One of Britain’s most in-demand paper sculptors and image makers, Sam’s eye-catching work has been featured in marketing, advertising and awareness campaigns for clients as diverse as Lush, Chilly’s Bottles, Soho House, Transport For London, Strasbourg.eu… the list goes on. We did say she was in demand!
What’s been your most challenging project to date? And the one you’re most proud of?
The most challenging has to be the Strasbourg piece. This commission by Citeasen was to produce a paper city for The City of Strasbourg‘s 2017 Christmas Market Campaign. It’s my biggest piece to date and I had to deliver the physical sculpture in the back of my car (all the way to Strasbourg) a few years ago. The same sculpture was delivered to BHV Marais in Paris for Christmas 2019 for them to have on display in one of their windows, so I was asked to pop over for a short trip to assemble it. It was like putting together a giant jigsaw puzzle!
The project I’m most proud of is my Paper Bristol piece. It was initially a self initiated piece which I made to celebrate my move to Bristol. The time it took to create the piece really paid off because it resulted in Visit Bristol paying for a license to use it for their Summer Campaign, Visit Bristol also commissioned me to create something similar for their Christmas Campaign and three other projects came off the back of people noticing those two pieces. So I always see huge value in personal work. It’s great for experimenting, learning, developing a portfolio.
Can you explain what creativity means to you and how it informs your work?
Creativity helps us solve problems and inject fun into something to make it stand out – especially when it would otherwise not catch anyone’s attention. It’s really important for me to stay excited about what I’m doing and have fun with it so that the creativity shines through in the final outcome.
How did you get into paper-cut illustration and what do you enjoy about it?
Well, apologies in advance as this is going to be quite a boring answer! I got into paper-cut illustration randomly through buying lots of interesting specialist paper from my university shop. I had nothing else to do with it other than include it into my work. It started with collage, then developed to layered illustrative pieces. At that stage I worked out that full 3D paper sculptures were a thing through some really inspirational books (Sven Ehmann’s Tactile, Tangible and Owen Gildersleeve’s Paper Cut ) then I progressed to making my work in fully 3d form.
I enjoy the flexibility that paper offers. I love that once it’s made it can either be used in its physical form or it can be photographed and re-touched to use for digital or print. We’re also excited to be animating some more recent pieces which really brings the work to life.
Tell us about the process involved in creating one of your pieces…
It all starts with a small thumbnail sketch, which turns into a final coloured design on Adobe Illustrator. Most of the time I allow for two sets of feedback for any amendments; one set after I’ve created the first sketch and the second after the coloured final design. I always ask the client if there are any amendments that need to be made, to make them before I begin the build because it’s much more efficient that way.
The templates start on Adobe illustrator, I design the front view on there or any surface which needs attention to detail. The illustrator files are then exported as a DXF and opened in Silhouette Studio where I make them into 3D templates and add any score lines / tabs. The templates are then cut out on my Silhouette Cameo 4 cutting machine. After the pieces have been cut out I glue everything with either a glue gun or UHU glue with a blunt syringe for precise glueing. Any extra one-off simple bits are cut and arranged by hand.
We often do the photography, retouching and animation in-house as my partner is a photographer and videographer. I also work with other photographers and production companies; it depends on what works best with the project.
You’ve got a wide range of clients. Is the diversity of the work something that you enjoy?
Yes definitely! With variety it will never get boring and that’s one of the things I love about it!
For a long time I’ve enjoyed taking whatever work comes in but more recently I’ve been actively trying to push my work in a direction which excites me much more. I would love to be involved with projects which are more focused on sustainability, or campaigns which could help to shift public behaviour, improve our environment or conserve wildlife, etc.
Which creative people inspire you and why?
My two best buddies Rachel Tighe and Claire Hartley. We have known each other since we were two years old and somehow we’ve all followed creative paths, each different, but it’s lovely to see their businesses flourish! Claire is a designer and illustrator working with independent lifestyle brands to create beautiful brand identity, print and packaging, and Rachel is an Artist who creates bold and graphical paintings of cityscapes and florals which are displayed in galleries and sold all over the world.
What would be your dream project?