sarah ahearn : artists who blog

Today's interview is with artist Sarah Ahearn, who is based in Ithaca, NY. Sarah's colorful, lively artwork makes you happy just to look at it! I think her positive, upbeat personality comes through in her interview responses as well. Be sure to drop by her blog and her Etsy shop, full of lovely collages and fine art prints of her work. Keep shining Sarah!

(That's Sarah on the right :)

Why did you decide to start a blog?

Just about 2 years ago, I discovered the blogosphere after someone had told me that they thought they had seem some of my paintings on a blog. I’ll admit that I actually didn’t really know what a blog was then. I tried to find said blog which then lead me to another and another… well you know how it goes, … I just couldn’t believe my eyes… there were so many amazingly talented artists and designers were out there showing their work for all to see. Some of the people I knew of, and others were new and exciting! I may have been a bit of a latecomer to the whole scene, but it was quite inspiring and I of course wanted to try my hand at it.

How did you come up with the name of your blog?

I was looking for a name other than my own that would be the name of my blog and of my letterpress work. I came across this old picture of my sister and me when we were little and it just clicked, paper*crown was it. I cannot wait to have bigger studio someday soon so that I can do more letterpress work under the name paper*crown. It’s a playful, whimsical name that I feel fits my work well.

How has blogging effected your work as an artist/designer?

Ah! Blogging has really pushed my career to the “next level” so to speak. Since starting a blog, I began an Etsy shop and a portfolio on flickr. It’s so amazing to me that thousands of people from across the world have visited my sites and seen my work.

I decided early on, that my blog would be a way for my to get better at sharing my work online, as I don’t have a “real” website yet. It’s been a place for me to post my work, inspirations and ideas. Through the process of sharing it for all to see, it’s been a way to follow through, make new work and stay on task. In other words, I have an audience that I feel is waiting for more and I don’t want to miss that opportunity.

It’s hard sometimes being your own boss, but with my blog, I try to show progression with my work and career and feel that it’s important to “report in” on what I am up to. I recently participated in an art fair where many folks had come to see (and buy!) my work in person because they read my blog. It’s still shocking to me, as for the longest time I thought that my sister was my only reader. It’s been growing steadily & I am just so happy with how it has all worked out.

I also feel that one of the ways I have grown is through other people’s blogs. The links that other artists and bloggers connect to you are vital to spreading your work around the web, it’s such a viral place! For example, I was so very lucky to have Holly from decor8 mention my work on her popular decorating blog this Spring (May 15, 2008). That post really made my Etsy shop take off with sales. Interest in my work and blog really started to grow as a direct link to the decor8 mention. In some ways I feel like I am still the “new kid on the block/blogosphere”, but I am really happy I have entered as it’s a good fit for my mind and way of working.

What are your favorite artist/designer blogs? Why?

Oh, there are too many to count, but I’ll just name a few daily reads.
blu-shed (Lucie Summers)
Kelly Rae Roberts
Heather Smith Jones
Hello! Lucky
dear ada
and so many more… too many to name, but those are my daily reads for sure.

Why do you think blogs have now become so popular with artists and designers?

Well, I can really just speak from my own experience, but I feel that it is a really unique way to make connections with other artists. We artists tend to “squirrel” ourselves away in the studio, and at least for me, I don’t have a real community of other like-minded artists to talk to and bounce ideas off of locally. I used to have a wonderful studio with many other artists in a big old factory building where it was fun to visit each other’s studios to see what we were working on. I have since moved to a place where that community doesn’t really exist. I live in a small, isolated town in upstate New York and I began feeling really disconnected to other artists. Blogging was a way for me to try to feel connected to the “art world” that I saw growing on so many wonderful blogs and websites. Since starting my blog, I have met/formed relationships with so many wonderful artists literally from all over the globe! That was my original goal when I first began, so I feel successful in that respect, yet so much more has come along the way.

One of the first artists that I “met” was Lucie Summers, who contacted me after seeing my work on my blog and flickr. We have become fast friends over email and are even planning an exhibit together for the future! I should mention that Lucie lives in the UK and I am here in the States. It just seems that there is no other easy way to make these connections with one another and blogging is a special way to do just that.

Do you have any advice for artists/designers who are starting a blog?

Just start out and try it! It takes a little while to get a hang of the whole process, (at least it did for me and I am still learning tricks and shortcuts) Try to find your voice and figure out what you want to share or not share with your readers. And yes, you will have readers… I can’t believe my eyes sometimes when I see my stats, people are really out there supporting and responding to my work and posts.
The other bit of advice I would give is be sure to comment and get in touch if you like what you see or feel inspired by it! Like many people out there reading artists’ blogs, I was hesitant at first to get in touch or comment on other people’s posts~ I thought- did it really matter, did it really get read, does the person really care that I like their work etc. ??? I have learned that it is really important to do so, as it is the first step in building connections. By commenting and connecting I began to form relationships with other artists that I have admired~ like you for instance!! I am thrilled with every comment or note that I receive. They always brighten my day! These contacts are so important to me and truly do make the world seem so small and interconnected.

What has been the most positive and inspirational aspect of having a blog for you?

It has allowed me to push myself further with my work and get to a place where I want to keep growing in fresh ways. I have made many new & wonderful blogger/artist friends, some of whom I have been thrilled to meet in person recently and it feels as if we already know each other. In addition, it’s been a perfect and easy way to begin to gain a better online presence with my artwork.

Thanks so much for doing these interviews Stephanie! I have so enjoyed reading them and it’s an honor to be included!

Thank you talented "birthday sister"! (Sarah and I share our birthday of July 21st - along with Hemingway :)