Hi Stuart, it is my pleasure to interview you on this site as I am such a big fan of your paper art works. So can you tell me how did you get into paper art? Did you have any paper art training before you entered this industry?
Initially it was due to boredom actually,I have been woking as a freelance illustrator and was searching for a fresh approach to what I did. I was doing well but I didn't seem to be challenged as much as I could be by my work. I also was getting frustrated that my work was being more and more taken over by the computer and really yearned for doing more hand made artwork. While doing crafts at home one weekend with my young daughter, she inspired me to try something out. I really enjoyed what I was doing and the technique of paper seemed to be very natural to me, more so than any other technique I have tried before. I haven't ever had any previous paper art training, actually, I don't know where I would find such a course.
It seems like true artist always like to go back to hand crafted works and I agree, they are more valuable than computer generated works. I admire paper art but I have never approached any paper art artist until now. I do want to know, are there any specific tools and papers you need to use to create the artworks?
I was generally using Arches watercolour paper, but these days I use almost anything that a piece requires as long as it's right.I hand cut everything with an Exacto knife and sometimes use hole punchers , and scissors. Other things I use are glue, of course,and sometimes wire, and velcro to hold sections together if necessary.
Interesting, I have actually never thought using velcro to hold the papers together, now consider I have learned something new! Is it possible to tell me what is the process of making a piece of paper artwork? How many hours does it take to make one artwork?
That's a difficult question as every piece is very different. Basically,I start with an idea that I think will make a strong graphic statement. From this point I will either do a drawing of the design or often I will simply start cutting and building as I go along, until the piece is completed.I cut everything by hand either at home or in my studio in the city (Sydney). It's really intuitive and I let the wok take me where it needs to go, nothing is set in stone and if I find another direction that works better , I will go down that path. It is physically quite difficult on my hands and shoulder as I firstly haver to keep in a rigid position so that I don't accidentally cut myself with a wild stroke. The paper I use is around 300gsm thick and is hard to cut, I don't usually use thin paper because it buckles when glued and is too easily damaged. Instead, I use strong , hardy paper stock. Some artworks may take 4-5 hours, however the combined time to finish the piece I am currently woking on may end up being 60-70 hours. I spread this out over a couple of weeks and generally work at night after I've done any paid illustration work. I do of course get paid to do my paper art but I still do many peices purely for art sake whenever I have time. My art is very varied and each one presents different challenges and takes different times, however, a tight deadline can stimulate amazing speed sometimes.
I have realized intuition is one of the key elements a lot of artists have in common when working on amazing pieces. I believe this is something an artist is born with and why every artist has an unique approach on artworks. I know that you also do illustrations as well, does this skill help you with your paper art creation?
Very much so, having the ability to draw and design is the key to what I do. Being able to pre visualise an image as I do when I begin an illustration, gives me the ability to know if an image is going to be strong or not. If I'm not sure, then I can investigate any idea by drawing it or creating a computer generated rough of it. The other advantage of knowing how to illustrate is that I have a decent colour sense, something that is usually developed over a long period of time. This helps me to pretty much decide whether a paper art piece should be white, black or multi coloured, I don't usually ever regret the choice I make. When doing illustrations you have to make a lot of crucial decisions quickly , due to deadlines and because of this I transfer these skills to my paper art. I don't usually have to stop and restart a piece because as in illustration, I have a long think about the construction and design of an artwork to it's completion and the problems I may encounter before I start.
As my grandma always tells me colour sense is very important to artists, I am glad you have this element built into your mind in an early stage. So, out of all the projects you have done so far, which one do you think is the most challenging? Why is that?
I did a white top hat which was entirely made from watercolour paper and was used for a fashion editorial spread for Vogue. The brim of the hat was built as normal but the top was made as a birdcage with a blue small peacock inside. I started it at 9 p.m. at night and finished it about 14 hours later, no sleep of course. I had no time to draw anything so had to design everything on the fly hoping the decisions I made worked . It was extremely challenging but it worked out really well in the end. I am currently working on a small ship that will be worn on the shoulders of a model . I designed the boat loosely based on the old Dreadnought battleships of the early 1900's. It's my own design but I want it to have all of the rigging and details of an actual ship. Creating the curved and shaped hull of the boat is very difficult as I want it to be pretty smooth. I have started creating the masts , smoke funnels, cannons and all the other complicated deck detail which is very time consuming and complex. I have yet to work out the hooking device that will allow the boat to be attached to the model. Her head has to be set within the centre of the ship as though she is part of it. I always try to produce art works that people don't expect and can't believe that are hand made, therefore they are generally very detailed and not the simplest things to create. I think this is what gives the viewer a buzz when looking at them.
Well, in general, I am in love with your works as they are unique and unpredictable. In the future, other than paper, would you want to use another material to create art works? If so, what would you choose and why?
I use paper right now but I can see many of the things I make being transferred into materials like metal or plastic or fabric, depending on the purpose of the artwork. I would love to do a massive scaled piece of work that would serve as a public sculpture or something of that nature. It would be interesting to mix paper and clothing / fabric to create a wild fashion runway show. I think combining what I do with a fashion designers sensibility would produce some great results ( D&G ?!). I've done this to some extent in photo shoots, but to do a whole show would be quite a blast.
------------------------------------Now it's about time for some trivia questions!
Cowboys or Pirates?
Green or Blue?
Fish or Birds?
How about Flying fish
Chocolate or Candy?
Christmas or Halloween?
Halloween ( refer to previous question).
PC or Mac?
Mac (What's a PC?).
Comedy or Action Movies?
Warrior or Mage?
Classical or Pop Music?
Anything that's good music
Coffee or Tea?
Thank you so much to Stuart for taking his time to answer my questions and I am looking forward to see more amazing paper works from him in the future! All works are courtesy of Stuart McLachlan and you can visit his official website to see more of his works.