We had the good fortune of connecting with Sue Lion and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Sue, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
When I decided to go back to running a full time freelance business after years of being in a big corporation as a senior designer in a visual communications department, then art director in corporate communications, I was fortunate to start with a good client and a lot of work. As the years went by, the business always came first, even though I have another business – that of my own art, book design, and illustration work. I found myself pushing my own business into the evenings and weekends, always second. But I’ve found that when I balance the freelance work for clients and my own personal work, I am happier about both. When I give my own work equal energy with freelance, the work for both is better and more satisfying. 

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I really love my freelance clients. They range from healthcare, environmental, body/mind/spirit, and many small, independent businesses and book clients, which gives me a lot of variety. That’s what is so different than working in a corporation, where the work promotes one company, with one company’s design standards. Also, I’m particularly excited about my own work, especially that of writing, designing, and illustrating books for children and adults. It was a big road when I started and finished my first children’s book, How the Trees Got Their Voices. I was raising kids and working full time freelance, but I kept picking up the manuscript and working on the drawings and finally had a finished InDesign file in hand. Several books and affirmation decks have followed, but “Trees” paved the way. My encouragement to anyone with a dream is to keep going. Do a bit here and a bit there, but know the path will eventually lead to the finish line. My whole intention for my personal work is Artwork to Honor Mother Earth. I try to engage people in looking a little deeper, a little broader, a little more inclusive – including all living beings on the earth – to bring peace and harmony and love into their lives. If my art or writing can do that, then I have succeeded. Also, one thing some of my author friends and I do is read parts of our manuscripts together. It forces us out of our singular thoughts and hear a different opinion or viewpoint.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I’ve got a dream to visit all the US National Parks (I’ve got several under my belt)! I’d love to take friends and family with me, camping in the mountains, hiking up the sand dunes, exploring Indian ruins, hunting for sea shells, all the time learning about the history and taking in the beauty of them all. Boulder has a ton of close-by hiking trails, too. Tent camping trips or staying in a remote cabin where I can work in a sketchbook, is something I love. And, give me a good Indian or Chinese feast or a veggie scramble, I’ll be happy. The Taj in Boulder, Tsing Tao in Boulder, and Morning Glory in Lafayette are some of my favorites. I love a good, neighborhood restaurant to try out new food. But one of my favorite places to go is having friends in at home, having a good cup of tea and even better, an engaging conversation. 

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I believe that if a person works in a complete void, the work doesn’t thrive. I work many hours alone, true to being a designer and artist, but I rely on others for support and feedback. Julie Loar, Angelika Schultz, Tom Weis, Holli Thompson, Trish Watson, and Elizabeth Prosapio review my work, give me their opinions and thoughts, and encourage me to push myself. I also want to give a call out to For Heaven’s Sake in Denver and Discover Your Spiritual Gifts in Littleton, both stores that serve the community in many ways. Boulder Connect, a chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, meets to engage like-minded people in dialog and exercises so we all support each other and succeed in completing our books.

Website: www.suelionink.etsy.com and www.suelion.com
Linkedin: www.linkedin.com/in/sue-lion-7082455/

Image Credits
1. How the Trees Got Their Voices 2. Night Threads and the illustration from the Whale chapter 3. A couple mini decks 4. Breaking Off My Old Self 5. My light table with one of the illustrations from Sammy the Seahorse 6. EartHeart affirmation deck 7. Reading Night Threads at an author event at Discover Your Spiritual Gifts 8. Book signing with Martha Driscoll, author of Nosey’s Wild Ride on the Belle of Louisville

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutDenver is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.