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The Wonder of Collaboration: Finding a New Spark of Creativity with Liana Finck

I reached out to Liana Finck during the early, dark days of the pandemic in April 2020. My fiancé, Claire, insisted that I do.

I had realized that my nonfiction book, Wanting—a book about a social phenomenon called mimetic desire—needed simple illustrations to reinforce its ideas. I’m such a visual thinker that I knew I would benefit from someone who could help me “see” the ideas in new ways. And I was betting that my readers would benefit from it, too.

The drawings needed to be no-frills, witty, biting, and thought-provoking to balance out the sometimes heavily philosophical nature of the text. I wanted art that would complement the writing, not just supplement it—art that didn’t seem like a business class diagram or an unnecessary appendage.

Claire—along with hundreds of thousands of others—followed Liana on Instagram. Her work regularly appeared in the New Yorker, and she had just drawn the cover of Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande’s new single, “Alone Together.” More importantly, Claire said, it was like her drawings seemed to be winking about the very thing my book was about: mimetic, or imitative desire: the idea that our desires and identities are shaped by what other people want, the hidden dance of desire that influences our choices. When I first laid eyes on Liana’s drawings, I felt deeply understood—which is odd, considering that I’d never even met Liana or seen her work before. But there was something foundational to human experience that her art and my writing was trying to capture.

Read more here.

Originally published on 28 August 2022 at Literary Hub.


Mimetic Desire 101

What is Mimetic Desire? Nearly everyone (unconsciously) assumes there’s a straight line between them and the things they want. >>

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