Illustrations for Amazon Prime Day

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Whether’s the art in Apple’s app store or Amazon’s prime day gifs, I continually to be amazed by some of illustrations coming out of the world’s biggest brands.

The ones above appear on Amazon’s giphy channel to help promote Amazon Prime Day, staring next Monday.

If you’re not a Prime member, you can sign up here to get a 30-Day free trial.

The nothing special

Look for a way of life, unmoored from staring at the donut hole.

Conversely, the hybrid of work and life is what makes the donut whole.

The game of goal-setting is paradoxically non-interventionist.

You don’t attack the carrot, you chew on it slowly.

The policy of non-engagement holds into force the inertia of nature’s progress.

Overworked and lost in the myriad force of competition and conformity, you inevitably emerge with fewer exuberant efforts and more residual impact.

What remains is essential, remarkably slow, vanished is the hurry.

“No need to hurry. No need to sparkle. No need to be anybody but oneself.” — Virginia Woolf

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A little more audience, a little more action

It’s rough and ruthless, but criticism saves you time. People aren’t trying to be mean. They’re just trying to keep you from banging your head into the same wall.

Scientists can’t continue publishing the same paper over and over again. Apple can’t just release another iPhone without drastic improvements. As they say, sameness destroys creativity.

Instead of giving up, what critical advice does is redirect you. Writes Tom Standage in Writing on the Wall:

“Adam Smith. He wrote much of his book in the British Coffee House, his base and postal address in London and a popular meeting place for Scottish intellectuals, among whom he circulated chapters of his book for criticism and comment.”

In search of a little audience, you get the feedback you need to keep iterating until we get it right. Naturally, the process is frustrating for all artists. Writes Fred Kaplan on John Coltrane’s experimental determination.

In a backstage interview with Coltrane during intermission at the Stockholm concert, a local jazz DJ noted that some critics were finding his new sound “unbeautiful” and “angry,” then asked, “Do you feel angry?” Coltrane replied, in a gentle, deliberative tone, “No, I don’t,” adding, “The reason I play so many sounds, maybe it sounds angry, it’s because I’m trying so many things at one time, you see? I haven’t sorted them out. I have a whole bag of things that I’m trying to work through and get the one essential.”

The fear of messing up is good quality control. The feedback loop is a critical ingredient to success. Otherwise, you may just be making something that never sticks.

Thinking, thinking!

@lilypadula

People don’t like thinking. It’s painful. Like denoting page numbers, you have to get your brain’s cells to assemble in an attempt to establish some order.

There’s a reason why there are so few philosophers and so many people attending entertainments. It is easier to sit back and play, to consume in our default setting rather than tinkering with abstract trains of thought.

Humans are thinking machines

It takes courage to challenge yourself to learn without concluding. Society obsesses with absolutes, stuck safely indoors while the explorers coast outside with effortless attention.

Magnetically lured to controlling the world, you forget that uncertainty is what makes thinking successful. Experimentation begets revelations, which leads to even more possibilities.

Doing is why there’s knowing, a result of thinking lightly about what could be.

Alone in the mess


You can never feel alone when you’re enjoying yourself.

Like a magnet, you’re drawn to do what we’re born to do. The vocation calls you like an ambient siren song dangling emotional clarity.

The goals that forced upon you are often dreary. They produce zero enjoyment, so fraught with ‘ought,’ threatening to stain the attentiveness to the present.

Keep your eyes on the prize.

The intuitive self, while sometimes feeling detached, invites you to travel down the road of discomfort for a long time.

Pursue the strength you think you have and embrace the pain.

The middle of the road is already too full of indecisive fence-sitters suffering at the glitch of mental software called FEAR.

Staying edgy…

The audience already exists. The hard part is getting them to pay attention to your story.

How do you gain a fan base in the era of distraction? You select a specific audience, even one person, and write for them.

Different is attractive. 

The first few years of anonymity are hardest but they are also the freest. You get to write what you want with zero expectations. It’s the recognition that threatens your edginess.

“Success blurs. It rounds off the rough edges.” — John Peel

The trick to longevity, therefore, seems to be in the durability of your original pursuit.

If you can maintain your uniqueness while sharpening the tools, why dumb down your art to maximize reach?

Yet, the harshest reality as an artist is that your work may never get noticed. Van Gogh only sold one print while he was alive, and it was to his brother!

Posthumous recognition or not, you can only try to do your best work, to stay dedicated and keep showing up even if no one cheers you on.

The fire within should create enough artistic rage to keep rejuvenating itself.

“We do with our life what we can and then we die. If someone is aware of that, perhaps it comes out in their work.” — Francis Bacon

Churches built in post-colonial India

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Vividly-coloured and shaped like stars, ships and castles, several churches in Kerala appear to defy one of the basic tenets of architecture as set by the influential American architect Louis Sullivan – “form follows function”.

Read Why are some Kerala churches shaped like stars, ships and castles?

Creativity is a form of prayer


We give anxiety power, and the right brain consciousness loves to conjure up imaginary bombs of self-destruction.

What if instead of keeping any worries in we could express them through outward movement, some form of art.

The art of fiction, the art of underwater basket weaving, the art of rolling dice — whatever you fancy as a release from the prison of unnecessary worry.

Keep in mind that anxiety is not a prerequisite for making stuff. All creativity is a form of prayer.

There are plenty of genuinely happy artists that express themselves through their work. I’d say Paul McCartney is one of them, for instance. But there’s plenty on the opposite side of the spectrum like Francis Bacon or Vincent Van Gogh, whose paintings allowed them to release inner demons.

Transmuting either happiness or anxiety into a blank canvass helps prevent any excess storage.

“The talent to make art accompanies the need for that art; they arrive together.” — John BergerHere is Where We Meet

‘I wish I’d spent more time on…’ and ‘I wish I’d spent less time on…’

Imagine you are eighty years old – assuming you’re not eighty already, that is; if you are, you’ll have to pick an older age – and then complete the sentences ‘I wish I’d spent more time on…’ and ‘I wish I’d spent less time on…’. This turns out to be a surprisingly effective way to achieve mortality awareness in short order. Things fall into place. It becomes far easier to follow Lauren Tillinghast’s advice – to figure out what, specifically, you might do in order to focus on life’s flavours, so as to improve your chances of reaching death having lived life as fully and as deeply as possible.

Oliver Burkeman, The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking