Art of Noticing No. 16: On Keeping It To Yourself; New Icebreaker; NYC launch event!

Hello again,
The Art of Noticing: 131 Ways to Spark Creativity, Find Inspiration, and Discover Joy In the Everyday (coming in May: Indiebound, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Knopf) offers exercises and prompts and games and things you can actually do to build attention muscles, stave off distraction, pick up on what everybody else overlooked, and experience the joy of noticing. You should pre-order now! Note to readers outside the U.S.: I'm told that this link will work for you.

This newsletter offers related news and ideas that have come along since I finished the book. (See below for news of upcoming public events.)

Upcoming NYC Book Launch, With Lifehacker EiC Melissa Kirsch!

As promised, here are details on the official launch event for The Art of Noticing:
Friday May 7 at 7pm, I'll be in conversation about the book with the delightful Melissa Kirsch of the mighty Lifehacker. The event is in conjunction with Books Are Magic, and will happen at Warby Parker on 55 Bergen Street in Brooklyn. I'm told there's a nice outdoor space, so let's hope for good weather. Please RSVP here.

And please please tell your friends in NYC! It's going to be fun! More here.

1. On Keeping It To Yourself

Last week I had the pleasure of giving the annual Phil Patton Lecture, hosted by the School of Visual Arts Design Research program. My thanks to all who attended — familiar faces and new friends, a really lovely crowd.

After my talk there was a short Q&A session with the excellent Anne Quito, who writes about design and architecture for Quartz. She asked a really useful question about one of the prompts in the book. It's called "Follow The Quiet," and it was inspired by/borrowed (with credit!) from this DJ/Rupture contribution to PBS' Art Assignment series.

In my version, I note that the while the original assignment suggests that once you've found a quiet place you should post to social media about the experience with a certain hashtag, I consider that optional. I was pleased that Anne asked about this.

Obviously I am all for creativity and sharing, etc. But sometimes we need to remember that noticing and attention aren't just a means to an end.

If you tune into something that's worth telling others about, or even becomes a cool Instagram project or whatever — that's great! But you don't have to do that. Sometimes a moment of focus or attention or noticing really doesn't need to be subjected to social media's culture of votes and approval and popularity-as-supposed-decider of meaning. Attending to the world is its own reward.

And in fact, I'd argue that sometimes it's better to simply enjoy moments in the world for yourself: Enjoy some experiences that are totally unshared, or maybe just shared face to face with someone. Sometimes, it's worthwhile to keep it to yourself. Try to have a moment like that this week. And don't tell me about it :)

2. Well Noticed!:
"Barometers on Television."

I really love the Tumblr Barometers on Television, which is exactly that: Images from TV (and film) in which the set design includes barometer. There are more examples than you'd think!

This Tumblr was brought to my attention by its proprietor, who prefers to remain anonymous. The motive?

I wish I had a good answer for that. Maybe I want the barometer to be the set decorator equivalent of the Wilhelm Scream.

My parents had a barometer when I was a kid in the 1970s, but I can't recall seeing one IRL in ages. So now I'm curious, too. If anybody out there has insight on the particular role of the barometer in set design, now or in the past, let me know at You can also submit images of Barometers on Television here.

3. Icebreaker of the Week

This week's icebreaker comes courtesy of Friend of AoN Richard Nash:

If you could own one building, any building, what would it be?

Actually, this question came from Richard's daughter, who further stipulated that you cannot sell the building, but you don't have to live in it full time (although you can, whenever you want). "I just realized kids ask the best ice-breakers," Richard adds. "She comes up with stuff like this 10 times a week. I struggle to give a good answer." That's kinda the idea!
Send your favorite icebreaker (whether you made it up or got it elsewhere) to

4. Random Endorsement:
100 Days Of Food Observations

I was very excited to see one of my favorite creators, Rubi McGrory, announce the other day that she's spending the next 100 days drawing "observations about food." The results are predictably awesome. I love this one. And this one. And this one, too.

Check it out at @rubistudios on Instagram.

5. Note to UK Readers:

Please enjoy this fun animation the UK publisher created for that version of the book (which features a somewhat different, and charming, design.) I was hoping to embed it here but couldn't get it to work, sorry! It really is worth the click! You can order the book here:

Okay, that's it! As always, I value your feedback (suggestions, critiques, positive reinforcement, constructive insults, etc.), as well as your tips or stories or personal noticing rituals (and your icebreakers). Reply to this email or use

Thanks for reading!


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