Emma Van Leest is a paper cutting artist from Melbourne, she painstakingly cuts tiny details and intricate patterns from paper and layers them to tell stories. Her work isn’t really aimed at children, i think adults would really appreciate the time and imagination that goes into her work and i love how she layers her papercuts and uses flat colour.

I read an interview with her in order to get more of a feel for her process and found this answer very interesting:

When did you start making those beautifully detailed cut-outs? What was it like for you at the beginning?

I started paper cutting almost by accident, to solve a sort of problem. We had been given a collage assignment at art school in my 2nd year and I had traveled through Europe during the Christmas/new year holiday. I was inspired by the rich history and amazing architecture I saw there, which, to someone who had always lived in suburban Melbourne, Australia with its huge spaces and newness, was really life-changing. I started to make my collages into little surreal theater sets, and the paper cutting process stemmed from that.

At the start, it was very simple and I was just sort of feeling my way forward. I thought of these little paper artworks as exercises for my ‘proper work’, which was oil painting. Slowly it dawned on me that I enjoyed paper cutting more, the work was more successful and, most importantly, my paintings weren’t all that good!

I certainly understand where she is coming from, because when i was studying fine art i was really concerned with the lack of painting skills i had and saw my untraditional methods of creating as not “real art” and now i realise its these methods that define me as an artist. The sets i create may be kitschy and gaudy, but thats what i do and it has its place and i’d like to expand on the techniques i can do and enjoy instead of shunning them.  I will be exploring in my FMP more of what i love and less of what i think i have to be good at, and i think this is a lot more freeing and i’ll enjoy the creative process alot more. I’d like to try more papercutting in this project as i love working for a long time on something intricate, and below are some examples of Emma’s work that i find particularly inspiring!

VanLeestHalfMourning1 img_5621-sm1 EMMA-VAN-LEEST


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