One Man’s Take on “Self-Portrait as Your Traitor” by Debbie Millman

At eight years old, I was fascinated with my mother’s girlfriends: to me, they were magnificently glamorous with their brightly painted nails and tightly pulled faces and billowing wisps of smoke, and I would sit in the kitchen, off by myself, and pretend I wasn’t listening when in fact I wasn’t missing a word.

self-portrait-as-your-traitor_1These were a few of the words from the chapter titled “Post Super Bowl Musings or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Coffee” that transported me into Self-Portrait as Your Traitor, an autobiographical journey brilliantly visualized by corporate brand ethnographer Debbie Millman.

Turning each page of this visually stunning work, you become more than a reader. You transform into an active participant in a piece of page turning performance art that chronicles the inner most thoughts and observations of Millman’s early, middle-American life.

The handcrafted art draws you into the soul of Millman, revealing her respect and undeniable love for the poetic interplay of letterforms. Millman uses felt, metallic paper, twine, graphite and crayon to express her personal (and at times graphic) feelings on humanity, culture and career.

HOW Design Conference Speaker Debbie Millman


I knew I was out of my league and I knew they were better than me, but I projected the fantasies I had of what my life could be onto their lives and imagined that I was one of them, but still me. Only better. —Debbie Millman, “Penelope,” Self-Portrait as Your Traitor




Self-Portrait as Your Traitor is a tour-de-force memoir from a designer who has dedicated her life to building better brands and indirectly better lives. If you haven’t picked up this work of art, do. Self-Portrait as Your Traitor must be experienced then shared over good espresso and several long, slow drags on a menthol cigarette.


HOW Design LiveHear bold and visionary presentations from some of the most innovative thinkers of our time at HOW’s Leadership conference presented in partnership with Sterling Brands’ Debbie Millman. This new featured conference at HOW Design Live will challenge, enlighten and motivate you to be an agent for positive change in your world. If you are a CMO, Creative Director or just a huge fan of Debbie Millman, register today!