Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘Stefan G. Bucher’

09 SEPTEMBER, 2011

Illustrated Flowcharts to Find Answers to Life’s Big Questions

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Flowcharting your way to happiness, or why you should be looking for people who intimidate you.

From ever-inventive designer Stefan G. Bucher of You Deserve a Medal and Daily Monster fame comes 344 Questions: The Creative Person’s Do-It-Yourself Guide to Insight, Survival, and Artistic Fulfillment — a delightful pocket-sized compendium of flowcharts and lists illustrated in Bucher’s unmistakable style to help you figure out life’s big answers, in the vein of today’s inadvertent running theme of self-help-books-that-aren’t-really-”self-help”-books.

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

(Sure, this may be somewhat remiss in overlooking the basic mechanism of combinatorial creativity, but it’s it’s hard to argue with the need to make ideas happen rather than just contemplating them.)

Though Bucher designed the book as a sequence, it also works choose-you-own-adventure-style and, as Bucher is quick to encourage, asks for hands-on interaction — dog-earing, marginalia, doodles. “If you keep this book in mint condition, I’ve failed,” he says.

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

Thoughtfully conceived and charmingly executed, wonderfully playful yet infinitely useful, 344 Questions is the kind of treat in which anyone with a beating heart and firing neurons would find delight — and, more likely than not, find some big answers, too.

Page images copyright © 2012. Pearson Education, Inc. and New Riders

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18 FEBRUARY, 2011

You Deserve a Medal: Honors on the Path to True Love

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We’ve been fans of designer Stefan G. Bucher every since his wonderful ongoing storytelling experiment, Daily Monster. This month, he’s back with what’s easily his most thoughtful project yet: You Deserve a Medal: Honors on the Path to True Love — a poetic, wonderfully illustrated homage to the many braveries of modern love, with all its romantic trials and tribulations. With 40 witty, beautifully designed medals that honor the small and significant feats of relationships, the book is an absolute gem of humor and humility.

A “love medals glossary” breaks down the design and iconography behind the insignia, and three of the medals — “The Worst-of-Days Medal for Heartbreak Survival,” “The Molten Medal for Overwhelming Sex Appeal,” and for “The One-in-a-Million Medal for True Love Recognition, Appreciation, and Reciprocation” — have actually been produced as physical medals, sculpted and stamped out of metal.

But what makes the book most fascinating and precious is that beneath the tongue-in-cheek tone lies not the usual cynicism about love but a genuine yearning for its rich complexity and its subtle manifestations.

It’s not about winning medals, it’s about doing something that will make somebody else happy, and THEN winning a medal for it. Think of the thing that makes your cynical self cringe with embarrassment, then do exactly that.” ~ Stefan G. Bucher

The project did start in the wake of a breakup. I had fallen into a difficult long-term relationship. After it ended and I got my bearings back I turned to the online personals. In the process I met a lot of amazing people who were baffled by love, too. It just became clear that we should get some damn awards for all this effort.” ~ Stefan G. Bucher

Playful as it may be, with its gamification and Foursqaurification of love, You Deserve a Medal gives us pause about the complicated dynamics of modern romance. After all, as much as we try to convince ourselves and our therapist otherwise, we all play the games of love, but we also long for that deeper connection underneath — might as well get some tangible rewards for it.

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