Our July artist of the month is Chloe Campbell who makes highly detailed papercuts inspired by the elaborate patterns of architecture.
London & East Sussex, UK
"I’m a trained Fine Artist specialising in drawings and papercuts of beautiful architecture. A papercut is a piece of art cut out with a scalpel from a single sheet of paper. "
Where do you make your work?
I make my work on location at the place I am creating a papercut of. I make a drawing first, transforming the buildings and plants into two dimensional patterns. I concentrate on keeping the design as one sheet of paper, similar to lace. Back at my studio I cut out my design with a scalpel. At the moment I am working in a studio space in South London. The scalpel's smallest mark is the size of a pin prick enabling incredible detail. Recently I have started using a lasercutter for larger scale pieces. The papercut is mounted onto coloured or white paper from G. F Smith. If it is for a client they choose the colours they love and can also order the image to be made into products such as limited edition prints and greeting cards.
How long have you been working with paper?
Since I was at school I loved cutting out paper with scissors and a painting technique of making papercut stencils and then painting through onto paper. I studied a master’s degree in Fine Art and History of Art at the University of Edinburgh. One of the History of Art courses I studied was about Picasso’s creative processes and papercuts. I was encouraged to make drawings and papercuts of his art in my studio which inspired me to see a papercut as a finished work of art. I also made large scale installations from my papercuts using light to create amazing patterns with the shadows. I completed the Drawing Intensive Course at the Royal Drawing School in London. Having time to completely focus on observational drawing changed my artistic process significantly as I gained confidence in visiting places and drawing them from life. At the end of the course I started making papercuts from the drawings I had made of architecture in London. One of my first commissions was creating a papercut of a view of the Thames from the roof of City of London School which has an amazing view of the Shard, Millennium Bridge and the Tate Modern.
How would you describe your approach to paper art?
I see the process of papercutting as drawing with a scalpel. My artistic style for drawing began by covering a piece of paper with shaded pencil and then using a rubber to create patterns of light, texture and lines and then adding in finer details with a pencil. This technique could be translated into the process of papercutting only using a scalpel instead of a rubber and pencil. For my papercuts of architecture I aim to create an, as accurate as possible, representation of the buildings and the environment around them. I use my imagination to create fireworks or sun rays in the sky and the intricate patterns I see in nature. I love creating as detailed and intricate art as possible.
Where do you find inspiration?
My main inspiration in creating a papercut is finding a composition for a picture where the view of the buildings or landscape and the placement of flowers, plants, trees, light and shadow around them will create a beautiful and complex image. I recently visited Italy and feel very inspired by the highly detailed and elaborate patterns of architecture in the Pisa Baptistery, Siena Cathedral and Florence Cathedral. I am also inspired by the places I visit for commissions in the UK. I have recently worked for Pollock’s Toy Museum who have incredible papercuts in their collections. I spend most of my time doing commissions for private clients; making pictures of their homes, iconic buildings, cityscapes, churches and places that mean a lot to them. One of the commissions I did recently had an incredible garden with tonnes of amazing flowers, plants and trees to draw.
Describe your work to us in three words:
Papercut. Architecture. Intricate.
What are your favorite papers to work with?
My favourite papers to work with are from the G . F Smith Colorplan range. Because of the texture and intricacy of my papercuts, I use 175gsm or 270gsm weight of paper, without any texture. I tend to make a white papercut on a coloured background, or a coloured papercut on a white background. My favourite white papers are Ice White and White Frost, and for background colours I love Royal Blue, Sapphire, Vermilion, Scarlet, Forest, Marrs Green and Fuchsia Pink. Recently, some of my clients have wanted glittery and shiny papers, such as Gold Fever from the Peregrina Majestic range, which is amazing!
What tool could you not live without?
One of my favourite tools is a wooden case I use to keep my papercutting scalpels and spare blades in. It was given to me by my Great Aunt & given to her by my Great Great Aunt. Inside the case I have a collection of knives, scalpels and blades from Excel Blades and Swann-Morton. Also in my studio I have an architect's drawing board with a cutting mat attached to it so that I can sit and draw or papercut in the same stance as painting on an easel. The architect's drawing board can also be moved to become a flat table so it’s incredibly useful for long hours of papercutting.
What is the best thing about working with paper as a medium?
I love being an Artist who specialises in papercuts because it is super versatile. Once I have created a drawing on paper and cut it out with a scalpel I can create limited edition screenprints and greeting cards from the design. I have a limited edition run of screenprints and greeting cards and that I sell online and in St Paul’s Cathedral. I am always discovering and experimenting with new artistic methods I can use from my papercuts. I am looking forward to trying out foiling and embossing my papercut designs soon.
Who are your favorite paper artists?
Picasso’s works on paper have had a huge influence on my art especially the collections at the Musée National Picasso-Paris, Museu Picasso de Barcelona and the ‘Picasso and Paper’ exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts in January 2020. Recently I have also been inspired by looking at papercuts by Matisse, Mark Herald and Rebecca Dautremer. My art is currently being exhibited alongside 42 other Paper Artists at ‘Matisse and Contemporary Paper Artists Exhibition’ at Gallery Rheged in the Lake District. It was inspiring to see so many other amazing paper artists including other members of the Paper Artist Collective. If you love art created from paper click here for more details about the exhibition.
What are you working on at the moment?
I am currently creating papercuts and drawings of the 52 churches designed by the office of Christopher Wren after the Great Fire of London in February 2023 to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the death of Christopher Wren. I have recently launched a Wedding and Anniversary Collection making papercuts for Wedding presents and, as traditionally a gift made of paper is given to celebrate a couples' one year anniversary, Paper Anniversary presents. Most of my summer will be spent making commissions including papercuts for couples of wedding venues, honeymoon locations, engagement locations and first homes. Every commission is exciting. I would love to do more collaborative work and exhibitions with other Artists and institutions so that I can learn from others and develop my artistic process. To receive invitations to my exhibitions and updates on my art click here to sign up to my newsletter.