The Office, The Untold Story Book Review + this week’s joyful things

August 5, 2020

I’m Michelle.
A modern maker with a classic approach to design. Ever in search
of beautiful typography and
baked goods.
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In this post, I share a book review of The Office, The Untold Story, plus four joyful finds, including a podcast, a typeface, a YouTube channel, and an album.

The Office The Untold Story Book Review from Michelle Hickey Design

I often describe myself as hyper-inspired. I can be moved by something simple like watching a bird fly across the yard, or receiving a kind comment from a friend. But nothing ignites me more than seeing creative people using their talents. Especially when it comes to television.

The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s, by Andy Greene, lit a fire. I was already a fan of the show, The Office. After reading the book, I’m a fan of all of the people, and the process that brought it to life.

As I shared in my review of Hamilton: The Revolution, I am fascinated by the creative development behind large-scale productions. As a viewer, it’s easy to sit back and assume that a team of experts pull it all together without a hitch. But every time I read or watch a behind-the-scenes story, I’m reminded of the realities that are involved in making a stellar piece of work.

The Office, The Untold Story Book Review

The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s is a glaring reminder that if you want to create something exceptional, you need to be patient, to take risks, to fail, to push past the doubts and negative feedback, and above all, to believe in your vision.

The book shares first-hand accounts from a variety of people who were involved with the show, including cast, crew, executives, and critics. Of its long roster of talent, I was most intrigued by Greg Daniels, the show’s developer, executive producer, and writer of some of my favorite episodes.

As someone who is creating my own “world” as I write my first novel, I found it so inspiring to read Greg’s thoughts. I also found it comforting to hear his struggles. Even though I understand that creative work is a process, I still need constant reminders. It is so easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you’re not cut out for the job. Or to believe that a setback means that you shouldn’t forge ahead.

I imagine that Andy Greene wrote this book with the uber-Office fan in mind. It goes deep into each season and is brimming over with behind-the-scenes stories, tidbits, and secrets. But to me, this is a book for creators— for anyone who ever dreamed of making something that will bring joy and delight to others for a very long time.

Here are a few more things that are bringing me joy this week:

Not (Blank) Enough Podcast

Have I mentioned how much I’m inspired by stories? In this show, we’re treated to candid conversations between host, Grasie Mercedes, and her guests. I listen to so many podcasts and this is not the first to adopt the host/weekly guest format.

But Not (Blank) Enough Podcast is different. The conversations are deep. The guests are vulnerable in sharing their struggles. I’m of the opinion that everyone is insecure. Some people are just better at hiding it. This podcast does not attempt to cover up the things that make us human.

If you’re looking for real stories from real people, I think you’ll enjoy Not (Blank) Enough Podcast as much as I am.

The Bartender Typeface Collection from Vintage Voyage Design Studio

Last week, I had the opportunity to dust off my design skills to create branding for an upcoming project. I’ll share more on that soon!

I had forgotten how much I love to design and ended up down a rather deep rabbit hole in search of the perfect typeface. I landed on a new (to me) font called Bartender, and man, did I fall in love.

And then I discovered that it was included in this phenomenal pack of fonts and graphics and that it was only $30. The low price of fonts will continue to blow my mind, as I remember the days when I used to invest $100+ on a single typeface.

Studio McGee on YouTube

Chances are you’re already following @studiomcgee on Instagram, as I have been for a while. They are interior decorators with exceptional taste, who design in a clean, tasteful style.

Last week, I discovered their YouTube channel. We cut our cable cord years ago, so maybe I’m missing HGTV, but wow, is it fantastic. Unlike most home decorating shows, they cover a variety of projects from quick room spruce-ups to full-fledged building projects (including their own home).

The production quality is just as good, if not better than what you’ll see on tv. I’ll just warn you that watching will absolutely make you want to redecorate your home. At least that was my experience.

folklore, by Taylor Swift

I almost didn’t include this, because it feels so basic, but you know what? It’s *that* good.

In case you missed the backstory, Taylor Swift announced this surprise album the day before it was released. Something magical happened during quarantine. She was inspired to write and record sixteen new songs, and every one of them is a gem.

I’m amazed at what creatives can do when we’re given the time and space to think and dream. We recently recorded an entire podcast episode on this topic.

After listening to the folklore album on repeat and reading through Taylor’s beautifully crafted lyrics, I’m convinced. We need to give ourselves more freedom to create the things that bring us joy. End of story.

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