The Art of Doing

On the Road: Six New York Times Photographers

From the mouth of an active volcano to a desertous plain that one explorer called, ‘the sort of place one gets into in bad dreams,’ intrepid photographers show us what it’s like to be on the road around the globe.

"I wanted to do a road trip across this place where there seems to be more questions than answers." David Maurice Smith, photographer, for The New York Times Magazine
“I wanted to do a road trip across this place where there seems to be more questions than answers.” Nullarbor, Australia, photographer  David Maurice Smith, for The New York Times Magazine.

“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there,” wrote Lewis Carroll.

Six New York Times photographers, some of whom I interviewed for The New York Times Magazine, were given the opportunity to get on the road in any destination of their choice.

Continue reading “On the Road: Six New York Times Photographers”

One Designer Fights Destruction with Creativity, Hate with Love

How to respond to tragedy?

Luis Vielma worked on the Harry Potter ride at Universal. He was 22 years old. I can't stop crying. —J.K. Rowling
[Victim of Orlando nightclub shooting] Luis Vielma worked on the Harry Potter ride at Universal. He was 22 years old. I can’t stop crying. —J.K. Rowling
In the wake of a mass murder, the images of the victims flicker and fade while the images of the killer fix, as if in some chemical bath, leaving a permanent stain on society. We watch helplessly as the killer’s self-propaganda videos and fire-arm poses outpace and eventually obscure the images of the victims in gentler moments of beauty, joy and love.

Visual artist and designer Rafael Esquer and his studio mates at Alfalfa Studio, want to invert this equation. Continue reading “One Designer Fights Destruction with Creativity, Hate with Love”

On the Vertical Frontier

What do high-rise construction workers, laboring on the vertical frontier, tell themselves about their work, the risk and the reward?

Scott Small, Laborer, 3 World Trade Center May 2016 Photo Jack Davison for The New York Times Magazine
Scott Small, Laborer, 3 World Trade Center May 2016 Photo Jack Davison for The New York Times Magazine

At last count, in a single year, over 800 workers died on U.S. job sites according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. What does it mean to be part of a highly ambitious man-made endeavor that rises tall enough to kiss the clouds? Recently, we had the opportunity to find out, interviewing dozens of high-rise construction workers (whose jobs include battling shredding winds, freezing cold and the scorching hot summer sun) on two of the tallest new construction buildings in New York City—3 World Trade Center and 10 Hudson Yards. We asked them about their work, the risk and the reward. And alongside the images of highly talented young photographer, Jack Davison, who captures the grit and the glory of these highest of high-rise workers, a collection of their thought-provoking responses are in an article for The New York Times Magazine called

Continue reading “On the Vertical Frontier”

They’re Not Throwin’ Away Their Shot

Sticking to a dream can be as hard as founding a country, but someone’s gotta do it. Find out how 3 fifth graders are working to make their dream come true. And consider joining them!

Outside the theater where Hamilton is playing, three girls meet their hero. Find out more here.
Outside the theater where Hamilton is playing, three girls meet their hero, Lin-Manuel Miranda. Find out more here.

The Broadway show Hamilton began to seep into our lives through our ten-year-old daughter, one staccato rap couplet at a time. Pretty soon she had a whole song. Then another and another. She was Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, Lafayette and George Washington, famous sisters Angelica and Eliza Schuyler, Hamilton’s wife. Choreography followed and then of course, the pulsing red desire to PLEEEEEEEASE SEE THE SHOW.

Problem is the tickets are so in demand that they’ve been scooped up by third party vendors who sell at top prices. (We’re talking 4 digit prices.) Continue reading “They’re Not Throwin’ Away Their Shot”

What Stephen Curry, Amazon and Wormholes Have in Common

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry
Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry

When Amazon drops off a package at your home, it’s as if you are at one end of a wormhole in the space-time continuum. Amazon has mastered the art and science of moving packages from point A to point B. Like Amazon, Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry owes his success to his ability to move an object from point A to point B with great speed, accuracy and frequency. Continue reading “What Stephen Curry, Amazon and Wormholes Have in Common”

Ellsworth Kelly, Visionary Artist of the Everyday, On Aging

Ellsworth Kelly, visionary artist of the abstract and the everyday, on aging (excerpt from my interview with Kelly in The New York Times Magazine).

Ellsworth Kelly, 91, photograph ERIK MADIGAN HECK
Ellsworth Kelly, 91, in his Spencertown NY studio, 2014 photograph ERIK MADIGAN HECK

“The most pleasurable thing in the world for me is to see something and then translate how I see it.” – Ellsworth Kelly 

Visionary painter Ellsworth Kelly died last month. I (Camille) had the pleasure of interviewing Ellsworth one bright autumn day in 2014 for a story I was working on “Old Masters” for The New York Times Magazine. Ellsworth Kelly, who was 91 at the time, became a nature lover and avid bird-watcher at a young age. After a stint in the army designing camouflage, Ellsworth combined as art critic Holland Cotter described in his obit for The New York Times, ‘the solid shapes and brilliant colors of European abstraction with forms distilled from everyday life.’ My art, Ellsworth said, is an attempt “to get at the rapture of seeing.” This was a path that he sought everyday. “I want to work like nature works,” he told me. His work is a testament to maintaining a life-long vision.

Ellsworth Kelly

Here is an excerpt from our conversation on aging:

What’s different about your life now that you’re older?

When I was 79, I asked my doctor, ‘‘I’m 79 and you say I’m in good health, what should I expect from the 80s?’’ And he said: ‘‘If you haven’t got any of the Mayo diseases, you’re pretty good. You can slide right through.’’ And I said, ‘‘What about the 90s?’’ And he said, ‘‘Well .?.?. we’ll talk about that.’’ But I didn’t sail through exactly. What happened five years ago is I discovered that painting with turpentine, which I’ve been doing since the 1940s, had ruined my lungs. So I’ve been on oxygen ever since.

Any surprises?

I don’t travel now. That’s the big thing. But I’m here [in Columbia County, N.Y.], and I love it. Each year I’m very surprised by the color. . . It’s one thing about getting older, you see more. . . . Everyday I’m continuing to see new things. That’s why there are new paintings.

What are your days like now?

I’m in the studio everyday. I draw a lot. . . I chose plants because I knew I could draw plants forever. I want to work like nature works. I want to understand the growth of plants and the dead leaves falling. Oh, how I connect with that!

Talk: Radical Creativity

What does it take to be radically creative? What does being radically creative even mean? Come find out at our talk “Radical Creative” part of the Provocateur Series at Parsons Design Center Friday, 11/13.

radical-creativityWhat is radical creativity? Who is radically creative? How? And why? Find out tonight how Sir John Harington, Bob Dylan, Cindy Sherman and others come up with radically creative ideas, and how you can, too.

Friday Nov 13 at 6pm our talk on “Radical Creativity” at the “Provocateur Series” at the Parsons Design Center 66 5th Avenue at 13th street


What Malala Can Teach Us About Being a Leader

When the Taliban tried to kill her for speaking out, Malala Yousafzai only got stronger.


In conversation with Malala Yousafzai and filmmaker Davis Guggenheim (“An Inconvenient Truth” “Waiting for Superman”) whose film, “He Named Me Malala,” is in theaters this week, we found out what makes Malala a true leader.

You probably wouldn’t think to look to a high school junior for lessons in leadership. But the 18-year-old Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai is no ordinary high school student. In her short life, she’s not only drawn international attention to a massive problem—that of the 61 million girls around the world who don’t have access to an education—she’s persuaded world leaders to start taking real action to fix it.

As the filmmaker Davis Guggenheim’s new documentary He Named Me Malala hits theaters this week, it’s worth drawing a few lessons from someone whose influence, courage, and resolve have been felt around the world before she’s even hit 20.

Our story here

3 Tactics for Taking On Big Challenges

Philippe Petit may go where no man (or woman!) dares to go. But what he returns with is a set of principles we can all use when we take on big challenges of our own.


Philippe Petit offers us a glimpse of what’s possible

It’s 1974. A man has decided he’s going to walk across a wire stretched a quarter of a mile in the air between the Twin Towers of New York City’s World Trade Center. As he does it, pedestrians below gawk in awe. An entire city swoons. Wire-walker Philippe Petit becomes an international celebrity for performing what many called the artistic crime of the century.

Forty-one years later, Petit’s feat is the subject of director Robert Zemeckis’s 3-D spectacular, “The Walk,” starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Petit. The film, which hits theaters this weekend, puts audiences right there on the wire with Petit, and is a powerful reminder that even the most perilous feats can be accomplished one careful step at a time.

And indeed, when we interviewed Philippe Petit for our book The Art of Doing, he told us there was a method to his madness. Having gone on to perform dozens of other high-profile wire-walks, authored several books, and become an adept equestrian, fencer, carpenter, rock-climber, and even bullfighter, Petit would bristle at the idea that his work could be reduced to a system. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t lessons that any entrepreneur, artist, or aspirer to big deeds can’t learn as they gear up for their next big challenge. Our story HERE.

Yogi Berra’s Mantra For the Masses

Baseball legend Yogi Berra (1925 – 2015) on “How to Be a Major Leaguer” from in The Art of Doing.

Yogi Berra 1925 – 2015

Baseball legend Yogi Berra died at 90 this week. But his advice to aspiring athletes—or to anyone engaged in the struggle to succeed whatever their endeavor—was as practical as what he told himself when he was struggling to earn a place in the Major Leagues.

Now considered one of baseball’s greatest catchers of all time who holds the record of being on the team of the most World Series wins (10) and on the team of 15 consecutive All-Star Games, Yogi Berra was the linchpin of the New York Yankees dynasties from 1946 to 1960. He is the so-called fifth face of the Yankees’ Mount Rushmore (after Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle and Joe DiMaggio). Continue reading “Yogi Berra’s Mantra For the Masses”