What Matters to Jessica Helfand

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Debbie Millman has an ongoing project at PRINT titled “What Matters.” This is an effort to understand the interior life of artists, designers, and creative thinkers. This facet of the project is a request of each invited respondent to answer ten identical questions and submit a nonprofessional photograph.

Jessica Helfand is a painter, author, educator, and founding editor of Design Observer. In 2010, she became the first recipient of the Henry Wolf Residency at the American Academy in Rome.

What is the thing you like doing most in the world?


What is the first memory you have of being creative?

Being young.

What is your biggest regret?

Not appreciating my youth.

How have you gotten over heartbreak?

I haven’t.

What makes you cry?

Your last question.

How long does the pride and joy of accomplishing something last for you?

It doesn’t.

Do you believe in an afterlife, and if so, what does that look like to you?

“We have two lives—and the second begins when you realize you only have one.” —Poet, novelist, essayist and musicologist Mario de Andrade (1893-1945), one of the founders of Brazilian modernism.

What do you hate most about yourself?

My unwillingness to forgive myself for most things.

What do you love most about yourself?

My willingness to forgive others for most things.

What is your absolute favorite meal?

The next one.