Todd Selby's "Bright Old Things"
“No old person ever thinks of themselves as old. Old is somebody else,” says William Forbes Hamilton, the painter, in the central spread of The Selby’s “Bright Old Things.” The zine is a collection of some of his favorite shots from a project of the same name that Selfridges commissioned from him. The images and paintings are a collection of his foray into the world of artists, designers, and creators who have reached a part of their life where they’ve moved on from the petty pushes and pulls of modern culture. These are folks that have let go of the small stuff, and are ready to live in their passions. “They have been around and nine times out of ten don’t give a rat’s ass about what anyone thinks of them,” Todd says introducing his zine. The wisdom that comes out of that mindset is what permeates the entire project.
Each page of the publication brings us into the world of a different creator, and each of their worlds are richly unique. Whether it’s the gold and red living room of Sue Kreitzman, walled by dozens of paintings (including few of her own image), or rich materials and history of Nick Wooster’s foyer whose tone plays off his own timeless style, we’re being let into their personal world. But what’s most surprising is that these worlds are something of a new discovery. “The whole idea behind the project was that the people they chose had gone through a transformation where they did something totally new than the first part of their life,” says Todd, explaining how the subjects were chosen. Each of them had a storied past that they left behind for a new creative chapter. That’s the brightness we get to see. “It was about making a creative leap,” Todd says.
When it comes to adding his signature watercolor illustrations, Todd uses a combination of theme and instinct. “I tried to paint things that were “Bright Old Things” like a brontosaurus, or a Faberge egg,” he says. “But then I also just freestyled and threw a bunch of stuff in there. So it’s colorful, funny. I like to kind of have a theme but I also like to freestyle and just have fun with it.” Where a monocle polar bear fits thematically with a bespeckled William Forbes Hamilton, the lamb sitting next to Bruno Wizard is there for a little bit of fun.
What we see when we flip through The Selby’s zine is a veritable line up of lives we could only hope to emulate. As Todd says in his introduction, “If we are lucky we will all be cool old people one day.” Here’s to all of us living long lives and becoming Bright, Old Things.