Art + Design

Susan O’Malley: Advice From My 80-Year-Old Self

“Imagine you had the opportunity to time travel and meet yourself at 80, to sit down and have a cup of tea with your 80-year-old self…What does she tell you?”

Susan O’Malley was an artist, curator, and beloved member of the Chronicle Books family. We are her friends, fans, and collaborators on a remarkable new book she completed just before she passed away last year: Advice from My 80-Year-Old Self.


With a seemingly boundless energy for connection, Susan had a way of asking the kinds of questions that were interesting enough to throw you slightly off-balance, but so essential that they became grounding when considered. In the project that inspired this book, she asked people of all ages to channel their inner elder, and then transformed their responses into powerful graphic pieces—wistful, whimsical, and everything in-between—that celebrate our shared struggles, insight, and humanity.

We miss Susan every day, but we are so proud of this book and grateful to be able to help her work reach more minds with an essential message—that you are already in possession of much of the wisdom you need.

Advice from My 80-Year-Old Self

Susan had many friends in the art community, and we partnered with one of them—THE THING Quarterly—to offer a free limited edition tote bag featuring art from the book. We’re blown away that these totes went out of stock in merely one week! Thank you all who ordered the book, and enjoy your lovely bag. If you missed out, you can still order the tote from THE THING here.

Also remember that a portion of the proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated to the Susan O’Malley Memorial Fund for the Arts to support emerging artists and to commission a permanent installation of Susan’s work.

Less Internet, More Love Tote Bag

At the close of the introduction, Susan describes this magical and yet humble sage that is our 80-year-old self: “She is present within each of us, reminding us we can be the best version of ourselves, not through some colossal effort at personal reinvention, but simply by slowing down. We just have to take a moment to pay attention and listen.”

Through the many ways her eager curiosity and powerful optimism continue to connect us, this passage also describes Susan.


Advice from My 80 Year-Old Self

Kathryn Jaller

Kathryn Jaller

Previous Associate Director of online strategy at Chronicle Books and art/craft/cat lady. You can follow her at @kholler.
Kathryn Jaller

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  • Mai Tatoy January 12, 2016 at 4:13 pm

    Does this only apply within the US? I live in Singapore. Appreciate the advise.


  • Kerry Colburn January 12, 2016 at 4:20 pm

    FYI I tried to share with the FB link, but the link only went to the tote sweepstakes entry form, not the full blog post–so there was no description of the book. You may want to fix this so it’s easier to share on FB!


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