Monday, 22 September 2014

Transforming inspiration


transforming inspirationI’m really interested in the creative process and how different artists and designers work – how do they take their initial inspiration for an idea and transform it into a final piece of work. My series of sketchbook interviews on my last blog ‘Sketchbook Peeks’ gave us a glimpse into the sketchbooks of a wide selection of artist and designer-makers and I was constantly intrigued into the different ways that we all work. In today’s I’m going to share with you and example of how my original ink illustration Truly Madly Deeply came into existence.

sue_bulmer_truly_inspiration

The idea for my topiary trees in Truly Madly Deeply came from a day out at Thorpe Perrow in North Yorkshire one Mother’s Day weekend when my Mam and I spent the day wandering around the gardens and enjoying the daffodils. We came across these unusual looking trees and as soon as I saw them I just knew I had to take some photos and include the beautiful forms into my work.

sue_bulmer_truly_madly

I think this goes to prove that you never really know where you will find your next bit of inspiration, which is why it’s a great idea to always carry a camera or sketchbook with you when you are out and about.

I’d love to hear where you found the inspiration for your current piece of work – feel free to leave a comment below.

Friday, 19 September 2014

open for business


Hi folks, I can’t believe it’s Friday already. I’m blogging this morning with a bit of excited news. I’m super-pleased to announce that I launched the Sue Bulmer online shop last night so I’m now officially  OPEN FOR BUSINESS (and I’ve already had some orders!!)

It has taken 11 months from my last website closing down to get to get to this point and it hasn’t been a walk in the park, let me tell you! It has taken me what seems like AGES to get here. I suppose during those 11 months I did step away from the business for a while as explained here so that did delay things somewhat. Making a new website was the last thing on my mind for much of that time but I’m pleased to say I got there in the end (a big thanks of course going to Heather Maloney of The Design Engine)

One of the biggest challenges for me was the task of product photography. It has seemed like a never ending process; setting up the shots, sorting out composition, editing, saving them at the correct size for the site and then seeing what they look like online. It has caused me hours of frustration but I think I got there in the end. I’m really grateful to those of you who left me valuable feedback on my Facebook page about styling, it really did help.

Why not pop over and have a look for yourself. I’d love to know what you think?

Thursday, 18 September 2014

The benefits of a creative break


Benefits of a Creative BreakAt the end of 2013 I was well and truly fed-up with being creative. I never thought I would ever feel that way since starting up my own creative business in 2011. I had just completed a Creative Business support programme in 2010 and I was ready to start on my own, building on all the things I’d learned throughout the previous year.

To cut a long story short, I spent the next couple of years working on my product ranges, developing my illustrative style, gaining stockists, forming solid working relationships with other creatives and collaborating as and when I could. I was applying to, and getting accepted for the shows and fairs I had previously aspired to and I was generally feeling really good about how things were panning out.

But things took a bit of a down turn. After a less than successful second trade fair where I made a bit of a blunder with my new range and then a few selling events when I barely covered my costs, I began to falter. I lost my confidence and drive and found that I was starting to dread the weekends when I would have to pack up my whole studio into those blue IKEA bags, haul it all to the next fair and bring most of it back home again at the end of it. I was losing the sparkle and enjoyment of something I had previously loved and it was making me question WHY I was doing it and whether I even wanted to continue.

Around about this time my other job was also providing me with my fair share of challenges and with Christmas looming I also had the general busy-ness of the good old festive season to deal with and a seemingly endless list of things to do. I strongly believe that sometimes life is like juggling a set of balls, there are only so many you can keep in the air at one time without dropping one. With this is mind I knew something had to give and I decided to spend some time away from the business to preserve my sanity!!  And so my creative break or sabbatical began! You can read all about it here in these three blog posts which I wrote at the end of 2013…

http://suebulmer.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/quiet-time.html

http://suebulmer.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/contemplation-and-head-space.html

http://suebulmer.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/creative-wish-list-for-2014.html

So I had time away, did some of the things that I set out to do in this blog post  (doing more sketching, taking my sketchbook out and about with me, taking an e-course and an painting workshop etc) and just like that things started to change . I slowly started to get my enthusiasm back. I met up with a Design Factory colleague which made me feel a lot better when we went over my wish list I had in 2011 when I first joined Design Factory and I was happy to realise I had achieved nearly all of the things I had set out to do.

Having had my own creative break, which yes, I admit, I was fortunate enough to be able do, and now feeling like I’m back there are a few things I have learned that I wanted to share:

  • Like everything else, creativity has its ups and downs, embrace both, they are both part of the journey
  • There’s nothing wrong with taking time out – pushing yourself on through times of low motivation can sometimes do more harm than good – know your limits. Even if you can spare a day away, it’s better than nothing.
  • Time away gives you great perspective – and that is something that I carry through other areas of my life too. When you run a creative  business you ARE the business and sometimes you are too close to it to see things clearly. Having time away and doing something completely different can help you gain clarity and perspective
  • Everyone needs time off – and coming to realise and accept that makes it a whole lot easier to do. Don’t give yourself a hard time about it. You’re not a failure, just normal.
  • Talking to other creative people really helped me – it’s great to get the perspective of others. Surrounding yourself with positive and understanding people makes such a difference and can even help banish your negative feelings and pull you back up again.

pattern_strip

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

30 Day Blogging Challenge



So I mentioned yesterday I was back to the blog after having had some time away - and what better way to get back into it than a 30 Day Blogging Challenge (which you can find out all about here.) I'd noticed that Jenny Creasey from Itch Gallery had been doing and she kindly told me all about it yesterday, it sounded so good that I signed up straight away. I think this is exactly what I need to get me back into the habit of blogging. This is officially Day 2 - so I have a long way to go but lots of great things I want to share with you. I will be revisiting some of the old favourites as I migrate across to Wordpress - the most popular one was all about Writing a Sale or Return agreement, as well as others about preparing for trade shows, getting to know your customers, approaching galleries with your work, how to deal with creative ups and downs and things you can do to help your inspiration and creativity.

I've also got lots to tell you about what I've been up to for the past 8 months, what I have learned whilst stepping away from my creative business for a while and the benefits it had brought to me, as well as the things in the pipeline that I have coming up before Christmas and going into 2015.
So for now, I had better get on with my shop so it's all ready for launch later in the week..... See you tomorrow!

By the way I will be posting the 30 day blogging challenge to both blogs and then I will be kissing Blogger goodbye and migrating totally over to my new website

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

back to the blog

Hi there people, its been a while since I've blogged as there have been so many things going on here. Firstly there was my well-needed creative break which I have really benefited from. Initially it was only going to be from January until March but then it kind of expanded to cover most of the summer. I'm going to blog about it in more detail soon. Then there was the fabulous e-course Unearth Gather Create by the very talented tutor and my friend Gillian Lee Smith, which I am still working through. It's been fantastic to learn more about colour, technique and working in different media. I've still not completed all of the lessons but will be trying to squeeze some in over the next few months. There's been the new website (ta dah!! which I'm really proud of I must say, although getting to grips with wordpress has been a challenge!), as well as some important changes in my job,(more about that soon) and lots of weekends away over the summer in our lovely caravan, visiting lots of places in the UK. So although it has been refreshing and revitalising to take some time away from my business it's great to be back.

blog_sue_mac


So you might be wondering what I have planned for the next few months.... Well, of course there will be the shop launch later this week, which has been long awaited as far as I'm concerned. Just a few more tweaks and a few 'never-seen-before' products to add and then I will ready to press 'publish' and you can spend all your hard earned cash on my goodies. There is an extensive collection of prints, cards and tea towels as well as some screen prints in colour and some mixed media work.

I'm hoping to hold a sale of some of my older work. I seem to be out-growing the studio at the moment, so I really need to make some space for new work. And also I plan to hold an Open Studio Day and just need to clarify the date for that. If you haven't seen it already there is the fab commission giveaway to celebrate the new website  - all you need to do is sign up the newsletter at the bottom of the page before the end of November and I will be holding a prize draw on December 1st.

You will be able to see me at the Harley Christmas Market once again this year. This is a great Christmas fair and one of my very favourites where you can find an extensive range of high quality hand made and crafted good, from jewellery to ceramics, textiles and art. The resident artists studios are also open and this is great opportunity to see where the magic happens and visit and chat to the makers in their studios.
So that's all the news for now. I will be back to a more regular blogging schedule from now on - I've set myself a blogging challenge which a colleague of mine told me about. More soon....

Monday, 1 September 2014

Hurray- the new website has landed


So hello there my dear blog readers - I just wanted to let you all know that my new website went live today and to celebrate I'm having a giveaway!! All you need to do is to sign up to the newsletter on my new site and you have the chance to win a personalised original commission (yes your very own Sue Bulmer original drawn just for YOU!!) The details can all be found here

So as you can see my new website also has a blog included so I will be leaving blogger (sniff sniff!)and heading on over to Wordpress (eek!!) - I will continue to post on here for a few more week as well until I get fully used to my new pad and then will eventually totally move and stop posting here.

Monday, 11 August 2014

BIG NEWS!!



Well hi there again I'm glad to say I'm back - lots of exciting things have been going on in the background and lots of exciting news to share - the biggest being that I've finally taken a big step towards a major reshuffle as far as my work life goes - I've resigned from my job and am hoping to spend lots more time on my creative business in the very near future, I've been thinking about it for a while but something was holding me back, and I think it was fear of the unknown, and the fear of giving up my financial security. My husband has been very supportive of my decision, work have been fantastic and very understanding and I'm starting to feel the stirrings of excitement and possibility rather than the sheer panic I felt when I first decided what I was going to do. It was very 'un-me' thing to do as I normally think decisions like this through to the nth degree but this time i just went with my gut feeling and did it!!!

Secondly I have lots planned for the rest of the year. Whilst I haven't planned any Christmas selling events I will be launching my new website and shop in September, celebrating with a weekly giveaway each week during that month. Then I'm holding a big Facebook sale in October (watch out for some amazing bargains) and an Open Studio in November. So I think that the rest of the year is going to be busy but I'm feeling in a place now where I have recovered my enthusiasm and drive so sky's the limit now, who knows what is around the corner. Someone said to me this week 'leap and the net will appear' and that has already been proved to me in this last week. 

I think now I just need to pace myself, and having said goodbye to some of my daily stresses I think I will be much more equipped to approach my creative work with a more balanced and consistent state of mind. Hurray, let good time roll!!

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Just 'being'....



I just wanted to drop by and say hello and I'm still here, just taking a bit of time out enjoying the summer, lots of time away in my caravan, exploring the great British countryside, out walking with husband and dog, reading Jane Austen books, working through my ecourse, and just generally enjoying 'being' rather than the constant 'doing' of the past couple of years. The break is great, the pressure is off and I'm just enjoying life, but that's not to say I'm disappearing.... I will be back later on this year when I launch my brand new website celebrating with a great big studio sale... Watch this space everyone - it'll be worth the wait!!

See you soon x

Thursday, 8 May 2014

New habits





Have you ever got so caught up with your creative direction that you become blinkered to change or to doing things differently? You know what works for you so you stick to your tried and tested success recipe? It's so easy to slip into a comfortable and familiar way of working, it feels good and it works for you, and you do it so often it becomes second nature. This can be great, the work flows and everything seems rosy. I feel this has been me for the last few years, I got into a groove and went with it, I've had a fab time, and have achieved lots more than I ever thought I would. But what happens when you start feeling stale, unfulfilled or just plain bored with what you are doing? You lose one of your magic ingredient, and the recipe you have been working with no longer works for you....

Well, you know the expression 'a change is as good as a rest'? I think it just might be true. The course I'm currently taking (Unearth, Gather, Create) has un-blinkered me - the prompts and tasks I have done so far are stretching me to work and think in ways I haven't before and I'm loving it. Writing, for example, has never really been part of my creative process, unless of course you count the endless lists I used to compile for myself on a weekly basis. This was writing but in its most practical sense!! 

Unearth, Gather, Create is encouraging me to incorporate creative writing and journaling into my practice, something I initially really struggled with. Remember that beautiful leather bound journal I mentioned a while ago? I've been using that to write in, but seem to have been going round in circles with the things I was saying and it seemed pointless. Something in this process seemed to be jarring and not quite coming naturally and it was niggling away at me. Then one of the lesson prompts seems to just make it click into place. 

My practical side was battling with the creative side - I wasn't writing the things I thought I 'should' be, but I couldn't work out what it was I 'should' be writing. When the penny finally dropped, I realised that there isn't really a prescribed formula to this writing lark, everyone is unique, and you just have to try to find the formula that works for you, so I decided to just start making notes from the tutorials, and plans and ideas soon came tumbling out onto the paper... Then the lightbulb went on and I realised I was doing it, just writing.... creatively.... No disjointed unsatisfactory feelings of inadequacy, just writing.
So, my point is, after my rather long winded explanation, I've now formed a new habit of writing as part of my creative process and I think it is helping, with the thought provoking prompts from Gillian, to help me for the jigsaw pieces of my own creativity back together in a new and exciting way. I can't way to see what it will look like when it's completed....


Thursday, 1 May 2014

Why I enrolled on an ecourse...

      

Have you ever thought that ….
  • you don’t have any ideas to develop work from
  • you have difficulty knowing where or how to begin in developing your own style.
  • you want to expand your own personal language in mark-making and expression.
  • you want to go beyond being inspired by other artists but think everything has been done before.
  • you want to develop your own unique style and create art that you are deeply connected with.
  • you have the skills to create art, but it no longer excites you.

These words spoke to me!! This was the opening statement for the Ecourse I enrolled on earlier this year. The timing was perfect, I'd decided to have a few months away from the work I had been doing, and I thought this was the ideal tool to help me achieve some perspective during 2014. I will admit, yes I was sceptical, having never participated in such a course before, I didn't know how it would all work and whether I could even achieve any of the above within the allotted time, but I thought I'd take a chance and treat myself anyway.

Having gathered my materials, nervously anticipated the first week of lessons and started to work my way through the tasks and exercises I can say it has already got me to think about my art and creativity in ways I never have before. It has been like going back to school. Gillian's style of teaching makes it so easy to connect with what she has set out to achieve with this course, and I'm finding myself listening to the tutorial ideas, making notes and setting out my goals and ideas for the course.

Last week, after I got back from Wales is decided to go right back to the beginning and started to explore the mark making lesson. It was great to get my hands dirty and rediscover the contents of my cupboard. It felt like Christmas had come again as I started to unearth my stash of art supplies, most of which had been long forgotten as my obsession with black ink and white paper had grown over the past couple of years. There has been no space for dirty finger marks and dust and smudges in my studio with the work I had been making recently so it felt a bit strange to break out the charcoal and blending sticks, pastels and erasers and just make some marks onto paper. But the more I did, the more I realised what I have been missing and it felt amazing to start to see that there is more to my creative direction than intricate ink, pristine and precise line. So already you can see what a difference this course could potentially make to me.... I'll be blogging about it as I go.... Feel free to join me!!

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