We are excited to announce a regular new feature we're launching called 'The Artrepreneur Update' where we will be bringing you exciting news about artists who have shown with us either at New Artist Fair or Talented Art Fair. You can keep up with the latest news from the latest artists! We're thrilled to start this monthly feature off with an interview from Sue Haskel about becoming a professional artist and how she's preparing for her upcoming solo show at the Plateaux Gallery next month. Read more here...
1) When did you first start creating artwork, how did you start out?
I have had a passion for creating artwork since I was a young child and am always keen to express ideas in visual form. Though I studied Art at A level, my first career was in corporate marketing - however I always kept up my interest in art by taking a variety of courses including portrait sculpture, life drawing, pottery and printmaking. I changed career and trained as an interior designer at Chelsea College setting up my own practice and concentrating in residential work in London. I switched career again (!) starting as a full-time artist just under two years ago.
2) What was your first entry in London's art world and what did you gain from that experience?
I booked a local art fair in North London before I had created some work to sell – but it focussed the mind! I work best with deadlines so I continued to do this and was happily accepted for the New Artist Fair in Brick Lane. This was an excellent first step into the London art world run by a friendly, supportive and professional team. I learned a great deal through these experiences such as how essential good planning is – not just getting your work ready but thinking about how to present your “brand” in a professional way. Learning to price your work is tricky – and working out actual profit after all expenses is important so I now keep a close track of these! Meeting other artists is so important too - they are often prodigious sources of advice and encouragement as well as offering a great sense of camaraderie. Communication is key – and my marketing background has helped – from making sure I had good signage telling people about my work and background, leaflets and business cards on display as well as collecting and following up with as many contacts as possible and documenting events on social media.
3) You have a solo exhibition coming up in July at The Plateaux Gallery in Mayfair, can you tell us some more about this?
My show, The Third Dimension runs from 12th July to August 31st. The name derives from the fact that I essentially transform two-dimensional materials such as paper into three dimensional forms. Over twenty works will be displayed within the Plateaux Gallery and throughout the sumptuous surroundings of the Thomas Goode store in South Audley Street.
4) You do much more than just make collage artworks, tell us about your creation process and how you decide your subject matter?
I believe my background in sculpture and design has drawn me towards creating three-dimensional work. For my subject matter I am inspired by the world around me, from the natural to the man-made and am struck by how some forms lend themselves more than others to my work - I am always on the look-out for new ideas. I look at pattern and repetition, light and shadow, contrast and texture and you will find all these aspects in my work. I enjoy the movement and drama of a three-dimensional piece which I create by mounting objects in multiple layers. To date my themes have included leaves, fish and butterflies, books, pyramid structures and abstract shapes. Sometimes a commission can spark a new direction - maybe something I have never considered before. A publisher asked me to create a 3D collage out of books and now this is one of my most popular themes for commissions as I can add in a client’s own photos and make them into book covers giving a really personal touch.
Many of compositions include symbols of optimism. For example, I am drawn to butterflies – they are powerful representations of life. Indeed, in many cultures the butterfly is associated with the soul and seen as a symbol of change and joy, a miracle of transformation.
I spend time searching for the best papers and background, cutting the shapes using a variety of techniques including hand-cutting and stamping and then mounting each piece in relation to those surrounding it (lots of fiddly work and glue involved!). I also consider the framing carefully - this can add a great deal to a picture, indeed it is part of the work. As my pictures are three-dimensional, I have them mounted in box frames using non-reflective art glass (totally worth the extra cost) and I usually use double mounts to emphasise the 3D effect.
5) What are you currently working on?
At the moment I am working really hard creating pictures for my exhibition incorporating themes such as leaves, pyramids as well as some new ideas inspired by the items on sale throughout Thomas Goode. I have also just finished a commission with a book theme for a business event.
6) How do you find the time to create, promote your work, complete commissions, organize your events and plan your next art fair or exhibition?
I love both the creating and the marketing aspects of making my way as an artist so I am torn between the two. Although my background is in corporate marketing, I am enlisting others to help with various aspects of promotion to enable me to concentrate on creating work before my show. I work from home so I am pretty flexible and it helps that I don’t need too much sleep! I am, by nature, task oriented and have written plans for each event and all the deadlines for commissions – I have now scheduled 7 commissions through to October, but none to be completed before my show in July. I find that working away for hours is quite solitary and sedentary so I do try to make sure I leave time to socialise, exercise (hello Fitbit!) and research new ideas. I am also making a fair number of trips to the framers, sourcing materials and trying to keep a grip on my finances.
7) Has being able to exhibit at The Plateaux Gallery boosted your confidence as an artist?
Absolutely! My work has generally sold well at art fairs and exhibitions but I feel really honoured to be exhibiting in the stunning surroundings of the Plateaux Gallery within Thomas Goode in Mayfair. Plateaux Gallery owner Leo Duval has been very supportive and encouraging. He has the most exquisite works (primarily in glass) on display which has deservedly earned him a world-wide reputation so I feel extremely lucky to have this opportunity.
8) What is next in line for you after your ‘Third Dimension’ Solo Show in July and August?
I will see how well my work is received during the exhibition. As I mentioned, I have several commissions to complete from July onwards and some other opportunities to exhibit in the pipeline. I also look forward to some less frenetic time(!) – to explore some new ideas, learn some new skills and come back to my work afresh.
9) What advice would you give to artists starting out or trying to break through to the bigger stage?
For more information about Sue or to register to visit her Private View, click here. Don't forget to check back next month for our next Atrepreneur Update.