Al Hirschfeld: What Happens if You Reframe Work as Play

Editor-At-Large, David Saltman, told us that when he interviewed legendary illustrator Al Hirschfeld for CNN years ago, Hirschfeld said he worked seven days a week, and wouldn’t have it any other way. Nor did he ever consider retiring. He LOVED to work, and felt at sea if he didn’t draw every day. He worked until he died just shy of 100 years old.

The secret to Hirshfeld’s drive was the pleasure he took in work. He famously said that “Artists are just children who refuse to put down their crayons.”  He never did.

Alan Behr/Al Hirschfeld Foundation

Alan Behr/Al Hirschfeld Foundation

Hirschfeld offers an interesting path for people who don’t want, or aren’t able to retire: Keep working. The key is taking pleasure in what you do.

We are reminded of social psychologis Ellen Langer’s experiments that show when people were asked to think of work as play, they liked it better. Simply renaming work reframed and changed their experience of it. Her wonderful book Mindfulness is about the kinds of simple shifts of thinking we can make that make us become physiologically younger. Hirschfeld is a fine example.

Louise Kerz/The Al Hirschfeld Foundation

Louise Kerz/The Al Hirschfeld Foundation

The Hirschfeld Century, Portrait of an Artist and His Age starts in the 1920’s and shows Hirschfeld’s work by decade — nine of them! — into the 21st century…

Role model…

Chris Barnett

Chris Barnett

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