We profile Anachronista, which is written by Carrie Russell. Entering its fifth year, Anachronista was one of the first blogs that I regularly followed, because of Carrie’s interesting and often funny posts and her web savvy.
We interviewed Carrie Russell by email:
Why did you decide to start your own blog?
As a child I was apparently great at the creative writing and composition assignments in school. At the time, those classes were just an easy “A” for me, as I was more interested in art. I thought maybe I’d like to write a novel someday, but that seemed like too huge a project.
Then, in 2004, I was reading a few blogs and submitted a story to one of them and received a great response (http://www.geekbooks.com/a_tale_of_call_center_magic_231.html). I figured a blog of my own would be good ‘practice writing’ and a way to catalog interesting things I found on the internet, and comment on them. It would be a good outlet for my creativity and sense of humor. Now I believe writing can be therapeutic, and I think it’s much cheaper than an actual therapist.
You are a photographer, Henna artist, and Celtic artist. From a business and a personal perspective, what are the challenges in being an artist?
Well, one of the big challenges many artists face is that it’s very hard to market yourself objectively. I’m pretty bad at that one. Then there’s pricing your work and billing for services and such… and if there’s anything I really hate, it’s accounting, so the business end of my creative efforts just sucks the life out of me. In the past, schedules and deadlines were also a source of stress, when I’d say ‘yes’ to too many projects at once. Over time, I’ve learned how to create on a schedule, and how to say ‘no’ better.
When you add together writing, photography and all the other crafty things I do, sometimes it feels like my creative faucet is on full blast, all the time. But finding uninterrupted time to create is much harder than just ‘being an artist’. I get cranky when I don’t get enough time to create something the right way, or a deadline is moved up or changed at the last minute. Then I have to rearrange my personal life to get something done. It is hard on others in my life sometimes, when I disappear for a week or more to finish a project. Seriously, I have imprisoned myself in my room and locked the door and said ‘don’t talk to me unless you have food for me.’ It would be funny if it weren’t so dysfunctional. My home is pretty distracting, so that’s why one of my current projects is taking place elsewhere, in a nice quiet offsite location. It’s the largest set of canvases I’ve ever worked on, and it would NEVER get done if I had to do it in my home. So I made a mobile art studio, and just take it with me. I learned to pack light and move fast while doing henna…
Henna is one of my main forms of artistic expression lately, but it’s seasonal here. So I’m really busy during the summer and use the winter months to plan events and marketing for the next summer. I like that henna is so impermanent, and to be really good at it, you have to draw quickly. I saw that as a challenge 10 years ago, but now it’s second nature to draw that fast. That has helped me speed up all of my forms of artistic expression too. I did quit hennaing for a few years, as it was creating Carpal Tunnel symptoms for me. Now I limit the amount of time each week that I’ll do henna to no more than 10-12 hours, and I try not to do it for more than four hours at a time.
Besides your Anachronista blog, you have other online presences, including Facebook and Twitter accounts, and your own virtual person in Second Life. Do you find it increasingly difficult to keep up with all of your online activities as they compete with each other?
I’ve found a few online tools that help with social marketing and status updates, so when I write something new in Twitter, it automagically updates many of my other profiles. My blogs are updated as I find the time, or when I’m inspired by something relevant to write about. Admittedly, that is much less often than it used to be, as I’m not as active in the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) lately. The poor economy in the last couple years has put such a huge dent in my entertainment budget that I don’t really “walk the walk” anymore. It sometimes feels like there isn’t much left to say, and any cool news gets covered by the many other medievalist blogs that have popped up in the last five years. I’m not too worried about keeping up, I’ve probably only got about 100 consistent readers anyway. And they have all found me on Facebook or Twitter now.
As for my virtual presence in Second Life, I’m coming up on my five year mark, which is pretty old, as far as avatars go. I use Second Life to experience things I wouldn’t get to do in real life, like visit castles and go scuba diving. If I’m frustrated with a project, or need inspiration, I can go visit virtual places that are relevant to my interests. I’ve even got an apartment in Second Life where I’ve hung a few of my real life maps, art works, and photos of henna. Not that I expect to get any ‘real life’ work from it, but I do seem to want to have a connection to my real life there, in case I forget I’m real or something. My virtual self is very similar to my real self: we like all the same things and look alike! I even hang around with other SCAer’s in Second Life. Now THAT’S geeky.
Finally, what other blogs do you read?
I have over 300 subscriptions in Google Reader, so you could say I operate on ‘information overload’ most of the time. Many of them are about design, photoshop and photography. My favorite of those is PhotoshopDisasters.com because I am well acquainted with the retouching industry and the abysmal and laughable horrors that can occur. I’ve got 25-30 blogs to read in the ‘medieval’ category, a few of which I re-syndicate in the sidebar of my own blog. I also read Felicia Day, because she’s a fellow redhead and is changing online entertainment for the better. Also, if there’s ever a movie made about me, I want her to play me. She’s funnier and prettier.
Here are some of Anachronista’s posts: