So, you know how much I have enjoyed paper cutting over the last year and how much I am in awe of those that do this delicate and time intensive craft?
Well, for that very reason I contacted super-talented paper cutting artist Julene Harrison to see if she would take part in my Worldwide Wednesday series – and I am pleased to say that she agreed! (it would be a pretty short and pointless post if not, lol)
Anyway, as has become tradition in this series I should introduce you to Julene before we get onto her interview, so here she be …
Julene is an english born paper-cut artist and illustrator currently living in Chicago – so definitely in the “worldwide” class there!
Ok, introductions done (quick as they were) let’s grab our mugs and settle down to see what Julene had to say to the questions (of which I am sure you are now familiar).
When did you begin working in the creative industry and what was the seminal or defining moment that put you on that path?
After studying and working as a textile designer for the clothing industry, I moved onto paper-cutting after being made redundant in 2008.
My first paper-cut was a lightweight gift, to my then boyfriend, now husband, that I could easily send overseas. I didn’t think anything further of it. I couldn’t have imagined that it was the start of my new career.
As it was well received I made two more as wedding presents. I started a blog with these pieces and people seemed to like them. That’s when I started getting commissions, initially from friends and then from strangers.
Is what you do now what you imagined you would be doing when you first started out?
I didn’t have any expectations as it was never my intention to get into this line of work.
I am very pleased it worked out the way it has done though.
Thinking back through the years, what memorable responses have you had to your work?
I think I might have made a few people shed some happy tears, which is a lovely thought.
My work is either private commissions that are often given as heartfelt gifts (hence the tears), or commercial commissions for magazines or advertising.
What has been most important to you as an artist or crafter – a mentor, support, knowledge, advice, information, funding, family, friends … etc?
Encouragement from friends and family at the start.
The kindness of strangers who commissioned me and blogged about me in the early days (and in current times too!).
How have you changed during your career and do you see room for more changes in the coming years?
I have always been quite focused on my work practice whether it was studying, textiles designing or paper-cutting.
One thing that has developed over the years is the ability to stay in the house for 48hrs without much issue!
Going forwards I hope to get out more.
What work do you most enjoying doing?
I prefer the cutting to the designing. It can be relaxing and meditative.
Who/What inspires you the most?
Other paper-cut artists inspire me. They terrify me too; so much amazing work out there!
How would you describe a creative life? Fun, challenging, rewarding … etc?
It’s wonderful. I really enjoy it, but then I don’t really know any other way.
I’m sure some people would find working as a freelance artist a terrible drag; uncertain income, non defined hours, constant self motivation etc. It depends on what works best for the person.
There are challenges of course, but I really like being my own boss, and carving my own successes.
What would be your dream project?
A clear brief, an inspiring client, a healthy budget and a distant deadline!
What wouldn’t you do without?
I dont know about ‘wouldn’t’ but I ‘couldn’t’ do without my Swann Morton scalpel and blades and the fabric plaster I wrap around the handle for comfort.
What are you working on at the moment?
I am just finishing up a job for Nutella in the UK and ROI. I was thrilled that they asked me to work on it with them. It will be out in the public domain in Feburary.
Also for a private client I am desiging a paper-cut frame to adorn a wedding photograph.
What future project(s) are you most looking forward to?
Unfortunally I cannot talk about any future commercial projects, but I will be starting a baby birth announcement paper-cut for a couple in Holland soon.
I think its going to be quite sweet!
What are you doing when you’re not creating? What hobbies (creative or non-creative) do you have?
I try not to use my arms and hands too intensly when I am not working. They are under enough strain from all the computer work and cutting,so I like to relax at the cinema, keeping my arms very still, except when eating the popcorn!
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
I am the least ‘arty’ full-time artist you might meet. My husband is quite miffed that I havent visted the Chicago Art Institute once in the two years I have lived there.
I think of myself as more of a craft person than an artist.
Do you have any tips or inspiring words for others?
It sounds obvious but I would say just to work hard, create lots of work and get it out there as much as possible.
If you want a motivational phrase I would offer this; The harder you work the luckier you get.
Where else can we find you? (Blog, website, twitter, facebook etc)
Its ‘madebyjulene’ on all social media.
I hope that you found that as interesting as I did. It was fascinating to learn how the creative life can change course and put someone on a different path under difficult circumstances wasn’t it?
Julene kindly sent through the pictures that have been spread throughout this post so my thanks to Julene for those and for taking part in this blog post series.
I am definitely in awe of Julene’s work and skill – what did you think?
Thank you, from Julene and myself for stopping by and reading, I look forward to bringing you another creative story very soon.