Tim Siedell is creative director and co-owner of Fusebox, a brand communications studio in Lincoln, Nebraska. An 18 year creative professional, his Bad Banana Blog serves up an eclectic mix of visual creative inspiration. In the following interview, Tim talks about his interest in ephemera, and how he incorporates old paper into his blog routine.
ephemera: What inspired you to weave ephemera into the fabric of your blog, Tim?
Siedell: Working in advertising and design, I am painfully aware that my job is to create items that are transitory in nature. We may have to create cup artwork for a fast food client, for example. Perhaps we'll need to communicate an upcoming promotion. We will labor over the idea, the design, the typography knowing full well that the final item will be used and discarded. The same goes for catalogs, ads, posters, and packaging. These items serve a specific purpose. Even our broadcast work exists for only a brief period of time before being replaced or discarded.
I love ephemera. I appreciate the work of writers and designers who have tried to bring excellence to pieces they knew full well would be discarded, often without a second look. The internet has made it possible for people to stop and appreciate the craftsmanship of these items. I think the creators would be tickled to know the second life these pieces are enjoying on blogs like yours.
Of course, it's not just craftsmanship that makes ephemera appealing to me. The ephemeral items of everyday life provide an informative and unique look into our past. Some of these items can be hilarious, outrageous, and eye-opening. It's like eavesdropping on our ancestors. They didn't think we'd be looking at these items.
My blog is a collection of eclectic visual posts designed to inspire. A lot of my readers are in the creative field, either as professionals or as students. I blog about architecture, design, advertising, new products, and other forms of creativity. Ephemera fits very nicely into the mix. I spend as much time on vintage design as I do modern design. The typography of a 1940s catalog can still be inspiring to a modern designer. I really advocate the idea of looking forward as well as backwards for inspiration.
ephemera: As someone who has also worked in the creative industry, I've discovered a lot of people in the field who love old paper, especially graphic designers and agency creatives. What have you discovered in blogging about ephemera?
Siedell: I'm amazed at how many other people are interested in ephemera. Your blog is an excellent resource on the subject, of course. I subscribe to a few others. And, God bless them, there are so many wonderful folks who take the time to scan in items and share them on Flickr and other sites. My readers and I are on the same journey of discovery. I'm constantly on the lookout for new and interesting collections or items. Once I find something, I post about it.
ephemera: Thanks for the kind words about the blog. It's a labor of love. I'm aware of several others who showcase ephemera. I try to take it to another level, and I'm lucky to have built a following. What challenges or obstacles do you encounter as a blogger? How do you overcome these challenges?
Siedell: I think blogging can be a little lonely at times. I think it can sometimes feel like a thankless endeavor. My advice to anyone getting started is to stick with it. Create content that inspires you, that makes you happy and fulfilled. Be interesting and you will attract an audience over time. I give myself blogging quotas. I try to be consistent. I try to just keep pushing forward.
My blog isn't designed to generate a lot of comments. I don't spur debate or try to create conversations. So I can go a long time without any feedback. So just when I think nobody is really engaged in the content, along comes a great email thanking me for the blog. I've gotten them from people all over the world. Keep your head up. If it's interesting to you, it will be interesting to someone else.
ephemera: I feel you, Tim. And I'm a fan of what you're doing at Bad Banana Blog. I'm glad we could bring it to the attention of ephemera's readers. What are your favorite ephemera discoveries on the Web?
Siedell. To be honest, it's always the most recent one. I'm constantly surprised by what I find. Employment identification badges. Matchbook covers. Health posters. Ads masquerading as children's books. I can really thank blogs like yours for pointing me to new and interesting discoveries.
ephemera: What are your future plans for the blog? How do you see it evolving?
Siedell: I think I have found the right mix in the type of content I'm delivering. I'm getting more and more readers every day. I'm starting to get noticed by folks outside my normal channels (Martha Stewart, for example). I want to stay consistent and see what develops. A new layout and design may be something to consider in the future, although I think my readers appreciate the minimal approach.
ephemera: Thanks again for all the nice things you said about my work here. I certainly appreciate your sharing your work and thoughts on blogging and ephemera. It's exciting to see how others view old paper and incorporate it into their work and creative lives.
And I hope Martha comes calling.