3 Degrees of Inspiration: Paul Sahre, Bráulio Amado & Tracy Ma


Editor’s Note: This is part 46 in Emily Potts’ inspirational series (previously called “Design Links”). Every other week she features three artists whose work offers fresh, fun, and stimulating creative inspiration. Each artist picks the next link—someone who personally inspires him/her. Check out the 45th part in the series, featuring Whitney Sherman, Na Kim & Peter Mendelsund.

Peter Mendelsund is inspired by …

Paul Sahre

His book covers are, for want of a better word: perfect. They are exacting; which is to say that each element in each of his covers exists in its uniquely correct place in that particular composition. His covers are smart, they are funny, they are boundary-pushing; innovative. It’s infuriating.

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I was just a few months into my first-ever design job when I saw this title at a bookstore. It remains one of the very few books I’ve ever bought solely for its jacket. I still have it on my shelf, facing my living room. I still haven’t read a word of it. And I’m still awed by the cover’s chutzpah and conceptual intelligence.

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As with all of Paul’s work, it’s hard to convey how incredibly new this cover looked when it was first produced. The spare elegance of it. The wit. The sweet little piece of metonymy. Like most of Paul’s work, it’s been copied a ton. I’ve done it. We’ve all done it. None of us have ever done it quite as well.

Paul Sahre is inspired by …

Bráulio Amado

I don’t know Bráulio Amado. Still, I know he:

  • isn’t weighed down by expectations.
  • is almost always working/making
  • is scraping by financially
  • has no life
  • doesn’t care what I think
  • and will not be stopped

Rather than talk about a specific project, I would instead direct your attention to his poster work. Here, he seems to simultaneously embrace and ignore accepted ideas of beauty, what is good or bad, right or wrong. He is feeling his way, designing and then moving on to the next thing. In the process he is leaving behind an extraordinarily original body of work that defies description.

Enter the HOW Promotion & Marketing Design Awards!

Bráulio Amado is inspired by …

Tracy Ma

I used to work for Tracy at Bloomberg Businessweek and I really miss seeing her in action. Every week she would come up with something fresh and different, and it was super inspiring to be around her. Also, she made us be *real* signs (as in, holding and acting like one. Performance art) for the 2016 Businessweek Design conference. 

Tracy Ma

She recently worked on “Self Defense Starter Kit” along with Robie Flores and Ali Withers, which is a series of videos created to make people feel safe, secure and equipped for the current Trump times (or, really, any time/anywhere). It’s fun, it’s serious, it’s really good and important.


Pretty much all the Businessweek work she did. I learned a lot with everyone at the magazine, but Tracy made me realize how important it is to experiment, react to something, tell a story — instead of making something designed for the sake of being designed.

Tune in next time to see who inspires Tracy Ma.

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