Thursday, May 21, 2009
francesca iannaccone : artists who blog
Francesca's blog: www.mrseliotbooks.blogspot.com
Francesca's website: www.mrseliotbooks.com
Francesca's shop: www.mrseliotbooks.etsy.com
Why did you decide to start a blog?
I couldn’t help myself! I was so inspired by what I’d seen out there, I wanted to be a part of it. Initially I thought it would be a good way to log my progress and to promote my work, but I had no idea what a big part of my life and work it would become, what connections I would make, how I would be motivated and inspired every day by the encouragement of complete strangers.
How did you come up with the name of your blog?
The name of my blog is the same as my business - when I was at art college (I graduated 13 years ago) The Middle Age of Mrs Eliot by Angus Wilson was the first book I bought from the second-hand shop to tear up and use in my work. It was pretty much fluke, I had a flick through it and liked the language of the era, the conversations and words. And I still use it today; just last week I finally used a sentence that had been sitting in an envelope for years, in a new little paper book of mine.
How has blogging affected your work as an artist/designer?
Immeasurably. I don’t know how else would I be able to get my work seen and bought today. It’s given me a reason to keep going. Once you have a few readers you start to feel a need to feed your blog, and never in a negative way. There is a reason to keep creating. It can also be challenging, you see beautiful things every day so you have to have confidence in your own ability and style to keep going.
What are your favorite artist/designer blogs? Why?
I like different blogs for different reasons. With a few like Lu, Janne, Tif, Heather and Mandy, it’s more like visiting friends. I enjoy their writing and we have a connection, so I like seeing what they’re up to every day, it’s a way to keep in touch. Some are just a hit of pure raw creativity every day like Sissi Manana, Fine Little Day and Olivelse. Of the design blogs I like Bloesem; Irene seems to find the most interesting designers that you don’t see on every other design blog. And Grain Edit, whose 50s/60s design aesthetic is right up my street.
Do you have any advice for artists/designers who are starting a blog?
I think it’s important to remember that you can’t force your blog onto people. If you don’t get any comments for a while, don’t worry about it. I didn’t get comments for ages, I still have a very low comment count! And a small amount of ’followers’, but for me, if one person gets something from something I write or display, that’s hugely flattering. You have to do it for yourself for the right reasons, either to keep a record of what you produce, to make connections, to fill a gap in the blog universe, whatever. Just don’t get hung up on the ’who’s reading this?’ stuff. I would also encourage posting as often as possible, to keep any readers you may have attracted interested. I try and post 2 or 3 times a week but it can be hard to keep up.
What has been the most positive and inspirational aspect of having a blog for you?
By far, the connections I have made, meeting like-minded people - new ones every day. The fact that you can genuinely make friends with someone you have never met, and really care. The sharing of ideas, the kindness, the collaborations.
What do you find the most difficult/most rewarding part of having a creative profession?
The difficult part for me is just the fact, as with most people in this business, that it’s me and only me who is doing my job. So I have to motivate myself, come up with all the ideas, find new ways to be inspired; design, make and post everything myself.* You have to be very self reliant and know what your limits are. When I’m offered a project now, I have to be very honest with myself and think ’Can i do this in the time i have? ’ ’Will it stress me out too much? ’ ’Will I enjoy it? ’ I don’t like to be stressed, I like to be happy! So if my business stays small and stress-free, that’s good enough for me.
It’s rewarding because being an artist and working for myself is all I ever wanted, and never thought I could have. There is no greater reward. *I confess my husband did the post office run the other day. I am 8 months pregnant and I just can’t stand in that long queue anymore!
Other than your blog, what has been the most effective way for you to promote your art/design?
Can I include other people’s blogs?! I’ve been fortunate enough to have people find me and ask me to do an interview or show some of my work on their blogs. Also a couple of times I’ve emailed new work to design blogs and they’ve been kind enough to post up my work. I think just being as visible as possible – I’ve done Poppytalk Handmade 2 or 3 times, and I’ve done a couple of craft fairs. It’s good to actually leave the house sometimes and meet your customers face to face! I think if you do a good job for someone, word of mouth is probably the best promotion. The way this is all set up - the communal aspect, linking to people, favouriting people, it’s a very cooperative sector of the design world, which I think must be pretty rare in a generally competitive industry.
How do you maintain a healthy work/life balance?
I guess balance is forced upon me as I have a 3 1/2 year old boy who I obviously want to spend a lot of time with. So I try to use my mornings while he’s at nursery as constructively as possible. I also try not to do any work at weekends, but as my husband would happily tell you, I do sneak down to print something or pack something every now and again. I’m working on turning the laptop off at night but it’s something I find hard! This etsy/blogging online lifestyle suits me very well, I like that I can fit it around my life and do as much or as little as I want. The other point is that’s it’s not really work to me. It’s just having fun every day, with that wretched post office queue thrown in for good measure!
What are your main goals for 2009?
Hmmm...you know what, I should think about that more. Maybe I should make a plan every January 1st. But this year my main goal is just to be able to keep the shop going while nursing a baby. I can’t have too many expectations, I don’t expect to be able to make a lot of new books or design some new stationery. Just staying afloat is my goal this year and trying not to go crazy!