Why Maira Kalman Loves to Work on Lots of Projects at Once

The painter, writer, illustrator—and now dancer—on her creative evolution.

Illustration depicting a female with a microphone

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Episode Notes

This week, host Rumaan Alam talks with the multitalented artist Maira Kalman. Kalman is an illustrator, writer, artist, and designer known for her playful and witty illustrations in children’s books like Fireboat and Why We Broke Up, as well as her work for the New York Times and the New Yorker.

They talk about what the perfect day of work looks like for the artist, how to stay creative in times of crisis, and her latest project: an illustrated edition of The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas.

Afterward, Rumaan and Isaac Butler talk about the ways in which they’re trying to remain creative. Rumaan has been watching the Met’s release of “Nightly Met Opera Streams,” a free series of encore Live in HD presentations streamed on the company website, and Isaac recommends picking up a copy of the book And Then You Act: Making Art in an Unpredictable World, by theater director Anne Bogart to combat creative roadblocks during this time of great uncertainty.

Send your questions about creativity and any other feedback to

Podcast production by Morgan Flannery.


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