Brain Pickings

DrawHappy: Ongoing Global Art Project on Happiness

By:

What pie, cats and giant cheese have to do with life’s most elusive aspiration.

Happiness is a frequent subject here, from culling the most essential books on the art and science of happy to exploring various artists’ attempts to capture what lies at the heart of happiness. It’s safe to say the pursuit of happiness isn’t merely a constitutional right, but a human preoccupation as old as the world’s collective memory, yet we still don’t have even a remotely precise understanding of what truly makes us happy. That’s exactly what SVA student Catherine Young explores with DrawHappy — an ongoing global art project inviting people to draw what makes them happy.

The project began in Iceland, consistently listed as one of the happiest places in the world, where Catherine began asking people, both locals and tourists, what made them happy.

I realized that one of the most universal and clearest ways to record their responses was to ask them to draw what made them happy. Drawing is one of the earliest skills we learn; its basic elements are comprehensible to people of all ages, cultures and nations. I reasoned that if people knew that they were happy, they should be able to identify the source and moreover, visually embody this joy.” ~ Catherine Young

With its incredible cast of characters, from a theology-student-slash–dancer to a conservation-engineer-turned-hostel-housekeeper to a security-guard-slash-2D-animator, and its wide spectrum of happiness-markers ranging from the simple and poetic (“friends, family, love, cats, traveling, sunshine”) to the somewhat worrisome (“control, attention”), the project is an absolute delight of voyeurism and shared humanity.

House on a Hill

Okami Landa, 28 years old, New York, USA and Colombia; security guard, 2D animator, editor

Repeat, repeat, repeat

'I am happy when I feel the routine of everyday stuff. Repeat, repeat, and repeat.'

Sebastian Vidal, 32 years old; interior designer from Argentina but living in Barcelona

Pie

Britt, 36 years old, brand strategist; Atlanta, Georgia, now in New York

Me on a sailing cheese

'That's me on a piece of cheese, so I’ll never be hungry.'

Swantje, 26 years old, film student and receptionist; born in Germany, living in Iceland

Long leisurely dinner with family

'Having a long leisurely dinner with my close family in my lovely garden.'

Sif ,45 years old, director; Reykjavik, Iceland

Cats

'Cats make me happy. I love them. And having enough money makes me also happy.'

Ingibjörg Birna Steingrimsdottir, 52 years old, works in a museum; Reykjavik, Iceland

Stars, sky, books, dancing, dreaming, family

'The stars and the sky make me happy. Reading books makes me happy. Dancing and dreaming make me happy. My family makes me happy.'

Margrét Lilja Vilmundardóttir, 25 years old, theology student and dancer; Iceland

Colors, diversity, good energies

Zsofia, 26 years old; born in Hungary, living in Iceland studied nature conservation engineering, photography and furniture making; hostel housekeeper

After the 106th submission, Catherine decided to visualize the learning from the project thus far:

We found this Maslowian extrapolation most fascinating:

Submit your own drawing and join this wonderful global exercise in deconstructing life’s most elusive aspiration.

via Swiss Miss

Brain Pickings has a free weekly newsletter and people say it’s cool. It comes out on Sundays and offers the week’s best articles. Here’s an example. Like? Sign up.

Justin Gignac on Idea Envy and Embracing Imperfection

By:

What the garbage of New York City has to do with monetizing the starving artist archetype.

We’re longtime fans of artist Justin Gignac. (It’s jee-nak, if you just mentally tongue-twisted there.) In this wonderful, albeit tech-glitch-ridden, talk from this year’s PSFK Conference, he reveals the creative process behind some of most acclaimed projects, including Wants for Sale, NYC Garbage and QRapping paper, and shares his merit litmus test for what constitutes a great idea.

I get motivated by idea envy. I get super insanely jealous of great ideas that I see of others, I get jealous of that moment where I know they had that idea, and I want that, I want to feel that. So I set out to emulate that, and compete with that, and find that in myself.” ~ Justin Gignac

You can’t wait for perfection. You can always wait for the perfect moment, the perfect this, the perfect that. But you really just gotta start doing. And it makes all the difference. Making excuses takes the same time as making progress.” ~ Justin Gignac

Brain Pickings has a free weekly newsletter and people say it’s cool. It comes out on Sundays and offers the week’s best articles. Here’s an example. Like? Sign up.

Writers’ Houses Illustrated

By:

Minimalist illustrations of iconic writers’ abodes, from Twain to Dickinson to Poe.

We have an ongoing fascination with where creators create. And while it’s somewhat easier to picture the studios of artists and designers, since there’s an aesthetic expectation aligned with their visual styles, it’s invariably a mystery to imagine where wordsmiths work their magic. That’s the subject of a collaboration between literary pilgrim A.N. Devers and design duo Michael Fusco and Emma Straub, based on the excellent Writers’ Houses site, exploring the domiciles of famous scribes through a series of stunning screenprints.

From Emily Dickinson‘s humble homestead to Mark Twain‘s whimsical micro-mansion the eerie abode of mid-century illustrator Edward Gorey, known as the Elephant House — the only monochromatic print of the bunch, perhaps a nod to Gorey’s distinctive macabre style — the two-color prints are absolutely lovely and disproportionately affordable at just $20 each, with proceeds funding the ongoing Writers’ Houses project.

For more literary voyeurism, take a peek at the excellent American Writers at Home by J. D. McClatchy and photographer Erica Lennard — a fascinating look at how physical space has shaped the work of some of today’s most beloved authors.

Brain Pickings has a free weekly newsletter and people say it’s cool. It comes out on Sundays and offers the week’s best articles. Here’s an example. Like? Sign up.

Christoph Niemann: How the World Works

By:

Creative fuel for the inquisitive mind, or what trucks and lions have in common.

Christoph Niemann is our favorite children’s book illustrator and today is a big day because it’s the day he releases his latest gem: That’s How! — an absolutely lovely invitation to explore the inner workings of the world visually, through the pursuit of what we hold as our highest ideal for navigating life: Reckless, indiscriminate curiosity.

Playful, quirky and delightful, the book is a cover-to-cover treat for parents, kids and eternal children of all ages, tickling our fancy as we imagine a whimsical alternate reality behind our worn mundanity.

That’s How! is Niemann’s follow-up to a string of gems, including I LEGO NY, The Police Cloud and Subway.

Brain Pickings has a free weekly newsletter and people say it’s cool. It comes out on Sundays and offers the week’s best articles. Here’s an example. Like? Sign up.