Friday, 30 August 2013

Sue Bulmer

It's Follow Friday!

Sue Bulmer is a Nottinghamshire artist who enjoys using a wide variety of medias to create beautiful illustrations, prints and textiles. You can buy Sue's limited edition prints on Folksy.

You can also find Sue on Facebook and twitter @sooziebee71. Sue also has a blog which is updated regularly with news, sneaks peeks at her work, interviews and more. 

Have you always wanted to be an artist?

No, i haven’t always wanted to be an artist. I used to enjoy drawing when I was younger but stopped when I decided on a career in Pharmacy and had to pursue sciences instead. I then came back to creativity in 2005 when I decided to enroll on a part time Foundation Course in 2005 and have been drawing, sketching and doodling ever since.

How have you got to where you are now? 
Once I had completed by Foundation course I knew that I wanted to continue to live a creative life. I was inspired by all of the creative blogs at time and spent the next few years teaching myself and finding my own ‘thing’ my creative voice, exploring all of the techniques and media I had enjoyed at college. We had the old pigsty at the top of the garden converted into a studio and I managed to spend two days a week pursuing my dream. In 2010 I applied to take part in Nottinghamshire Creative, a business scheme for small creative businesses, and it was this course that gave me the confidence to start my own business. It has grown each year as I gain more experience and develop myself, my work, my brand and my blog, and I’m loving the whole process, getting to know new friends and contacts and enjoying new opportunities.
What's your next step?
I’ve just finished working with a mentor through the Design Factory Mentoring Scheme, which has led to lots of exciting new projects over the last year. I’m now focusing on the ‘Business’ side of my creative business, working with a Retails Consultant and looking at my brand, products, finances, processes etc. It sounds very ‘dry’ but I think good processes and record keeping are key to successful business. I really need to put in a lot of work, examining my sales, my customers and my place in the market and look for new routes into the market too and new streams of income. I’m working on developing my blog as well, as have some exciting news, which I will be able to reveal soon. I’m also hoping to develop products in different media, working with print and ceramics. watch this space... lots of ideas and not enough time!!
What inspires you?
I get inspiration from the things I enjoy in life. Walks in the countryside with my husband and dog, going on holidays, in the UK and abroad, cooking, spending time at home in our old cottage. You never know where the next idea is going to come from. they just kind of pop into my head, and can be combinations of different themes which I bring together into a new range or piece of work. I love reading inspiring blogs and listening to podcasts too. After The Jump by Grace Bonney from Design Sponge is one of my favourites. Also I have a plethora of design books, sketchbooks and children's books which never fail to give me inspiration. I also collect images in big box files and I can get them out and look through them if the ideas fail to flow.

What motivates you?

My motivation comes from my ambition to make something special and successful from my own creativity. One of the things that keeps me motivated is looking back over my note books. I've kept them since I took part in the Nottinghamshire Creative Scheme and then when I first started my business. I kept notes of training sessions or events I have been to, meetings I have had with inspiring people. I also kept lots of notes during the Design Factory Mentoring Scheme working with me mentor Debbie Bryan, this was such a period of growth for me that it's great to look back and see what I have achieved in a relatively short time. I've kept notes on things I'm working on, such as trade preparation, to-do-lists, things I need to tackle etc, I think it's really satisfying to be able to look back at these notes and see where you were and how you felt when you first started and where you have got to. Also spending time with creative people keeps me motivated too, sharing ideas, top tips and advice, I think this is really important as working on your own can be isolating at times. Chats with my sister, who runs her own Graphic Design Agency, keeps my spirits high too.

How do you start a new project/design?
If I’m starting something completely new I usually write myself a brief, similar to the ones we had in college, this helps me to formulate my strategy of I’m going to tackle the project. If I’m wokring to a brief from someone else for a commission, I usually make notes from my conversation with the customer and make sure I get everything clear before I start. Sometimes though new ideas just come from sketches and doodles, when I don’t really have a direction in mind. This way sometimes yields the most interesting developments.
What do you enjoy most about being an artist?
I love being my own boss, making the decisions of what I want to do, and not having to please anyone else. I love my studio days as I usually start the day with a walk with my dog and then I head up to the studio with my to-do lists and tasks for the day. I love getting out and meeting other creatives and forming a network of like-minded individuals who are so friendly and supportive. I think the ‘creative-business-world' is really friendly, if you get stuck with something there is always someone to ask.
Do you have a favourite design that you have created?
One of my favourite designs is Truly, Madly Deeply – which was inspired by day out with my Mam, that gave me the idea for the topiary trees. The name of the piece came from a film my husband and I love to watch. Every time I put this into an exhibition I always hope it doesn’t sell, so much so that I’ve decided to keep it for myself!!
What is your typical day like?
Monday to Wednesday I spend my days managing a community Pharmacy in Derbyshire. I do enjoy my job and love working with my lovely team, I wouldn’t want to change that balance. Thursday and Friday are my studio days and I usually get up quite early for a walk with my dog, then I’m up to the studio with a cup of tea, my iPhone for music and podcasts, and the day begins. I usually make a list of things I need to do, which saves time and gives me focus. I try not to spend all day with the computer on as social media and emails get a bit distracting, this helps me to make the most of my days and be as productive as possible.
What medias do you like to use?
My favourite media is an ink pen and lovely crisp sheet of paper. I also love textiles, watercolour and print. I recently did a weekend screen printing course at Leicester Print Workshop and I LOVED it. It’s definitely a technique that suits my work, and it enables me to incorporate colour into my work. I love splashing paint around too, and love nothing more than getting my brushes and paints out, just don’t seem to have much time to do that lately.
Do you get a lot of support from family and friends?
Yes, my family and friends are very supportive. At first my husband was a bit skeptical, and used to have a standing joke that I was going to spend my days ‘colouring in’. When I started selling my work and making some money he soon realised I was serious about my creative venture and now comes along to my events and helps me out. My parents have also been roped in to help last year at Melbourne Arts Festival and they provided cover for me so I could go and explore the other venues. My sister was key in the success of my first trade fair as she helped me out hugely with my branding, promotional info, stand design and also came along to help me over the course of the show.
Where would you like to see yourself in 5 years time?
I would love to be earning a sustainable income from my creative business and spending more time doing it. I’d love to start running my own workshops with schools, and also workshops for other creatives about blogging, being creative and running a small creative business. I’m also really interested in mentoring and coaching start-ups. I love helping people out and would love to work with graduates in the early days of their business. As for my work, I’d love to be exhibiting more regularly and  to have gained some international exposure for my work. Who knows maybe a New York trade fair would be nice?
Do you have a favourite illustrator, designer etc?
No favourites, just lots I really like. I love Heather Moore of SkinnyLaminx, Lotta Jansdotter the printmaker, Rob Ryan, Anita Klein, I could go on forever. Too many to mention
Favourite blog?
Again hard to choose one, I have a list of my favourite blogs on my website. Design Sponge has got to be one of my faves.
Favourite design book?
I love Craft Inc, that really helped me in the early days. It’s not really a design book, more of a start-up guide for people who want to run a creative business. 
Thank you very much for your time Sue, I really appreciate it. 

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