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Marcus Aurelius Collection

Marcus Aurelius Collection

Marcus Aurelius Art Print, Quality Thoughts, Meditations Illustration, Obvious State

In Meditations, Aurelius distills the central pillars and tenets of stoic philosophy. Although it was essentially a journal and never intended for a general readership, it has become one of the most widely read philosophical works in the world. 

In this illustration, we drew inspiration from one of Notre Dame's stained glass rose windows, a fractured relic in the shape of a Legionnaire's helmet. Like the stoic's ideal state of mind, stained glass is at once orderly and beautiful. Ideas radiate out from central first principles in a natural and inevitable succession of deductions and balancing forces. At the helmet's edge I added six pictograms, representing the four pillars of stoicism (Courage, Justice, Temperance and Wisdom) as well as two central stoic concepts: Memento Mori ("Remember Mortality"), and Amor Fati ("Love Fate").

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Marcus Aurelius Art Print, Quality Thoughts, Meditations Illustration, Obvious State

In this illustration I only use the shapes and colors of a stop sign. Instead of serving as a warning, the color red beckons the viewer through an octagon-shaped portal to a new horizon made of reformed lines and perfect angles.

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Marcus Aurelius Art Print,  Meditations Illustration, Obvious State

Marcus Aurelius was a preeminent stoic philosopher, but still found time to be the Emperor of Rome from 161 to 180 AD. This quotation is from his personal journals, now known as the Meditations where he admonishes the reader for being such a procrastinating worrywart. It would be pretty harsh of him, were he not also the intended reader (journal, remember?). You can think of Aurelius as your own personal Jiminy Cricket but with fewer dance numbers and more facial hair.

We love this particular quotation’s simplicity, a call to put down all of the “what if” that daily life elicits, and to focus on the here and now.

In our illustration, two cones, future and past, taper to a central moment under an assault of imagined swords. The cones form the shape of an hourglass or if you want to get really nerdy, a Minkowski space-time diagram. The swords fall outside of the possible future and past paths, showing the pointlessness of idle worry, leaving the wide-open space of possibility that only focus can manifest.

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Marcus Aurelius Art Print, Quality Thoughts, Meditations Illustration, Obvious State

In this illustration, the voluminous text of Meditations spills out of an open book, forming a river of overwhelming concepts. A rider crosses the river over a bridge engraved with pictograms representing the four pillars of stoicism (Courage, Justice, Temperance and Wisdom) as well as three central stoic concepts: Memento Mori ("Remember Mortality"), Amor Fati ("Love Fate"), and the Inner Citadel.

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Marcus Aurelius Art Print, Meditations Illustration, Obvious State

Much of Aurelius' Meditations is dedicated to the pursuit of focus. The mind wrestles with distraction constantly (maybe you're doing it right now?), and while we know what we ought to be doing, it's easy to wander from idle thought to idle thought. Whether it be the desire for instant gratification, the temptation to multi-task, the anxiety of the unknown, or simply a lack of will to focus, the mind's ability to derail itself from what it wants to achieve is boundless.

In this illustration, a forest path recedes into the trees. Rather than being present in nature, the viewer's thoughts wander to less idyllic concerns, as the slender trees momentarily transform into the outline of a barcode. The tension between the natural and the commercial creates a dissonance and a challenge to the viewer to recenter on what truly matters.

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