How can empathy introduce breakthroughs in the creative process?


By drawing parallels between artists creating with materials and everyday people conversing with other people, the book tells the story of how and why realizing empathy is critical to the creative process.

table of contents
  1. Foreword / Dedication / Preface.
  2. Introduction / Prologue
  3. Interview.
  4. Empathy.
  5. Realizing Empathy.
  6. Making and Empathy.
  7. Facilitating Empathy.
  8. Design and Empathy.
  9. Epilogue / Afterword.

Limited Edition Hardcover

usd 33


The printing of this limited edition hardcover was made possible in full by the 364 generous backers on Kickstarter.


May 2013


10" × 1.75" × 7"


Seung Chan Lim


Smyth Sewn

page count




Standard Edition eBook

usd 12

included files
  • PDF
  • ePub (iBooks, Kindle)
  • MOBI (Kindle)

May 2013


Seung Chan Lim

page count

approx. 290



‘To make’ is to take on the challenge of engaging ‘others’ in a conversation.

‘Others’ we can perceive as objects ...
  • separate from us,
  • resistant to us,
  • controllable by us, ...

Whether these ‘others’ are people, characters in a story, a piece of raw material, or our limbs, we start to make greater meaning and value with them if we can learn the choice to treat them less and less as ‘others’ and more and more as partners.

The following conversations facilitated the process of writing this book:

    February 22, 2011: Empathy & Computers
    March 1, 2011: Acting & Computers
    March 19, 2011: Ethics & Computers
    April 3, 2011: Empathy & Mastery
    April 6, 2011: Choice & Feeling
    April 8, 2011: Trust & Not Expecting
    April 17, 2011: Respect & Integrity
    May 14, 2011: Language & Vision

TEDx Talks on the Book


18 min 21 sec.


10 min 57 sec.

Articles inspired by the Book

ux magazine
sap community network
ux booth

Notable reviews of the Book

dr. ernesto sirolli

of Sirolli Institute

TEDx speaker
of Want to Help Someone? Shut Up and Listen!

This is a beautiful book, both literally and figuratively. Literally, because the pagination, the graphics and care in formatting the text in the collector’s edition are extraordinary. Figuratively, because the content honestly describes a journey into difficult territory. The same territory that sent Robert Pirsig, of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance fame, mad. The maddening territory of the space between us and the object or subject of our attention (i.e. the world of relationship and interaction.)

For Seung Chan, empathy is the key to creativity and it requires both humility and courage. Humility in front of people, but also wood, glass, and metal. He tells the story of why we cannot treat wood like glass or metal like wood, that you need to respect and approach them ready to be awed and taught their secrets. And that the same is true with people. That instead of making assumptions about people or approaching them with the preconceived idea that you may help them, that we should approach if we love them enough to listen and learn from them.

The book resonated with me profoundly. It reminded me that respect is key and to respect you have to know that the people you meet are as good as you are. That the starting point in any relationship has to be the understanding that nothing of beauty will be born unless there is a profound respect for the ‘other,’ whether person or object. That, as simple as it may sound, how we interact with others is the very difference between creating beauty or not.

dr. frans de waal

Primatologist & Ethologist
at Emory University

Author of The Bonobo and the Atheist & The Age of Empathy

This is not your typical read. It is more like absorbing, contemplating. Many powerful passages, sensitive and touching observations. The book is very unusual as it is no treatise, more like impressions, fragments of life, but as I said, I felt moved by this poetic view of what empathy means in modern life, in a technological world, in practice as well as theory. It is a book written with a great deal of empathy.

dr. sam richards

of World In Conversation

TEDx speaker
of Radical Experiment in Empathy

Seung Chan has written what I consider to be one of the most creative and accessible books on empathy that I have encountered.

In truth, however, it’s more than a ‘book’; it is a work of art that jump-starts creative juices. To begin, the design of the collector’s edition is thoroughly impressive. Rarely do I pick up a book that I want to keep leafing through in full appreciation of an author’s imagination and artistic skill. But each time I do that and stop on a page, I am brought back to the full realization that Slim has something meaningful to say about a topic that is so important to how we engage one another across our great social divides. The juxtaposition of personal stories and thoughtful reflections illuminates empathic connection in ways that inspire my creativity and provoke my mind.

I highly recommend this book. And I warn you that you won’t want to read it and then hide it away on a shelf. Instead, you will want to display it prominently on a coffee table where it will inspire dialogue and contemplation among your visitors.

Pictures of the Limited Edition Hardcover

Video Vignettes related to the Book

leaving behind where i am and what i have

In 2007, a wise woman challenged me to leave the world of high-tech to enter the world of traditional art. Why? To do something I didn’t understand. Something I wasn’t good at. Something that scared me. I mightly resisted at first. But after having a profound experience taking a couple of night classes at a nearby Art Institute, I was persuaded. Little did I know that this was the beginning of my journey into a whole new life.

In 2008, I entered an art school and began my research into traditional art. While conducting this research, I noticed that the process of making art felt similar to learning to empathize with people I previously could not or had incorrectly assumed to understand or appreciate fully.

researching the creative process

From 2008 to 2012, I gradually focused my research efforts on the struggles artists faced in working with their materials. As I did this, it became clear to me that these struggles were the same struggles people faced in their relationship to other people. From this observation, grew a theory that eventually shed light on the creative power of empathy.

Full-Length Talks on the Book

reflecting on art school

In 2011, I took the first stab at summarizing the transformational experience I went through in art school.

book tour

In 2013, I took the first stab at summarizing the result of my research for the general audience.