Lynn Russell of Satsuma Press is one of my very favorite letterpress artists. She creates hand-pressed stationery and limited edition prints that most definitely live up to her goal of being "beautiful and simple." I find that Lynn has a nice way of mixing the personal and the professional on her Satsuma Press blog, and her written voice is thoughtful, strong, eloquent. Don't miss her Etsy shop - she also takes special orders for invitations and announcements. Enjoy her interview.
from September 12th, 2008:
Why did you decide to start a blog?
I began my blog because the internet can be such a flat, one-dimensional interaction — and a blog can really add depth. I feel really fortunate that I received such a positive response to my etsy shop and website, but I felt that the day-to-day perspective was lacking. About 7 years ago, I used to own a small Japanese tableware shop and I remember how valuable that customer interaction was and I wanted to create some sort of web-version of that. I can’t have my clients and customers over for tea, but maybe — in some strange way — the blog kindles conversations, connections, friendships.
How did you come up with the name of your blog?
Well, there’s nothing special about the name of my blog: satsumapress.blogspot.com!! As for Satsuma Press itself, I like the way it sounds ... but I also love satsuma tangerines — the tiny ones you get around December — such a simple, beautiful food. And that’s my intent with my work — simple and beautiful ... I do my best to stick with that philosophy.
How has blogging affected your work as an artist/designer?
Blogging, although I’m not the best at regular posts (and I also don’t much care for that word — blogging!), has given me a space where I can share the process of drawing and designing. I love that I can post new ideas and get feedback from people. But it’s not just that — I can post photos of the new mug I bought or a piece of fabric I like or a flower — and perhaps in a few weeks you might see that pop up in a piece of work; the blog gives me the space for that transition to be seen. I also stray from the purely business side of things so that while I do blog about my work, I also write about my life, which includes my son, Liam, who is now four and has a neuromuscular disorder called Spinal Muscular Atrophy Type II. For the most part, people have been very receptive to this ... and that is really important to me — that people understand that the reason I do what I do – take on only a limited amount, sometimes work 3 days a week, sometimes 7 – is all tied to the bigger picture of my life and family.
What are your favorite artist/designer blogs? Why?
For someone who hasn’t read blogs for very long, I am probably not the best source. There are a few blogs that I visit regularly, but reading blogs is probably the easiest way for me to procrastinate so I try to keep it to a minimum. Still, here are some of the art and design ones that I visit regularly... Actually, I’m noticing that they are mostly food ones, but to me that goes hand in hand with art and design. Here’s just the super short list:
-- Orangette: wonderful recipes, wonderful writing.
-- Simply Breakfast: such a lovely glimpse into the start of the day ...
-- Ahyiyi (artist Yu-I Chan) Yu-I has to be, hands down, one of my favorite artists. She has such a refreshing and distinct sense of shape and color; I admire her work immensely.
Why do you think blogs have now become so popular with artists and designers?
I think blogs have become so popular (and somewhat addictive) as a way to become connected through the world wide web. It really is an astonishing thing, after all. I was actually one of those people who resisted the internet for the longest time — I didn’t use email, I didn’t have a website when I had my brick and mortar shop — and I’d never read a single blog until shortly before I began my own! But now I’m amazed by the strong community of artists and designers out there — though I also shy away from joining in to it fully. I do feel like there’s this sort of popularity club theme to it all that I don’t like much, but then I also reconsider and contradict myself by following those very blogs. And I think that as someone who works by herself, as do many other artists and designers, blogs are a wonderful break in the day — a modern day break where I can sit at the same desk, but have a peek into spaces half way round the world!
Do you have any advice for artists/designers who are starting a blog?
My best advice would be to be straight-up about who you are and what you do. Your website can be about your professional work, but I think the blog can allow a glimpse at the ups and downs of running your own business, working odd hours, having really good and really bad days. I think my blog — or at least I hope this is the case — gives a more rounded picture of who I am. Of course, there are some things that I just don’t write about on my blog; that’s a matter of personal preference.
What has been the most positive and inspirational aspect of having a blog for you?
Absolutely it has to be the connections I’ve made — whether with other artists who I’ve collaborated with (such as the lovely Lara Cameron and Yu-I Chan), but also the emails I’ve received from strangers who, for one reason or another, saw or read something on my blog and felt compelled to connect with me. Working in my studio at home day in and day is very solitary — which I actually love — but it’s also wonderful and strange to be able to type away to people all over the world.
Stephanie, thank you so much for asking me to participate!
Thank you Lynn for sharing your insights and thoughts with us!