Sunday, December 4, 2011

Sagmeister's wisdom and life's lines.

"So, are you going to get your book signed or what?" my friend asked as we exited the packed auditorium. "Nah, this place is a mad house. I don't stand a chance." I replied.

We moved to the side and discussed the presentation we'd just witnessed. I safely leaned on a table as the crowd somehow continued to grow.

Years ago, Stefan Sagmeister was promoting his latest book, Things I Have Learned in My Life So Far. If you haven't seen it, it's a celebration of visual thinking and life realizations. All acquired on a year long sabbatical. I believe the way he captured words and statements inspired today's illustrative lettering movement. In fact, here's a project he did with the crazy-talented Jessica Hische herself: "Obsessions make my life worse and my work better."

The actual list of things he learned was inspiring. A mix of profound, simple, humorous, bold, and humble statements. Each line given its own execution and mini book within the die-cut-sleeve housing. (As you probably know, Sagmeister is seriously unafraid of x-acto knives.)

The things he learned:
  • Complaining is silly. Either act or forget.
  • Thinking life will be better in the future is stupid, I have to live now.
  • Being not truthful works against me.
  • Helping other people helps me.
  • Organizing a charity group is surprisingly easy.
  • Everything I do always comes back to me.
  • Drugs feel great in the beginning and become a drag later on.
  • Over time I get used to everything and start taking it for granted.
  • Money does not make me happy.
  • Traveling alone is helpful for a new perspective on life.
  • Assuming is stifling.
  • Keeping a diary supports my personal development.
  • Trying to look good limits my life.
  • Worrying solves nothing.
  • Material luxuries are best enjoyed in small doses.
  • Having guts always works out for me.
Seeing him speak in person added so much depth to each of those lines. My friends and I were getting ready to head out. Just then, I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was the man himself, asking if I wanted him to sign my book. I looked to my side. Apparently, in the midst of the crowd reorganization, I had unwittingly become the head of the massive book-signing line. I fumbled for my book.

So what did I learn? All of the above. And, there are times in life when you'll get a chance to be at the front of the line. It doesn't happen often. You may not be ready, but take advantage. In the meantime, always be learning. (No one is ever really ready.)

[ This is preliminary inspiration for a piece I've been invited to create for The Denver Egotist. Here's a link to last year's phenomenal 2010 series. ]

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