I started working dimensionally during college, but separately from my studies. I went to a state school with a general studio art program where you had to take a certain number of classes in each department, learning a little bit of everything. But the focus was on “fine art” and sadly there was no room in the curriculum for traditional crafts like papercutting, and no illustration courses, so I’m self-taught in those areas. I started cutting paper while trying to quit smoking. I needed something to occupy my time (and bide my hands) and was looking for an art project where I could just sort of obsessively play with the materials. My earliest efforts were relief, on wood panels or mat board just as I continue to work today, but the imagery was more abstract and I was primarily focused on just finding different ways of laying down the paper. Most pieces were made from cut-up pages of old thrift store books. I found the construction method of cutting and gluing, cutting and gluing, over and over - requiring extended periods of focused concentration - to be pleasantly meditative. My very first instinct was to work dimensionally for some reason, maybe stemming from a love of dioramas/shadowboxes.
Please describe your working process.
Everything I do is cut by hand with an X-acto knife and a few different sizes of scissors. I use a quick-drying glue to assemble the piece, building up layers slowly and adding dimension with handmade paper supports. My work tends to be pretty tiny and I often use tweezers to place the individual paper pieces.
When the dimensional cut paper work is done, I photograph it digitally and bring the image into Photoshop. I try to keep the digital manipulation to a minimum though, and all of the shadows in my images are actual cast shadows from the original photographs.
What do you enjoy most / least about working dimensionally?
The only other downside I can think of is that storage is becoming a serious problem. No more throwing old work in a flat file.
Most: Working in 3d creates a unique look that can’t be achieved with drawing or painting (and working with just paper means much cheaper materials). Also, I’m constantly being challenged with new problems to solve, which keeps it interesting.
images and content © Jayme McGowan