I discovered Jennifer's work through her Etsy shop Swallowfield, and I was immediately attracted to her gorgeous, vibrant collages. Jennifer, an artist from Portland, Maine, has a unique way of combining lots of lovely elements in her work, while maintaining a strong graphic focus. Her blog includes the personal along with the professional and gives us a glimpse into her studio practices and everyday life. Enjoy your visit with Jennifer!
from May 22nd, 2008
Why did you decide to start a blog?
I had been reading a good number of blogs for a few years and feeling really inspired - and then my friend Meg convinced me to jump in and start my own.
How did you come up with the name of your blog?
Swallowfield is the name of the old farmhouse house that my mom grew up in. I love the way it sounds rolling off my tongue.
How has blogging affected your work as an artist/designer?
I think blogging has been one nice part of making a choice to live a creative life, and saying this is me + what I do. You have to be brave to put your process out there, especially when you're learning something new and aren't sure where you're going with it yet, but the people who read my blog seem genuinely interested in what I'm doing and supportive of the process of it all.
Also, I've made a lot of really nice connections + gathered really valuable information and resources - both personal and professional - through my blog.
What are your favorite artist/designer blogs? Why?
I would be embarrassed to tell you how many blogs I read every day - but it's pretty much my guilty pleasure these days, instead of television. I tell my kids it's kind of like my homework.
I love to look at 3191 every day. Both Maria and Stephanie have a way of seeing the things in their everyday lives and appreciating little + simple pleasures that is very appealing and inspiring to me. I am constantly blown away by the things I see at Dear Ada. She has a great eye. And Lena Corwin is always a favorite. Orangette is a cooking blog, but Molly has a lovely way of writing, takes incredible pictures, and I think there is a nice design element to her blog. She is also coming out with a cookbook illustrated by Camilla Engman (another favorite,) which can't wait for!
I also love a lot of blogs written by mothers who are out there doing amazing art + craft while trying to parent and do it all well. Since I am also trying to navigate that balance, I enjoy the humor and comradarie I find. Too many to mention in this category - but there are a lot of incredible people out there.
Why do you think blogs have now become so popular with artists and designers?
I think blogging is such a nice way of making connections with other creative people all over the world in very short order, and keeps artists from feeling isolated in their studios. Plus, it's a great way to ask questions, offer feedback, give and get support, and find people to collaborate with. I think it is important to mention Flickr here, too - it's easily my favorite website - and I think of it more like a photo blog/social networking site for many artists and designers. It can also feel like less pressure to quickly post something on Flickr if you're not up for blogging on a certain day. I've made a lot of great connections being on Flickr.
Do you have any advice for artists/designers who are starting a blog?
When you don't have much to say, post pictures. Stop and notice the small stuff that's inspiring you and show it if you can - people love to know about those things, and also love to see where you do your work. I love blogs that give a quiet glimpse of the person behind the art - what they love, how they live - and don't gravitate as much to blogs that only exist to showcase work or things for sale. I think it's really important to safegaurd your privacy, too, and think carefully about what details you want to be out in the world.
What has been the most positive and inspirational aspect of having a blog for you?
I have a genuine community of friends and peers all over the world. It's an amazing thing, and I love it. I also really appreciate the 99% positive nature of art + design blogs. It's a very supportive environment, and feels quite different from the often sort of grim anonymous commentary you often see other places around the internet. I guess I like nice people.
Thanks so much for asking me these great questions, Stephanie!
Thank YOU Jennifer for taking the time to thoughtfully answer them.