCTOBER, 2011

They Draw & Cook: Recipes Illustrated by Global Artists

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What starving artists have to do with toads, infatuated chickens, and the universal language of the cookie.

For the past 18 months, brother-and-sister duo Nate Padavick and Salli Swindell have been delighting us with their beautifully illustrated visual recipes from around the world. They Draw and Cook: 107 Recipes Illustrated by Artists from Around the World collects the best 107 of these lovely and delicious treats, joining the ranks of our favorite quirky cookbooks with an absolute gem of visual and culinary allure. From the playful and facetious to the elegant and sleek, these illustrated treasures offer everything from Chocolate Haystacks to Starving Artist Goo-lash and, of course, Cooooooookies for good measure.

We hope this book inspires you to cook up something new or maybe even pick up a pencil and doodle out your own favorite recipe and play along by visiting our website.” ~ Nate Padavick & Salli Swindell

Marmalade Flapjacks by Matt Dawson

Beetrooty-Yogurty-Thingummyjig by Corrina Rothwell

Chicken in Love by Irena Inumaru

Toad-in-the-Hole by Admira Pustika

Turn That Frown Upside Down Cake by Claire Murray

COOOOOOOOKIES! by Pietro Duchi

A feast for eyes and mouth, They Draw and Cook is bound to make you smile and drool — quite likely at the same time. And if the muse strikes, you can even submit your own illustrated recipe to the online project, adding your pin to this impressive world map of contributions.

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03 OCTOBER, 2011

Catalyzing Creativity: 7 Playful Activity Books for Grown-Ups

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Greenlighting mess-making, 101 ways to astonish yourself, and how to flowchart your way to happiness.

The intersection of childhood and adulthood is a frequent area of curiosity around here, from beloved children’s books with timeless philosophy for adults to quirky coloring books for the eternal kid. Today, we turn to seven wonderful activity books for grown-ups that inject a little more whimsy and playfulness into your daily grind.

CHEERFUL IN 3 ½ MONTHS

“The definition of insanity is continuing to do the same thing over and over, and then expecting different results,” Einstein famously proclaimed. In Cheerful In 3 ½ Months, spotted last week at the NY Art Book Fair, author Gerard Jansen invites you to do precisely the opposite, finding your sanity by doing things a bit differently than you’re used to. The utterly delightful pocket-sized volume, with gorgeous illustrations by Dutch designer Sue Doeksen, offers one offbeat daily task each day to put some cheer in your life.

Here’s a sneak peek at the Dutch version, subsequently translated in English:

Images via bloesem living

THE OPEN DAY BOOK

You might recall The Open Daybook by LA-based writer and artist David P. Earle and our friends at Mark Batty — a wonderful interactive perpetual calendar with artwork by 365 of today’s most exciting visual artists, one for each day of the year. Each dated page allows you to fill in your schedule or jot down a creative response to the artwork, turning it into a weird and wonderful hybrid of datebook, sketchbook and daily art journal. Featured in the book are favorite artists like Chuck Jones, Miranda July, Dallas Clayton (), Stefanie Posavec ( ), and Christoph Niemann ( ).

Christoph Niemann

Dallas Clayton

Miranda July

Chuck Jones

Stefanie Posavec

Catch our full review, with more images, here.

Images courtesy of Mark Batty Publisher

EVERYTHING THAT CAN HAPPEN IN A DAY

Also from our friends at Mark Batty comes Everything That Can Happen in a Day — a playful activity activity journal by artist David Horvitz, who every day over the course of 2009 posted a different exercise on his blog, encouraging readers to follow along and insert some art into daily life. From poetry readings in ATM kiosks to tagging along with the mailman on his route, this compendium collects Horvitz’s favorite ideas for injecting art and humor into the ordinary, with plenty of negative space for you to doodle and take notes on your own experience.

Images courtesy of Mark Batty Publisher

WRECK THIS BOX

Author, illustrator and guerrilla artist Keri Smith is a masterful and prolific creator of the interactive journals. Wreck This Box is a wonderful box set of her three masterpieces: Wreck This Journal, a lovely illustrated journal inviting you to conjure your best mistake-making skills and indulge your destructivist demons as part of the creative process, This Is Not a Book, which rethinks the purpose and function of a book and invites you along for the journey, and Mess: The Manual of Accidents and Mistakes, a potent antidote for your lifelong conditioning for overthinking and fear of being wrong. Even the box set itself comes with instructions for how to wreck it and ample encouragement to “make a mess with the box.”

Images by Kimberly Ripley

Originally featured here.

WALLS NOTEBOOK

If you’re ever fostered fantasies of tagging a downtown facade but never gotten past ogling the spray cans at Home Depot, then you’re in luck. Enter Walls Notebook, which you might recall from earlier this year. The brainchild of NYC-based photographer and designer Sherwood Forlee, this charming activity book invites you, armed with a Sharpie, to unleash your inner graffiti artist on irresistibly inviting blank-slate urban walls from around New York City.

Images via the.

ASTONISH YOURSELF

Astonish Yourself: 101 Experiments in the Philosophy of Everyday Life by French philosopher and Le Monde columnist Roger-Pol Droit is based on the premise that “the starting point for astonishment gives rise to philosophy.” Each of the simple exercises peels away at a corner of existence, at once a comforting reassurance of our aliveness and a magical gateway to discovering the invisible whimsy in the mundane. From inhabiting the planet of small gestures to saying your name out loud in a quiet room to looking for a blue blood, these micro-meditations on the practice of being human will infuse your everyday with a little more serendipity and charm, and help you understand your fellow human beings a little more in the process.

To sum up, the purpose of this entertainment could be contained in this brief exchange:

– Where are you headed? — Wherever you get to!

344 QUESTIONS

In there mere three weeks since we first featured the delightful 344 Questions: The Creative Person’s Do-It-Yourself Guide to Insight, Survival, and Artistic Fulfillment by ever-inventive designer Stefan G. Bucher (of You Deserve a Medal and Daily Monster fame), it has quickly become the most popular book in Brain Pickings’ entire five-year history. The lovely pocket-sized gem, illustrated in Bucher’s unmistakable style, helps you flowchart your way to personal and professional happiness and figure out life’s big answers.

Besides Bucher’s own questions, the tiny but potent handbook features contributions from 36 beloved cross-disciplinary creators, including Brain Pickings favorites Christoph Niemann, Stefan Sagmeister, Marian Bantjes, Doyald Young, and Jakob Trollbäck.

Let’s be clear: I want this book to be useful to you. There are many great how-to books and biographies out there, and even more gorgeous collections of current and classic work to awe and inspire. But looking at catalogs of artistic success won’t make you a better artist any more than looking at photos of healthy people will cure your cold. You’ve got to take action!” ~ Stefan G. Bucher

Images copyright © 2012. Pearson Education, Inc. and New Riders

We are all different people, but we face a lot of the same questions. The point of this book is to give you lots of questions you can use to look at your life — in a new way, with a different perspective, or maybe just in more detail than you have before — so you can find out how you work, what you want to do, and how you can get it done in a way that works for you. Specifically.” ~ Stefan G. Bucher

See more images here.

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03 OCTOBER, 2011

Charles Eames on Design: Rare and Wonderful Q&A from 1972

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A lucid reflection on the role and culture of design by one of the most iconic and influential designers of all time.

Legendary design duo Charles and Ray Eames shaped the mid-century modern aesthetic and influenced the voice of design for decades to come. They were also prolific filmmakers, perhaps best known for the iconic Powers of Ten film. In this fantastic Q&A from 1972, found on the excellent compilation The Films of Charles & Ray Eames and reproduced here in House Industries’ typography journal, Madame L’Amic of the Musee des Art s Decoratifs in Paris asks Charles Eames 29 questions about design, covering everything from the balance between form and function to the role of computers in creativity to the impact of influences. His answers are a timeless treasure trove of wisdom and insight on all that design is and should be.

I’m particularly taken with this bit affirming remix culture and combinatorial creativity:

[Is design] a creation of an individual?

No — because to be realistic one must always admit the influence of those who have gone before.

You can also listen to the full audio of the interview in this Japanese video of questionable legality:

And for the ultimate Eames fan, see Ph.D. student Kevin Mackice replicate the interview with his young son Carter to an amusing, refreshing, and surprisingly philosophical effect:

The entire collection The Films of Charles & Ray Eames is an absolute gem — I highly recommend it.

HT Ace Hotel Blog / @gary_hustwit

Donating = Loving

Bringing you (ad-free) Brain Pickings takes hundreds of hours each month. If you find any joy and stimulation here, please consider becoming a Supporting Member with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of tea and a good dinner:





You can also become a one-time patron with a single donation in any amount:





Brain Pickings has a free weekly newsletter. It comes out on Sundays and offers the week’s best articles. Here’s what to expect. Like? Sign up.