The introduction to Hallie Bateman’s new book, Directions: Really Good Advice for Getting From Here to There, posits the existence of two kinds of people in the world: “Alive” and “Not Alive.”

Hallie Bateman ’11 by Meredith Adelaide

Bateman ’11 explains that, according to her mother, Alive people are present and a “little bit shiny,” while Not Alive people “exhibit an almost spiritual dullness.” She writes, “When I feel Not Alive, it’s usually because I am focused too much on the future or the past. I am numb to the right now.” 

Her book offers simple directives to inspire Aliveness, inked on colorful construction paper: “Little by little, become yourself.” “If it ever occurs to you to buy flowers, buy them. It’s never a bad idea.” “If at first you park badly, repark.” 

A Los Angeles-based artist who describes herself as an “illust-writer,” Bateman combines drawings and text to explore the absurdity of life, often grappling with topics like mental health and death with empathy, humor, and curiosity. More than 102,000 followers have connected with her art on Instagram, and her work appears in publications like The New Yorker and The New York Times Magazine

The daughter of two journalists, Bateman grew up scribbling stories and cartoons in a small town in northern California. But it was in an art class during her junior year at Puget Sound that she began to take herself seriously as an artist. Students used a metal nib pen with ink, and the tool unlocked a new world of creative potential. She began turning in her writing assignments with accompanying illustrations; later, she got her first gig through fellow student Kevin Nguyen ’09, illustrating for his blog The Bygone Bureau.