Dear Susan Cutts
Hi! My name is Sarah and I am on my final year of an illlustration degree at Stockport college of higher education.
Your work is beautiful, I particularly like Nursery Rhyme and Lullaby, but all your work is so delicate and fragile, its stunning!
My work is done in a paper cut out style, with illustrations accompanying my own and my sisters stories. Although I don't use paper the same way you do, I want to create the same fragility that i see in your work, in my own.
I have some little question for you, which I hope you wont mind helping me with? I understand you must be busy, but any hep you could give me would be greatly appreciated.
What education did you undertake? And what were you steps after? Right now were being prepared for the big scary world, particularity editorial Illustration. Do you work free lance? or do you have an agent? how do you go about approaching galleries?
I hope to hear from you soon, and thanks for taking the time to read over my email!
thanks for your email and I'll try and answer your questions.
I left school at 15 with no qualifications. My first job was with Vauxhall Motors - I spent three years there on a secretarial training scheme. I worked as a secretary for many years in Central London, I also in my spare time made 'one off' items of clothing which I sold through various outlets. In 1987 I applied to the London College of Fashion and the London College of Furniture - I had plans of taking up 'fashion design'. The interview with London College of Furniture came first and I accepted a place. I had read that Issey Mikaye always went to his textile designer first so I thought it a good idea to study constructed textiles. I did a four year City & Guilds in Constructed Textiles. Half way through, upon realising that my work was very sculptural I decided to concentrate on textile 'art'. I chose to make and use my own handmade paper because I knew if I used fabric or stitch in my work I would end up a dressmaker, which I no longer wanted to be I was more interested in why we wore clothes as opposed to making them.
0 I left London College of Furniture and applied to EVERY exhibition I came across. I think I was lucky to have galleries interested in my work from the beginning. I never thought about making work to sell as I felt it would compromise the finished work. Not always a good idea but as I said before I have been very lucky. I tend to explore ideas and these sometimes culminate in a 'piece' of work. I am also commissioned by galleries to make pieces (most of my big pieces have been commissions). This is great as other galleries then pay me to show the work - a sort of hire charge I suppose.I don't have an agent and could never see the point especially as the actual 'making' of the work although very very time consuming does not take up every minute of my day and perhaps my secretarial experience does help in this repsect. I haven't approached galleries for quite a few years but seem to have more than enough offers. This may sound like boasting but I have been working with paper since 1991 and I think after a few years of very hard work exhibiting where ever I could did pay off in the end.
Ok, the world is probably a very different place from 1991, but we were in a recession then. My advice would be follow your instinct, easy said and it doesn't always pay the bills.
On leaving College, I had a body of work, loads of slides and had a postcard done of some pieces. Today I would suggest a good body of work, a website, images on disc. I know its expensive but it is always worthwhile having a profession photo taken of your work this will guarantee it being used in books etc. If you are passionate about your work and it has integrity you are half way there.
Hope this helps - if you have an image send me one I would love to see your work. SUSAN