Twelve years ago felt like a golden age for indie bloggers. Shawn Blanc had just gone full-time independent and was writing up a storm. Austin Kleon posted the slides that ended up becoming Steal Like an Artist. The Great Discontent posted their first interview (with Dan Rubin). The Verge was still called This is My Next. John Siracusa was still writing 50,000 word macOS reviews.
The community was growing behind the web, too. Frank Chimero wrote a lot more then, and eventually a lot of what he wrote became The Shape of Design in 2012. Also in 2012, Kai Brach crowdfunded the first issue of Offscreen Magazine.
Maybe this is nostalgia. In 2011, I started freelancing and was actively seeking my tribe. For me, it was a magical time to be online. TGD was how I heard of all the designers I count now as inspiration. It gave me the confidence to explore my path. And Shawn Blanc quitting his job to blog full-time was an aha moment for me. Austin Kleon shone a light on how to do your best creative work (and continues to do so; he’s the best). Frank and Kai proved that there was still space and interest in sharing something deeper and more philosophical online.
Is there a community of people like this in 2023? Who is today’s Shawn Blanc? Who else is shining a light like Austin Kleon?
The newest additions to my list of must-read bloggers are Matt Birchler and Nick Heer. But I’m still looking for the next generation of creative pros and artists who remind us why we get up every morning and make stuff.
Who’s making food for the creative soul?