If truth is beauty and beauty truth, Holstee’s collaboration with Brain Pickings’ creator Maria Popova is both. The 18-by-24-inch letterpressed print that I received a few weeks back (I had to wait awhile as it was understandably back-ordered) is absolutely gorgeous in person.
The paper is quite thick and luxe, and its large size makes the rich bite of letterpress somehow more exquisite. The size of a letterpressed piece can only be as large as the bed of the letterpress, and a lot of presses don’t have beds this large. Plus I am so used to handling smaller letterpressed cards — bringing up the scale gives the print such substance.
I love the illustrations by Martin Azambuja, and the orange ink is so vibrant in person and contrasts so nicely with the brown. This poster visualizes Maria’s post 7 Things I Learned In 7 Years Of Writing, Reading, and Living. From how to focus on what really matters to the idea of generosity as personal wellness, Maria’s learnings are inspiring, insightful and oh so wise — perfect to keep fixed at eye-level.
Not all of it is clear from the image above and below, so I’m reprinting the seven things as they appear on the print below – but these ideas are explored more fully in the entire post (link supplied above).
1. Allow yourself the uncomfortable luxury of changing your mind. Ours is a culture where one of the most embarrassing things is not having an opinion, so we often form our opinions hastily, based on quick impressions and borrowed convictions. It’s so disorienting to simply say, “I don’t know,” but it’s infinitely more rewarding to understand than to be right — even if that means changing your mind.
2. Do nothing for prestige or status or money or approval alone. Those extrinsic motivators are fine and can feel life-affirming in the moment, but they ultimately don’t make it thrilling to get up in the morning and gratifying to go to sleep at night — and, in fact, they can often distract and detract from the things that do offer those deeper rewards.
3. Be generous. With your time and your resources and with giving credit and, especially, with your words. It’s so much easier to be a critic than a celebrator. To understand and be understood, those are among life’s greatest gifts, and every interaction is an opportunity to exchange them.
4. When people tell you who they are, Maya Angelou famously advised, believe them. Just as importantly, however, when people try to tell you who you are, don’t believe them. You are the only custodian of your own integrity, and the assumptions made by those that misunderstand who you are and what you stand for reveal a great deal about them and absolutely nothing about you.
5. Build pockets of stillness into your life. Meditate, go for walks, ride your bike going nowhere in particular. Be as religious and disciplined about your sleep as you are about your work – the ability to get by on little sleep isn’t a badge of honor that validates work ethic but a profound failure of self-respect.
6. Presence is far more intricate and rewarding an art than productivity. As Annie Dillard memorably put it, “how we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”
7. “Expect anything worthwhile to take a long time.” In the words of Debbie Millman, who captures our modern predicament beautifully. The myth of the overnight success is just that, a myth — the flower doesn’t go from bud to blossom in one spritely burst and yet, as a culture, we’re disinterested in the tedium of the blossoming. But that’s where all the real magic unfolds in the making of one’s character and destiny.
These ideas are definitely worth passing down, and the quality of the print ensures they will endure for posterity. Each is letterpressed one by one in Los Angeles with archival quality non-toxic inks on tree-free, cream-colored cotton paper. $36.