Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘art’

02 DECEMBER, 2010

Stefan Sagmeister on Sustaining Creativity

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It’s hard not to love celebrated graphic designer and creative provocateur Stefan Sagmeister. In this excellent talk from The 99%, he shares some nuggets of insight on creative habituation, desensitization and how not to take creativity for granted — something that could befall most of us as we do what we do day in and day out, regardless of how much we may enjoy it and how much pride we may take in it.

Both of Sagmeister’s books, Things I Have Learned In My Life So Far and Made You Look, remain absolutely indispensable. Sample the magic below:

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30 NOVEMBER, 2010

One Hello World: Tuning the Human Condition

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Zen in the ocean of humanity, or why connectedness is the panacea of pain.

Ever wondered how the soundtrack to your thoughts would sound like? Call (316) 247-0421, leave a voice-mail, and you might find out. One Hello World is a touching project by a mysterious pianist from Wichita, Kansas, who one day decided to compose music over the anonymous voicemails of strangers. Inspired by his love of film scores and relentless curiosity about the human condition, the project is turning into an audio catalogue of personal experiences, thoughts and feelings, sometimes shared playfully, others with heartbreaking honesty. It’s part PostSecret, part The Apology Line, part We Feel Fine, part something else altogether.

He’s my friend and that’s okay. I guess this is just kind of my way of telling him I think he’s the greatest thing since sliced bread.”

The short tracks have the quality of Zen koans one could meditate on. Despite their different tone and theme, they all seem to encapsulate the core of the human condition — the need to experience, feel, understand, communicate, and share the world we live in. Most of the entries become micro-metaphors for the project itself, bespeaking the same hunger for connectedness.

I’ve always thought of life as a kind of canvas, and people as different colored paints; each decorates your canvas in a different way.

You are still my favorite color.

I learned one thing… no matter how bad it is, you always have to tell someone how you feel.

When we get older we stop communicating with those around us and we isolate ourselves. We could do so much if we all looked around one day and smiled, or said ‘Hello.’

One Hello World is the shore upon which all those “voice-messages in a bottle” wash up, tossed into the ocean of information in hopes of reaching their destination — be that a person, an answer, or a certain quality of self.

In 2010, we spent more than 4,500 hours bringing you Brain Pickings — the blog, the newsletter and the Twitter feed — over which we could’ve seen 53 feature-length films, listened to 135 music albums or taken 1,872 trips to the bathroom. If you found any joy and inspiration here this year, please consider supporting us with a modest donation — it lets us know we’re doing something right.





Teddy Zareva is a young filmmaker and photographer currently located in Sofia, Bulgaria. She is prone to excessive dancing and impulsive traveling. Her favorite activities are eating chocolate, hunting for music, and shooting humans.

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.

29 NOVEMBER, 2010

Infinite City: A San Francisco Subcultural Atlas

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If you love maps as much as we do, the 13th book by author Rebecca Solnit‘ (of Wanderlust fame) will make you swoon. Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas, out today, is a collection of 22 magnificent maps brimming with full-color whimsy that reveal the city in an entirely new light.

The result of collaboration between 27 writers, cartographers, designers, artists and researchers, the book is an absolute treat regardless of your relationship, or lack thereof, with San Francisco.

Monarchs and Queens

Butterly habitats mapped alongside popular queer public spaces

The maps, beautiful and often provocative in theme, are accompanied by 18 thoughtful essays that contextualize the geography depicted in insightful and unexpected ways to reveal a hidden city of thriving subcultures, political and commercial dynamics, and cross-cultural relations.

Who Am I Where? / ¿Quién Soy Dónde?

Paired with first-person interview from residents and day laborers in the iconic Mission District, this map draws the US-Mexico border at Cesar Chavez Street

I wanted to make maps gorgeous, seductive, delicious, and beautiful again. Cartography used to be both an art and a science. I wanted to return to that.” ~ Rebecca Solnit

Poison / Palate

Toxic mines and factories in the Bay Area plotted alongside farmers markets, farms, and artisan food producers

If you call San Francisco home, the book will fill your heart and tickle your brain. If you don’t, you’ll want to visit. But, above all, Infinite City will give you a broader awareness of cities as living organisms and complex ecosystems of art, culture, commerce and politics that exist in multiple, layered realities.

via 7×7 HT @kvox

In 2010, we spent more than 4,500 hours bringing you Brain Pickings — the blog, the newsletter and the Twitter feed — over which we could’ve seen 53 feature-length films, listened to 135 music albums or taken 1,872 trips to the bathroom. If you found any joy and inspiration here this year, please consider supporting us with a modest donation — it lets us know we’re doing something right.





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.

26 NOVEMBER, 2010

Launching the Brain Pickings Shoppe!

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What double rainbows have to do with the holiday spirit and the life of the mind.

Consumerism may be the downfall of civilization, but we believe curation is its saving grace. Because life is better with a good book and a few thoughtfully designed objects. So we’ve sifted through mounds of stuff to bring you, excitedly, the Brain Pickings Shoppe — a carefully curated collection of goodies we love and think you might, too.

The collection currently features 63 hand-picked items across 3½ thematic categories: design + eco + quirk, featuring everything from a hand-crafted bamboo keyboard to recycled circuit board coasters to Jane Austen action figures, books (divided into art + design + photography and life + work + mind), and tea lovers, because we love tea and wanted to share our favorites in case you do, too.

The books featured in the Shoppe have been previously reviewed here — you can find them in our book archive or simply plug a specific title in the search box at the top right to see what makes that book so special.

We’ll be adding to the collection over time, but wanted to get it started in time for gift-giving season — because who doesn’t have a friend that could use a solar-powered double rainbow maker?

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