5+5 | Erin McKean. Wordsmith Wonder Woman. March 10 2015

The more I learn about Erin McKean, the more I love her. Wait, let me rephrase that—the more I learn about Erin McKean, the more I want to be like her. Not only is she incredibly intelligent about words and the way we use them (hence the creation of Wordnik), she also brings to the table a beautifully grounded, often touching and funny perspective about work, about being a woman, and about life.

Erin's edition choices and responses gave the pieces a whole new layer for me, as she talked about her experiences living in different cities and her love of fashion and design. She reminded me that art is for everyone, but also everyone can bring wonderful things to art. We're so glad Erin could be a part of this series, and we're thrilled to bring you her answers here!  
– Carly + 20x200

5 Perfect Picks

1) iSketch837, by Jorge Colombo
Since I moved to the Bay Area about five years ago I've been trying to maintain my awestruck appreciation of how gratuitously beautiful San Francisco is. It's too easy to walk around head down on your phone and not look at all the loveliness around you -- the gorgeous array of faces, the soft foggy light, the Jordan-Almond colors of the houses, and even the public transit.

2) Vogue JUL07:pg145 (Ripeness is All), by Lauren DiCioccio 
Oh, I am such a sucker for text-based art with no text in it. When I was an editor who worked on paper books, one of the tasks was to stand back from the text and look for "rivers" and "widows" and "orphans" -- artifacts of the text that made the page lumpy or unattractive. You weren't looking at the words, you were looking at the shape the words made. This page has such a full, solid shape, and you can only appreciate it by taking away the words.

3) South Side of the Moon, by Space Editions 
Who doesn't love the Moon? But I loved this because I really wish it were fabric. I would like to make a circle skirt out of this. (Then you could wear the Moon.)

4) Watercolor Chicago, by Stamen Design
I lived in Chicago for twenty years and I miss the heft of that city. There's just so *much* Chicago. It contains so many different places that somehow all still feel like Chicago. The softness of this watercolor really represents the true Chicago -- it's not the cold sharp gray city of the normal map, it's full of warmth (in the people, if not the weather) and pockets of green growth and rough worn edges.

5) Ideal Bookshelf 505: Fashion, by Jane Mount
Jane Mount's bookshelves are a favorite of mine (I have one of the children's books series) and as a fashion hobbyist I have many of these books. I'd love to hang this above the actual bookshelves in my sewing room.

5 Q's + 5 A's

1) What's your favorite museum?
I love the Museum at FIT and the Costume Institute at the Met, but my absolute favorite museum in the world is the Victoria and Albert. Whenever possible I try to spend a whole day there..

2) Most coveted coffee table book?
The Best of Flair box-book is a wonderful look at a magazine that will never stopped being modern, no matter how much time passes. I'm also very fond of the Vreeland Memos book, because: Diana Vreeland.

3) You've got $5M to spend on one piece of art. What would it be?
This is pretty hokey, but the Gen-X ironist in me loves Joseph-Marie Vien's 1763 painting The Cupid Seller. It's at Fontainebleau so I reckon it's more than $5M, so maybe I'd buy one of the many contemporary engravings that was made of it? I also love Eve Fowler's poster series A Spectacle and Nothing Strange which might be more attainable ...

4) Do you prefer a single statement piece or a salon wall?
I like the salon wall. More is more!

5) If you could be reincarnated as an artist, who would you want to be?
Hannah Höch, or maybe Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, although I think being the Baroness was pretty exhausting.

The 411 on Erin McKean
Erin is the founder and CEO of Wordnik. Before Wordnik, she was the editor in chief of American dictionaries for Oxford University Press. Her life goal is to make sure every word in English has its own place in the dictionary. In her “free” time, she has written half-a-dozen books, including the Weird and Wonderful Words series, the novel The Secret Lives of Dresses, and The Hundred Dresses (a field guide to dress archetypes). She likes coding, sewing, lifting heavy things (both occupationally and recreationally) and maintains more Twitter accounts than is healthy or wise.

Professional Site: Wordnik  Twitter: @wordnik and @emckean  Instagram: FakeErinMcKean  Pinterest: fakeerinmckean

Read the prior 5+5 with Dana Cowin »