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Susi Bellamy

A Maker's Story

Susi Bellamy’s Maker Story
March 30, 2017 Philippa
Susi Bellamy Portrait

I first came across Susi Bellamy’s beautiful work at design trade show Top Drawer in January 2016 and I immediately fell in love with the vibrancy of colour and expressive style of her work. Susi’s designs are all printed from her original artwork and it translates so well onto fabric. Her cushions are all handmade to really exacting standards and stuffed with luxurious duck-feather pads, making each cushion not only beautiful but really comfortable and, I have to say, ‘huggable’! I was so delighted when Susi agreed to join The Maker Place on our stand at The London Design Fair last September and not only did her eye-catching display add some real ‘wow-factor’, it was such a pleasure to get to know Susi during our time at the show. So I’m really pleased to be able to share a bit more about her work, her inspiration and how she does it all with you . . .

Thanks for talking with us Susi! How would you describe your work?

Thank you for talking with me! I am an artist and I crop and edit sections from my paintings and marbled papers to create colourful textile designs which I use to make cushions.  I describe them as ‘art for the sofa’.

What was it that prompted you to move from painting to then designing cushions as well? And what keeps you going?!

It was about 2 years ago when I was looking at my small abstract paintings on the shelving system in my studio in Newcastle when I thought they might translate well into artwork for square cushions.  I am always looking at different crops and edits of my work and how I can change the colour palette. I think this derives from the time when I was a fashion editor for Conde Nast Publications.  I am driven to create, reinvent and to develop new collections each season – I love the whole process and the seasonal collection side of things.  I am definitely a magazine groupie and love seeing how trends are developing.

What has your journey as a maker been like so far? What have been the highs and the lows?

It has been a ‘full on’ process since my cushions were first shown at the Northern Design Event in Newcastle in October 2015 and I never expected it to develop into a serious business proposition.  Showing at trade fairs has been exciting and challenging.  Working with the manufacturing, fulfilling the orders and working with my accounts has challenged me.

 

I’m always fascinated to hear exactly how pieces are made. What’s your process?

After selecting the artwork which I feel would be worth making into a fabric sample, I usually scan it and then spend some time on the computer cropping, editing and adjusting the colour.  I often make a few different colourways of one design.  I then send the file to the printers and wait for the cushion tops to arrive before choosing a contrasting backing which is made up by my maker locally.  Once I have a selection of cushions then I select which ones will fit into a two page line sheet for the season and this becomes my collection.  Each season I add on or remove designs depending on how I feel trends are moving and which ones have been the most successful.  I also populate my website with a larger selection.

Where do you work? And how have you made your workspace just right for you?

I create the artwork that becomes the cushions at my studio at Cobalt in the Ouseburn district of Newcastle. I then work from home in the Tyne Valley in Northumberland as it a clean space from where to send out orders and work on my collection.

What inspires you?

I am inspired by art – from the Renaissance to contemporary art.  I particularly like the work of Gerhard Richter and Howard Hodgkin.  I also get inspiration from fashion – I love seeing Prada’s new collections and how she plays with colour, texture and detail.  Having lived in Florence for almost seven years I am still constantly drawing on the visual vocabulary gleaned from my time living there.  The crumbling plaster of the palazzo walls, the gilding of the Renaissance frames, Madonna paintings in street corner shrines and the colourful collections of Pucci, Gucci and Prada in the shop windows in Via Tornabuoni.

I know as a small business owner it can be hard to find time to relax, but how do you switch off?

I switch off by doing some exercise – Zumba, pilates and yoga.  I also love going to art exhibitions and the cinema or just reading at home.  Food also figures highly in my relaxation – more the eating than the cooking!  My husband is a very good cook.

What advice would you give a new maker just starting out –what do you wish you’d known when you first started?

I would recommend to a new maker to get clued up on some of the boring things like postage, VAT, tax, and computer skills.  Also presentation of your brand  – so making sure you send out products in the way you would enjoy to receive them, ie. with tissue paper and a nice postcard, for example.  Keep your vision clear and work towards your goals.  Don’t try and expand your range too soon on in your evolution.  Get your first collection to a point that it has a distinct look and make sure you edit down.  Build a good support network around yourself and build strong supplier relationships which will hold you in good stead for the future.

That is all very good advice! Finally, what’s next for you and Susi Bellamy Cushions?

I am now ready to branch out a bit having set up the cushion business two years ago.  I am about to launch my own wallpaper and fabric range and I am busy researching how this all works.  I am also tempted to bring out a scarf collection, so watch this space!

Well that sounds really exciting and I for one can’t wait to see Susi’s beautiful work as wallpaper, fabric and scarves! Thanks for talking with us Susi and sharing a little of your maker story.

To celebrate we have a very special discount on Susi’s beautiful cushions, with almost 50% off all of Susi’s ‘silky’ cushions, plus 10% off her velvet cushions when you enter code SUSIBELLAMY at the checkout. 

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Comments (8)

  1. Keira @ Dekko Bird 3 months ago

    Susie’s stuff is just beautiful- thanks for sharing! Have joined your mailing list in the hope of finding out about lots more new designers and makers. Keira x #HomeEtc

    • Author
      Philippa 3 months ago

      Yes it really is beautiful isn’t it! Thanks for joining our mailing list – we regularly send through news of new makers so I hope you enjoy it! 🙂 x

  2. Nancy Straughan 3 months ago

    Absolutely stunning colours, there’s inspiration everywhere! I love the photographs too.

    http://www.hellonancy.co.uk/

    #HomeEtc

    • Author
      Philippa 3 months ago

      Yes, the colours are just gorgeous – so rich, Susi has such a great eye. Thanks for reading! x

  3. They are absolutely GORGEOUS!!!! I love the fact that they’ve been so organically designed too. Every time I see something like this I think — YES! I could use my designs and create fabric!! But, so far, have never managed to get around to it!!! Instead I’ll live vicariously through makers like Susi! 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing Phillipa. #HomeEtc

    • Author
      Philippa 3 months ago

      Thanks Caro – they are so inspiring aren’t they. One day you should definitely go for it!! x

  4. Kerry 3 months ago

    It is lovely to see how an artist’s work has evolved into something new. My friend is an artist who uses a lot of feathers in her work to create textured pieces of art and I often wonder whether another application of her technique, like this, could work for her x x

  5. Stephanie Robinson 3 months ago

    Wow – love the art on the sofa concept and love all the colour too

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