Brain Pickings

All the Buildings in New York, Illustrated

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What deli signage typography has to do with the connectedness of the universe.

A couple of years ago, illustrator Jason Polan set out to draw every single person in New York City. Now, Australian illustrator and creative nomad James Gulliver Hancock is drawing all the buildings in New York. He started the blog when he first moved to Brooklyn, as a way of getting to know his surroundings and recording his relationship with his new home.

I’ve started to see all the buildings intersect, all the areas locking together. A lot of the drawings seem to reflect this interlocking of manmade structures, i.e. it’s all connected. I started out wanting to hug all the buildings in some autistic reaction to love, awe, shock… but now they are slowly becoming just friends.” ~ James Gulliver Hancock

With his playful style and mix of drawing tools and techniques, from Sharpie-on-notebook to digital illustration to screenprints, Hancock offers a refreshing lens on the world’s most overexposed city, filling it with the kind of childlike wonder so easy to lose amidst New York’s chronic hurry.

In this talk from Harvest HQ’s excellent HOBBY series, Hancock pulls the curtain on his creative process

The interesting thing about drawing is that it makes you look at objects in more detail. Instead of just passing by a building, you realize that there’s this weird little sign and it says these funny things about what the deli sells.” ~ James Gulliver Hancock

Many of Hancock’s lovely drawings are available as prints on the project site. We’re particularly loving the How New York Works one. (Sorry, no direct link — look in the blog’s right sidebar.)

via Quipsologies

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Jumpin’ Jive: Have a Great Day the Cab Calloway Way

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Having a tough day? Let Cab Calloway make it better with this priceless, timelessly smile-inducing scene from the 1943 film Stormy Weather. The Nicholas Brothers foot action is just the cherry on top.

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Spark: A Field Guide to How Creativity Works

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We’re fascinated by the origin of creativity and Kurt Andersen should know a thing or two about it. Co-founder of Spy magazine, host of Public Radio International’s iconic Studio 360, notoriously fired from New York magazine for sticking to his journalistic integrity, and founder of the most excellent Very Short List, he’s a paragon of cross-disciplinary creative entrepreneurship with just the right amount of cultural irreverence. His latest exploit, Spark: How Creativity Works, co-written with Studio 360 executive producer Julie Burstein, explores the nature of creativity through 10 years of Studio 360 insight into the drive, spirit and thinking of some of the most acclaimed artists, writers, musicians and filmmakers in contemporary culture.

[T]he deep threads I chose to follow as I arranged the chapters of this book can be found, as we said when we began Studio 360, ‘where art and real life collide.’ Perhaps even more aptly, they are where we experience the oscillation between art and life.” ~ Kurt Andersen

Rather than the procedural how-to approach the title somewhat misleadingly implies, the book paints a connect-the-dots portrait of the creative mindset through 38 diverse and fascinating Studio 360 guests, including Chuck Close, Isabella Allende, Yo-Yo Ma, Robert Plant and Kevin Bacon. Each of the nine chapters tackles a different facet of the creative process and lifestyle, from how autobiographical memory translates into creative output to what drives people to create, through personal accounts, unexpected anecdotes and dinner-party-worthy factoids like why Robert Plant recorded in Nashville or how the sound effects of Star Wars were made.

Ultimately, Spark is less of a handbook on how to be creative than it is an encyclopedia of inspiration plucked from today’s most revered creators, leaving you not with a one-size-fits-all blueprint to creativity but with a petri dish of eclectic insights for you to distill, cross-pollinate and fertilize into a richer understanding of your own creative life.

Thanks, Julia

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