Visiting Anabela Piersol’s Instagram account is probably a bit like entering a Victorian lady’s parlour for low tea: Ever the refined host, she will talk to you about art, beautiful design (both interiors and fashion) and literature. Flowers and fluffy cats fill her space. There is occasional discussion of knitting, tea and scones. A sense of romanticism prevails.
The one Victorian element wholly absent from Fieldguided (the name of her blog, Instagram, Twitter and Flickr accounts) is stuffiness. While her love of design – often modern and clean – dominates, she tackles many subjects well: from reviews of cool Toronto spots, to her love of ballet and Umberto Eco – amidst lots and lots of pink. She delights in showcasing independent clothing designers and businesses, and also sells her own lovely designs – from totes to screen prints. A dreamy, whimsical quality runs through her sites – with a smattering of kitsch (a pic of Piersol talking on a Cabbage Patch Kid phone in a thrift shop; a photo of a prayer candle featuring rapper Drake, resplendent in a crown of flowers) thrown in for good measure.
While Piersol’s studies don’t speak to a love of design – she has a BA in medieval studies (2003) and an MA in information studies (2008) from U of T – her work does: she designs and typesets books for a research project at Robarts Library. “My co-workers don’t really know about this side of my life, weirdly,” she says of her social media activities. “It just doesn’t come up.”
Piersol, who runs the sites with her husband, Geoff (BA 2004 UC, MIS 2006), doesn’t strategize in terms of branding, increasing followers or expanding design sales. “I like to keep things light and fun, and goals add more pressure.” She just enjoys new media, and is proof that doing what you enjoy attracts people to you: her Instagram following alone is 23,000. “The blog started as a quiet, creative outlet for me to work on in my spare time,” says Piersol, whose first social media account was Friendster almost 15 years ago. “I connected with people who were doing similar things – and it just grew from there.”