Work in a creative industry? Then chances are you’ve seen Stefan Sagmeister’s Things I Have Learned in My Life So Far kicking around the office. Sagmeister has managed to establish himself as one of contemporary design’s household names, and his book, a bible of sorts to the design-orientated. If you’re not familiar with Sagmeister, Things I have Learned, or modern design, then there’s no better time to grab Abrams Books’ updated release, which contains everything the book is famous for, and then some.
Things I Have Learned in My Life So Far is built upon a variety of Sagmeister’s personal maxims—ideas as a result of a life long journal he kept. One part pragmatic, equal part philosophical, there’s much to admire and take from these maxims. Designing around seemingly ‘hollow statements’ is no doubt a trend in graphic design, heck, I’d even argue that Sagmeister helped popularize it, but to me, his have always felt different.
There’s a level of authenticity to observe: these are the lived lessons of a man who wore these ideals day-in-and-day-out. And the manner in which he has chosen to capture them wholly reflects the thoughts, making it easy to understand and easier to soak in. Reading the book with an open mind warrants the opportunity to approach life with equal parts humility and vulnerability.
The work within demonstrates Sagmeister’s ability to blur the lines of graphic design and art. Sagmeister comments, “I see it all as graphic design, it’s made by a graphic design office in mediums normally employed by design and all has a client behind it. But from a viewer’s point of view it doesn’t matter. The whole question of art versus design has limited interest—it comes in waves, in the 20th century there were times when art and design were embedded in each other, the Bauhaus for instance, and then they separated, and then they came back together, and then they separated… From the viewer’s point of view, it’s always just a question of ‘is it good or not?’.”
Love it or hate it, it’s difficult to deny some of the brilliance encapsulated in many of his projects. I remember the first time I came across Sagmeister’s work, specifically this book, and how it affected my thought, as well as my perception of art and design.
Last week’s post touched on the importance of keeping a journal. Sagmeister’s Things I have Learned in My Life So Far further compliments this notion, in that the project’s entirety is as a direct result of his journaling.
“I use the diary to go back and reread certain passages, to see what my thinking was, and, most importantly, to discover things I feel need changing: when I have repeatedly described a circumstance or character trait of mine that I dislike, I eventually wind up doing something about it.”
Not only has his journal given way to all the work he’s famous for (and in turn, built quite the successful career), but it has also aided in the development of his person. Folks, it’s obvious my adoration for literally taking note of your life, and hopefully, even more obvious how doing so can enrich the soul, or lead to a badass project or two. You cannot lose.
The reissue comes in at $45 and capitalizes on the ‘so far’ nature of the book’s name, complementing the content of the original release with 48 pages of new material that touches on everything from obsession to confidence to love. Not only that, but the update is contextualized by a bevy of great minds: psychologist Daniel Nettle, design critic Steven Heller, and Guggenheim curator Nancy Spector. It’s available now, so have at it.