Some of the best writers and editors I’ve ever known didn’t major in English or journalism. Their backgrounds—while lacking in AP style memorization, the study of communications law or the struggle of understanding when to use “who” and when to use “whom”—made them stronger writers and editors. Having less of a focus on the proper usage of modifiers or the pyramid style of storytelling has given them a unique perspective to write from. Their varied interests spurred useful content development skills—a sharp eye, curiosity, articulation, problem¬ solving—and provided the building blocks of solid writing skills. Meet one of those people: Annemarie Tankersley.
A copyeditor and an artist, she’s just as sharp with her sculpting tools as she is with her red-ink pen. A native of the Midwest, she has a keen eye for detail in her copyediting, which is just as evident in her artwork. For one short article, she spent hours researching the nutrition benefits of different kinds of milks, handling it with the same care and precision she exercises when adding detail to mixed-media and metal artworks.
She started at Pace in 2011. She came here with a B.S. in art education from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an M.F.A. in studio art (sculpture and drawing) from Florida State University.
Her inquiring mind and love of whimsical objects—crafted from found and fabricated materials—make her an astounding artist and one heck of a copyeditor. Here, she shares her story and how art can influence editing, and editing, art.
How did you get into copyediting?
My first job after graduation was at a small sign and exhibit company, and I did everything from proofreading exhibit copy to helping cast fiberglass trees and resin insects for dioramas. From there, I pursued editorial work in advertising and publishing—a path that eventually led me to a copyediting position at Pace.
When did you realize you were an artist?
I’ve always liked making things. From a young age, I drew, made clothes for dolls and created little objects out of pebbles and felt. My parents encouraged us to not be in front of the TV and made sure our basement was stocked with arts-and-crafts supplies. They encouraged us to go to that when we were looking for something to do. I stuck with it and started drawing, realizing that I loved doing it and had a talent for it.
What kind of mediums do you like to work with?
I like to work with fabrics, beads, wire, clay and metal—and more. I don’t think I’ve met a 3-D art medium I haven’t liked or wanted to play around with. I like metal the most, though—the technical aspect of manipulating it and the heat and strength required to shape it—it requires a lot of mind and body engagement. You have to hold your body in position while pouring molten metal and be both physical and mentally engaged in it.
What inspires your artwork?
I always carry a sketchbook. It’s a depository for my thoughts. I respond a lot to my environment. I never know when I’ll see something that resonates with me. Discussions can also inspire me, or something I’ve read. Or, I may see things I want to try to re-create or images I want to work with. I have a whole stack of mismatched, dog-eared sketchbooks at home.
In your opinion, are there similarities between content marketing and creating art?
The biggest parallel is probably creativity—art and content marketing are both forms of content creation, but with slightly different ends in mind, depending on the artist and his or her goals.
Both can involve brainstorming, collection, filtering, creation from scratch, stories told in both words and images. I think the best stories, even if just told in words, evoke strong visuals. When I read a good story, I get pictures in my head.
Craftsmanship is another connection—you need to have good technique as well as that artistic, creative spark.
How is copyediting related to art?
Brainstorming happens in both art and copyediting.
Copyediting can be a creative role because you have to be visual person to a certain degree. You have to see the solution and figure out how to fix things, while still preserving the writer’s meaning. It’s not creative in the sense of inventing something from scratch, but you have to be creative to do it.
Some of the technical aspects of art relate to the analytical portions of copyediting like precision and process. You have to be creative enough to work within those rules of grammar and style. It gives you a certain understanding of technique, flexibility and judgment.
Has Pace influenced your artwork?
Not so much on subject matter or themes, but rather in application. I feel like I’ve become a better copyeditor at Pace. My work involves being very analytical and really thinking things through. I’ve had to become a more tenacious researcher and dig for things. This translates to my artwork because the work I like to do is process-oriented and exacting. I’ve become more focused and thorough—and that has bled into other areas of my life, including my art. Years ago, a former co-worker teased me about what she called my ‘immaculate precision,’ and I think, through continuing to work as a copyeditor, I’ve become even more precise, thorough and rigorous, both in working with my hands and in my thinking.
Also, a few years ago, Pace held an art show, which I entered. Even though I didn’t have a place to work on my art, I was like, ‘I have to make this happen. I can’t not participate.’ It was a lot of late nights, but it was really cool to see my work up on the wall.
What are you working on now?
Recently, I realized that if I want to be part of the local art community, I needed to step up and make that happen. I’ve gotten involved in some volunteer work, like serving on the Science Advisory Committee for a glass-blowing nonprofit in Winston-Salem, and writing profiles of local makers for the blog of a developing makerspace in Winston-Salem. I’ve also had two opportunities to pour iron so far this year. So I’ve got some new castings to clean up and finish out.
Annemarie’s artistic abilities have translated well into her role as a copyeditor in content marketing because she uses the same skills in both fields: precision, articulation and a keen eye for detail. Because of that, her masterpieces aren’t just the whimsical metal and fabric objects she creates; they happen to also be some of the Pace content you read.