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Things I Have Learned In My Life So Far

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  2,174 Ratings  ·  49 Reviews
This book began as a list designer Stefan Sagmeister made in his diary under the title Things I have learned in my life so far, which includes statements such as "Worrying solves nothing" and "Trying to look good limits my life." The list reveals something that is profoundly true: Although human beings have been pursuing happiness for countless generations, it is not so ea ...more
Hardcover, 248 pages
Published February 1st 2008 by Harry N. Abrams
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Aug 20, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2009
Sagmeister is a pretentious a**, and this book bangs you over the head with that realization repeatedly and frequently. Thankfully the way it does that is through innovative, gorgeous, controversial, and downright batsh*t insane type design and installation art, here packaged as a nifty bundle of signatures in a crazy laser-cut slipcase with interchangeable faces. 5 for the design/visuals + 2 lack of real ideas/content = 3.5 overall.

NB: This is NOT in any way a monograph of Sagmeister, Inc. For
Dec 23, 2017 rated it liked it
I've seen so much of Stefan's work over the years -- thought provoking, provocative, downright nuts? However, this collection of his work and commentary in his own words was rather personal, for a change. I quite liked the emotions that come out in the book!

FWIW: it's quite short on content. One can probably go through the entirety of it in an hour or two.
Apr 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2010
Stefan Sagmeister is much-loved by the design community and is emulated by scruffy design students around the globe. For a while I was weary of how self-referential his work is, until I went to a talk he gave at my former college, where his charm and wit quickly outweighed my reservations about the guy. It is really hard not to like Stefan Sagmeister.

This series of 14 booklets each outlines one or two pithy maxims per booklet (i.e. "Material luxuries are best enjoyed in small doses" or "Complain
Curtis Meeson
Sep 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Awesome design book to read when you have downtime at work or at home. Each pamphlet takes about 5 minutes to get through and typically spurs new ideas. As always, Sagmeister & Walsch produce wildly creative, colorful work that really (honestly) pushes design forward. And it's fun to play with.
Jun 06, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: design
"Trying to look good limits my life."

"Thinking that life will be better in the future is stupid. I have to live now."

"Complaining is silly. Either act or forget."

"Low expectations are a good strategy."
George Quiroz
Sep 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This guy is great at Graphic Design. But the way he sees LIFE is the best part of it all.
Vicky Griffith
May 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2017
I've owned this book for years and years now but this is the first time I've ever read the text. It was, unfortunately, underwhelming. But the concept and the list itself still warrant four stars. My favorite of Sagmeister's learnings: "Trying to look good limits my life."
Aug 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2008-books
Not only are Sagmeister's creations innovative, but the book that showcases them joins them as a reworking of an everyday item into something extraordinary. The fifteen folios have individual covers and the casing has a porous face, allowing the reader to customize the look of the book. Inside the folios are the typographical displays Sagmeister created to state the aphorisms he began writing in his diary, along with a brief explanation of each one. One of the sayings, "If I want to explore a ne ...more
Sep 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I think Stefan Sagmeister is my favorite designer. His previous design book "Made You Look" is a classic. His new one is even better. The "book" is made up of 14 separate small pamphlets, that live in a "box" with Sagmeister's face on it. The face on the box has elaborate holes cut in it, and depending on the order of the pamphlets inside, the cover can look 14 different ways. The pamphlets document design projects that were based on a list of aphorisms about "things I've learned," like "Low Exp ...more
Jun 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
One of my favorite designers. Sagmeister is (at least to me) the epitome of what a graphic designer should be. He also fulfills my theory that the best designers are also hilarious.

This book is full of brilliant advice, hilarious (and also surprisingly touching) advice/observations on his life. There are a literal list of things he has learned, each accompanied by beautiful and inventive work that will inspire you. It’s hilarious, conceptual, smart, and most of all relevant. To everyone. The on
Jan 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: hip aphorists
Recommended to Kate by: Eric
Shelves: art-craft-design
Low expectations are a good strategy.


Complaining is silly. Either act or forget.
Thinking life will be better in the future is stupid, I have to live now.
Being not truthful works against me.
Helping other people helps me.
Organizing a charity group is surprisingly easy.
Everything I do always comes back to me.
Drugs feel great in the beginning and become a drag later on.
Over time I get used to everything and start taking it for granted.
Money does not make me happy.
Traveling alone is helpful for
Mar 03, 2009 rated it did not like it
Shelves: graphic-design
“Organising a charity group is surprisingly easy. Running a charity is surprisingly hard. Once the initial euphoria and energy evaporates the project turned into a regular and repetitive endeavour. I tried to circumvent this by looking for and finding successors to organise subsequent months, which worked reasonably well for a number of years until the job of finding a successor itself became repetitive and, with me teaching a semester abroad the program came to a halt” - Sagmeister.

Like the Pie
Oct 16, 2008 rated it really liked it
Ironically I'm not particularly interested in what Sagmeister has to say, because he says it all in his ambitious typographic installations, but I do love the format of the book/s.

I got to see him speak at agIdeas conference this year, and he speaks pretty much of the work in this book. Not particularly motivating to my surprise, but still provoked some reaction in me, which is more than I can say for other designers that spoke. I can see why his holier-than-thou posturing will "annoy" some thou
Dec 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This book features the work of graphic designer, Stephan Sagmeister, from a project Things I Have Learn in my Life So Far. My younger sister, Theresa (who is studying graphic design), received this book for Christmas and recommended it... even though the design of the book itself is enough to recommend itself! I gave this title a five star rating to commend Sagmeister's ideologies and works... and for putting together a one-of-a-kind book! If you are looking for a better understanding/appreciati ...more
Jan 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is a book by my favorite designer, Stefan Sagmeister, that i absolutely love. it contains simple life lessons coupled with amazing graphics/imagery and awesome, awesome, awesome packaging! i don't know if non designers would enjoy it, i imagine that the overall message is universal. i love reading this book because it is incredibly inspiring and is a constant reminder that "complaining is silly. either do something about it or shut up".
Joanne Roach-Evans
Oct 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
I was not sure what I would think of this book...but I was pleasantly surprised. I really enjoyed it! Some of the typography installations were really clever and surprising - but many were just okay.
What I really enjoyed was the concepts and processes behind the maxims. I was not familiar with Sagmeister's work prior to this (where have I been?) but now that I know of him I'm intrigued to see more of his work. This book was refreshing and inspiring!
Mar 14, 2008 rated it really liked it
This is more a design concept than a book. There are literally endless possibilities with the cover—the loose signatures can be rotated within the book case to create different effects under/through the portrait of the author's face. Pretty amazing. The maxims are very simple, yet provide valuable insights, and the essays are short and to the point. Not much reading here, so don't expect to take this one on a plane or to the beach. Awesome packaging from Sagmeister and his team.
Jan 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
I'll keep it short and sweet. I find Sagmeister to be a bit pretentious, and I am jealous he is able to take time out from working to make these great pieces of work, but they are great pieces. I really love the organic type, the actual statements and the thought put into relating the words to the elements and process of the work. Plus, as someone who loves to change things around regularly, I love that the packaging allows me to switch out the "cover" as my moods change.
May 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
I found this at a Half Price Book's and the cover immediately caught my attention. Sagmeister is able to use photography and the stories that come from the actual taking of the photos to reinforce each "thing he has learned". I hardly can decide whether to re-read it or display it. It's a work of art.
Stephanie Stanton
Dec 22, 2013 rated it liked it
Would have preferred a little more text... It's a design book and the work needs to speak for itself, but getting inside the head of the designer in his own words would have been great. A nice bonus is the dynamic cover - makes a bold statement and not seen among many other works. Overall a creative and inspiring capture from a classic designer.
Mar 14, 2008 rated it really liked it
These days, design monographs really bore me, so I give design's patron saint and resident rock star his due for an inspiring read. He does amazing work, seems like a genuine, down to earth guy, and spared us the nude self-portraits this time around. But it's the honesty of his writing that endears him most. All in all a humbling and inspiring experience. I wish I knew him personally.
Matthew Herring
Jun 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
There is nothing quite like outside the box thinking to put a new spin on design, and Stefan Sagmeister is the king of out-of-box thinking. I only hope my paths through design lead me in as many different directions as his journey has.
Sep 09, 2009 added it
I was inspired by a video I saw online of a talk give by Stefan Sagmeister so I decided to take a look at his book. It's not really a book, but a set of short life lessons boxed together. No page numbers that I can see so I hope this will let me give updates without page number.
Devin Viscomi
Jan 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved every part of it. This book is pretty much a little bit of Sagmeisters philosophy on life. It gives you perspective on different things, which is what I like to find in a book. I love to learn how others view the world and why. You live vicariously through Sagmeister when reading this book.
Aug 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful book full of great design features. The book is a piece of art and every section delights. The process of each design session is discussed in the text - the text is the weakest part of a fantastic book. The art and design projects displayed are awesome.
Jan 23, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: design
just visual fun. what a dream, to get the financial support to close your successful graphic design firm for a year and work on a personal project. this is the result.
Jan 13, 2009 marked it as to-read
in the mail!
Jan 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Just pretentious enough to make one inspired. Exactly what I would look for from this man and this book.
Mike Bell
Jun 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
A work of art from a fascinating person.
Feb 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: dream-worlds
Brilliant, strange and compellingly simple - these are witty takes on a personal vision. Mesmerizing - take them in small doses as they can overload the eye.
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Stefan Sagmeister (born 1962 in Bregenz, Austria) is a New York-based graphic designer and typographer. He has his own design firm—Sagmeister Inc.—in New York City. He has designed album covers for Lou Reed, OK Go, The Rolling Stones, David Byrne, Aerosmith and Pat Metheny.
More about Stefan Sagmeister...

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