Tools & Talismans #57 — Debbie Millman

I believe in magic. Big-hearted, soul-enriching, life-affirming magic. I think that magic is everywhere and I believe that talismans are simply vessels for magic delivery. I have a small collection of these utterly enchanting runes residing on a nightstand next to my bed. Most of the objects have been given to me by dear friends; the beautiful tray upon which everything is housed as well as the gorgeous ceramic algae art were birthday presents from the designer Christine Mau.

My partner Maria Popova gave me the hunk of petrified volcano lava, my beloved Aunt Judy gave me the bell, and an old friend — Debra Thompson — gave me the wooden hummingbird about 25 years ago. The great creative director (and force of nature) John Fulbrook is obsessed with frogs and brought me the miniature frog pin from one of his many trips abroad and one of the students in my visual storytelling workshop at Anderson University in North Carolina presented me with the clay teapot at the end of our classes together.

The gray rabbit comes from Joel Magen's Dark Horse Pottery (his work was introduced to me by my cousin and best friend Ilene Feinman) and my late, great brilliant friend and co-hort, the director Hillman Curtis, gave me the color wheel pin; his son Jasper designed this logo for Hillman's film company. I look at these powerful emblems imbued with love and friendship and loyalty and creativity every single day and they make me grateful to be alive.

Debbie Millman is a writer, teacher, artist, designer and host of the radio show Design Matters.


Tools & Talismans is a personal painting project where I document {in watercolor} the tools and talismans of 100 different women — creators and healers, thinkers and makers, wordsmiths and visionaries. Join me for a year of Tools & Talismans — I'll be sharing a new painting with you every Wednesday.

I'd love to talk about creating illustrations for you! Do you have a project that needs some illustration? Think my work might be a good fit? Get in touch, I'd love to talk about your project with you!