Thursday, January 3, 2019

"Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all/Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.

A lot of what I love in the world, a lot of information, news, opinions and points of view come to me from "The New York Times." In fact, I think at work many of my colleagues are sick of me sending them articles or saying in a meeting, "Did you see this from the Times?" 

Maybe my interest in the paper is old-fashioned and elitist. Maybe I would be more contemporary if I quoted Buzz Feed (30 things you can do with used yogurt containers--number 19 is not to be believed) or Gary Vaynerchuk. But I am nothing if not old-fashioned and elitist.

To my mind, especially considering the intellectual and moral sump of contemporary society and culture, old-fashionism and elitism are good things. If it's wrong to abide by the golden rule, if it's wrong to enjoy Herman Melville or Jane Austen as opposed to Roseanne Barr and Ann Coulter, well, I don't want to be right.

In any event, let's kick off 2019 with something from the Times. Their look back at their best illustrations of 2018. 

When you see a column like this, it's more-than-typical to jump right to the illustrations themselves. But the Times' preface printed below is as astute and wonderful as the illustrations themselves. And it speaks, I think, to the aim of all our work in our business.

We, too, are often called upon late at night, on deadline. To handle complicated issues with sensitivity, wit and feeling. We are beckoned to add fresh perspective and avoid cliche. And send a "sketch" in a few hours.

So often, I take my baseball cap off to the Times. I've been doing so since I started reading its sports-pages back when the Mets first captured the World Series in 1969, when I was 11. I will do so, synapses-willing, until I die.

Take a look at some really wonderful illustrations here: The Year in Illustration 2018.

But first, read below, and think about what we, in our business, are called on to do, when we are expected to be our best.

1. Handle deadlines.
2. Address topics with sensitivity, wit and feeling.
3. Add fresh perspective, and avoid cliche.
4. Respond almost immediately.
5. Make sense of complicated issues.

Doing the above (and more) is what our jobs are about. It's why I've been the first one in in the morning and pretty much the last one to leave for 35 years now.

I love it.

WE CALL ON ILLUSTRATORS late at night, in the early morning and on deadline. The subjects are complex: #MeToo, the immigration debate, climate change. We ask them to address these topics with sensitivity, wit and feeling — to add fresh perspective and avoid cliché. Also, “Can you send a sketch in a few hours?”
We call on them because, at a time when the news cycle can feel relentless and overwhelming, these images make a different kind of impact: conveying emotion, creating space for thought, adding depth to subjects that may feel at once both too complex and overly familiar.
From the thousands of illustrations that appeared in print and online in The New York Times this year, here are some of the most notable: the ones that surprised us, that made us feel something, that made us laugh — the ones that made us pause a moment longer than we might have on a busy day in 2018.

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