Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Book Review Things I Have Learned In My LIfe So Far by Stefan Sagmeister


When I first opened the package containing Things I have Learned In My Life So Far, by Stefan Sagmeister, I quickly realized it was different from what I am used to reviewing. However, my experience with unique has come into play before.

Sagmeister made a name for himself as a graphic artist. Clients would hire him to design brochures and the like for advertising purposes. If they needed a picture for their annual fundraiser, they knew just who to call.

When he decided to take a year's sabbatical from commerical work to see what would happen, he kept a daily diary. It wasn't long before he noticed what he wrote would be best displayed in public for others to see and apply in their own lives.

To describe Sagmeister's work as a novel would be misleading. It is more like an object of art. The contents were my first hint. Rather than a bound novel which reads cover to cover (for most of us, anyway), a selection of pamphlets falls out of the box. They represent the process of creating his displays. There is a story behind each one, shared with readers.

Those who think on the right side of their brains, or creatively, are going to especially enjoy the cover. It takes the author's face and creates a template. By slipping a pamphlet behind, the image is immediately changed.

Which booklet stood out to me the most? I think it's the one which talked about "Over Time I Get Used To Everything And Start Taking It For Granted". This happened in New York with a variety of mediums. After Stefan sat on a windowsill and dangled his feet out, people mistook him for a jumper. Oops! The police were called, but Stefan managed to leave the scene before he got into trouble.

I also liked "Starting A Charity Is Surprisingly Easy". I was reminded my help can always be used by somebody. Sagmeister and his friends made a difference in the lives of homeless people by handing out bags of stuff twice a month. A student in one of the artist's art classes came up with a way to thank garbage collectors for what they do.

This book is an intriguing look at the things all of us value. Even if one disagrees with the concept or an individual saying, there is something to be said for Sagmeister's vision in sharing with the world.