In The Studio with Sue Haskel
In this installation of our In The Studio interview series, TAG Fine Arts officially introduces the latest addition to our roster of talented artists, Sue Haskel! Following a director-level marketing career, Sue trained as an Interior Designer at Chelsea College of Art and Design and ran a successful interior design practice in London. In 2017, she began creating 3-D collage in mixed media, working primarily with paper but also metal and plastic mesh. Since then she has exhibited at several London-based art exhibitions and fairs as well as having a successful solo in Mayfair over the summer of 2018. Sue’s work is in private collections worldwide including the UK, US, Monaco, France, Cyprus and throughout the Middle East. We are delighted to welcome Sue to the TAG family!
How did you first find out about TAG Fine Arts?
I had seen TAG Fine Arts exhibit at several London-based events, and eventually, I approached Mark at The London Art Fair because I felt that my three-dimensional work would sit well within the gallery. Mark came to my studio to find out more before (happily for me) deciding with Hobby to take me on. They are supportive and easy to work with and I am hoping it will be the start of an enduring collaboration!
What is your background?
Though I studied Art at A-level, my first career was in corporate marketing but I was always creating on the side; portrait sculpture, life drawing, pottery and printmaking. I trained as an interior designer at Chelsea College before setting up my own practice and started as a full-time three-dimensional collage artist a couple of years ago.
I have since exhibited at several London-based art exhibitions and fairs; I had a three-month solo show at the Plateaux Gallery in Thomas Goode in Mayfair over the Summer of 2018. Now my work is in collections worldwide and collectors include a former head of the Tate Gallery!
My work is contemporary and my influences varied: from the natural environment to cityscapes, visits to museums and galleries, and online images.
What inspired you to become an artist?
Since I was a young child I have always loved creating art but first decided to sell my work as a professional artist in 2017. I feel compelled to create; the decision is not my own.
What does art mean to you?
Observation, exploration, expression and communication.
What is your workspace like?
Six months ago, I installed a glass-fronted studio in my back garden. It is my woman-cave! I haven’t yet built proper storage, but I put everything behind my desk which faces onto the garden, so I can’t see it when I am working! When it’s warmer I will open out the front and look forward to feeling as though I am working outside.
Do you have any routine you follow when you’re creating?
I do have set processes depending on the type of work I am creating. Some require considerable time on the computer before I create a three-dimensional form. In any case, I tend to get totally immersed in my work and lose track of time.
What is your favourite work of art? Why does it inspire you?
I don’t have one favourite piece or artist, one moment I am inspired by something and another by something else. So, I will mention just two that have really touched me, the first of which struck me from childhood:
Doge Leonardo Loredan (1501) by Giovanni Bellini inspires me by the sheer talent in the meticulous rendering of his robes and face, the capturing of the gravitas of the (rather irritable by all accounts!) sitter and the wonderful focus on the subject created by flattening the background.
Contemporary American artist, Matt Shlian’s Unholy series. Matt is a superb paper engineer who produces kinetic sculpture and sees scientific enquiry as a basis for artistic inspiration. "In my studio, I am a collaborator, explorer and inventor", as he says. His work inspires me because of its inventiveness and exacting execution.
If you could have dinner with any artist, past or present, who would it be?
Leonardo Da Vinci, a true polymath, a genius with unquenchable curiosity and a feverish inventive imagination. How could he not inspire all those around him? He was a vegetarian so perhaps a nut roast on the menu and a translator on hand.
How important are current and sociohistorical events to your works?
My works reflect ideas, some of which are in response to our environment such as creating order in our lives from the chaos around us. That does seem to resonate with many who comment on my work.
Do you think the rise of social media has impacted your career?
Social media is a powerful platform for me, it’s a great way of keeping current and potential collectors, galleries, artists and friends up to date with my news and events. I see publishing on social media as part of my role as an artist and it has without a doubt positively impacted my career.
Do you create your best work independently or when within a community?
A bit of both! I am happy beavering away independently in my studio although I enjoy working with a client on a commission to produce something that delights them. Being at exhibitions, talking about my work and getting feedback and ideas from others is also highly rewarding.
What advice would you give to upcoming artists?
- Network with arts organisations, contacts made at fairs and exhibitions, gallery owners and, of course, your buyers, and try to keep in touch with them.
- Try to think from a potential buyer’s viewpoint: what might they like to know about you and your work to encourage them to make a purchase? Make that information easily accessible.
- Communication is key – broadcasting your existence and work in the best possible light. Websites, printed material, signage, photography, social media – do they project a consistent and professional image?
- Persistence, resilience and positive thinking! – These can take you a long way as new challenges present themselves or if some fairs and exhibitions don’t work out as planned. There is always something to be gained – experience, feedback, future contacts and the buzz of meeting new people.
- Set yourself goals – apply to exhibitions, fairs and maybe competitions, it will drive you to be productive if you have a few deadlines in sight!
- Don’t forget to enjoy the journey – the thrill of selling your work never leaves you and hearing about how it has found a place in someone else’s life is very special indeed.
Do you love what you do?
Yes! I love being free to follow where my creative ideas lead me and to evoke feelings of optimism and delight in the viewer. Add to this the interesting people I have met, from collectors to gallery owners and other artists – it’s a joy.
How would you describe your style?
Contemporary, uplifting and with a sense of surprise and movement. I tend to reflect an optimistic view on life, be that in the way we can create order in our lives to the power that knowledge can give us.
Do you collect art yourself?
Now and again yes. Some of the art I collect reminds me of places we have lived, such as New England, or visited, such as a contemporary Suffolk seascape. Occasionally I just see something and fall in love with it – a beautiful turquoise ceramic stylised horse, an Escher-like drawing by a very talented fellow artist, a miniature glass globe with intriguing detail.
What inspires you?
I am inspired by the world around me, from the natural world to urban cityscapes and am struck by how some forms lend themselves more than others to my work - I am always on the look-out for new ideas. I am fascinated by pattern and repetition, light and shadow, contrast and texture and you will find all these aspects in my work. I enjoy the movement and drama of three-dimensional work.
What is your quote to live by?
One old and one new:
“The creative impulse is at the heart of what it is to be human.” – Maharal
“Everything is interesting if you bother to find out about it.” – My dad
What are you working on at the moment?
I have just finished and delivered work for TAG Fine Arts for the Affordable Art Fair in Hong Kong coming up in May. Several works incorporate photos of Hong Kong, its currency, Chinese text and so on. I am now working on a couple of book-themed commissions that lend themselves well to commissioning through incorporating a client’s own photos and transforming them into book covers and double-page spreads.