Artists ~ Susan Novich ~ Providence

Artist’s Name: Susan Novich
Shop Name: Susabean Studios
Twitter: susan.novich

1. Tell us about your work.
As a cut-paper artist, photographer, and calligrapher, I spend a lot of time in my third floor studio where I draw and create surrounded by piles of paper, boxes of ExActo blades, and plenty of ink, glitter, and glue. I usually begin by sketching out my idea, and once I’m satisfied with the characters and design I’ll choose my color palette, do the calligraphy for any text I’ve decided to incorporate, and then carefully deconstruct each element of the drawing. Once that process is complete, I break out my ExActo knife and cut out the individual components, finally reassembling them in a whole new way. Once the piece is finished, I take photographs, paying close attention to lighting and shadows to ensure the piece will continue to look 3-dimensional when printed.

I like to think of my art as multi-dimensional, multi-media circus of line and texture, colored pencils and pastels – a paper performance intended to engage and delight children of all ages.

How did you come to be a professional artist/crafter/designer?
I have always enjoyed the creative process and have had a pencil, brush, or camera in my hand for as long as I can remember. When I was very young, I used to camouflage the margins of my math notebooks with drawings – usually representatives from the animal kingdom. When it came time for college, I decided to attend Simmons College in Boston, MA, which had a great Communications/Graphic Arts program done in conjunction with The School of the Museum of Fine Arts. Being right down the street from the MFA and the Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum was a real gift. And now I am right down the street from the RISD Museum – also a very wonderful thing!

In 2007, after completing the CE Children’s Book Illustration program at RISD, I began to think about other ways to publish my work and thought that a line of greeting cards might be a good solution as well as a lot of fun. In 2010 I launched Susabean Studios with “Look Who’s Squawking,” a line of greeting cards for which I conceptualize and execute the designs as well as write the copy.

Where do you draw your inspiration?
I can be inspired by the tiniest of details: a found object, a small but beautiful bead, even the discovery of an unusual piece of paper. I might take a long walk on the beach, listen to the crash of waves, and observe textures and patterns in the sand, or, alternatively, stroll down city streets – all of which can spark a myriad of ideas. If the New England weather is not conducive to wandering, there is always my muse – my pet Havanese named Coco.

What is your favorite item to create?
I enjoy the challenge of creating any new piece, but these days my favorite thing is to combine the art of cut paper and calligraphy. I like to use the handwritten letterforms not only as a texture, but to sometimes incorporate a “hidden” message, as well. In addition to my line of greeting cards, I am working on designs for the home d├ęcor market – floor mats -- which due to the large-scale format has been an interesting challenge. It’s forced me to think more creatively -- how to design pieces for a small canvas which can be successfully transformed to the larger format afforded by floor mats.

What is your best seller?
That seems to vary with the season. Oddly enough, one year my best seller was a Halloween card. I also have a Chanukah card that has done very well, and my new baby cards seem to sell out consistently. This year, in addition to new birthday and thank you cards, I’ve created a celebratory “New Year’s” card and a “Congratulations on your new Nest” card. It will be interesting to see what 2015 has in store!

How long have you been in Rhode Island?
I have been in Rhode Island since 2000, when my husband and I moved here with our three children from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I am originally from Massachusetts, so coming back to family in New England was wonderful. I feel very fortunate to have landed in Rhode Island.

What do you {heart} about Rhode Island? 
The people are great, and I love the fact that everything is so accessible. Honestly, it just doesn't get better than living in a city that is so near the ocean. And then there is the amazing creativity. Having the artistic community of RISD as well as Brown and Johnson and Wales nearby – that college vibe – keeps things energized and interesting without becoming overwhelming. And the restaurants – so much good food! RI is a great place to live for so many reasons!

Please include anything else you'd like to add:
A big thank you for this opportunity. ☺


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