We had the good fortune of connecting with Susan Winn and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Susan, why did you pursue a creative career?
I did not choose to be an artist, I had to be an artist. I honestly cannot imagine doing anything else. Occasionally, I will think about if I went back to college, what I would do differently. And the answer is always the same, either take time off or the same path. Growing up I had an encouraging and inspiring group of people who always pushed me to do what I loved. I loved creating art, I created it all the time with doodles, junk sculptures, photography, even painting a mural on my car ceiling and bedroom ceiling (much to my parents dismay). I found art as a way to express myself as an anxious teenager, examine interesting perspectives and tell stories. It was no surprise to my family and friends that I would pursue a career in the arts.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I have always been curious about the creative process of storytelling. Growing up and now, I love hearing people’s stories, and I take pleasure in visually seeing creative work that reflects or narrates those stories. I grew up around art, my Mom being an artist, painting and drawing and my Grandfather telling stories through his photography. When I was little I was always making something out of nothing or photographing the strange. Anything I saw that I thought was interesting I would photograph, draw, color or create with. My mom was and still is very encouraging with my creative process. I remember in middle school I used to dig through my Moms old art work and letters with doodles on them and take them to school to show my art teacher. I had never met my Grandfather, however, when visiting my Grandmother I was always amazed by his photography and how he could capture stories. He had countless images of footprints in snow, children celebrating holidays, or silly shenanigans. His work reminded me of Normal Rockwell paintings which are nostalgic. As I got older I found the creative process as a way to handle my anxiety and emotions. I felt looking at my work and others I could see a story that is part of their life, thoughts, emotions or beliefs. Now my work is still story telling and a way to express myself. A lot of my work is taken outdoors. Hiking and exploring Colorado is meditation and cleansing for me. I do my best thinking listening to birds, or watching a bug crawl across a rock, or some small twisty plant being different from the rest of the branches.
Throughout college, I knew I was an artist, however, I did not know what to do with it. I was unsure if I wanted to be in gallery’s, a wedding photographer or teacher. I have to say I have tired them all and it was long process to where I am today. Graduating college, naturally when people find out you are a photographer, they want or know someone who needs a wedding, or family photograph done. I fell into that world quickly and easily. However, I never enjoyed it. I loved being a guest but not the photographer. I learned I like to photograph people how I see them telling their stories and not, what they want to be portrayed as. After a while, I changed career to teaching photography, which was delightful to explore and assist with students creative process. Teaching lead me into a gallery creative job, which was fun and rewarding. However, After the birth of my kids my perspective on life and family values changed. I wanted to be present with my kids and still create art. Which landed me in the 40 West Arts district. I did not want the pressures, and commitment of a formal gallery representation but a community of artist striving towards to same goal of showing and doing what they love most.
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?
Well, having kids and with our friend Covid I am not much of a night out kinda of girl anymore. However, I think if my friends came in we would absolutely hit up a hiking trail, then meander over to one of our wonderful breweries. Afterwards I would send them back to their hotel and go to sleep. I have two kids under the age of 6 and need a nap!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
There are a lot of people I can contribute to my encouragement and effort. First my Mom being an artist herself has always been encouraging and inspiring. My dad and family putting up with my nonsense work and listening to my struggles without discouragement. My Grandfather for letting me learn about him though his photography. My middle school teacher, encouraging me and letting me show her all my moms work. 40 West Arts District. Right now they are my art community. I feel encouragement and involvement with the other amazing artist and Liz Black the Director is beyond encouraging. My friends, especially my friend Talia who is alway pumping me up when I feel like I am ready to quit the art world. My husband and kids the most. My kids showing me their passion for art and my husband encouraging me to keep doing it.