Michelle Engel Bencsko writes a refreshing personal blog, Cicada Daydream, which chronicles her creative journey as a textile designer. Michelle's posts are funny, direct, honest, and make you feel like she is the artist you know from next door. It's no wonder that she recently celebrated her 1000th sale in her Etsy shop Cicada Studio. She also runs a companion shop called Cicada Home, where she uses her fabric designs to create pillows and other lovelies. For more information about all of Michelle's products and portfolio, see her website.
I hope this interview will be as inspiring for you as it was for me. I'll leave you with a little food for thought for the upcoming weekend, Michelle's favorite Emily Dickinson's quote : “The possible's slow fuse is lit, by the Imagination.”
Why did you decide to start a blog?
How did you come up with the name of your blog?
I fear this may sound a bit uninteresting, but for a long while the concept of a blog eluded me. It seemed everyone was doing it, but Ihad no idea what a blog actually was. So, I asked around and read a few and got familiar with the format. I believe mine began as a challenge for myself- something to investigate and to understand. In the beginning of this year, I took the dive without any real aspirations and only a vague direction. I knew I had to define my blog's purpose- that it needed some form of focus. At first I intended it to be an inspiration board. A place where I could post the numerous online bits and bobs that attracted, inspired me- things that I'd like to achieve, do or make myself. I think that's why I came up with Cicada Daydream- a place I could pretend that I owned or created the types of wonderful things I could find on the net. After all, every picture I find can take me in a new direction and I love considering all the options.
How has blogging effected your work as an artist/designer?
Wildly! I mean it. I have grown so so much in the past year I canhardly remember what it was like for me before I began my blog. The start of my blog also marked my serious intent on doing a line of textiles, so I spent a lot of time online doing research, making contacts and working out details. The blog helped me to connect- particularly with those I had only admired from afar. The more I learned, the more I grew, the more I shared and the cycle continues. I have become more open about my work- less protective. I feel more "me". I am so comfortable in this skin that I am dedicated to continuing. But perhaps the greatest benefit is that it challenges me to focus and follow through on goals. So much of what I write on my blog is pure determination to meet my own expectations. Having stated them to the world, I feel compelled to at least close the circle, if not follow a straight line. To actually do what I set out to do.
What are your favorite artist/designer blogs? Why?
Oh, no! This is like asking what is at the end of the universe! It's so amazingly difficult to wrap my head around an answer because there are just too many facets. I subscribe to over 120 blogs and pour over them nightly. I gain something different from each and every one and they are all inspirational. I will say, that as diverse as they may be, they have a common thread of creativity and a passion for what they do or stand for. I truly admire passion in others. It's an art in itself.
Why do you think blogs have now become so popular with artists and
Community. I've read it over and over, even within these pages by the other fine artists who have been interviewed. We all find a sense of community. The artist's life is rather solitary. An artist in the form of a working person, parent or student (or a combo of any or all three) just creates another level of isolation. It's like you're living a double life and no one really knows the true you. The blogging community many of us find while making a living while following our dreams (or perhaps they are one in the same) is something we rarely encounter in our daily lives. The support from those who can truly relate is so uplifting. And what's lovely is it's reciprocal. And inspirational. And perhaps best of all, easy. We all make time for this activity.
Do you have any advice for artists/designers who are starting a blog?
I think the trick is to find your own voice- what comes natural and easy to you. Sometimes that's not always evident until you've blogged for a while... but when you're comfortable posting, it shows. It becomes warm and welcoming and it draws people in. I tend to be (or at least I try to be) rather diverse in my posts- I often say my blog is 85% business, 10% personal and 5% fluff. And as much as I write for myself, I also write for my audience, so I'm aware of how I phrase things, temper my wild opinions, and realize that others have opinions. The blog is a good place to give and ask for advice- whether business or personal. It's this reciprocation that keeps the community spirit alive.
What has been the most positive and inspirational aspect of having
a blog for you?
My story is not unique, I'm sure, but in my everyday life I have few close friends. It's just that everyone is just so busy! It's just the way it is. So, what I've gained through blogging is friendships I would never have imagined a year ago. The contacts I've made are almost too numerous to mention. There are so many talented and interesting people who have opened their arms to me and I'm happy to do the same. I've learned so much from other artists both with more or less experience and have been able to share my own experiences with others, too. I have quite the social life in a way, thanks to blogging. And what's nicer, is that I've met so many familiar names now in my travels- it's wonderful to have a friend in almost every corner of the world!
Thank you Michelle!