A gallery of content creators who inspire me

The first member of my Inspiratorium doesn’t even have a name. Her youtube channel, Be Kind Rewind, consists of short, literate, lucid videos that analyze the Oscars as cultural history. We all know the Academy Awards aren’t decided based on who turned in the best performance. BKR explains studio, race and gender politics, including how the hell Grace Kelly beat Judy Garland. Her videos are calm, rational presentations, none longer than 20 minutes. She’s made about 25 of them and they’ve been viewed collectively over 5 million times.

Maria Popova, the creator/curator behind, is the kind of person who describes experiences as “delicious.” She opines thus: “the richest ‘research’ is driven by discovery, that intersection of curiosity and serendipity that lets you expand your intellectual and creative comfort zone.” Did I mention her daily routine includes doing cardio while applying post-its to Great Books?

Originally brainpickings consisted of an email to seven people; currently she has a million monthly followers. This is all due to Popova’s substantial knack for connecting big ideas; she selects and artfully lays out excerpts of serious writers, enhancing text with carefully chosen photos and illustrations. Passages dolled up with drop caps and accented in her signature yellow arrest the eye; a chic font palette completes a stylish, readable look that lifts up the brainpickings art-nerd brand.

Word is she’s pulling down hundreds of thousands of dollars per annum due to a kickback system with amazon. Plus, charming, if misleading, requests for financial assistance that coo “donation = loving” yield another serious chunk of change.

Regardless of whether you thrill to either her business practices or her personality, one cannot dispute Popova’s skill as a curator and a designer, as well as her ability to convert a cool idea into cold hard cash.