I’m not sure how Sarah Tolzmann, author of Note to Self, finds the time to sleep. In addition to running one of the coolest blogs around, Ms. Tolzmann is a MFA candidate in Design Management at Savannah College of Art and Design, an associate designer for Matchbook Magazine, and a freelance graphic designer. Oh, did I mention that her blog was just named one of the up-and-coming blogs of 2012 at this year’s Alt Summit? Girlfriend’s got it all! (And most certainly deserves it). Considering her busy schedule, I feel very lucky that Sarah was kind enough to take a few moments for an interview. Enjoy!
Fallon: You have an amazing aesthetic. How would you describe it?
Sarah: Thank you! I’d call it “schizophrenically preppy.” I think that about sums up my life. I grew up in the northern part of Baltimore city (prep central) with a three-year stint in New York City mid-high school. Everything I knew about fashion, art and life in general changed when I moved to The City. The mix of experiences definitely shaped my eye in some way... Working at J.Crew after college taught me to channel everything into what they call “classics with a twist.” I love that idea!
(Sarah is a pretty awesome graphic designer.)
What inspires you creatively?
Art. My undergraduate degree is in Art History, and I honestly cannot get enough of it: travel, museums, the History Channel, PBS documentaries... I geek out over it all!
Name a few trends/ films/books/animals/minerals/vegetables that are currently on your radar.
Trends: Polka dots, orange (my favorite color - I’m so glad it’s “in!”)
Films: Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom (also, The Hunger Games. There, I said it.)
Books: Turn Right at Machu Picchu by Mark Adams (again, with the whole history geek thing)
Animals: my goofy but sharp-as-a-tack black Labrador, Tess
Minerals: Agate bookends and centerpieces in the home
Veggies: Collard greens. They’re everywhere here in Savannah, plus this recipe is easy and divine
What are your all-time favorite books? Design books? Magazines?
Books: Bird by Bird by Anne Lamont (Traveling Mercies is great, too), The Principles of Uncertainty by Maira Kalman, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
Design books: The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst, Look Both Ways: Illustrated Essays on the Intersection of Life and Design by Debbie Millman, any and all of Edward Tufte’s books
Magazines: Matchbook (!), Garden & Gun, New York Magazine, Entertainment Weekly (see: guilty pleasure)
Anyone who reads your blog knows that you’re clearly into fashion. If money were no object, what pieces would you add to your wardrobe this spring?
I’m going to shatter any illusions right here: I actually find it really hard to dress myself. I’m almost 6ft tall, and have never been the thinnest person in the world. For me, most clothes aren’t even worth trying on. Knowing my own limitations, I realized I needed to start looking at styling to get ideas, rather than the latest cute “thing.” The HERS/MINE series emerged from that idea; seeking out beautiful looks built from basic components that anyone of any size can own and wear for years and years...
That said, there are definitely a few key pieces that would be a dream to add to my wardrobe. I’m an accessory hoarder (ballet flats, bags, costume jewelry,) so I’m in desperate need of the classics to back them up. Currently seeking: the perfect trench, black ankle pants, and some comfortable black mid-heel pumps.
Photo of Garance by Scott Schuman
Who are your style icons?
Audrey, of course. As for current celebrities: I rarely dislike anything Diane Kruger or Michelle Williams is wearing. Style bloggers are great resources for inspiration, too. You have to love Garance Doré, Shala Monroque, Jamie Beck, and Blair Eadie. They all knock it out of the park every time.
Could you name a few of your go-to beauty products + favorite nail polish colors?
It seems like most nail polish is created equal, but there’s just something about Essie that I love. “Fifth Avenue” is my favorite red - very Matchbook-y! For beauty products, Hope in a Jar by Philosophy is my moisturizer of choice. Bobbie Brown’s jarred eyeliner in Caviar Ink is my go-to, and it lasts all day. For perfume, I’ve been wearing Burberry Britt since high school, and I’ve yet to find a scent to top it (although Chanel Chance is also on my shelf for super girlie days.)
Alex Katz, Round Hill, 1977
Favorite artists? Graphic designers?
I absolutely adore Alex Katz. I saw one of his shows when I was in college and it changed my life. (Okay, that might be an exaggeration.) Other current blogger favorites include Michelle Armas, Paul Octavious, and Paul Fereny (you must follow his Parisian Instagrams: @paulfereny!). [editor's note: see more of her art favorites on her blog!]. As far as graphic designers, I like Erin Jang, Kelli Anderson, Jessica Hische, and Kate Arends of Wit & Delight (I favor the ladies in a male-dominated field.)
Should I ever have the pleasure of visiting Savannah, could you name a few of the city’s “must visit” locales?
The Historic District merits a good wander, and so does Forsyth Park. Don’t plan, just walk - you’ll see why people love living here so much! Must-see shops are: Paris Market, Shop SCAD, and Savannah Bee Company. Favorite eats would be: Papillote, Circa 1875, Back in the Day Bakery and Starland Cafe. Tybee Island is our local beach community (20 minutes east of town.) Stop in at the Crab Shack and Sugar Shack for some summery eats.
You were recently named a favorite “up and coming” blog by a panel at Alt Summit (I’ll link to them in the post). Could you name a few of your favorite “up and coming” blogs?
That was wild! I can’t believe it. I’m constantly crushing on new (to me) blogs. There are so many talented people out there! I’m currently loving Odessa May, Dreams & Jeans, and Hip Hip Gin Gin.
Lastly, what is your favorite quote?
“At first glance it may appear too hard. Look again. Always look again.” — Mary Anne Rodmache