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Artist Interview: Sue Baumgardner

June 25, 2011

Today we’re interviewing artist Sue Baumgardner of Card Art From the Heart who joined GCU in 2008.


Sue, what drew you to join GCU? 

I stumbled upon Greeting Card Universe quite by accident while ‘surfing the net.’

Tell us who you are, where you live, and what you do.

 I’ve always been behind the camera, not in front.  Photography has always intrigued me.  When I was eight years old, I taped black and white negatives together, put a light bulb inside a box I had made the appropriate holes and slits in, and presented a ‘slide show’ to my younger sisters.  Even I was amazed by some of the animations as I pulled the strip of negatives past the light bulb and looked on the white sheet hanging from the cupboard doors!

After graduating college as a Music major, I went back to take a Photography coarse and got hooked.  From there I graduated from New York Institute of Photography and became known as ‘the Piano Teacher with the Camera always around her neck.’  Back then I did a lot of daydreaming about designing Greeting Cards.  I drew sketches and wrote verse, all without any training, just using my ideas and sense of humor.  But that was just day dreaming.

Then in November of 2001, I fell and broke my back.  I was permanently disabled.  I retired my position as a Postmaster in Kentucky and my husband and I moved back home to Maine.  My 35mm Cannon AE1, which had been my companion for many years, was now too heavy for me to hold.  I couldn’t even pick up my dinner plate.  Thank goodness, I did improve some and technology came to my rescue with lightweight cameras, scanners, computers and photo software and then along came GCU… a dream come true for me!

What’s your favorite greeting card on GCU that you’ve created?

Goodness, with nearly six thousand cards created so far, I can’t even remember them all!  Seems like I often choose one as my ‘all time favorite,’ during the creation process and that lasts until the next new creation.  But here is an image that I’ve used and altered in many different ways for various occasions.  This one is from the Graduation series I posted just this year.  This image is one of the best selling ones in my shop, so it looks like it is probably one of the folks’ favorite as well as mine.

Where else can we find you?  

Red Bubble

Summertime and the Kids’ Education Goes Out the Door

I am currently in the beginning stages of a blog for AZ disease. I do Facebook of course… but really, I must get better at the promotion end.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

Perhaps the folks around GCU would be surprised to learn that I sing in two choirs.  I write music, poetry, prose.  (Anyone know of an agent or publisher interested in a darn good Mystery placed in rural Maine of the 1950s?)

How did you become an artist? 

The Graphic Art side is completely self taught.  However the Photography (in which I do have training) began with an interest at a young age and evolved into one of my many careers.  I’m afraid I’m a ‘Jack of all trades and master at none,’ type.

What or who inspires you?

I come from a long line of Artists and Musicians.  However, I never had the patience to sit over an easel or sketch pad.  I am in awe of some of our wonderful Artists at GCU, like Diana Delosh, Barbara Schreiber and Corrie Kuipers.  Aren’t they fabulous?  And then there are many fellow photographers that also inspire me.  The one who stands out most is Doreen Erhardt; not only is she a talented Photographer and Graphic Artist, but she is a dynamo in promotion and also (and perhaps most importantly) she is a very generous soul.  Doreen continually shares of herself within our community at GCU and beyond.  Quite a lady.

What motivates you to design greeting cards?

Hmm.  I guess it’s the perfect marriage for my Poetry/Verse and my Photography.  But as I said earlier, it has been a daydream of mine for many years.

Where do you find ideas for your work?

The ideas are far too many and far top often.  I sit here at my desk and watch the birds just outside my window at the feeder, my husband pops his head in and says something that makes me laugh, my grandson skypes me to listen to his piano lesson, a loved one is stricken with cancer, a friend looses her son, my Granddaughter blows bubbles while my Grandson chases them across the lawn, Grandfather with young Granddaughter perched on his hip, dance all over my kitchen, my dog attempts to eat my daffodils….  See?

What’s your workspace or studio like?

I’m so blessed to have an office in which I do my cards and my writing.  It’s comfy with a couch (for the pooch,) carpeting for my cold, bare feet,  and a window beside me where  birds feed and sing from blooming lilac bushes.  Above my desk and computer–well, I’ll just attach a photo–is an area that excites the muse within.

What’s the most indispensable item you use to create your art?

I’m sure you are not expecting the answer I must give… My body.  As I have lost some mobility, I have come to more appreciate this marvelous machine our mind and spirit are housed in.  When it fails us, our whole life changes.  Luckily for me, as my body did some shutting down, technology took some giant steps forward and I am able to do what I love, from the comfort of my own home, when and as I can.

What tools do you use to create your work?

For a camera, my real workhorse is a Sony Cybershot.  Out of several cameras, this is my least expensive and most widely used for two reasons;  I love the quality derived from the Carl Zeiss lens and of equal importance for me, the camera is very light weight.  I can hold this camera and shoot away to my heart’s content!  While I do occasionally use other cameras with longer lenses and tripods for certain long distance shots, those are difficult for me. Once I download my memory card to my computer, Adobe Photoshop software becomes my magic wand.  There are a couple of other programs I use, but Adobe Photoshop is largely responsible for what you see in my store.

When and why did you start selling your designs as greeting cards? 

The first place I sold my images and verses combined into the Greeting Card format was GCU.  While I also have a shop on Zazzle, GCU remains my home base.  The community at GCU is like none other I have run across (and that includes the various ‘Writing Forums’ I belong to) in the friendly, helpful, informative atmosphere to be found in the forums.  From the management down, GCU is so accessible; there is a constant flow of ideas and sharing.

What do you do to promote your greeting cards on GCU?

Facebook, visit blogs and leave comments, Squidoo Lenses… Not nearly enough…. Must do more… Will do more!

Is there a tip about GCU or promoting your GCU designs you’d like to share with other artists?

Follow the blogs and lenses of other GCU artists, leave honest, constructive comments.  Use your FB page to highlight the work of another artist from time to time, giving a link to their card and/or store.  Also NEVER stop creating new cards.  The more you create the more you will sell.  (Also the more you create, the more skilled you become in your craft.)

Name three other GCU artists whose work inspires you or that you admire.

Barbara Schreiber:  Barbara is one of many very talented Watercolor Artists at GCU.

Beverly at Toots Card Store:  Beverly is a fellow Photographer.  She has many surreal shots that take you beyond the normal postcard/calender imagery.

Norval Arbogast at Luv Apples Card Shop:  Norval is an artist who is a whiz painting by computer; further he is a wild man genius with color!

What blogs do you follow?

Every blog, lens, and newsletter that fellow artists put up a link for at GCU.  I have to mention Doreen Erhardt again as her blogs, lenses and newsletter are always wonderful.  I can’t tell you how many times this lady has been responsible for my rethinking how I was doing something in the process.  I can honestly say my cards have come up a notch thanks to Doreen.

If you weren’t an artist, what would you be?  

Lordy, I already play at being a musician, and writer; am a  retired Music Teacher, and retired US Postal/ Postmaster.  I was a Realestate Broker; enjoyed that for awhile.  Had my own Photography Studio back in the days before digital.  (>8 …   I guess I might have liked to have been a jet pilot… but really, I already do just about everything I want to do.  I am very blessed!


Thank you, Sue, for a very insightful and inspiring interview!

11 Comments leave one →
  1. June 25, 2011 7:17 am

    What a lovely interview! Sue, you are always so kind and helpful yourself. It’s nice to learn more about you.



  2. June 25, 2011 8:25 am

    Sue, wow you really are a Jack of all trades. I’m glad you stumbled upon GCU, it’s been a pleasure getting to know the artist/photographer behind all the wonderful cards.
    Lovely workspace, and great interview!

  3. June 25, 2011 1:00 pm

    Sue, Congratulations on being featured. You are truly a Renaissance Woman! I’ve enjoyed being your Facebook friend and am glad for this opportunity to learn more about you! Cathy Sherman

  4. June 25, 2011 1:59 pm

    Yes, Sue…you are very blessed!

  5. June 25, 2011 2:09 pm

    Thank you for your inspiring interview. I enjoyed learning about you and enjoy your cards too.

  6. June 25, 2011 3:12 pm

    Sue, you are such a sweetheart and it was wonderful to learn more about your life and creation process. I’m so glad you have found a camera that is light and keeps you shooting! Thanks for the kudos and keep creating my friend!

    This was not a commercial paid announcement…LOL!

  7. June 25, 2011 3:51 pm

    Rosanne, Janet, Catherine and Doreen… All such wonderfully generous souls and talented artist, thank you!
    Judith, I don’t think we’ve been in touch before. Thank you so much for stopping by and I took a look at your link. Lovely. It’s so nice to be continually surrounded by so much talent.

  8. June 25, 2011 3:56 pm

    Just noticed I left the ‘s’ off artists… Reminded me of some folks I meant to mention in my interview and completely forgot to do it… Our Reviewers at GCU! As you can see, I keep them busy! ( I’m much better at editing other folks’ works than I am my own.) The Reviewers at GCU are a huge part of what makes GCU stand a notch (or 2) above.
    So a huge kudos for our reviewers and a sincere Thank you.

  9. Anna permalink
    June 25, 2011 8:46 pm

    That’s my Momma and she is wonderful! So so so proud of her!

  10. June 26, 2011 10:40 pm

    Just got back in to town and discovered your very interesting interview. Thanks for sharing a bit of your life with us, Sue. Seems you’re a very busy and talented lady! An enjoyable read 🙂


  11. June 28, 2011 1:05 am

    Thank you very much, Anna and Robin.

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