Interview with an artist: Sue Clancy

Ivan The Tarot Bull

First of all Who is Sue Clancy and how did you get interested in

Graphic Art / Illustration?

Hen House
Hen House by Sue Clancy

I think of myself as an artist/illustrator. My wife tells me that’s how I approach everything in life. When I cook I like the food to look artistic on the plate. When I problem solve I first see the issue as a work of art, etc. So it seems I’ve always been interested in art. Some of my earliest memories involve paper and pencils. I began to focus on this interest when I wrote and illustrated my first book at age 8 around the time I got my first set of hearing aids. I was trying to understand the concepts “noisy” and “quiet” and was essentially taking notes on what I learned. But it was also an effort at hand binding a book and creating a book-art object –though back then I wouldn’t have called it that. Writing and drawing – especially drawing – has always been a way for me to make sense of the world, to learn as well as to play and have fun.

 I put myself through college by working as a graphic artist at a center for economic management resources. Lots of data was processed there and I was taking raw statistical data and making charts, graphs or maps that illustrated – “put a face on” – that data. Later I worked at a zoology department doing a similar kind of thing but with biological/zoological systems rather than business ones. I also worked as an editorial cartoonist – and in that job I looked at political and social systems and their effects. By working in those jobs I learned that I enjoy a combination of “reality” and “imagination” as well as kinder gentler types of humor – and that led to my current fine art and illustrating career.

How would you describe your “style” ? How would you explain what your work looks like to a blind person?

My style is realistic but in a whimsical and fable-istic way – in that I use animal characters, often dressed as humans doing human things, to tell visual stories. My medium is handmade paper collage and my collage technique involves handmade paper that’s been dyed and patterned by me, then cut up and glued together. The cut paper pieces, prior to gluing, resemble jigsaw puzzles in that the various pieces fit into one another as they’re assembled. There is very little actual paint on any of my paintings. I’m an Xacto knife wizard. (A blind person might be able to feel the edges of the shapes). My papers start out life as a white handmade sheet – made with renewable fibers: mulberry, hemp, cotton etc, made in exotic places like Japan, Napal or Portland Oregon. Then I use a variety of techniques to give the paper color and pattern as fits the visual story I want to tell. My word-play titles are a

Massive Mastiff Munching
Massive Mastiff Munching by Sue Clancy

clue to the story I’m telling. As an example of one of my stories: I’ve done a painting called “Massive Mastiff Munching”. It was inspired by a memorable salad. That inspired me to read about the history of salad and study the regional differences. Simultaneously I read about obesity in America, how the simple act of eating slowly and chewing increases enjoyment and can lead to weight control – so can smaller plate sizes. I read about how happiness itself is fostered by paying attention, during enjoyable moments, to all of one’s senses. Around the same time I met a Mastiff almost as tall as I am and much larger than my mini-dachshund at home. All of these nuggets of inspiration – contrasts of size – swirled in my mind to become “Massive Mastiff Munching” my visual story about enjoying the little things (The huge dog is enjoying a tiny glass of wine and a small salad). My alliterative title ties it all together.

Four Immoral Porpoises & Bathtub Of Gin by Sue Clancy
Four Immoral Porpoises & Bathtub Of Gin by Sue Clancy

As I mentioned earlier I’m deaf so sometimes my stories come to me by happenstance – Because I easily miss-hear things;   For example I was walking past a TV and I “heard” someone talking about “immoral porpoises”. Instantly I wondered what porpoises in the sea could possibly do that someone would find so objectionable. I realized pretty quickly that they were saying “purposes” and not “porpoises” but the porpoises were now there in my mind. So I one thing lead to another… and I did a painting titled “Four Immoral Porpoises (and a bathtub of gin)” Each porpoise is indulging in an “immoral” or “illegal” act of the Prohibition era.

Deer Reader
Deer Reader by Sue Clancy

  Where have you shown your artwork outside of your website?

 I exhibit my art all the time. Art making is my full time job. My fine art is represented on an on-going basis by Caplan Art Designs in Portland Oregon, the 23 Sandy Gallery in Portland Oregon , the Joseph Gierek Fine Art Gallery in Tulsa Oklahoma and Downtown Art and Frame in Norman Oklahoma Which means at any given time you can contact any of these galleries and see my current work – for example Caplan Art Designs shows my work on a daily basis in the gallery in Portland Oregon and also installs groups of works in other Portland locations for short durations of time – working also with clients in Seattle Wa and many other Pacific Northwest places. Caplan Art Designs also hosts events called “Cooks and Corks” where an artist is featured and asked to give a short talk during a three course wine and dinner event. (I was the featured artist for Oct 2014) Contact the gallery, or sign up for gallery newsletters and Facebook for up-to-date locations of exhibits and events.

 “Art making is my full time job. “

In the past my work has been exhibited and purchased by institutions such as the Curtis Children’s Justice Center in Vancouver Washington, the Wexford Ireland Arts Center in Wexford Ireland, The Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art in Boulder Colorado, The John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan Wisconsin, The Wisconsin Historical Society, The Empty Space Gallery in Bakersfield California, CARF International in Arizona, Infant Crisis Services in Oklahoma City, Youth and Family Services of El Reno Oklahoma, The Oklahoma School of Science and Math and many others.

Poultry Reading
Poultry Reading by Sue Clancy

My art/illustrations (both color and black and white) have been published by Lark Books, Ten Speed Press and Allyn and Bacon, Village Books Press, Syracuse Cultural Workers, Microcosm Publishing,   The Buckmaster Institute and many other places.   Most recently I’ve published an ebook for teens/young adults titled “Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program – First Aid Kit”. You can see more about it here:

Ivan The Tarot Bull
Ivan The Tarot Bull by Sue Clancy

Can you describe your “Creative process” for you illustrations? For me both “fine art” or an “illustration” use much the same process. The difference between them lies in the final application. In both cases I have a question or thought I want to explore. I word associate around that topic. That generates a list which brings that topic down into more imaginative focus and also highlights what I don’t know. Then I read, travel, talk to people and try to fill in my knowledge gap. (See the earlier question where I described my “style” and how I get my story ideas.) Once that research has been more or less done I create my design in pencil, set about making the papers I’ll need, then I cut out the shapes I need and glue them together. If the end result is to be a “fine art” piece I’ll put the art on cradled board. If it is an illustration I will leave it “on flexible paper” so it can be put through a publishers scanning process – (though sometimes these “on paper” works end up framed as well and hanging on someone’s wall as fine art.)

What artist (or people) inspire you? Who are your favorites?

Off the top of my head in no particular order: Eric Carle, Maurice Sendak, Tom Robbins, Kurt Vonnegut, Deloss McGraw, Edward Lear, Lewis Carroll, Monty Python, David Wiesner, Billie Letts, James Thurber, Rabaleis, Richard Scarry, Ellen Degeneres, Dr. Seuss, Matisse, Jorge L. Borges, Beryl Cook, Judy Blume, Douglas Adams, John Mortimer…. Judy Sullens, Dr. Bob Hoke and many more people I know in my daily life.

What pisses you off , Does anything really get under your skin?

Mean people. Especially mean people who are mean on purpose when they could just as easily be nice. People claiming a high-level so-called “morality” who use religion or patriotism or profits as a justification or excuse for their meanness. It also bothers me when such people call their meanness “love” or “authority” or “business” and try to get away with it. It is meanness pure and simple towards another person or group of people no matter how much the meanies try to dress it in respectable clothing.

“Especially mean people who are mean on purpose when they could just as easily be nice.”




Dam Book
Dam Book by Sue Clancy

What makes you the happiest, where do you find joy in life?

I love my work, being busy creating a painting for exhibit at a gallery or a special commission for a client or publication. I like to make myself laugh in the course of a days’ work. Additionally I enjoy sitting and reading, or going on a hike with my wife Judy, or going to small indie theatres to see an art film, or going to a live music event. I also enjoy cooking and sharing food and drinks with friends, and trying new cuisines. I like playing ball with my dachshund Rusty or giving him a lap to snuggle on.

Final question, If you could travel to any time and any place in the universe, Where would you go and who would you be with?

Poultry Reading
Poultry Reading by Sue Clancy

I would be with my wife Judy in the here and now of the Pacific Northwest!

Any last words for the readers of Section 8 Magazine?

Be kind and have fun – every day. Thank you for reading this!

“Be kind and have fun – every day. “



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Global artists and writers dedicated to sharing creativity around the world.

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