I am terrible at working slowly, and in past design roles have been famous for getting things done ‘at speed’. As useful as this is in the publishing industry, it can sometimes be detrimental to quality and leave you feeling a bit unfulfilled.
I discovered that working with paper appeals to my ‘quick’ nature, as the tearing and positioning can be swift and can also be undone and redone many times. And it also doesn’t need to be perfect –the imperfections often give it the charm and character. However, paper makes your mind slow down, as once you get going, its so absorbing, that you don’t really think of anything but the piece you’re working on; the colours, shapes and textures – and when you get in the zone, your initiative takes over and things start to happen on the page.
Some pieces happen really quickly, and sometimes these are better results. Others take time and you really have to work at them, going back and forth, layering, covering up, uncovering – until suddenly what you’re aiming for starts to appear – and when you get there (and it works) the sense of achievement is extra satisfying.
Working with paper means you really need to think about how colours and shades work together to give you the depth, shadow, texture and overall sense of what you’re trying to convey. As with any artwork, the shapes you use and the way you structure the composition have to be continuously adjusted and rethought, but sometimes its very serendipitous – you’ll accidentally lay a bit of paper down somewhere on the work and suddenly it changes the vibe completely – usually for the better!
I am very much at the beginning of my journey using paper to illustrate – and I learn something new every time I sit down with my glue stick. As with anything, it’s not for everyone – it’s messy, unpredictable and sometimes it just doesn’t work! But the nature of using this technique is very ‘freeing’, and I’m constantly surprised by what happens.