Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Etsy shop find... a chat with Suzy Ultman!

This months etsy shop interview is with the very lovely Suzy Ultman.
I've admired Suzys work for quite some time so it's great to be able to feature her beautiful work on the blog.
With an amazing sounding childhood, its no wonder she spends her days doodling and designng fantastical worlds filled with intrigue and glorious detail to make you smile!
I won't drop any spoilers but anything involving the Muppets and Snoopy is good in my book.

So, get comfy, and lets get to know the very talented Suzy Ultman...



1. Can you tell us a bit about you and your background... 

I was born & raised in central Pennsylvania. As a kid, I spent time collecting stickers, playing board games, dancing jazz-tap-ballet, watching the Muppets, picking berries in the woods, perfecting my Snoopy sketches, adventuring with my sisters, woodworking with my dad, and baking & sewing with my mom.
I loved to draw & create, and in high school, discovered a talent for visual problem solving. 
This all led to undergrad and graduate work in graphic design. 
I had a healthy career in the field. 
Then, I became a Mom, and poured my creativity into motherhood, until a twist of fate brought me to Lilla Rogers doorstep. 
About 7 years ago, an artist friend encouraged me to join a studio class taught by Lilla. 
I had just moved to Boston, and was in temporary housing with no babysitters. 
I found a sitter through an online service, and committed to the course. 
At the end of the 8-week class, Lilla encouraged me to draw, draw, draw. 
I threw myself into creating my illustration portfolio. 
Soon, I was invited to be part of the LRS Agency gang, and I’ve been drawing for a living ever since.



2. How would you describe your art style?

My style is modern nostalgic. 
The look is simple and charming with sophisticated whimsy.



3. What’s been the highlight of your career so far?

I was lucky enough to meet one of my design heroes, Jonathan Adler. 
I was invited to the JA New York studio after working on a small project for the company. Mr. Adler was charismatic, chic & cheeky, colorful, energetic, brilliant, funny, on-fire, larger-than-life and at the same time completely down-to-earth. We talked about design, creative process, taking risks, and maintaining brand integrity. 
He was everything I expected and more.


4. Who are your design heroes and how do you stay inspired?

Mary Blair, Charles Shultz, Ed Emberley, Dick Bruna, Fiep Westendorp, Jim Henson, Seymour Chwast, Paul Rand, Ben Shahn, Alexander Girard, Rosemary Taylor (Potter), Jonathan Adler, Marc Jacobs, Yoshitomo Nara.

I surround myself with an assortment of vintage, Dutch, Scandinavian, and Japanese books, ephemera, art, and homewards. 
am attracted to the clean beauty of Scandinavian design, and the rich storytelling of traditional folk art. 
I also love the textures and colours used in 1950s/60s cartoon background art. 
These collections, along with spending time in nature, traveling, hanging-out with my family, baking, meditating, and smiling keep me inspired.


 5. Tell us about a typical day for you…

After the kids are off to school, my workday begins. 
I set-up shop in the dining room. 
My house has floor to ceiling glass running along this room. 
The light is amazing and I can watch the birds at the feeder as I draw.
Since I have a lot of control over my work schedule, I like to keep my days varied, and mix-up the workload -- I balance my days among creative process, production, and administration tasks. I also include play-time in my schedule, where I explore new ideas or create work just for myself. Each day is different!


6. Can you give us an insight into your creative process?


I approach every project, from a fabric collection to a toy design, the same: (1) form a solid concept (2) have fun (3) tell a good story with a lot of detail (4) include the “Suzy-wink”.

Also important to the process are a good cup of coffee, a fun snack, and music.


7. What’s the most popular item for sale in your etsy shop? And your personal favourite?

The most popular item in my shop is my “Blandford Birdies” print. I am very excited about my newest item – the “Vespa Girl” pillow! It is adorable riding along on the sofa.


8. What are your top 5 favourite books from your childhood?

Crictor The Boa Constrictor -- Tomi Ungerer
In The Night Kitchen – Maurice Sendak
Rosie’s Walk – Pat Hutchins
The Happy Lion’s Quest – Louise Fatio
Come Over to My House – Theo Le Sieg


9. What’s the most rewarding thing about being a designer/illustrator?

I get to be myself every day.


10. What's your guilty pleasure?

DONUTS!!! If I’ve had a really productive work week, I treat myself, and the kids of course, to a donut J We have a special bakery in town, known for their peanut butter filled, chocolate iced, bacon topped donuts! I keep it simple though – vanilla cream, yuuuuum.


11. What are your top three blogs?

That's a hard one to narrow down to just three. 
I have different blogs for different research -- paper, pattern, home dec, kids, europe trends...


12. What are you working on currently? 
And any big plans for the coming year you can share with us?

Hmmm… this is a tough question, because I can’t talk about pending projects. I can tell you that I’m working with exciting new formats, and telling stories with brand new characters!


A big thanks to Suzy for sharing some of her world with us!
You can follow Suzy here...



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