Now, all that rambling is just my way of saying that I happened to run across another creative individual with excellent follow-through: Claire Suellentrop from General Overachiever. As the title of her blog might suggest, this girl has got a lot going on! She keeps her own, regular blog, dabbles in design, and even started her own literary magazine. More importantly, she manages to keep up with it all! How does she do it? Let's find out.
Name: Claire Suellentrop
Age: 21 (for just a few more weeks—weird)
Location: South Orange, NJ
Occupation: Student, writer, graphic designer
Primary Modes of Creative Output: Writing, photography, playing around in the Adobe Suite
Self-Description: The polite phrase to describe myself would be “wide array of interests.” The more direct phrase would be “mild ADD.” I enjoy moving from medium to medium; graphic design, culinary experimentation and copywriting all get my gears turning. This may be why my longest-running project is Cannoli Pie, an online monthly literature magazine.
- Do you consider yourself to be a creative person? What is your personal description of creativity and/or What are the characteristics of a creative person?
I happily call myself a creative person, and I believe a great number of people are more creative than they give themselves credit for. They just don’t acknowledge their own ingenuity because their talents don’t fall within the most common creative outlets—i.e. painting, drawing, photography or other fine arts.
A creative person is essentially someone who assesses a situation with a fresh eye. This may lead to a work of art, an invention or simply an original way to solve a problem. In a house of four girls, I’m the only one with a distinctly “creative” major; however, I’ve come home countless times to discover that my business-oriented roommate has rearranged the furniture and given our place a lovely new look. I may be the one handing in posters and web banners as homework, but when it comes to decorating, she totally takes the cake!
- You're a self-taught designer. You also started your own literary magazine. In other words, you're quite the pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps kind of gal. Tell us about what you do!
First of all, I’m flattered—thank you! I do…too much But that’s mainly because I get overly excited about trying new things, which makes it difficult to stick with just one or two hobbies.
Cannoli Pie is one of my biggest creative projects, which I co-edit with this writer. I also run General Overachiever, a blog whose name originated as the placeholder title on my business card. A then-future-employer noticed it, thought it was hilarious, and the term just stuck.
When not engaged in these projects, you can find me copywriting for a few local periodicals or catching up on the newest music in the indie/alternative world. I manage a weekly specialty show called the Campus Buzz on 89.5 FM WSOU, so keeping up with music news is a big part of daily life.
- What has been your favorite experience as a self-made editor? Interesting stories?
Coolest experience: seeing my work both open for public viewing and taken seriously by those who submit to the magazine. It’s awesome to have this outlet through which Stephen and I can sharpen our respective skills, while simultaneously giving writers and visual artists all over the world a way to do the same.
Though this isn’t actually a story, one of the most interesting aspects of editing is seeing where submissions come from. We’ve had creatives send us work from as close to home as New York and as far away as Sweden. We just have to wonder—how are people like that finding us? So crazy!
- You're also quite gifted in the realm of creative writing! What do you do to stay inspired and motivated in this area?
Now you’re just being kind! Of the editing team, Stephen is definitely the creative writer—i.e. poetry, flash fiction, etc. But on the rare occasion that I do jot something down, the inspiration comes from reading. Always be reading! Seeing others’ work (and this holds true for any creative field) is a fantastic way to discover new techniques and get ideas flowing.
- What are your primary creative obstacles? How do you deal with them?
M.O.T.I.V.A.T.I.O.N. Although I revel in the thrill of moving from project to project, carrying the load can get tiring at times. I wrote a brief post on this once, to which I received some great tips on getting over the exhaustion slump.
- What is a recent moment of victory in your creative life? (this can be as big as getting signed to as small as writing a song... personally, I'm still reeling from the fact that I filled an entire sketchbook in a little over one month)
Being asked to write for The Aquarian, where I currently submit one to two stories per month, was incredibly exciting. It was the first time a hobby—my blog—had tangibly paid off. A friend and fellow writer saw that I had potential and invited me to join the staff.
- What do you think counts as a creative success for you? and/or What do you hope to achieve creatively?
There’s a fantastic quote by Ira Glass, part of which reads “For the first couple years you make stuff, and it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer.”
Creative success, for me, would be to push past the “not that good” stage, to move my writing/design/etc. from “fine, this will work” to “wow, this looks great.” Because great is what reaches people—it’s what matters. Vague, but that’s what I’m working for.
I’d really love to achieve independence through the use of creative skills. Self-employment (which will probably mean keeping my fingers in several different pies for a long time) would be incredible. The flexibility and discipline that required of that lifestyle would, I believe, be great motivation to keep the mental wheels turning.
Now, that's what I call task commitment (even if the tasks are quite numerous). Claire certainly inspires me to try to stay focused and follow through on my projects. She inspires me to keep blogging, keep writing, and keep designing. I hope your short time with her does the same.