Illustrator Stephanie Wunderlich composes charming scenes from cut paper. The stylized figures, landscapes, and objects occupy compositions like a Cubist painting, balancing shapes and textures in one eye-pleasing way. Despite their simplicity, Stephanie creates a lot of depth and peppers her work with intricate details—look closely and you’ll see that there are tiny folds in shirts, barrettes in hair, and laces on shoes.
(The above illustration recently appeared in my weekly hello (newsletter)!)
Collage is known best as paper-on-paper creations, but there are infinite possibilities with this technique. Often, the mashup of two disparate elements makes for the most exciting compositions, as is the case with Angie Lewin’s exquisite works. An illustrator, print maker, and pattern designer, she uses pieces of driftwood as the backdrop for her printed nature-themed imagery. Angie is inspired by the Mid-century modern movement, and its crisp lines and strong shapes offer a striking juxtaposition to the soft, uneven textured surface of the wood.
These pieces were originally produced as part of A Natural Line at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park in 2014. But you can bet I’m keeping my eye out for more future works in this vein.
Here are some of Angie’s non-driftwood creations:
If you follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest or Tumblr, you might’ve noticed that I changed my avatar. After years of it being the same cut paper selfie, I finally updated my picture with another collaged portrait. The timing was intentional—I’m headed to ICON9 in a couple of weeks and wanted the image for new business cards.
While working, I recorded video and combined some of the clips into a 4-minute long compilation. It’s not everything I did when make creating this portrait, but it gives you a good idea of my process.
For tools, I use:
As far as paper goes, I gather from a lot of places. Kraft paper, watercolor paintings, construction paper, magazines… it all goes in my giant collection.
If you have any questions about collage or my construction techniques, let me know! I’d be happy to answer them.
Illustrator Molly Costello crafts compelling portraiture from cut paper. The exquisite compositions—powerful in their simplicity—are informed by her years “working on urban youth programming around sustainability and social injustice,” reflecting the themes she encountered during that time: community, struggle, love, and more. “Through my work I focus on ideas of connectedness,” she writes, “connectedness with our whole selves, with each other, our communities, its systems, the natural world, and the energy and divine of our universe at large.”
Molly sells prints of her work on Etsy!
Collage will always be a technique that’s near and dear to my heart, because it’s my chosen way of (art) working. Creating in the same vein is Chia-Chi Yu, a Taipei-based illustrator who uses a myriad of textured papers to create stunning landscapes and feathery friends. I love how the papers are paired, which gives the compositions a sense of structure while also distorting them. The slightly-abstract results are curious and marvelous places—just like the real world.
Alice Lindstrom creates cut-paper collages that are packed with luscious colors and textures. (I can’t help but be reminded of Eric Carle’s work.) One of my favorite of her series is The Pushpin Ladies, which is inspired by her love for “Modern art movements and vintage fabric and fashion design.”
The project started when I was browsing in a local vintage boutique named Pushpin Boutique and was struck by the overlap between the dresses displayed in the store and modern art movements. I decided to take the design of an existing dress from the boutique and match the design to a world inspired by a famous painting. The finished collages were then displayed at the boutique, beside the dresses that had originally inspired them.
I’m a big fan of her sketchbook, too:
I’m fascinated by the amount of little things that there are in the world. Going to overstuffed antique malls and examining all the small objects crammed onto the shelves is enthralling: people have amassed collections of buttons, figurines, flags, postcards, and much, much more, and I love to see how these objects are grouped together. I feel the same way when I look at collages by Adrienne Slane, an Ohio-based artist whose intricate pieces are careful gathering of images. Her diverse imagery includes shells, wildlife, fruit, and fungi, with sources ranging from the 1500s to mid-1900s. The disparate elements come together in a pleasing compositions.
“My work celebrates the beauty and interconnectivity of the universe in a time when our environment is in crisis,” she writes in her artist statement. “It draws its imagery from a wealth of illustrations that encouraged exploration, wonder, and appreciation of nature in decades past.”
A couple of weeks ago, I launched a class on the online learning site, Skillshare. It’s called Paper Art: Create a Cut Paper Self-Portrait, and it demonstrates how to make a fun collaged picture of YOU! I take you from start to finish: the sketch phase to paper selection to the final portrait. Throughout the videos (which, collectively, are about 20 minutes long), I use this example:
It’s a couple of years old at this point and outdated—now, I have super short hair, am sans Monroe piercing, and I don’t wear glasses (all the time) anymore. So, for the class, I decided to make a brand new self portrait to share with the students. (PS: you can enroll anytime! Please do.)
Here’s my collage self portrait that’s currently in progress. I have a reference photo, sketch, and a bunch of painted papers that I’m using for my skin, eyes, hair, and clothing. I plan to have the entire thing finished this week. I’ll post it on class’ project page once I’m done.
Part of my paper stash.
Want in on the fun? Join me!