Artist: Lucie Summers
Location: A small town in Suffolk, UK
Web site: LuSummers
What do you create?
I make a variety of things, but primarily layered mixed media pieces incorporating vintage and new papers, block printing and stitch. I always think of them as an extension of my textile work which is where my real love lies. Just recently I've had a real yearning to get back into stitching with cloth.
When and why did you decide to start your business?
Almost 3 years ago, soon after my second son was born I decided that if I wanted any other identity other than 'Frank and Arthur's mum' I'd better start fairly quickly! So I think Arthur was about two weeks old. Can you tell I'm impatient? ;) I didn't really think of it as a business at the time though, more the seeds of one; I was making things and getting a few commissions through word of mouth. It didn't really get going seriously until a year ago when I opened my Etsy shop.
Where do you get your inspiration for your projects?
Getting outside is my biggest inspiration - we live in a fairly rural area famed for it's flat land and big skies and I love it. Leaves are a constant motif in my work, and I love to make floral print blocks that are almost cartoonish in style.
Which of the tools you use is your favorite?
Rather unexcitingly, my big 24 x 6" acrylic ruler makes my life alot easier, along with my rotary cutter. I couldn't live without my sewing machine though.
What keeps you motivated?
I just want to make stuff. Everyday. I have ideas, sometimes tons of them and I just want to make them come to life. Goodness, that sounds deep doesn't it? I love using new materials in different ways too, I try not to hem myself in by just using one disipline. I probably would get fed up if I didn't try experimenting with other techniques.
How do you get the word out about your work?
The Internet is my only marketing tool. I'm useless talking about what I do face to face. Even now, the friends I've made at the school gates think I do clothes alterations. If I said: 'Actually, I'm a mixed media artist' they'd think I was a mental case. Sometimes I'm lucky enough to be featured in design blogs which is obviously a real boost. Having my own blog is invaluable, as is my Flickr account and Etsy shop. The three work together like a well oiled machine :) Flickr has been the reason I got a couple of commissions; the first was designing some packaging backgrounds for Frito-Lay (which are due out in supermarkets in the States in September) and the second was illustrating the cover of a book for Storey Publishing.
What is your main goal for the next 6-12 months?
I've got a few things up my sleeve, but at the moment my husband and I are renovating his childhood home, he's a farmer and the house is on the farm. So actually my main aim in 6 months is to be settled at the new house. In around a year I'd like to be seriously involved in printing my own fabric to sell. I don't know how yet, I just know that I'd like to give it a go.
What advice would you give to someone starting a creative business?
Do your research. Get an Etsy shop (or similar) start a blog and get a Flickr account. Above all, love what you do and take bloody good photographs!
What’s the most important thing you’d like people to know/understand about your work?
That I seriously am doing what I love. It has its ups and downs, especially financially, but I'd be doing this even if everything I made ended up in my cupboards. At the risk of sounding horribly cheesy, I make with my heart and soul. (oh good grief, pass the sick bucket :)
Who are some of your favorite designers/artists? Why?
I've always liked Lucienne Day's use of line and space and more recently, I've become a fan of Norfolk artist Angie Lewen, her work is very fifties-inspired. A friend I met on Flickr, Sarah Ahearn is also a current favourite, I could gaze at her mixed media paintings all day. Her use of colour is amazing.
I have enormous respect for Heather Moore aka Skinny Laminx. I love how she turns her hand from illustration to paper cutouts to screen print designs. Fantastic.
If you had the time, what new craft/medium would you like to learn or use?
I'd like to be able to design and make furniture. I like wood but it frustrates me that you can't cut it with scissors. I'd also like to have a go on a potter's wheel.
If you could only pick one which would it be ink or thread? Why?
Thread every time! You can 'draw' with the sewing machine with free machine embroidery and stitch things together with it. You can also use it by hand and machine on fabric, paper and a bazillion other surfaces. So thread, for sure.
Pick three words that describe you and pick three words that describe your work.
Me: impatient, enthusiastic, passionate
My work: thoughtful, fresh, layered
What's your definition of a perfect day?
On a particular beach in Portugal, with happy kids, a new Michael Connelly and my sketchbook. Bliss.
Thank you Lucie!