Robert L. Peters is a Canadian graphic designer, writer, and artist who blogs at robertlpeters.com. Roberts interest in ephemera, history, and related content, especially his series of collectible stamps, led to the following interview.
ephemera: Tell me about your career and how you become interested blogging about ephemera, history, stamps, and visual communications?
Peters: I've worked as a graphic designer, visual communicator, and writer since 1976. Blogging about visual language, ephemera, which I love, etc., was a natural.
I've had the chance to visit, work, teach, and lecture in nearly 60 different countries, and in the process I have met and befriended hundreds of talented acquaintances. I really started my "News+" blog a few years back as a means by which to stay in touch with many of those fine folks—blogs cross borders with ease. Many contacts now also "feed" me news, content, and links, so that sort of completes the loop quite nicely. In large part, I blog because I find it pleasurable, and, of course, this is reinforced when one receives positive feedback from readers.
ephemera: What challenges or obstacles do you encounter as a blogger? How do you overcome these challenges?
Peters: I haven't really encountered what I would consider to be obstacles. On the other hand, I'm not a highly technical person, so, perhaps, I'm simply not aware of obstacles and particular challenges...am I somewhat naive in that regard? It could also be that I'm not that driven as a blogger, and there's no sharp focus. I often quote the old truism, "If you don't care where you are, you're never lost." The topics I touch on are quite broad and eclectic, so this likely provides more latitude—and less specialist pressure—than some blogs. One day I'll post about pacifism, the next about climbing, the next about interesting old ephemera I've come across somewhere.
ephemera: Well, it was a post about interesting old ephemera that caught my attention. How do you see your blog evolving? What are your upcoming plans for it?
Peters: Perhaps I should be somewhat embarrassed to admit this, but I really don't have "plans" for my blog... if it feels good, I do it. If I feel I have something of some interest to say or opine, I do so. If I'm impressed, or moved, or inspired by something I come across, I share it. I've added a few "categories" over the past year, e.g. humor, quotable(s), vintage...to make navigation a little easier for readers. My blog just sort of "lives in the moment," almost a stream of consciousness thing... and I myself don't quite know where that might lead.
ephemera: That's a refreshing stance to take toward blogging. What are some of your favorite posts? Why?
Peters: I love the serendipity that blogging can bring about. I have a considerable collection of posters, including some classic ones from Russia, where my father was born in 1920. I've blogged about these from time to time, and it's great to then learn more and receive further related information from readers. Here's an example regarding El Lissitzky:
Blogs are a fantastic way to share odd and sundry bits of information. For example, last summer some friends and I were able to navigate an obscure century-old mountaineering route in the Rockies thanks to beta I had found online. Sharing that experience with others and passing on more information was fun.
And then, of course, there's ephemera, which is no doubt the reason we connected online...a blog is the perfect place to share with others those wonderful and allegedly "short-lived" bits from the past that, in retrospect, have so much to say about the Zeitgeist of a particular era and culture.
ephemera: Tell me about your stamp design work? What inspires you to make stamps?
Peters: Designing stamps is enjoyable, though not without stress. Stamp collecting is statistically still the world's most popular hobby, and millions of opinionated and often well-informed critics armed with magnifying glasses can be a daunting audience to please. I consider the opportunity to design stamps to be a real honor--these little bits of ephemera become a part of the world's collective/collectible visual vocabulary, contribute tangible artifacts to national identity, and ultimately help shape both culture and societal values. Inspiration inevitably grows from an intensive discovery process and exhaustive research of the topic being commemorated on a stamp--there are simply no shortcuts in this regard.
ephemera: Thank you, Robert.