When Diana creates a work of art, she researches it, studies it, and creates some of the most stunning pieces of paper art featuring nature’s beautiful elements. We talked with her to hear her story and share more about her process for crafting these paper masterpieces.

How did you get started designing and making with paper?

My mom is very creative and would do lots of things at home. She would always be doing stuff with us. Since I was really little, she would do this with me. I really liked doing collages.

When I had to choose a career, I studied Industrial design which is more a physical approach to materials. At uni and the last years of school, I got to know paper as a material and started doing simple things with it. Paper has always been around me. When I finished my uni I wanted to make things, so I started playing with paper since I had some of it at home.

Also, because it’s a really inexpensive material I wasn’t so worried if things went wrong. With paper, I feel really free and it allows me to try different ideas. After cutting paper and doing collage I was searching for more volume, so I started making 3D collages by cutting and folding the paper in a very geometrical way. I showed my work in a few galleries and people were really interested. To me paper is a really valuable material so I am very careful in the way I use it because I don’t like to waste it. 

I like to research and create different kinds of subjects. Most of them fit in my hand and are very meticulous and intricate pieces. After I did the collages, I started making structures in paper that represent animals and one of the best results that I had was making birds.

Paper as a material could turn into organic shapes like animals if you know how to shape it. It has great potential and can transform into almost anything. I feel that right now my work is jumping into different categories that all relate with nature: It could be sculptures of animals, fruits, book covers or even a poster.

I love nature, whether it’s animals, or fruit, and I got obsessed with all the potential and started working in different categories.

What was the first thing you made professionally?

It was a campaign for an Italian oil company. An agency contacted me to see if I could make 12 birds and flowers for a calendar. The campaign was based on the statement that small things matter. That was the first commission I had and where my work really started. I think collage was the first step to paper. 

I never felt so sure about drawing because I always felt scared that if I messed up I will have to start again. With collage I felt less worried because I could add and take away what was needed, so it gave me more options to play until I felt sure. It’s a more loose way of creating, compared to drawing or sketching.

Where do you find inspiration for what you make?

I really like looking at art and nature. When you are making and working on a project, it always comes from everywhere. It comes from everyday life. Looking at books, the internet, things people have made. If I’m making flowers, I’ll go get flowers and press them. If I’m making fruit, I set fruit in front of my workspace. It’s all about collecting–collecting images, collecting thoughts, collecting ideas.

It’s all about collecting—collecting images, collecting thoughts, and collecting ideas. 

My favorite artist is Richard Tuttle. What I like about him is that he talks about the purity of the material. He tries to find poetry in the material as it is by going back to the beginning of the material. That’s a very good point in a creative process to understand things. He’s very simple in the way he works, but that doesn’t mean that his work comes out easily. What I enjoy about his work is how he makes use of what is available to him, and this is how I feel when working with paper.

A simple material allows you to create instantly, which often means you don’t have to ask anyone to make anything for you. If the material is easy to transform then it is only up to you. I like artists that make their own artwork because it shows me that making something with your hands and on your own is possible and can be effective.

In my home, for example, I don’t buy my kids any plastic toys. I love toys that are open to possibilities and can become anything, it could be just colors and shapes. My little boy likes to play and create different things. I get inspiration from him because he is very free when he plays and he is good at putting things together.

What’s your favorite thing to make?

I really like materials that don’t cost me anything. I like to recycle a lot. I’m interested in something that is so ordinary and not worth any money and making it into something else. I like that challenge of rescuing things that are discarded and finding the potential in the everyday.

What’s your favorite project you’ve ever made?

This one I’m doing now is the most interesting. I love to make things I’ve never done before. I’m making fruit and it’s complicated to make. When you go into a jack fruit or acorns, it gets tricky. Not many people have done complicated fruits with paper. I like a project that challenges me and brings me into my work. I really enjoy that. I had to make some mushrooms for a vegetarian restaurant once, and I also really liked those. I like to create families of objects, or things that relate by their color or  form. I feel that a group of objects is often stronger than a thing on its own.

I like to create families of objects. I like to create groups with color and form. When you have a whole group of things, it all flows together.

Can you walk us through your creative process?

At the beginning, is always starts with references from things I have to do. I have to research mood and all kinds of things. I have to look into illustrations. I jump into design and art. After that, I do a lot of digital sketches that I create in Illustrator.

I import everything from SVG files into Silhouette Studio® and then I cut it with the machine. I sometimes paint the paper if the tones I need are very specific. After that, it’s cutting, painting, putting it all together and finally the photos. I like to take the photos of the process in how it’s going. It’s really interesting to see how it got there. It opens up a little bit of how things happen and how it starts and becomes the final things that they see. We are so curious to see how things are made.

Then I import everything from SVG files into Silhouette Studio®, and I cut the designs with the Silhouette machine. I sometimes paint the paper. After that, I put it all together. Then I take a nice photo at the end. 

I like to take the photos of the process too. It’s really interesting to see how a creation was started and finished.

How were you introduced to Silhouette?

Silhouette really opened up a lot of possibilities to a lot of people. I went to Barcelona and had a teacher tell me to make pop-up cards. He had a Graphtec. I found the Silhouette machine when I was looking for something similar to a Graphtec.

I started making things with paper 10 years ago. I bought my first machine in 2012. The first Silhouette machine didn’t have as many capabilities, but now it has opened up so much. Once we were able to import designs from Illustrator, it really changed everything. People are making stuff constantly.

How do you use your Silhouette machine for your work?

I cut the small pieces to assemble in my work, and I’m happy I have the machine. I really like the quality. Recently, I’ve been having a good time with it. I have been using the Premium Blades, which are really worth it. I always have new blades and new mats to make the cutting job smooth.

What do you listen to while you’re creating?

I started to listening to 12 Songs if you were stranded on Iceland from BBC. I also really like to listen to artists talking. I like to learn how they come up with their ideas. I love to know the creative process of creative people. If I listen to music, I listen to ambient or instrumental. Nothing that is distracting or irritating. I will watch interviews and videos all the time.

What food or snacks fuel you to create?

Because I am so busy, I always choose foods that are easy. I eat fruits, nuts and crackers. When I get into my workday, I get so busy that I forget to stop and eat!

How do you feel your work provides meaning to the world?

It starts with research on every material, even simple things I have at home or everyday experiences. An important part of being creative is about being curious and learning. You can create beauty from the most simple, mundane, and ordinary things.

Paper is an ordinary material, but it can become something beautiful. I want to push the presence of paper as a material because it has so many capabilities. It often gets dismiss and perceived just as a material for crafts but I feel is much more than that. With my work I just want to help people to notice the things I’ve noticed that I feel are important to pay attention to.

I recreate everything I see in the world. Doing that helps people find things they see everyday more interesting than what they’ve seen before. I believe my work interacts with people easily because its very visual and playful. Very often my works allows them to engage with the real subject. I’ve had people tell me they notice birds in the park more after looking at my work featuring birds.

They will say, ‘I’ve noticed the birds are singing.’ which is good because It is  activating people’s imaginations. I work on things I care about and want people to notice and be aware of. I feel if you want to make an impact in the world it is important to focus on things that are common to us all and that we should care more for. I think working with paper is relatively easy and that is not a difficult thing to learn. I am sharing often how I use the material in many ways. If you want to be good at it you just have to be patient and practice.

What is your advice to other artists/makers?

The most important thing is to be curious. What I wish for people is to use what they see in the world as an inspiration to activate ideas. Paper is a material that is easy, it is cheap, and it’s easy to transform.

This is an invitation to say that it’s easy to make things with paper! I have friends from art school who don’t create because they’ve chosen materials that are very expensive and hard to keep up. Creating art helps me to understand the world around me because I’m making it. I’m investing the time to learn about it and understand it.

I value things more because I’ve taken the time to make them. We consume a lot. We don’t sit and take the time to try and think about anything. My work could really encourage children because its really playful. If you nurture that in your children, you could have people who are really creative in the future.

What are your best tips for getting creative?

Make a list of the things you would like to do. Don’t push yourself too hard at the beginning. Don’t worry about making it perfect. Start from something simple. I would take an hour and try to make something in that hour. It was just invitation to have fun and be free. Look at lots of things, like for example, go to exhibitions to museums, read magazines, gain knowledge. Have a look at things you like and try to have a go at making it. Take the time to understand things and give them a go, it doesn’t matter if they don’t look perfect. 

Look at lots of things. Go to exhibitions to museums, read magazines, and gain knowledge. Have a look at it and try to have a go at making it. Try to understand things. It doesn’t need to look perfect. 

Something I was reflecting on today is looking back at the photos from something I made. Some people get rid of things they’ve done because they don’t like them. But looking back, I can learn so much from my previous work. It’s important to do it wrong and ugly and bad because you are learning. You learn with experience.

It’s important to do it wrong and ugly and bad because you are learning. You learn with experience. People struggle the most because they don’t  have the patience to make mistakes.

Is there anything you wish we had asked or would like to share?

It’s really important to feel that creating is not a separate part of your life. It’s within you. It doesn’t have to happen in the studio or the office. You’re creating when you cook, when you’re arranging your house, when you get dressed. When you become aware of how you create, you realize how much you do it. It’s everywhere and it happens all the time. Everyone is creative in their own ways. It’s in all of us.

Where can people find you and view your work?

Instagram: @dianabeltranherrera
Website: http://www.dianabeltranherrera.com/