Oh, what we’d give to visit the studio of Bianca Hester! Hester is an artist/handywoman/creator across all platforms living output is so varied and so unexpected that we can’t quite wrap our heads around the whole of it.
For starters, Hester makes and modifies instruments, orchestrates fruitful installations and collaborations, produces lovely art books, writes with great insight, creates video, turns leftover installation materials into light fixtures for her friends, and, need we say it…MUCH MORE.
Among the standard bits of information embedded within artist/filmmaker/writer Luca Dipierro’s biography is the sentence, “His life is based on a true story.” Cool! We love ontological riddles as much as the next guy/girl, and Dipierro’s work is studded with them in the darndest places.
There’s a lot to explore on Dipierro’s website. We recommend starting with the ART section, moseying on over to the FILM segment, and ending up with a tour of the WRITING archive. Neat stuff abounds—and it’s always refreshing to stumble upon a genuine polymath.
Mike Billington’s zines are pastel-covered manuals of how to live in a world where there’s just not enough white space. Billington’s little vignettes and aphoristic/humorous drawings are rendered in a chicken-scratch scrawl that is sometimes opaque and sometimes cacklingly rad, in perfect correlation with the words conveyed. Check out snippets from the zines here.
This Idea Book from Poketo is a tiny example of design genius. The pocket-sized notebook contains 128 pages total, half of which are butter-cup yellow graph paper and the other half of which are ingeniously designed to foster idea-making: a box in the top center of the page contains a space in which to write a Main Idea, while the surrounding boxes are to be used for brainstorming ancillary details. Rad!
Poketo is full of similar treasures: cherry-red Oktomat Cameras, ingenious Upcycled Suit totes, and fancifully illustrated wallets, to name a few. The company was founded by Ted Vadakan and Angie Myung and its name has the cutest origin story we’ve ever heard: “Poketo” is derived from a mispronunciation of the word, “pocket” propagated by Angie’s grandmother. We love it!
Night Owl Paper Goods is a small company that produces the prettiest letterpress goods you’ve ever imagined. Their work combines the soothing colors and tactile forms of children’s book illustrations with the simplicity and expressiveness of Swedish and American folk artists. Also involved: lots of adorable animals (otters, whales, see above) and the ingenious methodology of eco-friendly wood cards, which are exactly what they sound like but ten times as cool in real life. Trust.
There are journals and mini-notepads too— we especially love the pocket-sized spiral bound variety, which are perfect for secret missions and impromptu investigating. There are calenders and tote bags, too, for planning and lugging (respectively). Most of all, we love the fact that the Night Owl creators have turned a passion project into a repository of items that are both functional and enchanting. Color us charmed.
London-based illustrator, writer, art director and lecturer Holly Wales has an amazing eye. Her website is a trove of her works (both published and unpublished) as well as a running commentary on all matters relating to design, art, and research. Highlights include scans of recent research, well-turned thoughts on authorship and sign-painting, sinister Swedish cats, the relationship between illustration and journalism, and more!
Simplicity is best. Not sure if that’s a truism or just true, but it’s always a good axiom by which to live. We’re big fans of these notebooks for a few reasons: their clean colors, the artfulness of the letterpressed covers, the animals that look straight out of a Rudyard Kipling book, and the slim but sturdy size of the things.
A good notebook isn’t easy to find, particularly one with a sweet French fold and a couple of built-in ribbon bookmarks. This is one to tuck under your arm next time you go adventuring.
Tools are important in any trade. How would Max make mischief without his crown? How would Mark Gonzales skate without a skateboard? How would Dave Eggers write without a pen?
Which brings us to our current fascination: tools of the writing trade. When it comes to utensils, not any old thing will do. Every writer has his preference, whether it be a razor-sharp No. 2 pencil or a promotional ballpoint pen. There’s also, and more interestingly, the matter of a notebook. (We’ll leave computers aside for the moment- that’s geek stuff.)
The most reliable pads for scribbling are those with a sturdy cover, a good thick page and a variety of sizes from which to choose. For this reason, Rhodia is a crucial outfitter to know about. The French notebook company produces its tangerine-colored books in all sizes, with skinny reporter pads and thick lined notebooks and tiny pads the size of a few squares of chocolate. Have you ever seen a Rhodia display? It makes you want to forsake baseball cards for good and start collecting notebooks.
Battling Rhodia for prominence in the “classic notebook” category is Moleskine, which makes those stylish little companions that come with their own bookmark and a slip of paper announcing that the notebook is an old favorite of Van Gogh, Picasso, Hemingway and Chatwin (who is Chatwin?). Toting a Moleskine is always a slight risk, since everyone and their mom is a fan and it’s pretty easy to get yours mixed up with someone else’s if you happen to leave ‘em in the same place.
But no matter. A good tool is a good tool, and these two notebooks are the cream of the crop. Go forth and fill them.
At the heart of Sendak’s brilliance is his unforced spontaneousness as a writer. His most epic works: Where the Wild Things Are, In The Night Kitchen, and Outside Over There play out like dreams, discarding the patronizing narrative contrivances of less intuitive children’s literature. But they’re not completely disorganized surrealist romps. Like dreams, they incorporate everyday banal experiences as props and stage dressing in an absurd theatrical puzzle revealing the answer to an unresolved problem from our waking lives.
Cabinet Magazine recently published an article entitled “To Sit, To Stand, To Write,” examining a deep rift amongst history’s greatest writers: the ideal bodily position for writing. Friedrich Nietzsche, for instance, responded to Gustave Flaubert’s casual remark that “one cannot think and write except when seated,” with an infuriated accusation of cultural decadence, writing, “There I have caught you, nihilist! The sedentary life is the very sin against the Holy Spirit. Only thoughts reached by walking have value.”
Nietzche was not alone in his preference– though he was perhaps unparalleled in the philosophical weight he placed behind it. According to the article, Virginia Woolf, Lewis Carroll, Oliver Wendell Holmes and Ernest Hemingway all wrote standing up, hovering over lecterns and typewriters placed upon dressers. Still others preferred the supine pose, including Mark Twain, who wrote in bed. Roald Dahl’s writing habits were generally rather traditional in his tendency to be seated, and yet the description of his writing environment is one of the most interesting parts of the article.
We can conjecture that it was phsical considerations that caused the six-foot-six-inch Thomas Wolfe to write his opulent, autobiographical novels using the top of his refrigerator as his desk, the shifting of his weight from foot to foot being a neat approximation of the Nietzschean decree that all writing should “dance.” But what do we then make of Roald Dahl, also six-foot-six, who everyday climbed into a sleeping back before settling into an old wing-backed chair, his feet resting immobile on a battered traveling case full of logs? Dahl’s claim that “all the best stuff comes at the desk,” is a simple modern variation on Flaubert’s static dictum.
Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, we can go on an informative virtual tour of Dahl’s fabled writing hut, minus the writer and his lanky legs that are no longer resting on that log-filled suitcase. When do the rest of us get our writing huts?