Caterina Fake: 30 Days of Genius

I was interviewed by Chase Jarvis, the co-founder and CEO of Creative Live, an education company that has live education around the clock, every day, in creative fields such as design, filmmaking, photography and music. It’s a great company! I was on their board too.

Here is the interview, which was recorded last week, and is part of a series “30 Days of Genius”, which includes interviews with other folks such as Richard Branson, Swiss Miss, Arianna Huffington and other interesting and unexpected people. I had fun doing it, and, while I chafe at being characterized ONLY as an Entrepreneur and Angel Investor, was able to talk about my experiences along the way.

Further Reading

These are some of the books I mentioned in my interview:

A Blue Fire by James Hillman. Hillman is a student of Carl Jung, but focuses his work on the cultivation of the soul. Great guide for creative pursuits, but for anyone looking beyond success into fulfillment and magnanimity in the old sense: great-souledness.


The Emigrants by W.G. Sebald. A German writer, who spent most of his career teaching in East Anglia in England. Sebald writes movingly, is deeply learned. The Emigrants is his masterpiece: a study of men, their lives and failures, their deaths.

auto-bio-graphically speaking IV: Gorgeous Nows

Perhaps the best part of my graphic journaling practice is how it is influencing my experience of the ongoing present. A new awareness of moments big, small and routine is growing. By taking time each day to notate images from my mind’s eye, I am honoring the fleeting beauty of the everyday.


Emily Dickinson wrote often about the subject of time.

Forever – Is Composed of Nows –

Forever – is composed of Nows –
‘Tis not a different time –
Except for Infiniteness –
And Latitude of Home –

From this – experienced Her
Remove the Dates – to These –
Let Months dissolve in further Months –
And Years – exhale in Years –

Without Debate – or Pause –
Or Celebrated Days –
No different Our Years would be
From Anno Dominies –

by Emily Dickinson

Poetry is another great way of journaling. What would happen if you reflected on one small detail from your day and wrote a very short poem (one to three lines) capturing it’s essence?

Previous entries:

Further reading and inspiration:


Emily Dickinson: The Gorgeous Nothings. Nothing but gorgeous. Dickinson’s late experimental work photographed and reproduced exactly as she wrote it on scraps of envelopes. A never-before-possible glimpse into the process of a great poet.




Baron Fig Confident Sketchbook Journal and Notebook for Thinkers. Aaaah. Is there anything better than a beautiful, chic, serene, NEW notebook?




Sakura 30062 6-Piece Pigma Micron Ink Pen Set, Black. Pens are important. VERY important.  Many artists, designers, writers, poets would be lost without their Microns.

Auto-Bio-Graphically Speaking III: The Mind’s Eye

What is “the mind’s eye”? And how is it that the brain can see without looking?

There are two ways of seeing: with the body and with the soul. The body’s sight can sometimes forget, but the soul remembers forever. – Alexandre Dumas, from The Count of Monte Cristo

Today’s auto-bio-graphic picks up on a Wednesday, where I skype with an old friend, fly through a design gig, and miraculously remember to take a shower before picking up groceries and kids.


Going forward, I will be posting one panel a day….so please join me for tomorrow’s installment. Previous entries:

In the meantime, try re-imagining a few moments from your own day. What images pop into your head? How vivid are your recollections? What details stand out? What sensations? What can you see in your mind’s eye?

Further reading and inspiration:

FUN HOME by Alison Bechdel.  After seeing the Graphic journaling that I have been doing, a friend recommended that I reads this.  IT IS FANTASTIC! Very powerful and funny. Also extraordinary storytelling and  the basis of a blockbuster Broadway show.


Sequential Art Bristol Paper  Try some graphic journaling.  This beautiful paper makes it a pleasure to draw and helps organize your thoughts.


Tomboy Dual Brush pens. Heaven in a box. A royal set of my favorite markers. Mouth-watering colors, and an elegant brush stroke.


Ashleigh Nicole Arts Woodless Graphite and Charcoal Sketching Set-12 Piece. Great for loose sketches and “thinking” with a pencil.

Storytelling, buzzwords and the loss of meaning

I gave a talk this week at PING:Helsinki about storytelling to a group of people working in social media and marketing. There were a bunch of Instagrammers there, YouTubers, bloggers and so on, and as I was writing my talk and seeking inspiration, the first thing that I thought of was this video by Stefan Sagmeister:

“Storytelling” has become the latest buzzword in business, especially in marketing. Telling your “brand story”, re-imagining your company as a story–it makes one long for the days when the marketing world was exhorting individuals to become “personal brands”, telling their own individual stories. Now entire companies are getting into the game.

Sagmeister points out that this is bullshit. Real stories, like the ones made by novelists or filmmakers, take a lifetime of study, practice, and hard work to realize. Journalists know how to tell stories, and some bloggers too. But most of those YouTubers, Instagrammers and marketers have not mastered the form. They’re doing something though. If it is not storytelling, then what is it?

The reason everyone wants to be a storyteller, even if they’re not, is that stories have a magical power of persuasion and seduction. Stories enrapture us, absorb our attention. They take the messy business of living, and wrap it into a tidy package from which meaning, beauty, insight and truth can be gotten.

The snack-sized postings on social media rarely add up to the full meal that make up a real story. If you were to take a long view, and follow a feed or stream through time, you might be able to discern the ghost of a story in the stream, but it wouldn’t be a story until it was written down, and given the shape of a story, with its rising action, climax and conclusion.

The loss of a word is a terrible thing, and though I don’t think the word “storytelling” is under any real threat, Sagmeister is right in calling out its misuse. The importance of using words correctly was spelled out in Joseph Brodsky’s 1988 Commencement Address at the University of Michigan in which he says:

Now and in the time to be, I think it will pay for you to zero in on being precise with your language. Try to build and treat your vocabulary the way you are to treat your checking account. Pay every attention to it and try to increase your earnings. The purpose here is not to boost your bedroom eloquence or your professional success — although those, too, can be consequences — nor is it to turn you into parlor sophisticates. The purpose is to enable you to articulate yourselves as fully and precisely as possible; in a word, the purpose is your balance. For the accumulation of things not spelled out, not properly articulated, may result in neurosis. On a daily basis, a lot is happening to one’s psyche; the mode of one’s expression, however, often remains the same. Articulation lags behind experience. That doesn’t go well with the psyche. Sentiments, nuances, thoughts, perceptions that remain nameless, unable to be voiced and dissatisfied with approximations, get pent up within an individual and may lead to a psychological explosion or implosion. To avoid that, one needn’t turn into a bookworm. One should simply acquire a dictionary and read it on the same daily basis — and, on and off, with books of poetry. Dictionaries, however, are of primary importance. There are a lot of them around; some of them even come with a magnifying glass. They are reasonably cheap, but even the most expensive among them (those equipped with a magnifying glass) cost far less than a single visit to a psychiatrist. If you are going to visit one nevertheless, go with the symptoms of a dictionary junkie.

I am a dictionary lover, and was both happy and sad to see a whole pile of dictionaries available on the free rack outside our local bookstore. You may find the same. Pick one up, read it daily. I agree with Brodsky here. Reading the dictionary will expand your vocabulary, and with it, your experience of living. And defend those words, and their meanings.  Be alert to when they are under threat, and cautious when you hear buzzwords buzzing about.

This is especially important during a time where the dumbed-down articulations of a demagogue are gaining followers in the U.S. government.

Further Reading

Things I have learned in my life so far. One of my favorite design books! A folder of pamphlets showcasing Sagmeister’s work, but also his sharp humor and the wisdom he’s gathered along the way.


On Grief and Reason by Joseph Brodsky is a collection of essays that includes his commencement address, the lecture he gave upon accepting the Nobel Prize, an astonishing essay about living in an apartment in Soviet Russia, and other musings.


The Compact OED. A real dictionary-lover’s dictionary, this is the full 20 volume dictionary reproduced micro graphically. The history of the words, lost definitions, a word-lover’s delectation.

Auto-Bio-Graphically Speaking, part II

Well, I am seriously loving my new journaling practice.

I have been scribbling, flood filling and shading like there is no tomorrow. I am allowing my subconscious to direct the narrative and letting my instinct decide which shards to borrow from my mind’s eye.

This week’s post picks up where we left off in Baltimore, now on a late night drive home to Brooklyn.


The coolest part of keeping this auto-bio-graphic journal has been the feeling of a neck and neck race between art and life. I find myself looking at life like a composition, then noticing its doodle like quality. More than that- this week I have literally drawn my children to sleep, and willed some cosmos seedlings into existence.

“Life imitates art, far more than art imitates life” -Oscar Wilde


Not only am I using the auto-bio-graphic to chronicle the day to day experiences and events, but I am finding it super helpful as a container for creative ideas, visions, queries and general states of being.  Basically, it is helping me to work stuff out.image The composite nature of the comic form combined with the truism that a picture tells a thousand words, makes the graphic novel awesome for journaling.


I am free to express the multitudinous facets of being. I am an artist. I am a mother, a poet, a writer, a wife, a friend, a pasta cooker, a clown, a fb addict, a reluctant dishwasher, an angst ridden depressive, an empathizer, a daughter, a sister, a designer, a witch, a sculptor, a dreamer, a spaz.

I am an observer.  I am a creator, who feels life deeply.  I am seeing this through the mirror of the auto-bio-graphic.

To be continued….

Further reading:
MAUS by Art Spiegleman,  A story of a Jewish survivor of Hitler’s Europe and his son, a cartoonist who tries to come to terms with his father’s story and history itself.

Auto-Bio-Graphic: my new journaling practice

I have never been a faithful diary keeper. My degenerate handwriting is probably to blame. Or perhaps it is the fact that the written word can fall short as a truth teller- especially for the visually minded.

Over the last few weeks, I have embarked on a new journaling process that is bringing me a lot of pleasure. It is also helping me work through various facets of my creative and emotional life. Each page is an auto-bio-graphic, day in the life, of me- A. Posen.


I was inspired by my kids.  Comics are big in my house. Raina Telgemeier looms large, and we all eagerly await the latest version of  Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales. My daughter Celeste is even writing her own graphic novella, which will hopefully make an appearance here at The Creative Hours someday.


Needless to say, I fell for the form. With my ipad and ipencil, I have been drawing these autobiographical depictions of everyday life.  Keeping it easy, real and unheady- I am visually jotting down observations, sensations, events, feelings, visions, moments, interactions and dreams.


In my last post, Cold Calling Louise Bourgeois, I shared images from “The Diary of The Inbetween”. This was another form of visual journaling- one in which I committed to crafting an art object each day.  I then strung them from the ceiling in consecutive order.  The result was a surreal musical score of objects chronicalling my inner state and life impressions.

Journaling is whatever you make it to be.

Let’s see what next week brings…

Further reading:




DRAMA by Raina Telgemeier. Callie loves theater. And while she would totally try out for her middle school’s production of Moon over Mississippi, she can’t really sing.

ALAMO ALL-STARS from Nathan Hales’ Hazardous Tales. Hale relays the facts, politics, military actions, and prominent personalities that defined the Texas Revolution in factual yet humorous scenes that will capture the attention of reluctant readers and fans of history alike.