Sunday, 28 September 2014

Maintaining the right mindset

I've just read a blog post by Jo Gifford, Dexterous Diva, about the challenges of maintaining the mindset a successful entrepreneur or creative business owner and this really made me think about my own journey over the past three years and how I've struggled at times with my mindset. Some of Jo' top tips and points really resonated with me and helped me to put into words how I came out of my creative dip and what I'd do that helped.

Jo Gifford - Dexterous Diva
I don't know about you but I love the buzz of running my own business, the fact I can decide what kind of work I do, what time to get out of bed in a morning, what yo wear, how to fit my dog walk into my day, when to book my meeting and appointments and just generally how to be my own boss. So what do we do when the days that don't go as well as we would have liked or when doubt start to creep in and make us question our own ability and vision?
I got to this point late in 2013. In 2012 things went so well for me I couldn't really have wished for anything more. 2013 started well but then things started to go down hill. A disastrous trade fair experience and a few selling fairs which didn't go as planned. Add into this the beginning of the most stressful twelve months in my other job and all that entailed and I was ready for throwing in the creative towel. I felt like it was all just too much effort for the returns I was seeing and this was making me question why I was even attempting this chosen path. I just couldn't be bothered to haul my work to selling fairs anymore, couldn't face the thought of working on my new website and getting it ready for the public to see, my blogging suffered and dropped off to a handful of halfhearted blog posts, pondering the reasons why I was feeling the way I was, and mulling over my future course.

So what led to my change of heart and what have I learned so I can reduce the chances of this happening again in the future? I've really struggled with how to put into words and understand how I came back but Jo has really helped me to see what has worked for me. In her blog post she mentions a few things you should do when you are feeling low and can't recapture the lost feelings  of positivity:

  • Look back and see how far you have come - this always works for me. I am an avid list maker so it's always great to look back at my achievements which have been recorded in my todo lists. Doing this gives me a very realistic interpretation of where I was at any given time, things I was dealing with and going through, and things achieved as tasks were crossed of my list.
  • Rediscover your flow and reconnect with yourself - through enrolling on an Ecourse and a couple of workshops run by other artists helped me to reconnect with myself, looking at what inspired me and helping me to make sense of my own journey. It made me pick up a pen, pencil, charcoal and get back to basics and get something down on paper again. This felt good.
  • Stepping out and getting away - my creative sabbatical was a conscious decision to step away from my business. I knew it was something I needed to do. I was starting to really fall out with my work and everything I had previously loved to do. I took time to go away in the caravan, didn't take a sketchbook with me, I started reading more, the escape of fiction giving me valuable headspace and distance from the business. There is a wonderful quote which jo mentions in her posts which is all about the miracle happening when you are gone. This is so true.
I slowly started to feel my old self return, the embers of my enthusiasm were once again stoked and glowing and I started to swap my choice of fiction to creative business books and those old feeling I had so enjoyed throughout 2012 returned. As you've probably gathered I'm now feeling back to my old self and I'm loving the way I'm feeling about my business. I'm ready for new challenges and opportunities and ready to embrace a life with less of my old job in it and more creativity!

If you'd like to read Jo's other top tips for things to do when you are feeling crappy and useless you can read her full post here. Her website nad blog is jam packed full with other gems such as this, and if anyone is able to inspire you to maintain your mindset it is Jo.

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.


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.


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…

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.


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.


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.

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