Susan Erdmann – Artist, Traveler, Philanthropist


Susan Erdmann was the grand prize winner of our recent Paperblanks in the Photo contest. Being from Vancouver, Canada (coincidentally the city our head office is located in), she was able to visit us.

Susan is a truly creative and fascinating individual, the type of person who will never say no to the calling of an adventure, a new country or a new frontier. We were all taken by her lively, youthful spirit and sent her off with many Paperblanks journals to take with her on her upcoming travels to Tibet, Nepal and Mongolia!

“Most of my life I have been an artist and designer although I have a degree in liberal arts, not fine arts, and actually did little training for what I ended up doing for a living. After trying several careers I chose visual display as my profession, (or more aptly, it chose me) and most of my work was involved in the travel industry doing visual merchandising for tradeshows and window displays.

I’ve always engaged in creative expression through painting, photography, writing, flower arranging, and design applied to clothing or advertising. I also studied music quite seriously and wistfully dream of winning So You Think You Can Dance (the age limit and two bad knees would make that an impossibility!).

Currently, I spend my creative time mainly developing my photography practice and writing.

I travel frequently and feel at home in many places, especially Asia and specifically Tibet.  I’m continually drawn back to the great Himalayas and to the people of these areas, which leads me to one of my passions: working as a volunteer with SEVA Canada.

Years ago I started donating to this NGO that does wonderful work preventing and curing blindness by developing eye care programs in the developing world.  A passionate supporter of this cause, I spend most of my time as a volunteer travelling and collecting photos and stories from SEVA`s partners in the areas we work, specifically Tibet and Nepal.  Upon returning back to my home in Vancouver, Canada, I then give slide presentations and talks to educate the public on SEVA`s work and to raise funds to help it continue.

I was first introduced to Paperblanks journals when SEVA Canada started selling them to fund raise.  I fell in love with them.  They are wonderful to look at and wonderful to hold.  I love the ones with pockets to slip notes into and the ones with the elastic to hold them shut…it is such a nice touch.

At first, I felt I could only write poetry or prose worthy of being contained in such a lovely journal and for a long time I collected Paperblanks only to look at! Thankfully, I got over this after one day when water was accidently spilled over one of my journals, resulting in the inside pages becoming a little warped.  The slight damage this caused broke the ice for me, and I started to use my Paperblanks for everyday thoughts and preoccupations.

No longer do I wait for the perfect words or perfect drawing to arrive.  Now, all of my Paperblanks journals contain all sorts of things: a good quote or wonderful recipe, the shopping list for Saturdays dinner,  measurements of a cabinet or a web address, an address of someone I just met or the name of a good book to read, the name of a piece of music I heard and liked or the name of a plant I would like for my garden.

All those wonderful tidbits, placed helter-skelter on pages in a book that denies their presence in its cover.  Who would think to look in a beautiful binding for a grocery list or a size noted to fit a pipe under a bathroom sink?  It’s typical to find items like these in my Paperblanks, along with quotes from Ghandi or drafts for a poem.

In my experience, Paperblanks have become the ideal place to store my literal outpour of thoughts and information.”
Our Artist Series features snapshots of the creative people who use our journals. From all parts of the world, and all walks of life, we celebrate the infinite number of ways in which creativity can be expressed. If you would like to have your story featured, email fmallett@hartleyandmarks.com.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *