Art + Design

Everything Is Going to Be OK: Q&A with Bridget Watson Payne

As a Chronicle Books employee, and the voice of our company Twitter and Facebook, I feel like I shouldn’t admit to having favorite books. I try to be professionally unbiased, but I’m not ashamed to declare right here and now that Everything Is Going to Be OK is my personal, absolute favorite Chronicle book of all time. I LOVE this book. I even have a poster of the cover art above my desk. So I was thrilled to sit down with the book’s creator, Art & Design Editor Bridget Watson Payne, to gush about it together.

Leave a comment below with your favorite inspirational pick-me-up and win a copy of the book and a poster! We’ll pick 5 winners at random on Monday, August 1.

What inspired you to create Everything Is Going to Be OK?
Back in 2009, I started to notice art popping up here and there featuring text that said things that were positive and hopeful. This seemed significant to me, it seemed to say something about the present moment in our culture, something that was going on in the zeitgeist that maybe started with the Obama “Hope” poster, and the now-ubiquitous “Keep Calm and Carry On” image, and then just started to snowball. But what intrigued me was, why did it snowball? Was it because collectively we were looking to embrace a discourse of positivity that wasn’t cheesy or corny or saccharine but really authentic and sincere and true?

What were some of the images that resonated with you early on? When did you realize you had landed on a trend that could translate to a book?
Some of the first images I spotted were Susan O’Malley’s “You Are Exactly Where You Need to Be,” Sean Sundholm’s “Let’s Find Some Beautiful Place to Get Lost,” Chris Kenny’s “Be a Lamp or a Lifeboat or a Ladder” and Clifton Burt’s “All I Want to be is Someone That Makes New Things and Thinks About Them.” These were all pieces that spoke to me personally, the kind of images you save in a folder just because they make you so happy. After a while I started to notice that the folder was getting rather full, and that’s when I started to think there might be a book there.

Unlike a book proposal that gets submitted to us by an author or artist, this was a project that you developed in-house with the Art & Design team. Can you walk us through the process of developing a “homegrown” book?
It’s not so very different from any other book I work on. In a more traditional book project, the author or artist gathers the content, guided by his or her vision. In this case it was me and my colleagues in the Art & Design department seeking out the material ourselves. It was exciting to get to express our own vision. But as with any proposal, I submitted it for acquisition, made a budget, sent lots of project management emails, reviewed galleys and all that, just like I would for any project. The most unusual thing, for me, is that I got to write the intro text—that’s not something I normally ever get to do and I loved doing it. It was so exciting to talk about positivity and optimism in a public forum.

There are something like 70 works of art collected in the book. Where did you guys find it all?
After the first few pieces, it almost seemed to start gathering itself! You’d find one thing on someone’s blog, and then when you went to that artist’s site they’d have linked to someone else who was doing something else really cool that would work for the book. We spent a lot of time trolling around on Etsy, Flickr, various art and design blogs, and 20×200. And then we did something that I think was so awesome: we opened it up to the people here at our office. Because there are so many talented and creative people who work here. So about a dozen of the pieces in the book are by Chronicle employees, plus a few Chronicle friends and family members, too.

Did you have a specific audience or reader in mind while you were compiling the book? What kind of response have you gotten about the finished books?
You know, at first, I thought it was for hipsters. For a while we were calling it “The Blue Day Book for the Etsy crowd” and in fact it has done well with the indie art, DIY crowd—it sells like hotcakes at Urban Outfitters. But what I’ve realized as I start to hear more feedback and word of mouth, is that it’s really for a much wider audience than that. My mom and my mother-in-law can’t stop buying copies for their friends. And, ok, they’re biased and that could just be nepotism, but I don’t think so—I really think there’s a universal message there, where it doesn’t matter how old you are, or how cool and indie you are, or where you live, or if you’re a college kid or a mom. Which makes sense, because who doesn’t want to be told, or to be able to tell their friends, that things are going to be ok, that they are loved, that there is hope and joy and goodness in the world?

So true. I’ve seen so much love for this book online, too. I think people forget how important it is to be kind to ourselves. And how nice it feels to stop for a minute and acknowledge that we are all just doing our best, and that’s good enough. OK, to not take the book’s advice to “Be Present” for a minute, what’s next?
So many exciting things! We’ve got a wall calendar and a set of notecards based on the book coming out in the Spring. And then, because this phenomenon has been growing exponentially, we’re already working on a new book. And the stuff we’re finding for it is awesome! There is so much incredible work out there, so many talented people who are choosing to use their powers for good. It’s really inspiring.

I can’t wait. Thanks, Bridget!

Guinevere de la Mare
Community Manager

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Guinevere de la Mare

Guinevere de la Mare

Guinevere de la Mare is a writer, book lover, and the founder of Silent Book Club. She lives in San Francisco. She also was the senior community manager at Chronicle Books from 2009-2014.
Guinevere de la Mare

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  • tweedediting July 22, 2011 at 3:23 pm

    It looks like I need to keep a copy of this book on my desk so that it's within reach all day and infusing my work. One of my favorite mottoes is Bjork's "it takes courage to enjoy it," from her song "Big Time Sensuality." If I can think of that and have some (decaf) iced coffee, I'm doing pretty well.


  • Kim McM July 22, 2011 at 3:50 pm

    My mantra is "Do it anyway." Sometimes when I am feeling depressed or sad or just plain lazy, I tell myself to "do it anyway," and it always makes me feel better. It is probably a corollary to the 70s (or was it the 80s) catch phrase "acting as if."


  • Christy July 23, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    One of my favorite inspirational pick-me-ups is a saying from George Bernard Shaw: We don't stop playing because we grow old; We grow old because we stop playing.


  • Kerri July 23, 2011 at 8:07 pm

    mine is also do it anyway. something i carry with me at all times.


  • Autumn Millhouse July 23, 2011 at 10:30 pm

    Follow your heart and you’ll never be lost….anoymous

    When I feel like I may be going in the wrong direction in life, I remind myself of the statement above, and it inspires me to keep moving forward.


  • cHaRiTy! July 24, 2011 at 2:37 am

    Mine comes from Mary Oliver. Instructions to live a life. Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about. – thank you for creating this art show in a book, people truly need to experience beautiful messages, such a gift.


  • Laurie Rice July 24, 2011 at 4:54 am

    As a card carrying member of Compulsive Book Buyers Anonymous, rest assured, this book will be added to my stacks shortly. Added bonus, seeing your spectacles logo on the spine always makes me smile. Here's my inspiration… “The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.” – Joseph Campbell.


  • Eden July 24, 2011 at 4:55 am

    I'm a big fan of a lot of this art with the inspirational quote. I've got a couple desktop backgrounds I rotate between (depending on what I need to hear) with the "Don't forget to have a good time" and "Small flowers crack concrete" quotes. However, my favorite quote is from a Douglas Adams book, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul, "I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up exactly where I needed to be"


  • Morgan July 24, 2011 at 5:19 am

    This slides right into the "VIB" (Very Important Book) spot in the parking lot of my life right now! 🙂 Lately, I have found myself driven by the Socrates quote: "Be as you wish to seem." This book is exactly what I am in the mood for right now. Thank you, Chronicle Books, for making things better.


  • Briana July 24, 2011 at 5:30 am

    One my inspirational pick-me-ups is "Love is all you need". To me, this means love for yourself, as well as for humankind in general.


  • Cheryl July 24, 2011 at 6:14 am

    I’ve always liked “Leap and the net will appear.”


  • Dana July 24, 2011 at 12:12 pm

    "Everything will be ok in the end. If it's not ok, it's not the end."


  • Anne Barber July 24, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    My favorite is “Be Here Now” – I think it comes from Ram Das.


  • Annie July 25, 2011 at 10:42 am

    "Forward ever, backward never."


  • blythe hill July 26, 2011 at 12:32 am

    What a beautiful idea for a book! So inspiring. I love the cover design, too. 🙂


  • Caitlin July 26, 2011 at 8:12 am

    I saw Anthony Burrill's "Work Hard and Nice to People" poster in someone's office once, and it's still one of my all-time favorites.


  • Lillian July 26, 2011 at 8:37 am

    “No matter what, expect the unexpected. And whenever possible BE the unexpected.” Lynda Barry sums it up quite nicely. I love her art, and I love this sentiment.


  • kevin July 26, 2011 at 8:39 am

    I love the understated British wartime slogan, "Keep Calm and Carry On."


  • Boolady July 26, 2011 at 8:49 am

    I, too, am a quote whore and have ordered the book. Some favorites today… "F*ck 'em if they can't take a joke." Bette Midler and "Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, first make sure you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes." —William Gibson


  • erinkathleen July 26, 2011 at 9:00 am

    I love this book – I've admired so many of the artists in this book, and I love seeing their hope and positivity gathered in one place! Thank you so much Bridget and Chronicle for putting this amazing book out into the world.

    I've always tried to live by the Golden Rule: treat others as you'd like to be treated.


  • Yvonne July 26, 2011 at 9:08 am

    "My child will only be x years once." Sort of a tired parent's live in the moment, just do it, make it count.


  • nicolle July 26, 2011 at 10:04 am

    "live each day like it's your last"


  • candice July 26, 2011 at 10:07 am

    From my grandfather who was born in 1912, "Keep your pecker up." I don't know if it always had the same innuendo as today, but it always seems like the right thing to say to a good friend who is especially down.


  • eug July 26, 2011 at 10:07 am

    count your blessings.
    there is always someone way worse off than you. get out of your funk and help them.


  • aimee July 26, 2011 at 10:18 am

    I'm a big fan of "fail better" and try to remember to that everyday with my illustration/design work.


  • Valora July 26, 2011 at 10:59 am

    “Be the change you want to see in the world.” —Mahatma Gandhi


  • wendyb July 26, 2011 at 11:44 am

    Some moms never said those calming words, "Everything is going to be OK". For those of us who need to internalize those words, this book sounds great!


  • AmyK July 26, 2011 at 11:54 am

    One of my favorites: “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.”


  • dandelionandolive July 26, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    Sometimes people give you lots of 'helpful advice'. So my best bit to anyone is 'only listen to the advice you like the sound of' this especially goes out to new parents!


  • Charlotte July 26, 2011 at 7:38 pm

    I've always been fond of Thomas Edison's saying "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."


  • kyrivergirl July 26, 2011 at 7:39 pm

    i like to hum or sing the chorus of "keep on the sunny side" – to myself or out loud and no doubt off-key. helps lift me up.


  • CaryMenzie July 27, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    I think this looks like an excellent inspirational book for everyone; but, the book particularly calls to me as an artist and wedding planner. I just got married in May this year and planned the entire wedding myself! I could have used this book then and in the future as a source of friendly solace, a Muse, a pick-me-up and much more as I work to expand my wedding and jewelry business! Not to mention the first year of married life! What a refreshing idea!!!


  • Sara P. July 29, 2011 at 10:32 am

    A cycling coach one told me to "Never save gears." In that context, he meant, if you are going up a hill, and you need to shift, do it! Don't save gears for a potentially larger hill in the future. I find that I often think of this for life in general. If I am tired, and feel like doing something half assed, or like I might save my energy for something later – I always think to myself – "Never save gears"! Give it everything I have!


  • Liz. July 31, 2011 at 9:57 am

    Keep your face to the sun and the shadows will fall behind. Thank you.


  • amy August 1, 2011 at 3:58 pm

    These are staements of inspirattion that keep us hanging on in our tough days


  • Admin August 1, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    Congratulations to our winners: Boolady, Candice, Aimee, Charlotte, and Laurie Rice! Please check your email for instructions or go ahead and email your mailing address to me at community AT chroniclebooks DOT com. Thanks to everyone who shared their personal quotes. I'm feeling so inspired!


  • wall art January 20, 2012 at 5:03 am

    I also believe that everything will be OK as long as you have faith in God and you do good things.Everything will be fine.All happens with great purpose whether it is bad or good it keeps lesson to be our starting grounds to be strong.


  • faith quotes March 7, 2013 at 9:07 am

    It was certified Platinum, selling well one over one million units in one month after being released, and peaked at number one the U.S. Billboard 200 charts.


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