Rebecca Mead’s New Yorker profile, “The Book Monk*: He is the printer the world’s best photographers trust most” opened the pages on a man whose German heritage influenced not only his work product – critical attention to detail and perfection – but his footprint on the world.
Gerhard Steidl captured my fascination for three reasons.
1 – He is someone who is an influential person in an unexpected niche of industry
Who knew printing could be an elite art? And yet, once again I am reminded that success comes from excellence, not industry. “Steidl, who is sixty-six, is known for fanatical attention to detail, for superlative craftsmanship, and for embracing the best that technology has to offer…Steidl seeks out the best inks, and pillars new techniques for achieving exquisite reproductions.”
2 – His heritage influenced a self-awareness of impact and community
Steidl’s father was in the German army during WWII, from which he learned one shouldn’t separate life and work. Officers who ran concentration camps would work in the camps, then leave the walls to their families, completely leaving behind the impacts of their actions. Steidl refuses make a negative impact on others, so he keeps himself honest by living where he works. “I control my noise, because I am sleeping there, with an open window every night.”
3 – His success came from being ballsy
My two favorites stories are ONE: He printed his first works on snarfed newspaper and he earned money to buy his first printing equipment at 16 by selling his prescription diet pills. “‘The empire was built on family crime,’ he told me with satisfaction.” TWO: Karl Lagerfeld won a prize to have a monograph printed about him and he rejected it. Steidl – needing the money – proposed alternatives until Karl agreed to have him test a photo book. While reviewing the test prints…“Presenting one image, Steidl cautioned, ‘This is beautiful paper, but it is very expensive.’ Lagerfeld responded with four words: ‘Gerhard, are we poor?'”
I now need to watch the documentary “How to Make a Book with Steidl“**, read Günter Grass, and track down some of his books in real life.
*This title is from the print version of the article.
**God bless the german accent.
The workplace has become a world full of interruptions: meetings, noise, and Facebook. And even I – someone who’s always been good at switching gears between different projects quickly – find my productivity getting as chopped up along with my day.
As with most people, I’ve found ways to work through the distractions, but I still face those weird, 15-minute windows of time when I’ve finished up one task but don’t have time to start something new before a meeting or a phone call. It may not seem like much, but 15 minutes here and there add up quickly. Here are three ways I fill those potential “dead times” in my day:
Start the day with a plan. (This one is super obvious, but we all need reminding, right?) You may know what you need to do (run social media accounts, plan a campaign, create supporting collateral), but it takes a block of time to really get into your projects. If you start your day by listing out your projects, then break them down into bite-sized tasks, you’ll know which you can knock out in 15 minutes.
Collect articles to read. Whether it’s bookmarking a webpage, favoriting a tweet, or physically printing out something, keep a couple quick articles handy to read when you have a couple open minutes. This will keep you on track, and up-to-date on your industry.
Stack your meetings back-to-back. Whenever I plan a phone call or meeting, I try to schedule them adjacent to any other meetings I have scheduled for that day. That limits those dead times and also allows longer stretches of “heads down” time.
Don’t do anything. Sometimes the best thing you can do, is let yourself do nothing. And I’m not talking about mindless Buzzfeed binges, I mean real moments of meditation. (Yes, even you extroverts.) There’s a lot of benefit in just taking a moment to remove yourself from the trenches and regain some perspective.
Full disclosure: I’m not great at doing these, but I know that when I take my own advice I’m better off for it. What about you? How do you maximize your day?
I’m sitting at a large, wooden desk – purchased from GoodWill for $30 and meticulously painted and distressed by my husband. I’m wearing a down coat, because I’m directly beneath the air conditioning and I hate being cold while he is always hot. (It’s the biggest struggle in our relationship.) We’re watching the Crimson Tide drown the Gators, which I like, and I smell as much like Chanel as a pulled-out magazine ad will allow.
I love looking through fashion magazines – today it’s Elle – because my quirky, creative side enjoys the pulling pieces from high fashion, but more importantly I can’t get enough of the stories about young, entrepreneurial women who are kicking ass in designer heels or designing jewelry in industrial Los Angeles.
I’m inspired by them. They remind me that I need to act, and not just watch; they prove that you don’t have to follow the rules to be successful and I really just want to be friends with them.
Fast forward two weeks and I’m at the same desk, this time in light green bush hat eating dried mangos and cheddar jalapeño Cheetos. Every day I feel like I’m closer to grabbing the entrepreneur-bull by the horns full-time, and every day I find something that keeps me going.
This week, I was inspired by a Wisconsin bar tender who told me of his big plans in a small town. Thank you, for the push.