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Birthday guest blog: Sue Bulmer

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It’s Creative Nottingham’s 4th birthday party celebrations and they have very kindly invited me to write a guest blog post to celebrate this auspicious occasion. This has made me think back over the last four years and reflect on how this time has passed for me and my creative business. It really does make you realise how fast time flies but also how much you can achieve in a relatively short time with a bit of determination and drive. One of the major things that stands out to me in my short time within the Creative Industries sector in a vibrant city like Nottingham, is the importance of building your own communities, working and forming links with other creative professionals and making the most of opportunities out there. So here’s how I’ve utilised collaboration to help build my creative business over the last few years.

Four years ago I hadn’t even started my creative business. I had just completed a Foundation Course in Art and Design at New College Nottingham and was spending time in my studio experimenting with the techniques and processes I had learned at college and was searching for my own creative voice.

Sue Bulmer BCTF 2012 stand

In 2010 I was lucky enough to be accepted on the Nottinghamshire County Council’s ‘Nottinghamshire Creative 2’ Programme which I had found out about the scheme via The Creative Greenhouse. This creative business scheme gave me the knowledge, support and confidence to set up my own business. As well as being key in my development as a Creative Business owner it also gave me a new network of like-minded peers who were extremely supportive and encouraging, and this made me realise the importance of developing links with fellow creative throughout the region.

In 2011 I joined the Design Factory, and East Midlands Art and Design Agency which promotes artistic integrity, raises the standard of craft and design and commercially supports and develops the very best designer/makers in craft practice today.  This gave me further opportunities for development, such as exhibitions, networking, professional development events and also the opportunity of working with a Creative Business Mentor, Debbie Bryan.

Sue’s stall at the Nottingham Festival of Words

Working with Debbie really gave me and my business a big boost and 2012 really saw my business and my ideas of what I could achieve start to grow. I began to push myself more and exhibited at my first trade fair, a huge step for me, but one which I enjoyed immensely. I started to get involved in collaborative working relationships with other creative businesses and projects which among many things, led to my involvement with the inaugural Nottingham Festival of Words. I was invited to be the Artist in Residence and took part in my first Live Drawing event at the launch as well as showcasing my new collection of work and running a participative art work over the main festival weekend. I got to show my work to a whole new audience, which was an amazing opportunity.

It was through the Festival of Words that I got to meet Creative Writer, Lisa Shipman. We delivered our first collaborative ‘Words and Art’ Workshop to St Mary’s School in Bulwell in June 2013, such an enjoyable and rewarding experience, and one which we are keen to explore further.

Through support from NTU’s Future Factory I’m now working with a Retail Consultant to help me to examine my business needs and address  issues such as sustainability, branding and financial aspects of creative business. It’s an exciting time and I wouldn’t swap it for the world!

I think working in the Creative Industries in Nottingham can bring lots of exciting opportunities. My advice to you would be to seize them, you never know where they may lead!!

So what will the next four years hold for me….

Well in the immediate future you can see me at Arts Unequalled in Ely on 19th and 20th October, The Arts Market Holmfirth on 9th and 10th November, and finally at The Harley Christmas Market in Workshop on 23rd and 24th November. Next year I’m hoping to develop my portfolio and exhibit at a London trade fair and who knows, maybe after that the next stop may be internationally. I’ll continue to collaborate with other creative practitioners and make the most of the many exciting opportunities which come along.