Jessica Walsh is one half of award winning studio Sagmeister & Walsh. Tim Goodman is a designer based in New York. Finding themselves single at the same time, these two friends decided to embark on an experiment – date each other for 40 days.
With one a hopeless romantic and one a commitment-phobe, 40 Days of Dating (opens in new tab) attracted over 10 million unique visitors, with the world waiting with baited-breath over what would happen between these two friends. The success has garnered a movie deal and a beautifully executed book. Walsh talked to us about the ideas, the designs and the aftermath of one of the most talked about projects in recent years.
How did the book come about?
After 40 days went viral, we were approached by numerous editors and publishers who wanted us to write a book. We went sure if it made sense to make the blog into a book format unless there was significant new content.
After everything, the number one question we received from fans was: What happened after Day 40? The idea of doing an entire “What happened next section” of the book was important to us, so we kept journals for up to a year after the experiment ended—which is all in the book.
The book also covers so much more, including Q&A’s about our childhoods, and our lives before we met; a history of dating and a dating map; worst date stories and essays about love and relationships from different people, such as the screenwriter to the movie, Lorene Scafaria, and tons of new artwork. This was a real labor of love for us.
What has the feedback been like?
One of the most rewarding and surprising aspects of the result of releasing the blog was that we connected to people and started a dialogue about love and relatinoships Ultimately, we knew that our stories and issues were not unlike a lot of people's issues. As creative people, we love the process of making something provocative that could potentially inspire and touch people.
Naturally, as designers and art directors, it was important to us that 40 Days have an identity, however, it wasn't until the project was over that we designed the site, shot the videos, photographed our items, asked for lettering contributions, etc. We wanted to approach the project with as much sincerity as possible.
How would you describe the tone of the project?
As designers, our first instinct was to create an elaborate oversized beautiful coffee table book with fancy printing techniques, tip ins, gilded edges, all the bells and whistles. However we quickly realized that would become an expensive and unaccessible book.
The success of our project was in part due to the format and easy access and we wanted to translate that into book form. We landed on a smaller more intimate format that still keep the colorful and punchy aesthetic of the blog but didn’t feel to precious.
What materials did you use throughout?
We collaborated with over 80 designers and illustrators who created typographic pieces for the book for the chapter openings. However most of the artwork and typographic pieces were created by Tim & I. We generally tend to work with hand drawn markers or ink to illustrate the work, and then scan the drawings and manipulate them digitally.
What was the most challenging part of the project?
Tim and I work together brilliantly on a creative level. On a personal level, we ride this fine line between love and hate. We are best friends, but we also know how to piss each other off and make each other go crazy. That has made the entire process of this project a huge roller coaster.
We went from being best friends, to lovers, to creative partners, to business partners; and that was never our intention, it just happened. It’s been such an incredible journey which has been a huge learning experience, so fun, but not always easy.
What's your favourite part of the project?
Connecting to people on an emotional level. It’s been crazy, humbling and so inspiring. We want to create more work like this in the future. Tim and I are currently undergoing a new robust personal project which will be out this summer.
We worked with a super talented designer, Kevin Brainard, who helped our ideas and vision come to life. This book would not have been possible without him and we are so grateful for his involvement and patience with us throughout the process. It wouldn’t have launched this January without him.
Buy the book here (opens in new tab).
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