Shining a spotlight on different members of our staff team in order to expose ‘the human element’ of Impact Arts.
Make it Your Own Renfrewshire tutor Susan Laws is from Clydebank and studied Painting and Printmaking at the Glasgow School of Art. After graduating in 2012 she set up a shared studio space with friends at The Briggait, Wasps Artist Studios and immersed herself in the local creative community. This involved painting murals, taking part in exhibitions, face-painting at events, illustrating posters, designing flyers, working at conferences and a brief spell airbrushing synthetic flowers. While she was working in a large commercial gallery as an Art Advisor and her local veterinary surgery as a Receptionist, Susan gained a place on Impact Arts’ Artist Mentoring Programme in 2014. The AMP project was for new graduates who wanted to learn more about working in community arts and offered experience designing and delivering community projects and mentoring placements with senior tutors.
This was the beginning of Susan’s journey with Impact Arts. From there she has worked on a variety of projects as lead and assistant tutor across the West of Scotland with people of all ages; School Gates Programme for parents and guardians, Connect 2 with young people and partner charities, Creative Pathways projects for young people (product design and digital media), The Young Gallery with primary school children and finally with Make it Your Own for adults. Susan has been a tutor on Paisley’s tenancy sustainment project since 2017 and has recently become a tutor on Make it Your Own CEYP with young people too.
Outside of Impact Arts, Susan is self-employed as an artist and illustrator (since 2012) and a workshop facilitator. Becoming a community arts tutor allowed Susan to develop her independent practice as an artist. As she gained experience designing and running workshops, she went on to deliver workshops to other groups as an independent artist. Eventually her work with others and the encouragement this involves inspired Susan to finally invest in her own dream to write and illustrate children’s books. In 2018 her pseudonym Zuzia Nova was born and she has been working towards her ambitions as a children’s book illustrator since. She has illustrated one unpublished book, attended a book illustration course at the University of Edinburgh and is currently working on her portfolio and seeking opportunity with publishing mentorships. Her practice is a blend of digital and traditional illustration techniques and she loves to use lively colours and sketchy lines to convey her images; Susan hopes to create “endearingly bizarre” characters and stories that blend magic and reality. In her spare time her greatest hobby is reading but she also enjoys yoga, swimming, spending time in nature and meeting up with friends and family.
The Impact Arts Values that Susan most champions are those of Equality and Ambition. In her own experience, she feels that absolutely everyone has potential but not everyone receives the encouragement or has the circumstances in life to realise it. In her work, she strives to make sure that the people she works with feel empowered to try new things, take chances and feel worthy of making the changes they dream of in their own life. Susan is passionate about treating people with kindness and optimism, helping people to find their confidence is very important to her as she credits the people she has worked with in community arts and her amazing colleagues with helping her find the courage to strive for her own ambitions.
She said, “Working for Impact Arts has enriched my life so much; not only have I been able to learn and work across so many different creative mediums, I am inspired every day by the incredible people we work with. Community arts has shown me time and again that what feels ‘impossible’ to achieve at any given moment is only ever a matter of time. In the workshop we like to add ‘yet’ to any ‘I can’t’ statements and look back with a laugh!”
Susan has just illustrated bedtime stories by young people in HYMOI Polmont as part of an Impact Arts project. The young people have also made sensory books and other gifts which will be sent home to their families with a copy of their illustrated stories.