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The Jury Selection

Blair Campbell, VP, Communications & Creative, Astound Commerce

Blair Campbell is Vice President of Communications & Creative at Astound Commerce, a digital commerce specialist that creates online experiences for brands like L’Oréal, FLOR, TOMS, and Crocs. She is a past editorial director of the award-winning California Wine Country publication Sonoma Magazine and a past managing editor, contributing writer and editor at Oracle.

We asked Blair to weigh in on what she finds interesting in culture. Learn more about her favorite reads, creators and more.

Books

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow
I’m not a gamer and have never harbored any fantasies of being a game designer—until I read this 2022 novel by Gabrielle Zevin. The high level of artistry behind game design is showcased in this beautiful exploration of that creative process, embedded within a gripping story about friendship and loss.

Anything by Leo Babauta
I do see the irony in the fact that my Kindle queue is cluttered with books on minimalism…. But hey, all the better to recommend the very best. Babauta is the author of the popular zenhabits.com blog, and over the years I’ve taken his advice on everything from packing to parenting to tea-drinking. The Power of Less is his go-to, but I particularly loved Focus (on digital distractions) and Ultralight (on travel)—the latter being especially helpful now that the experience of travel has returned to its frenzied pre-pandemic state. 

Collect Raindrops
I love the work of Washington-based cut-paper artist Nikki McClure, and like many people I discovered her long ago through her edgy wall calendars (remember those?). But her books are a total pleasure. Collect Raindrops isn’t her newest—that’s Old Wooden Boat, which she published last year—but it’s my favorite for its poignant, minimalist portrait of how the seasons of the year, and of life, unfold.

Creators

You know those Instagram feeds that saved you during COVID? For me it was the sublime combination of Ina Garten and Patti Smith, two wildly different icons of the same generation who seem to have had wildly different but equally intriguing journeys through lockdown. For farm-to-table pioneer Garten, there were artisan cocktails (relatable) and elaborate outdoor lunches among the hedgerow (less so)—while punk rock artist and memoirist Smith consumed her weight in pour-over coffee as she read the classics, journaled, sketched, watched the snow, sent poignant birthday wishes to everyone from Flea to Bertoldt Brecht, and generally reminded her million-plus followers that solitude doesn’t have to be lonely. Now Smith is performing and touring again, and the Food Network’s “Be My Guest with Ina Garten” is back to hosting celebrity guests in person—while both women continue to churn out books at a breakneck pace. 

Another creator redefining what it means to be in your prime is data artist Laurie Frick. For those of us working in digital commerce, everything revolves around data—but finding meaningful, engaging ways to communicate about it can be a challenge. That’s why Frick’s work is truly a balm for the data-weary brain. A visual artist who illustrates data patterns from her own life and the larger world with materials ranging from burned cut wood to fused glass panels, her works—with names like “Imagined Time” and “Stress Inventory” —are equal parts thought-provoking and visually enchanting.

A Recent Discovery

Last I’ll mention Emma Mitchell, a UK-based naturalist and maker who has had an incredible journey from microbiologist to emerging tech consultant to mental health advocate and educator, due in part to her own struggles along the way. Check out her book The Wild Remedy for a richly illustrated diary that recounts from perspectives both personal and scientific the healing benefits of spending time in nature. 

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