Having practiced her craft for almost a decade, British paper cutting artist Pippa Dyrlaga is truly a master. The talented artist creates intricate nature-inspired illustrations hand-cut from single pieces of white paper. “There is nothing as ordinary as a blank sheet of paper,” says Dyrlaga. “But it has so many possibilities.”
Each complex design is a testament to Dyrlaga’s expert skill and admirable patience, not to mention her steady hand. From flowers and leaves to patterned serpents and feathered birds, each paper silhouette is inspired by her natural surroundings in the English countryside of her hometown. No matter her subject, Dyrlaga manages to include an awe-inspiring amount of detail. Every petal and leaf features thinly sliced botanical veins, bird feathers are rendered from hundreds of textural lines, and in one particular snake piece, Dyrlaga hand-cut each individual scale, one-by-one.
We recently caught up with Dyrlaga to find out more about her inspiration and processes. Read on for our exclusive interview.
What first inspired you to start working with paper?
When I first started, apart from being drawn immediately to it from an aesthetic point of view, it was the practicality of it! I was a student at the time, without a permanent studio space. It wasn’t complicated, could be stored, kept, and acquired easily and didn’t require any specialized equipment. It cost much less than other mediums and it meant that I could be as prolific as possible and not have to worry about making expensive mistakes. It was quite freeing at a time when I was exploring the subject matter of the pieces I was starting to make.
Why do you think you’re drawn to nature-inspired motifs?
I guess quite simply, I find it beautiful and it brings me a lot of joy! It is all around us and is something that everyone can relate to on some level. From a small child, I have always been drawn to nature.
Can you describe your process for each piece?
My work is usually quite vague when I start. I will have a detail or a general idea of what I want to create. I will draw a loose outline in pencil and then I will start adding detail as I cut. I often figure out the full composition as I am working on it, so it changes a lot before its finished, as I move things or add things into the image. I cut the detail in sections using a sharp knife. Everything is drawn in reverse, and then when I have finished cutting the image out, I flip it over and the “clean” side is the finished piece of artwork.
Many of your works are incredibly complex. What drives you to keep going until the last tiny incision?
For me, the process of making the artwork is as important as the finished piece. It’s a very meditative process and one which I very much enjoy. Due to the fact that it is so delicate, it’s a very slow process which can’t be rushed, and so it has to be something you enjoy doing! It isn’t a chore, you can get into a rhythm and it becomes very easy to spend hours working.
Do you have any advice for those who want to take up paper-cutting art?
The tools and materials are so accessible, so experiment a bit to find the right ones for you. Make sure you are working in a well-lit area with a good surface such as a cutting mat. Most of all, just enjoy it. It’s a very enjoyable pastime! If you aren’t ready to start designing your own pieces, there are lots of artists that offer ready-to-cut templates for you to get started.
Do you have any upcoming projects or exhibitions you’d like to share?
I am still recovering from last year, which was extremely busy for me! (I illustrated a children’s book, and took part in several shows), so at the moment I am working on a few commercial commissions and preparing for a group show next month.
My Modern Met granted permission to use photos by Pippa Dyrlaga.
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