Susannah is a self taught linocutter and printer who creates beautiful coastal prints inspired by her local beaches.
We talk to her about the many different means of selling and promotion, and the process of her craft.
How did Curious Seagull start?
Curious Seagull didn’t really have a definitive start date as such. I have always made things, painted, etc, and up until I decided to actually start selling things to the public I was always just making things for friends and family. Curious Seagull has developed along the way really.
Tell us a bit about your linocutting process – from inspiration to final print.
I’m lucky enough to live a stones throw from the beach. While you sort of end up taking it for granted after a few years, I wouldn’t want to live any further from the sea. There’s so much life and it changes every day! So for me prints generally begin as a thought process while I’m wandering along the seafront or doing a bit of beach combing.
Sometimes I’ll take photos to use, sometimes the idea will just come to me. Then it’s all about sketching, coming up with a final design, then carving the lino! This can be a time consuming process but I enjoy it! Then (after so many hours) a test print can take place and I just cross my fingers and hope my time hasn’t been wasted.
The gyotaku (fish printing) is another story entirely though!
How do you find time for your art around the day job?
With difficulty! I work full time, although I’m lucky as the school I work in is just a few minutes up my street, so not having to commute gives me more time. Working in a school helps; it means I get the school holidays. I’m not actually sure how I’d have time otherwise.
I do the odd thing on weekends of course, and sometimes evenings but I’m usually too tired. It’s hard work – I’d love to be able to dive head first into the printmaking but you have to test the waters first, and having a permanent job sure takes the pressure off!
I do it because I love it. It’s not forced, so I find it easier to make the time.
You sell through Etsy, Folksy and now Country Living Magazine shop. Have you found one more successful than another?
I think it’s important (especially online) to sort of be everywhere, just in case someone stumbles upon your work.
I’ve found Etsy good for views, not so good for sales! I sort of feel like a needle in a haystack on Etsy, but it’s cheap to stay there so I do.
Folksy is good for me, for the first few months on there I did really well. The forum on the website is great as well, and other users are helpful and supportive.
Country Living didn’t have many sellers when I started with them so I did well, but as time has gone on it’s not proven the best. I have since set up my own website and there’s a new shop in Corbridge, Northumberland called Trunk Reclaimed displaying my work. I also find being on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram helps.
What advice would you give someone thinking of changing careers to do something different?
Don’t be scared! You’ll be amazed how supportive people are if you go for it!
Promotion is key – but be interesting and don’t promote-overkill!
If you do a craft fair, use it as a marketing tool. I did one a few weeks ago, did really well (I surprised myself!) but made sure to learn from it.
And realise before anything else that, for most people, becoming rich from your artwork/crafts doesn’t happen overnight! It takes time, hard work and dedication. If one month is pretty flat, it doesn’t mean the next one will be too!
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