Creativity is not always found at the end of brush.

H Have you ever thought about the identity of your own town? As a resident of wherever you live, what makes you unique and sets you apart from others? Are you a New Yorker, Bostonian or Venetian? Can you tell the difference? If you live in a beautiful city with an amazing history, how did it contribute to your moniker?

people-of-st-pete-russiaSt. Patersburg, Russia by Ivan Troyanovsky 

st-petersburg-floridaSt. Petersburg, Florida USA by Scott Mietz

St. Petersburg FL by Natalie VelezSt. Petersburg, Florida USA by Natalie Velez

When a young entrepreneur, Amelia Bartlett, who lives in beautiful St. Petersburg, Florida, heard somebody calling himself a “Burger,” she decided we can do better. The name “St. Petian” came to mind. It reflects Saint Petersburg, and a deep love of art, culture and uniqueness. Amelia thought of Venice, where people call themselves Venetians, and created Saint Petian (or St. Petian). Definitely better then Burger!

Amelia Bartlett

By the way, one of the founders of St. Petersburg, Peter Demens (Pyotr Dementyev), was a Russian immigrant who became a railway owner. St. Petersburg was founded in 1888 by John C. Williams, who purchased the land, and Peter Demens, who brought the railroad industry to the area. One day, while at the first hotel built, they decided a coin toss would decide naming rights for the hotel and the city. The winner would name the city and the loser would name the hotel. We can guess who won; John named the hotel “The Detroit,” where he originally came from.

Peter named the city after Saint Petersburg, Russia (its sister city) and designed it similarly. Here is where creativity meets reality. St. Petersburg in Russia was originally inspired by Venice. Venice inspired Amelia. So the name made total sense to me.

alexander_petrosyan_impressiyaSt. Petersburg, Russia. Impressya by Alexander Petrosyan

We met with Amelia Bartlett, the founder of St. Petian magazine, which celebrates the culture of St. Petersburg, FL, right after Hurricane Hermine in a little coffee-shop. Here’s what transpired…

NV: I love your story about how you came up with St. Petian. Could you share the creative process of how it came to be?

AB: St. Petian is a conglomerate of many ideas converging into one vehicle. This project has been the least contrived, forced, planned project I’ve ever created and as each new facet emerged, it often showed roots to an earlier thought, conversation, connection or belief. It started with a love of print and a protective defensiveness over the importance of it; print is not dead, I thought, holding a $20 art magazine in my hands at Barnes & Noble – it’s just become a niche market.

Couple this love of printed, artfully illustrated concepts with the desire to invest in and celebrate the culture of my homeland (St. Petersburg, FL), some random suggestions and ideas from friends: “Let’s write a travel guide!” And “You should create a magazine…” and ultimately, a word to quantify the identity of a people: St Petian.

St. Petian

The magazine itself came to be because the opportunity presented itself; Black Crow Coffee Shop hosted an independent magazine festival with open submissions – so I said yes, pushed myself through more than a hundred hours of creation efforts, and in 3.5 weeks, printed a magazine and began to show it off.

NV: It’s amazing how creative mind works. What’s your background?

AB: First and foremost, I am an entrepreneur. I love to solve problems with innovation and sustainability, and that can take many forms. My main art form is photography, first digital and now (amateurishly) 35mm on a 1976 Canon AE-1; which has taught me more than digital ever has. I have always written and considered myself a storyteller, while many years in the theatre have given me the confidence to speak on any topic in front of any audience – both a good and bad thing at times.

Amelia Bartlett

Above all – I love to read, design and curate. I have no background in publishing, marketing, graphic design, visual art, retail or wholesale, or art curation; but what I have the most experience in is TRYING. I will try anything once, no matter how unfamiliar it is or how terrible I am when I first start.

NV: Where do you get your inspiration and support?

AB: Inspiration comes from an open mind, with a reverence for the randomness and order all around us. It’s taken a long time and a lot of tough times to feel this way, but I find myself inspired by everything. As I write this, I’m staring at my open pantry, inspired by the Trader Joe’s peanut butter logo, the baking materials that could allow for a multitude of meals, the glass jars holding bulk goods that could be used for so many things; each of these creating numerous pathways in my mind down which I could travel for inspiration.

However, the most important part of being an open, inspired person is having self-governance. Inspiration will run you ragged and suck you dry if you don’t manage your time, resources, and emotions with discipline and compassion.

NV: What is your favorite spot in the city? Why is it so attractive to you?

AB: While I have immediately love for neighborhoods like Historic Uptown (where I live) and Old Northeast (where I’m typically working, drinking coffee, biking, etc.), I’m in love with the 600 Block. It’s a vibrant place, filled with a variety of people chasing their version of the American Dream. Shops, eateries, coffee houses, design studios, art galleries, live music venues – all in one block. You can find so many different ‘types’ all coexisting in the same few hundred yards in all directions, and just outside the block is a beautiful park, two different and exciting downtown neighborhoods, and the city building where so much of the behind-the-scenes St. Pete magic happens.


St. Petersburg Florida

NV: When you buy a piece of jewelry or home décor, how do you make your decision? What speaks to you?

AB: Everything has a purpose. I’m a creation of function and utility before frivolity, by the grace of a humble upbringing and a distaste for clutter. However, when something has purpose, whether I’ve sought it or it finds me, I’m quick to see the trajectory of that item in my life.

NV: Would you give our readers “Tips from Amelia,” how to make one’s creativity flow?

Tips from Amelia

  • Manage your time (calendar, schedule, routine, rituals, PERSONAL time).
  • Manage your resources (budget, plan for the future, give more than you think you can, accept gifts and help).
  • Manage your mind (whether you are dreaming [embarrassingly] HUGE or regarding a situation in hindsight, JOURNAL; share your feelings and emotions, don’t take others feelings and emotions personally [ever], practice good mental hygiene).
  • Additionally – hold yourself accountable to be both creative and sustainable. Only you can make your unique and necessary mark on the world, and you cannot if you lack disciplined creativity and self-sustainability; at least, you owe it to the world; at best, you owe it to yourself.

Love your Neighborhood

There you have it! Creativity is not always found at the end of brush, pencil, torch or lens. It’s often found in the contours of things we take for granted. The use of space and balance, the choices of materials (wood or metal) and in the pages of a magazine, where words are paint, images are dreams and the message is wisdom.


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