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Humankind/Samplerman/Old Book Illustrations



January 2 · Issue #286 · View online

A weekly newsletter that gives you 6 brief personal recommendations of cool stuff. For a searchable archive of past issues check out

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The inherent goodness of humans
This is the most important book I have read in a long while. Humankind: A Hopeful History  overturns a belief I held most of my life: that society was a thin veneer that kept bad behavior at bay and had to work hard to elevate good behavior. Humankind brings abundant evidence to show the opposite is true. When left to themselves, in their most elemental state such as in catastrophes and emergencies, humans inherently will do good, and only with effort can be led to the bad. It’s very contrarian, but persuasive, and should be the basis for how we run things. — KK
Comics reimagined
I’m following Samplerman, a French artist on Instagram and Tumblr, who samples old comic books and recombines the visual parts into cool, inventive images. I love the retro colors and analog textures, and the abundant style. Check out his alternative comicland. — KK
Image collection of old book illustrations
Old Book Illustrations is a collection of French Romanticism and Victorian era illustrations searchable by subject, artist or title. All of the illustrations are in the public domain and free to use. Most of the images have captions or descriptions and internet archive links to the entire book. I discovered this site through Jane Friedman’s newsletter Electric Speed which always has interesting links and resources for writers. —CD
Letter writing tips
I love slow correspondence and any excuse to connect with a friend through a letter or card. These tips from Hallmark Card writer Courtney Faye Taylor on letter writing reminded me of all the things to keep in mind when penning a message, like leading with vulnerability and curiosity. She suggests not just sharing facts about your life, but the feelings behind them, because when you give someone a window into your personal experience you’re also creating a space for them to do the same. — CD
Safety vest for running
After many years of not running, I started again. I live in a hilly part of Los Angeles without sidewalks, so to maximize my visibility I bought this inexpensive Freemove reflective vest. It weighs almost nothing and has a pocket to hold my phone. It also comes with a pouch so I can pack it for traveling. — MF
Digital art tutorials
I’m a big fan of Retrosupply, which sells digital brushes, fonts, and textures for Photoshop, Illustrator, and Procreate. They also have an excellent tutorial section with free videos and instructions for creating retro-style art. It’s a good way to learn how to use digital drawing tools, especially Procreate. (Here’s a sketch I drew using Retrosupply textures and brushes.) — MF

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