Suspension of Disbelief

"There are purists in computer graphics who are brilliant but don’t have the urgency about budgets and scheduling that responsible filmmakers do. I had to shake the purist out of them—essentially frighten them into realizing I was ready to use quick and dirty ‘cheats’ to get something on screen if they took too long to achieve it in the computer…I’d say, ‘You can build a flying saucer, or you can take a pie plate and fling it across the screen. If the audience only sees the pie plate very briefly and you throw it just right, they will buy it as a flying saucer.’ // I never did…throw the pie plate, but talking this way helped everyone understand that we didn’t have to make something that would work from every angle. Not all shots are created equal. Certain shots need to be perfect, others need to be very good, and there are some that only need to be good enough to not break the spell."

– Brad Bird, McKinsey Quarterly Interview, 2008

On Pain

"The more we believe that God hurts only to heal, the less we can believe there is any use in begging for tenderness. A cruel man might be bribed—might grow tired of his vile sport—might have a temporary fit of mercy, as alcoholics have fits of sobriety. But suppose that what you are up against is a surgeon whose intentions are wholly good. The kinder and more conscientious he is, the more inexorably he will go on cutting. If he yielded to your entreaties, if he stopped before the operation was complete, all the pain up to that point would have been useless. But is it credible that such extremities of torture should be necessary for us? Well, take your choice. The tortures occur. If they are unnecessary, then there is no God or a bad one. If there is a good God, then these tortures are necessary. For no even moderately good Being could possibly inflict or permit them if they weren’t. // Either way, we’re for it."

– C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

The Comma

"The big final rule for the comma is one that you won’t find in any books by grammarians. It is quite easy to remember, however. The rule is: don’t use commas like a stupid person. I mean it. More than any other mark, the comma requires the writer to use intelligent discretion and to be simply alert to potential ambiguity."

– Lynne Truss, Eats, Shoots & Leaves

Contemplative Design

"Like many graphic designers, I now find myself working entirely on the computer. This has both expansive and limiting effects. The ease and speed with which I can view different ideas or create variations on them has opened up new possibilities. Yet I find it a constant battle to keep the designs clean and direct. With so many possible alternatives a few keystrokes away the challenge of design is now as much in realizing when you have arrived at the solution as it is in getting there. I worry that the potential for manipulation of type that the computer provides, and the ease with which manipulation is accomplished, diminishes the value of contemplation, which is necessary to find the substance of the work."

– David Bullen in On Book Design, by Richard Hendel

Motivation and Enthusiasm

"Your mental and emotional processes are what motivates you and without motivation you would accomplish nothing. And without enthusiasm, motivation would atrophy before you could make a quick sketch. Your mind is like a projector – whatever you choose to put into it is what will be seen on the screen (the choice is yours and yours alone). The switch is motivation and the electricity (power) that keeps the whole show moving along is enthusiasm."

– Walt Stanchfield, Drawn to Life, Vol. 1

Concise Writing

"Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all sentences short, or avoid all detail and treat subjects only in outlines, but that every word tell."

– William Strunk Jr. & E.B. White, The Elements of Style


"An object like the pencil is generally considered unremarkable, and it is taken for granted. It is taken for granted because it is abundant, inexpensive, and as familiar as speech. // Yet the pencil need be no cliché. It can be as powerful a metaphor as the pen… . Ink is the cosmetic that ideas will wear when they go out in public. Graphite is their dirty truth."

– Henry Petroski, “The Pencil”


"It is well to give when asked, but it is better to give unasked, through understanding; And to the open-handed the search for one who shall receive is joy greater than giving. And is there aught you would withhold? All you have shall some day be given; Therefore give now, that the season of giving may be yours and not your inheritors’."

– Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet



"The problem is not that television presents us with entertaining subject matter but that all [its] subject matter is presented as entertaining, which is another story altogether. // To say it still another way: Entertainment is the supra-ideology of all discourse on television. No matter what is depicted or from what point of view, the overarching presumption is that it is there for our amusement and pleasure."

– Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death

Realists and Faith


"A true realist, if he is not a believer, will always find in himself the strength and ability not to believe in miracles as well, and if a miracle stands before him as an irrefutable fact, he will sooner doubt his own senses than admit the fact. And even if he does admit it, he will admit it as a fact of nature that was previously unknown to him. In the realist, faith is not born from miracles, but miracles from faith. Once the realist comes to believe, then, precisely because of his realism, he must allow for miracles. The Apostle Thomas declared that he would not believe until he saw, and when he saw, he said: ‘My Lord and my God!’ Was it the miracle that made him believe? Most likely not, but he believed first and foremost because he wished to believe, and maybe already fully believed in his secret heart even as he was saying: ‘I will not believe until I see.’"

– Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov


"There are nowadays professors of philosophy, but not philosophers….To be a philosopher is not merely to have subtle thoughts, nor even to found a school, but to so love wisdom as to live according to its dictates, a life of simplicity, independence, magnanimity, and trust. It is to solve some of the problems of life, not only theoretically, but practically."

– Henry David Thoreau, Walden



"Do you have any idea how many lives we must have gone through before we even got the first idea that there is more to life than eating, or fighting, or power…? A thousand lives…ten thousand! And then another hundred lives until we began to learn that there is such a thing as perfection, and another hundred again to get the idea that our purpose for living is to find that perfection and show it forth. The same rule holds for us now, of course: we choose our next world through what we learn in this one. Learn nothing, and the next world is the same as this one, all the same limitations and lead weights to overcome."

– Richard Bach, Jonathan Livingston Seagull

On Drawing

"The process of drawing is a powerful tool on many levels. It is an activity of invention, rather than appropriation, and so encourages originality… . [D]rawing fuses disparate skills on which designers rely: perception, cognition, and mechanics; verbal and visual narrative creation; analysis and intuition."

– Timothy Samara, Drawing for Graphic Design