Sam Pierpoint was at her university bookstore when some pretty paper caught her eye. At first she didn’t know what to do with it, so she started making collages with it. What started out as pretty paper turned into a lifelong passion of bringing stunning 3D paper structures to life, especially focusing her talents on mind-boggling paper cities.

“I found myself just going in and buying paper and thought I’ll have to get this into my work somehow,” said Sam. “I did a collage and started to raise the collages up off the page.”

She attended Lichfield Art College and then went to Nottingham Trent University to study illustration and graphic design. Postgraduation, she started creating music labels and built up a portfolio that kept growing.  She integrated paper into her artwork and continued learning how to make even better paper sculptures.

“It went on to be more 3D stuff that I just cut out papery bits for,” she said. “It really started to bring itself off the page.”

Sam always starts her work with a thumbnail sketch, which is then developed to a final sketch with a color palette. She will then create a bird’s eye view of the sculpture. She uses Adobe Illustrator to refine the sketch and saves it as a DXF file to export to Silhouette Studio®. In Silhouette Studio®, she makes it a 3D piece. When she started using more and more paper, she realized she was wasting precious time cutting out monotonous shapes, so she started researching cutting machines and found the Silhouette.

“The software is easy to use. Having that simplicity and user-friendliness helps to take simple objects and make them a bit more complicated,” Sam said. 

For as long as she can remember, she was always building something and working on some art project or architectural feat.

“As a kid, I would always be building dens out of cardboard boxes and Legos,” said Sam. “I’ve always enjoyed making things.”

She focuses her pieces on making cities, and many clients reach out to her to build their city. She uses Google Images to look at a city and start honing in on landmark buildings and landscapes in the area in order to craft the city out of paper. Her favorite project? Making her own city.

“Bristol is where I live, and I loved doing that one because I can share all the amazing things I love about Bristol.”

The Visit Bristol campaign used the paper city to promote touring the beautiful English city. She said she also enjoyed making a large paper Strasbourg, Germany, for a Christmas market campaign. Getting the piece to the city was part of the adventure. She had to drive the sculpture from Bristol to Germany praying none of the bumps in the road would destroy the breathtaking piece.

Another one she particularly enjoyed was making a double-sided city to promote Project Literacy, a nonprofit founded by Idris Elba to improve literacy in the world.

Sam advises other artists to try new new things, have fun along the way with their projects, and strive to find a unique style.

“Working hard at developing your own unique style is a really good move,” said Sam. “Once you’ve got that nailed down, people will begin to want that style. You haven’t got lots of other competitors because it’s just you.”

You can find Sam on Instagram (@sampierpoint), Twitter (@sampierpoint), and her website where she shares more about her work and Project Literacy.