Thursday, 21 June 2012

Featuring... Sue Bulmer, Artist

So here we are again with another talented person I have come across in my crafting journey, this time it is Sue Bulmer, an artist I came across on a LinkedIn group (have to love social networking!) and I thought her designs were absolutely stunning.  So without further ado....

Sue Bulmer

Q.  Let’s start with a little bit about you…

Well, my name is Sue Bulmer and I’m an artist from the North East of England but living in Nottinghamshire in a little cottage with my lovely husband and dog. Originally I trained in Pharmacy but came back to my artistic roots in 2007 when I embarked on a part time Foundation Course in Art and Design. Since then I have been exploring working in many different media, print, paint, textiles, to name but a few, developing my style and ideas.

I took part in a Creative Business course in 2010 where I got to work with an amazing group of designers and from there my idea for my creative business took shape. I began to concentrate on my ink illustrations and have been building up my portfolio and stockists since the beginning of 2011. I’ve taken part in several exhibitions in the UK and I launched my current collection at BCTF in April 2012.

I love working part time for myself, it’s extremely rewarding, hard work but fulfilling and I wouldn’t swap it for the world.

Sue Bulmer

Q.  Your designs are stunning, where do you draw your inspiration from?

I got my original inspiration for my bird illustrations from the chickens my parents own, when I was sat sketching them one day. Ideas developed and grew and became what is my current collection ‘Birds of a Feather’. I also get inspired from getting out and about and always take a sketchbook or camera with me to record what I see. From topiary trees to my own garden, and even inside in my kitchen, I’m always on the look out for interesting things to draw, and ideas seem to stem from initial sketches. I love the creative process and looking back to see how ideas develop and grow organically into the final product or piece.

I also get inspiration from my family, and the relationships I have with the nearest and dearest in my life have influenced my recent work. Song lyrics, phrases and sayings also help to shape my work, and sometimes the titles of my illustrations can be as important as the actual image.

Q.  Can you describe your typical working day?

Thursdays and Fridays are my two studio days and they are the days in the week I look forward to the most. I usually plan what I need to do after I finish my day job on Wednesday evening so I know what I need to get done in the next two days. I find that having less time to spend running a creative business definitely makes me be more focused, I need to make the most of my time and having my task list really does help.

Ideally I’d get up about 7.30am and take my dog for a walk or a run and then be in the studio by about 9.00ish with a cup of tea and my iPod, as I love listening to music or the radio while I’m in the studio. I’d check through my emails first thing to make sure I’m up to date with my communications and then start to tackle the list of jobs for the day. These could range from paperwork and accounts, to collecting work from the framers, ordering supplies (although I try to get these jobs done in evenings during the week), putting orders together, researching new galleries, fairs and shows, filling applications in and sending them off etc. I thought I would spend all of my days drawing and sketching but the reality at the moment is that I only spend about 40% of my time doing that at the moment as I’ve been catching up with post-trade fair orders.

I usually break for lunch around 1ish although sometimes I get that carried away I don’t end up realising I’m hungry until tea time and I will spend the afternoon working on commissions, orders, doing a bit of social networking as well, and usually having a creative catch up with my sister over the phone at some point during the day.

I’ve recently been lucky enough to have been chosen to take part in a pilot Mentoring Scheme through Design Factory so I’ll be spending some of my time over the next six months working with a mentor and developing my work. I had my first meeting last week and I’m feeling very inspired, positive and enthused about taking my business forward. It’s a great opportunity and I want to make sure I make the most of it so watch this space…

Q.  And what’s your favourite design you’ve done so far?

I think my favourite design I’ve done so far would have to be Truly, Madly, Deeply. I got the initial idea of the topiary when I was out for the day with my mam at Thorpe Perrow in Yorkshire, I saw these funky chunky unusual trees and thought ‘they just have to feature in my next piece’. Also the title for the design is taken from one of my favourite films, it makes me cry every time but I just love it, Alan Rickman and Juliet Stevenson singing ‘The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore’… just lovely!

Sue Bulmer

Q.  You did a great series of blog posts about exhibiting at a trade show (visit by clicking here)  What was the key piece of advice you were given when you first started out as an artist?

Oh blimey, good question. I can’t remember!! I can’t really remember anyone giving me advice when I decided to take my art up again, as I think everyone thought I was just pursuing it as a hobby, until it grew into something a bit more. I do recall someone saying that if it made me happy then I should give it go. If I had to give someone one piece of advice it would be that if you believe in yourself and your work you really can make things happen with a bit of grit and determination.

Q.  How can people get in touch with you?

Twitter – @sooziebee71
Website –

Q.  Other than your art, illustrations and textiles, are there any other crafts you dabble in or would love to have a go at?

I definitely want to do some screen printing this year, my parents bought me a screen printing day as a present for my last birthday so I need to get that booked soon. I’m looking forward to printing some of my images in colour so this should be an ideal way of making that happen. I also want to do some mono printing as well, after a fab sketchbook peeks interview on my blog inspired me to get my inks out. And I’m also working on developing a range of kitchen ware this summer, so watch this space… it’s coming soon!!

Q.  So, time for the random question…. What would be your dream holiday?

My ideal holiday would be to spend time with my husband and dog somewhere quiet, fairly isolated, peaceful, dog-friendly, and sunny with good walking, breath-taking scenery and a beach or two thrown in for good measure (and a pic-nic!)… the west coast of Scotland without the midges!

Q.  And finally, what does 2012 hold for you?

Well, it’s been great so far with my first trade fair and new stockists to add to my list, so I’m hoping for more of the same. I want to steadily grow my business with the help of the mentoring scheme, show my work at a couple of the bigger selling shows (you can see me at Melbourne Arts Festival in September) and just continue to love what I do and be happy!!

That's great, thank you Sue.  I think you should all go and take a peek at her work! 

Until next time...

Amanda x 


  1. I'm also an admirer of Sue's work. Knowing that she works part time and is making such a success is very inspiring and encouraging. Great interview.

    1. I know, it's inspiring isn't it! Glad you liked the interview x