susan o’malley

Thank you so much to everyone who entered yesterday’s give-away! This is such a beautiful book/project, with partial proceeds going to the Susan O’Malley Memorial Fund for the Arts, so if you didn’t win feel free to pick up a copy via Amazon,  Chronicle Books or in any major bookstore. Ok, enough suspense… the winner is… Jess Carter {Jess Carter ceramics}! Congratulations Jess, and again, thanks to all of you for amazing comments and allowing this story to touch your heart. And remember, ART BEFORE DISHES!


Beautiful, funny, inspiring, and unfortunately, heartbreaking. This gorgeous artsy book, titled “Advice from my 80-year-old- self”, officially hits shelves today … and now I’m not sure what to say. I’ve been sitting here for about five minutes staring at the screen trying to write about this project, and the woman behind it, American artist Susan O’Malley. She’s an artist known for her text-based work that is filled with color and positive messages. Very sadly, while she was working on this project, early in 2015 Susan died suddenly and unexpectedly at the age of 38. She was less than a week away from giving birth to her twin daughters, Reyna and Lucy, who also passed away. Devastating. This book was already filled with amazing, inspiring advice – from 100 people ranging in age from 7 to 88 – but now it seems like these words of wisdom are even more important. “Try new things, it’s ok to make mistakes” ~ Emilia, 12 ; “This is your life, love it” ~ Alicia, 37  ; “Art before dishes” ~ Lea, 62… and of course, “Live each day as if it’s your last” ~ Abdul, 73. It’s a tragedy that Susan left this world far too early, but we can listen to these beautiful lessons and apply them to our own lives. For Susan.

Chronicle Books will donate partial proceeds from this book to the Susan O’Malley Memorial Fund for the Arts. You can find this book on Amazon, or at Chronicle Books… and keep your eye out in bookshops all over the world.

ps. I have one copy of this beautiful book to give away… just leave a comment below and I’ll draw one name tomorrow, Wednesday January 13th at 9am PST. Good luck xo

comments (141)

  1. Uve /// 01.12.2016 /// 5:31am

    Just read the story, it’s heartbreaking and awesome. I’m gonna write about it on my blog as well, the world needs to know 🙂


  2. leigh hannan /// 01.12.2016 /// 5:48am

    oh, dear, this is so very sad. I am hoping that since she was making this inspiring book, that she was also living it.

  3. Larissa /// 01.12.2016 /// 6:07am

    Wow, what an incredible story… heartbreaking but so inspirational. We all need those simple friendly reminders! Thank you for sharing.

  4. simone /// 01.12.2016 /// 6:12am

    Beautifully expressed

  5. rossana taormina /// 01.12.2016 /// 6:15am

    so moving …

  6. Susan /// 01.12.2016 /// 6:21am

    what a story…will give extra meaning to every page

  7. SK /// 01.12.2016 /// 6:25am

    the book is a beautiful tribute to its author!

  8. Jessica G. /// 01.12.2016 /// 6:30am

    What a sad story, but such a lovely book to leave behind.

  9. Jackie /// 01.12.2016 /// 6:32am

    I have loved her work! This is inspiring, and devastating at the same time, which seems to be how life is. The cracks being the places where the light comes in.

  10. Olivier /// 01.12.2016 /// 6:59am

    Chilling history, although it has been used here in Paris in 2015.
    Have a good year

  11. J /// 01.12.2016 /// 7:07am


  12. Nicole /// 01.12.2016 /// 7:29am

    Wow, this looks like an amazing book that everyone should read. What a tragedy that the world has lost such a beautiful soul.

  13. April /// 01.12.2016 /// 7:32am

    This looks like a great reminder of what matters.

  14. brandi marie /// 01.12.2016 /// 8:44am

    The one I need to read the most: “Get out and do things.”

  15. Lisa S /// 01.12.2016 /// 8:47am

    What a heartbreaking story! This books looks amazing, hope to read it very very soon. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  16. Michelle /// 01.12.2016 /// 8:51am

    So sad. A reminder to live our lives fully in each moment…time is precious.

  17. Oonagh Latchford /// 01.12.2016 /// 8:51am

    Beautiful – very poignant

  18. Pam-lla /// 01.12.2016 /// 8:52am

    What a beautiful looking book and sad story. Thank you for highlighting her work. I wish I’d seen it earlier.

  19. Linda Colman /// 01.12.2016 /// 8:52am

    Simplicity will ALWAYS be bliss…

  20. Julie /// 01.12.2016 /// 8:57am

    signs are awesome when they are put in the right place at the right time for the right reason.

  21. Linda S /// 01.12.2016 /// 8:58am

    So beautiful.

  22. bernicky /// 01.12.2016 /// 9:00am

    Art before dishes….amen

  23. Brandi /// 01.12.2016 /// 9:04am

    Beautiful words and designs.

  24. Carrie /// 01.12.2016 /// 9:07am

    Book looks like bottled motivation!

  25. Sarah /// 01.12.2016 /// 9:14am

    What a gorgeous book!

  26. Tari Alford /// 01.12.2016 /// 9:15am

    Gorgeous! I love it!

  27. Jane /// 01.12.2016 /// 9:16am

    The story behind the book makes the advice so much more powerful and poignant.

  28. Nicole K. /// 01.12.2016 /// 9:16am

    If everyone lived this book, the world would be a better place.

  29. Lauren P. /// 01.12.2016 /// 9:23am

    I’m not sure what to say either 🙁 But thank you for sharing this book and its story.

  30. Tracy /// 01.12.2016 /// 9:26am

    Heartbreaking – – a beautiful soul who left a beautiful legacy with her inspirational art.

  31. Heather Rothnie /// 01.12.2016 /// 9:31am

    I remember reading about this wonderful soul last year when she passed. She seemed like such a lovely person. Someone I’d really like to have met. I’m thrilled the book is out. Her memory will not be lost on me.

  32. Andie /// 01.12.2016 /// 9:34am

    What a sad sad story… just heartbreaking…

  33. Marina /// 01.12.2016 /// 9:37am

    Beauty upon Wisdom upon Love.

  34. Parakh /// 01.12.2016 /// 9:44am

    What a wonderful message to leave the world. Heartbreaking story.

  35. Crystal /// 01.12.2016 /// 9:49am

    Wow. I needed to hear all the messages coming from this. Especially “art before dishes”. I’m constantly putting my art on the back burner. I literally do dishes and all those daily tasks. With depression it took me long enough to figure out how to do even the daily mundane things.But now I will work on just making it happen if only bits at a time. And it’s a reminder that we must try to do what we can because we could very suddenly be gone.

  36. cindy /// 01.12.2016 /// 9:51am

    I want to live my life each day with these words in mind

  37. abbey /// 01.12.2016 /// 9:52am

    Death is tragic, but how absolutely fitting that this is what she’s left behind. This book seems entirely inspiring.

  38. Brooke /// 01.12.2016 /// 9:53am

    Everyone needs more of this in their lives – Sad to hear of her passing.

  39. Moira /// 01.12.2016 /// 9:59am

    Such a sad story. Her words are so inspiring. I think it’s wonderful that her words are immortalised in a way so that she won’t be forgotten.

  40. Shannon /// 01.12.2016 /// 10:03am

    I needed this today! Art before dishes is so simple and strong. Thank you for sharing.

  41. Petronela /// 01.12.2016 /// 10:03am

    Her story is so sad.. and such a great talented! It’s inspiring me to really live each day as if it was the last!

  42. Jason Yen /// 01.12.2016 /// 10:06am

    Inspiring. I WANT THIS BOOK!!! Reminds of John Giorno~

  43. Lauren /// 01.12.2016 /// 10:08am

    Thank you for this post. This advice is inspirational every day, but especially poignant for me today.

  44. Syd /// 01.12.2016 /// 10:14am

    ‘Art before dishes’ is my new motto. Her story is so sad, her work was so beautiful!

  45. Mia /// 01.12.2016 /// 10:17am

    Such a lovely book with important message, everyone should have one yay! We could make this world a better place with some good advices.

  46. Susan Saunders /// 01.12.2016 /// 10:18am

    Words of wisdom for sure. The importance doesn’t lie only in reading her words, but internalizing and living them. Her legacy will live on. I look forward to checking this book out. Thanks~

  47. Meg Corcoran /// 01.12.2016 /// 10:33am

    Oh no. What a tragic loss. Thank you for sharing her work and story.

  48. Rachel /// 01.12.2016 /// 10:36am

    This would be a lovely additional my schools art department, the beautiful messages would be so beneficial to the students, encourage them to be true to themselves and love making art.

  49. Crystal /// 01.12.2016 /// 10:43am

    I want to spend some time with this book!

  50. Brenda /// 01.12.2016 /// 10:44am

    I want to win something this beautiful and inspiring. Somedays we need to remember this simple magical words to find the meaning of very second o life.

  51. Nicola /// 01.12.2016 /// 10:49am

    In memory of Susan, Reyna and Lucy. Too sad for words. With love and thanks for a beautiful book.

  52. Kitty B /// 01.12.2016 /// 10:51am

    This is really heartbreaking. She had a gift of perfectly blending wisdom with beauty. Let that be in her memory. RIP Susan, Reyna and Lucy.

  53. Gwen Mercado-Reyes /// 01.12.2016 /// 11:18am

    This would be a great gift for friends and family.

  54. Samantha Agar /// 01.12.2016 /// 11:23am

    This is heartbreaking and even more so for her perfectly articulated reminders about life. Sigh. Thank you for sharing this, and all your investigations into beautiful humans, Danielle.

  55. Stephanie Jones /// 01.12.2016 /// 11:30am

    What a cool book – love all the awesome advice & graphics!

  56. Heather /// 01.12.2016 /// 12:09pm

    Love the idea for this book. What a tragic story though. It does make her words more precious.

  57. Carol /// 01.12.2016 /// 12:12pm

    Looks very inspiring… If I won it, I would turn to a random page every morning when I wake up and keep the saying in my head all day…

  58. Judy Williams /// 01.12.2016 /// 12:29pm

    Very bittersweet – what a lovely book and terrible tragedy

  59. Jackie /// 01.12.2016 /// 12:31pm

    Art before dishes is my new motto.

  60. Kathrine /// 01.12.2016 /// 12:36pm

    Ohhh, thankyouthankyouthankyou for sharing ❤️

  61. Sarah /// 01.12.2016 /// 12:42pm

    Beautiful book and a beautiful life. What a tragedy. I need to get a couple of these for my art classroom. My design students will feast on it.

  62. Renja /// 01.12.2016 /// 12:50pm

    Beautiful work. Sad story.. r.i.p

  63. Claira /// 01.12.2016 /// 12:53pm

    Such an inspiring story- definitely makes you stop and think about where you are, and how you’re not a permanent fixture in this universe. This book will end up on my shelf, giveaway or otherwise, as the basis of my work is, in fact, about this very topic.

  64. carey rudisill /// 01.12.2016 /// 1:01pm

    Oh please, me salivating. Thank you for highlighting this, and other artists. Many thanks for all you do.

  65. Suzanne /// 01.12.2016 /// 1:07pm

    Strong & beautiful messages to live by. As others have said, made all the more poignant coming from such heartbreakingly tragic circumstances.

  66. Blandine Attey /// 01.12.2016 /// 1:11pm

    Everything passes only love remains …

  67. Allison smith /// 01.12.2016 /// 1:13pm

    This is beautiful! I can’t wait to have it…great advice within

  68. Judith Loya /// 01.12.2016 /// 1:15pm

    Woow, all those pages are beautiful!

  69. Mary Lee /// 01.12.2016 /// 1:16pm

    “Art before dishes.” Priorities!

  70. Sister Hilda /// 01.12.2016 /// 1:16pm

    Thank you for sharing this story with us, Danielle. In the spiritual guidance of Saint Benedict, which my monastic community follows, he tells us to remind ourselves each day that we are going to die.

  71. Rachelle Tolwin /// 01.12.2016 /// 1:18pm

    Such an inspirational artist and person! Beautiful collection of her work

  72. Christine Barkey /// 01.12.2016 /// 1:22pm

    Wow, so beautiful, thanks for sharing!

  73. nora /// 01.12.2016 /// 1:27pm

    i had no idea she passed away. what a loss. i adore her work/

  74. emily /// 01.12.2016 /// 1:27pm

    I was working with Susan when she passed away. We never met but she was always very kind on our phone chats. It was so sad and heartbreaking. Thank you for sharing her work.

  75. Susan Carter /// 01.12.2016 /// 1:28pm

    So sad and beautiful and inspiring – wow!

  76. Lakshmi RAvindar /// 01.12.2016 /// 1:33pm

    What a tragic and beautiful book! I would love to get my hands on it!

  77. jenny wood /// 01.12.2016 /// 1:35pm

    Such a beautiful way to pay a small tribute to Susan in such a BIG WAY. Thanks for sharing Danielle!

  78. tracy cutts /// 01.12.2016 /// 1:40pm

    Too many good, kind, creative folks have passed lately.
    That makes this lovely book seem all the more relevant.
    Art every day, everyday Art.

  79. Gabrielle mcgrath /// 01.12.2016 /// 1:42pm

    We all need a little advice now and again.
    I love that you can simply flip open the book and be confronted with beautiful text and wisdom.
    The poignancy of the author/artist fate is not lost in the sub context.
    Inspiring, indeed.
    If I don’t win your copy, I’m definitely seeking this one out.
    Thank you.

  80. Rhiannon /// 01.12.2016 /// 1:46pm

    Very sad to hear, but leaving behind a beautiful legacy with her work.

  81. Kirstine /// 01.12.2016 /// 1:47pm

    Such a great idea! And very moving and inspiring quotes!

  82. Chelsea M /// 01.12.2016 /// 1:48pm

    Thinking about this brings me to tears every time. We see quotes about seizing the moment and about how short life can be everywhere to the point where they just become more peripheral. Something about these posters, with or without the heartbreaking story attached to them, makes room for pause, contemplation, and inspiration. This is why we create art- to leave behind embedded messages for our loved ones and the world should we pass. My favourite is ‘It will be better than you imagined’. Can you feel the magic in that statement? Do you too get goosebumps?

  83. Almu /// 01.12.2016 /// 1:49pm

    So inspiring!! Thanks for sharing. Love that she chose wisdom phrases from all kind of people, all ages.

  84. Marion BE /// 01.12.2016 /// 1:49pm

    Looks like an inspiring book!

  85. Ann Keech /// 01.12.2016 /// 1:49pm

    What wisdom from someone so young – some new, some familiar, beautifully put. I am sorry for our loss, all of us, whether we knew Susan or not.

  86. Suzy /// 01.12.2016 /// 1:51pm

    Can’t wait to read this one!

  87. Nicole Reddington /// 01.12.2016 /// 1:54pm

    Unbelievable! My heart goes out to her family!

  88. Jen /// 01.12.2016 /// 2:10pm

    Would love to read the full book, I’m so sad she never got to see it finished.

  89. Ruby /// 01.12.2016 /// 2:20pm

    Just found out about this book, and need to get my hands on a copy. So beautiful.

  90. Kimberly /// 01.12.2016 /// 2:38pm

    Thank you for sharing her story, she started a great project, the book looks great 🙂

  91. Alicia /// 01.12.2016 /// 2:41pm

    Compelling book, project and story, thank you Danielle!
    My older self asked me to humbly add one of her favorites: better be the failure of your own mistakes, that somebody else’s success

  92. Eden Flora /// 01.12.2016 /// 2:41pm

    Such a tragic story. I’m thankful her family has this beautiful work in her memory!

  93. Elizabeth /// 01.12.2016 /// 2:41pm

    What beautiful, thoughtful words. “Art before dishes” is something I’ll think of every morning.

  94. Renata /// 01.12.2016 /// 2:45pm

    What a lovely project!

  95. Dodi /// 01.12.2016 /// 2:57pm

    Poignant. The quotes grabbed me right from your IG feed, but such a sad story. It’s nice the publisher is donating part of the proceeds.

  96. Regina /// 01.12.2016 /// 3:32pm

    what a heartbreaking story…at least she was able to leave a little piece of herself behind to inspire others…thank you for sharing, Danielle.

  97. Michelle /// 01.12.2016 /// 3:36pm

    Art as life as art.
    So sad. May her family feel the support of the global arts community that appreciates her legacy.❤️

  98. Jessie Lyle /// 01.12.2016 /// 3:41pm

    Thank you!

  99. Christopher /// 01.12.2016 /// 3:48pm

    What a beautiful gift to leave to the world. Will be remembered.

  100. LILIANA BECERRA /// 01.12.2016 /// 3:49pm

    Love the graphic design and the colors of the texts, each one so unique. Leving a book like that behind is worth living twice.

  101. Jen /// 01.12.2016 /// 3:57pm

    “It is not a dumb idea.” Absolutely perfect!

  102. Amanda Smith /// 01.12.2016 /// 4:21pm

    Susan was a brilliant artist and an amazing woman. She helped us put together our MFA show in 2007.

  103. Caroline /// 01.12.2016 /// 4:25pm

    I was hooked on “Art before dishes” and devasted by Susan’s story.
    Where can we buy the book in Canada?

    PS. I’m addicted to your podcasts!

  104. Morgan Gesell /// 01.12.2016 /// 4:27pm

    What a beautiful legacy and a reminder to us all to live each day to the fullest.

  105. Elizabeth /// 01.12.2016 /// 4:32pm

    Really sad story, she will inspire others with her work.

  106. Karen /// 01.12.2016 /// 4:45pm

    How beautiful and poignant.

  107. Ann Domingue /// 01.12.2016 /// 4:47pm

    Such a tragic story. The irony is truly heartbreaking. Thanks for sharing this information. And Susan, I did do my art before dishes today.

  108. Steffi /// 01.12.2016 /// 4:49pm

    Such beautiful advice! An amazing book to start this year with a positive attitude and to apply this advice when working on our art!! Thank you for showcasing this!

  109. Hannah Ruth /// 01.12.2016 /// 5:04pm

    These words apply to every part of a creative person’s life and I love that this collection is a testament to the life of Susan O’Malley. All these uplifting pieces of advice that she was excited to collect and share.

  110. Anna Rafalski /// 01.12.2016 /// 5:07pm

    This is such a gorgeous book! I need this advice (art before dishes!!) and would love to win a copy!

  111. sarah cross /// 01.12.2016 /// 5:16pm

    Beautiful collection; and she’s still changing lives!

  112. Crissy Tioseco /// 01.12.2016 /// 5:46pm

    Inspiring stuff

  113. Jess /// 01.12.2016 /// 5:59pm

    ‘Art before dishes.’ -no truer words have been spoken, it’s what drew me into this post. My heart is in my throat after reading this story.

  114. Rowena K /// 01.12.2016 /// 6:09pm

    There are no words to describe how amazing this book is – what a wonderful testament to Susan O’Malley.

  115. Cath D /// 01.12.2016 /// 6:43pm


  116. jess c /// 01.12.2016 /// 7:00pm

    Such a tragedy. And such a terrific book idea.

  117. Alison Davidson /// 01.12.2016 /// 7:17pm

    this heartbreaking story lends even more power to her book.

  118. Chloe B /// 01.12.2016 /// 7:50pm

    This tragic story makes my heart ache. How beautiful that this was her final gift that she left behind.

  119. Shauna Reid /// 01.12.2016 /// 8:02pm

    Heartbreaking. Beautiful that this book will keep her memory and spirit alive.

  120. Sarah cattoni /// 01.12.2016 /// 8:04pm

    What a beautiful book. One I will definitely be showing my art students. Especially in those hard assessment months!!!

  121. Colette Bonnfete /// 01.12.2016 /// 8:20pm

    “Art before dishes” Nailed it.
    What a collection of words and colors.
    So many emotions.

  122. Ashley /// 01.12.2016 /// 8:26pm

    This post just made me cry.
    Sometimes the Universe simply boggles my mind.
    I’m glad Susan was able to leave such timeless & positive work behind for us to learn from.

  123. Maria /// 01.12.2016 /// 8:35pm

    What a touching story. What a profound loss 🙁

  124. Kay Fernandes /// 01.12.2016 /// 9:07pm

    So touching and poignant. And arriving at a much-needed time. Loved it. Is there any way this can be bought in India?

  125. Michelle Heslop /// 01.12.2016 /// 9:08pm

    I can understand your speechlessness Danielle. It is not fair. My heart aches for Susan, her twins and her partner. Her book is her legacy, spreading joy wherever she went. RIP Susan.

  126. Claudine /// 01.12.2016 /// 9:32pm

    We all need more wisdom and she had some very inspiring words to spare.

  127. Sarah /// 01.12.2016 /// 10:15pm

    You never know what is around the corner and Carpe Diem is a great motto!
    Such a tragedy can happen in a moment and Susan’s legacy will help and inspire a generation of artists and creatives. Isn’t that what we are all hoping for?
    Thank you…..

  128. Maricha /// 01.12.2016 /// 10:34pm

    13th January is a historically bad day for me. Just happened upon your page and read the very sad story about Susan O’Malley. Who knows the tide my turn on this day 2016!

  129. Frankie /// 01.12.2016 /// 10:36pm

    Such touching words

  130. Eileen Carpio /// 01.12.2016 /// 10:36pm

    Heartbreaking… What a beautiful legacy to leave. I hope it changes and inspires many lives in the wake of such a loss.

  131. Kelsey K /// 01.13.2016 /// 12:32am

    So beautiful

  132. Andrea Castro /// 01.13.2016 /// 2:25am

    It’s already out! Looks so inspiring… Sad, but inspiring.

  133. Marlene P /// 01.13.2016 /// 2:36am

    Her book, and life, shows that she was already being the person that her 80 year od self would have been proud of

  134. Jess Larson /// 01.13.2016 /// 3:13am


  135. Abby J. /// 01.13.2016 /// 3:42am

    This looks so beautiful.

  136. Tania /// 01.13.2016 /// 4:25am

    I’m glad to have found out about this beautiful book and the woman behind it.

  137. jennifer /// 01.13.2016 /// 6:22am

    what an amazing work to part with. She will be missed I am sure.

  138. Jillian Chapman /// 01.13.2016 /// 6:32am

    Aw it looks so inspiring! Would love a copy.

  139. Maren /// 01.13.2016 /// 3:07pm

    This is amazing! Thank you for sharing!

  140. The Internet Gets Me Every Time | Jan. 15th ed. /// 01.15.2016 /// 5:16am

    […] about the artist (and her family’s heart-wrenching story) of the book […]

  141. dolly. Burgos /// 01.25.2016 /// 4:02pm

    so inspiring .. may she rest in peace.

Instant Max AI Instant Profits AI Immediate Byte