alicia paulson : artists who blog

Today's guest is Alicia Paulson coming to us from Portland, Oregon (so many good things coming out of Portland these days!), who writes the lovely Posie Gets Cozy blog. A visit to Alicia's blog is like an afternoon spent in the warm, colorful studio of an intensely creative friend, who always surprises you with something new for you to look at or try on or taste. Enjoy Alicia's words, and don't miss her shop and website featuring her handmade lovelies.

Why did you decide to start a blog?

I started my blog in September of 2005. It was a time of tremendous stress for me emotionally and financially – I was designing my own line of products and had recently stopped doing wholesale; I also co-owned a boutique that featured a lot of handmade designers and the shop wasn't doing well. It was challenging to keep it all going; I felt pretty worried, and was physically pretty shredded. I was starting to really question my priorities and knew I needed to make some changes. While sitting in the shop researching designers one day, I stumbled upon the craft blogosphere and was pretty much agog – I'd seen blogs before but I didn't understand them at all. I just thought they were extensions of "work." So at first I thought maybe I'd have a blog so that I could keep in touch with my customers, and tell them about new stuff we had in the store, and post pictures of our events, and stuff like that. But it very quickly became clear to me that the medium of the blog was suited perfectly to me on a personal level. I'd done an MFA at the University of Montana almost ten years before, and although I had at certain times in my life loved to write, I'd only been a mediocre and not-very-passionate fiction writer. When I started blogging, it didn't take long for me to discover that I had a different voice as a blogger than I'd had as a narrator; in the blog I found my own voice. I'd never written in first person before, and this was a profound experience for me. In my family, verbal personal expression wasn't really encouraged. It turned out that I had a lot to say. Not that any of it's interesting or worth anyone listening to! But the simple act of saying it, the simple luxury of having a place to say it, has been truly profound.

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

Well, I've had a business named Posie since 2000, so the little rhyme seemed right – I felt like the blog was a place where I could really get comfortable and cross that boundary between the professional and the personal.

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

Blogging itself has affected me personally in many ways, and it allowed me, as a plain-old crafty person, to become part of a vibrant and generous and supportive community. But the ways that it's affected my work professionally as a designer have been quite literal: I truly doubt I would be creating craft books right now if I'd never had a blog. Not only do I think I wouldn't have the confidence had I not seen bloggers I admired creating their own books, but I doubt anyone in the publishing industry would've found me without the blog. It sits out there as such a comprehensive portfolio, in a way. I do feel like it truly represents me and perspectives in a fairly thorough way.

Now that I am making books, and feeling like that endeavor – although so different from blogging, or even just making things to sell – is undeniably well-suited to my skills and interests and past experience (I used to be a book editor), the blog is even more important to me for its more un-professional aspects. I am very protective of it, and try very hard to always keep it a place of flexibility and freedom, and personal expression, and generosity, and especially imperfection. It's very important that I keep that space in my life, that space where I can connect with people, make mistakes, figure things out, explore ideas, and try to make sense of my life and the things that happen in it. So much of writing and photographing and creating craft books is about trying to get things exactly right that it seems more imperative than ever to have that safe place where I can just be myself, and flail about when necessary, and share ideas and struggles, and get help and inspiration. I would never want that to change just because the blog also has to represent me professionally. I just try to be who I am, as a person and a designer, keep it all balanced.

What are your favorite artist/designer blogs? Why?

This morning I was on Andrea's blog Hula Seventy, thinking again about how much talent that lady has. She is endlessly curious, has a great eye for beauty, and writes from the heart, every time. My friend Vicki from Turkey Feathers supplies constant inspiration, and everything about her blog and her photos and what she makes is so honest and beautiful. I really admire her.

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

I think blogs in general are exploding, and it seems like everyone has a different reason for why they do it, or what blogging means to them, and I think that's so cool. I think blogging is popular with artists and designers in particular because artists and designers already have a predisposition toward expressing themselves in a visual way, and blogs make it so easy to post photos and stay on top of new work. There is something satisfying about the fairly controlled format of the blog that is relaxing – it's relieving. To me anyway. To be on that template. You have a sort of constrained freedom there that I find very appealing, and it seems to recharge my creative batteries for other, more off-the-grid design. But in general, I think most people enjoy talking about themselves, to anyone who might listen, and sharing what they make, don’t you think? It's just fun.

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

Honestly, all I can offer is what works for me, and what my friend Amy Karol (of Angry Chicken) said when I was first thinking about blogging: "It's good if it can come from the heart." That's really the only advice I have. The rest of it you just make up as you go along. Just do your own thing. Don't worry about what other peoples' blog are like, or what yours isn't like, or any of that stuff. Just do it because you can, and let it be whatever it is, and whatever it's going to be. Part of the fun of it is going along for the ride, and not over-thinking it all, or trying too hard.

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

Well, I said once before, a long time ago, that the real reason I do it is for my husband, to describe and illuminate the life we once thought we'd never be able to have. One of the goals of my life is to make Andy Paulson laugh – and sometimes cry. So I have to say that, at the end of the day, his interest is always the best, and most inspirational, gift.

Thanks, Alicia, for sharing your honest and direct thoughts with us here and on your blog - and for letting us come along for the ride!