We are thrilled to share the story of Lisa Lloyd, the talented paper artist based in the UK. Her life-like renditions of birds and nature caught our eye and we had to share how she uses her Silhouette machine to make her incredible work.
Question: How did you get started designing and making paper sculptures?
I used to work in animation and had an animation company. There was this trend for tactile, hand-made stuff. So we started doing lots of stop-motion using clay, paper, and fabric. I really enjoyed paper because it’s such an easy material to use. It doesn’t require many tools.
I was doing graphic design and making paper stuff with paper on the side for fun. Once I had a baby, I went on maternity leave and kept going with it. I had an agent who got me a job making paper sculptures for Waitrose Weekend—a magazine in the UK.
After that job, I was on a program called Countryfile on BBC1, and I was featured in the Times newspaper, and because of that, I got a lot of private commissions and starting making with paper full-time.
Question: Where do find inspiration for what you make?
My biggest inspiration is nature. The symmetry, the patterns, the textures are all so beautiful. I like to take my own spin on what I see in nature by adding a modern twist to create something visually striking, like adding gold to a project.
Question: How would you describe your aesthetic?
I’m always trying to find the pattern in things. I love to play with color, using different gradients of paper to create a different look. It adds a bit more warmth and makes things feel a bit more real.
Question: What’s your favorite thing to make?
One thing that’s interesting to me is mammals. The faces and the tails are fun. I do love insects and birds and flowers as well. I like things that really have a lot of pattern and color, the texture and flowing shapes is mesmerizing.
Question: What’s your favorite material?
Paper. At the moment, I don’t really use anything else. Paper is endless. There’s nothing more exciting than going into the paper shop.
Question: What’s your favorite project you’ve ever made?
I made a nautilus shell that was so hard. It is a golden ration because each segment of the shell elevates in size as it goes up. I’m not very good at math, so it was a lot to work it out. That was my greatest achievement.
My stag beetle was a bit of a breakthrough for me to apply my graphic design skills. I started to learn how pieces of paper travel around a three Dimensional surface. With the birds I made, they reduce in size, as they get closer to the beak. I figured all of that out, including how the colors and patterns work together making the stag beetle.
Question: Can you walk us through your creative process?
If I’m working on a true-to-life piece, I don’t tend to sketch because I’m studying videos and images. Drawing it up doesn’t really help. I have to do a lot of research, and if it’s a tricky one, I go to the Natural History Museum here. I’m friends with someone who works there, so he takes me behind to really study the specimens. I also watch YouTube videos of birds in flight doing their thing.
I create the wire feet first and then I use strips of cardstock to sculpt the inside. I use tissue paper to fill it. Then I cut feathers out with the Silhouette Cameo®. You need that kind of conformity of the shapes. I then hand-fringe each feature. I start at the tail and place the feathers and work all the way up to the top of the beak.
Question: How were you introduced to Silhouette?
I looked online to find a machine that cuts paper and talked to a friend who was using his Silhouette Cameo® for his graffiti art. He lent it to me, and I’ve been using it ever since.
Question: How do you use your Silhouette?
I use it to create all the textures on my figures. I use it for every job, just for different reasons.
Question: How does your Silhouette make a difference in your art and business?
If it weren’t for my Cameo, I would only be able to make about one figure per year. To achieve the uniformity and save my hands, it makes what I do possible. I wouldn’t be able to realistically to do my job. It would take hours and hours. It makes my job more enjoyable because the machine cuts out all the thousands of tiny pieces which add the texture to my projects.
Question: What’s your go-to Silhouette tool?
The Silhouette Cameo® and the Ratchet Blade.
Question: What’s your advice for other artists?
Keep going. And don’t worry about it looking ugly. Don’t stress about it looking imperfect. The imperfections are what make it lovely. You can see the person’s hand in it and the labor of it.
As you get better technically, you start to move to different techniques anyway. Start with something you love and that makes you happy, whether that’s color or material. Don’t feel bad about yourself if it isn’t perfect.
I look at stuff I made two years ago and see how much I’ve improved. I made a blue tit bird that was featured in the Times and had him looking forward. Now I have the birds tilt their heads to look a little more real. I realized that when I made a toucan that if I tilted his head, it gave him more personality and made him look more real.
You’re just always learning and getting better, so just keep going!
Question: What’s the best way for people to find you?