Today we have a designer interview with Susanna Nousiainen, a textile artist and surface pattern designer. Originally from Finland, she currently lives in Barcelona, Spain.
Do you remember the first piece of work you ever sold? What was it and who did you sell it to? How did you feel?
I don’t remember the first piece I ever sold. I spent a lot of time just finding out which kind of products I could sell, so I made a variety of fairly useless products for quite some time. After spending all that time making these things, I started to realise what not to do!
Can you describe the evolution of your business?
I started out more as a fashion designer, as I studied pattern making and sewing. I had my own brand called Otos in a small shop for young designers during 2005-06 in Helsinki, Finland. After a year of designing clothes, I decided it wasn’t really what I wanted to do and found a career in textile arts. I studied textile arts for almost 7 years and finally got my Master of Arts Degree. While studying, I had already started my business and it has slowly been growing ever since. Last year has been great as the Internet has changed the character of the business so much, that I am able to work from Spain with different agents around the world. I am really happy about this!
What has been the most important lesson you have learnt along the way?
As I’ve tried making innovative and niche products, over time I have learned that something useful is ultimately what sells. Although I have been thinking that it would be really nice to make some kind of great invention that no one else has thought of yet!
We’d love to hear a bit about your process. Where do your designs begin, and how to you develop them through to the finished product?
The process is going on nearly all the time. I get inspiration from my surroundings, magazines, theatre, Internet etc… I see things around me and then combine them into surfaces and products. Starting to draw and paint is the most difficult part as it is difficult for me to get into the actual process. I also keep a look out on the Internet for things that support my ideas about what is trendy and could sell.
I draw all the designs first by hand and then scan them into my computer and change them in Illustrator or in Photoshop. I hardly ever draw with the computer because I am not very familiar with some of the drawing tools. I am really happy that hand drawn styles are in fashion again because that is what I mostly love to do.
With my surface designs, I either sell them to companies or use them in my own products. I have a new collection of cushions I am currently selling. I am also doing a small collection of clothes with my own digital prints and selling them in a small gallery/shop called Paella Showroom in Barcelona, Spain.
At each major growth point of your business how do you make yourself take the big leap?
I don’t actually have much fear about taking big leaps in business . Often the challenge is that as a small business, making an actual investment to reach your goal can sometimes be problematic. In the end you might end up having your products not moving in a warehouse and that is not what anyone would want. Taking a risk and trying to get up on your feet again if you fail is just part of running a business.
Please share a little about how your brand look and feel has developed over time?
At first I wanted to be more of a crafts person with my small projects. Then I wanted to be a designer making a variety of different things. Now I am trying to be a business focusing on surface design. In the future I think I will want just to be a great artist!
What kind of team do you have around you to support you and your business?
Tytti Salonen is helping me part time with Communications / Marketing. I have various agents, one of them is ‘A Fresh Bunch‘ which is a really great community to get information about the business of stationery design. I have learned so much with them during last two years I have been a member. Other agents also give great information about the trends and current markets. I also receive great support from my family.
How has the industry changed since you started?
I have been following the textile industry since 2005 and it has changed so much during last 10 years. The Internet really is revolutionary and I think a positive direction. Although now it seems every one around the world is doing pretty similar art work because it is so fast to get influences from the Internet when browsing different sites. Before you just had some magazines to go through. I believe for the young designers it is much easier to start now in the business than it was before.
What makes you excited about your business now?
Definitely the endless possibilities. Every day there is something new and you can reach it so easily especially with Internet.
What is your creative space like?
Mine is a great as I can see the beautiful mediterranean sea from my balcony, so whenever I get tired I just step into the balcony to stretch my back and arms and look at the beautiful sea. I also look at the sea in case there are waves to surf. In Barcelona there aren’t that many waves but sometimes you can catch some!
Which of your products is your favourite?
I usually make my own clothes so definitely a leather jacket I made two years ago. Unfortunately this is something not for sale!
What advice would you give to an emerging designer looking to follow a similar path to you?
Well, if you are looking to be wealthy in a short time, textile design or art is maybe not the best path. If it is something you love to do then in the end after hard work you’ll be rewarded for sure. If you are really talented, you have luck and you are in the right place at the right time it might also be possible to get the fame and glory.
What is the big dream for you as a designer and your business?
I always wanted to be more of a textile artist, so while I am designing behind the scenes I am also planning my next art pieces. In the future I hope I can combine more of my art to the designs and in the end be a famous textile artist!
I am a textile artist/designer. Originally I am from Finland, Espoo, which is a peaceful suburb of Helsinki, I am currently living in Barcelona, Spain.
I started Susanna Nousiainen Art and Design in 2010. I focus mainly on surface designs, selling them through agents in the USA and also producing custom work. I am currently working on surface designs and small collections which I design, then sew. My aesthetic is a simple Scandinavian style. I like to mix elements of my surroundings, especially urban environments.