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The Self-Reliance Project
The Self-Reliance Project is a daily essay about what it means to be a maker during a crisis—to think through making, to know yourself better through the process of producing something—and how this kind of return to self-knowledge might just be the entire point.

It’s title comes from the 1841 essay on self-reliance by the American writer Ralph Waldo Emerson, who wrote with astonishing clarity about the perils of conformity and consistency, about what it means to follow your mind, trust your instincts, and listen to your heart.

So for now, stay well, stay home, and do your work. But don’t just take it from me. Take it from Emerson.

Do your work, and I shall know you. Do your work, and you shall reinforce yourself.

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Observed | July 30

A new director for New York’s Museum of Arts and Design—the 11th one, in fact. [JH]

A closer look at the economics of Black pop culture reveals that most Black creators (outside music) come from middle-to-upper middle class backgrounds, while the Black poor are written about but rarely get the chance to speak for themselves. [BV]

How Katsushika Hokusai’s “Under the Wave off Kanagawa” emerged from Japan’s isolation to become a global icon. [BV]

Nissan teamed up with sound designers at Bandai Namco, the gaming company known for Pac-Man and Tekken to create more musical warning sounds. (via Kottke)[BV]

A brave—and brilliant—essay about the perils of sameness in design. [JH]


Observed | July 23

What is the opposite of design forward—design backward? (Like a good vintage wine?) Apparently not! [JH]

Global intuitive cryptology, an installation by Hayal Pozanti at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library in New York. [JH]

An insightful essay by Jarrett Fuller on the impact and legacy of Cranbrook’s graphic design program. [JH]

Photographer Bryan Sansivero has spent years exploring and documenting homes across Upstate New York that have been left to the ravages of time. (Don’t miss the Clown House.) [JH]


Observed | July 16

Google Head of Product Inclusion—and author of Building For EveryoneAnnie Jean-Baptiste on better design practices. [JH]

AOC, master of the modern visual: a beautiful essay by ALexandra Lange. [JH]

An extraordinary new seriwes of books (three of them, slipcased) on Swiss graphic design history. [JH]

Barbara Stauffacher Solomon changed the world of design with her life-sized graphics. A new collaboration with filmmaker Gary Hustwit is designed to introduce her to a new generation of design lovers. [BV]

Is Artificial Intelligence...a design problem? [JH]

In fiction, the contemporary art world is, more often than not, represented as a ridiculous shell game in which empty provocation is propped up by canny marketing and rampant financial speculation. [BV]

Will there ever be a place to sit down in Moynihan Station? [BV]

Reimagined movie posters from Patrick Concepcion. (Via Allan Chochinov/Jason Kottke.) [JH]

Wolfgang Weingart, widely credited as the father of New Wave typography, has died. He was 80. [JH]

“His recent installations sweep us in, sometimes entertain, then ask us to step back and consider images and feelings that seem too full, too immediate, to consider.” The internationally acclaimed artist Christian Boltanski has died in Paris. He was 76. [JH]

Saved from a dumpster, glass negatives reveal life in Massachusetts in the nineteenth century. (Via Don Whelan.) [JH]

The UK filmmaker Paul Bush is known for his stop-motion animations using repurposed objects. In his nostalgic short Ride, he finds his muse in theiconic motorcycles of the 1950s and ’60s. [BV]


Observed | July 06

Where’s our flying-car future? Maybe it’s finally a little closer, thanks to AirCar. [BV]


Observed | June 30

“In the infinite collection of gigantic, dwarven, elongated, flattened, skeletal, microscopic, grotesque, gnarled typefaces that grows everyday,” wrote Alphonse to Boissieu in 1854, “it is surprising that no one has thought of reproducing the beautiful antique letter whose proportions are so fortunately and wisely combined...” More on epigraphy—the study of ’exposed writings‘—and on Mercure, the new typeface from Fonderie Abyme, here [JH]


Observed | June 25

Parsing the pixels to discern truth from falsehood: truth and consequences in the deepfake era. [JH]


Observed | June 24

A touching exchange between two wonderful art directors, brought together by unlikely circumstances: Steve Heller and Véronique Vienne reflect on creativity, a chronic illness, and everything in between. [JH]



Jobs | August 03