Amy Purdie is the founder of Embellish where she creates pictures out of paper. She is also the founder of Whiteacres where she helps business owners feel confident about their business image. She lives in Northumberland, UK, with her husband, two small children and a cat.
Carrie: Welcome to Artist Strong Amy! Please tell us, how did you discover your interest in paper cutting?
We were going to a wedding and needed a present. We’d not been able to find anything suitable so I made my first wedding cut as a gift. I made my second one in the hotel before the wedding as I needed a birthday present too! There was no stopping me. I really enjoyed doing it and before I knew it, I was making them for everybody!
I had all the materials because I’d needed them at university for various projects, but I’d never made a picture with them. It became a bit addictive! I didn’t start Embellish for a good year after that – when I’d gifted papercuts to many people and wasn’t sure who to cut for next!
Carrie: When did you first start calling yourself an artist?
My parents have ALWAYS called me an artist, but I don’t think I called myself an artist until I started Embellish. It was as though having a business to only make art made me feel like I was a serious artist rather than just a dabbler.
Carrie: Can you describe your process to us? How do you move from idea to a finished artwork?
I start with a list from my customer. The cuts are always gifts, usually for wedding anniversaries, weddings or special birthdays. So I ask for a list of things that the recipient is interested in: quotes, phrases, key dates and names. I then doodle pictures that work for the items on the list and sketch out some rough ideas of layout. Afterwards I draw the cut out, scan it in and send it to the customer so they can see what they think, I also make sure that I’ve included the key information and the right spellings. When they say they are happy I get to cutting.
I don’t really plan very much how I’m going to do it before I start. It’s quite an organic process. I do need to have a think about where the cuts are going to be so that it looks right, but on the whole I just cut and plan it out as I go. Then the customer chooses a coloured background which might be a favourite colour or a colour that will work on the wall in the house.
Carrie: What does your workspace look like?
For Embellish I usually work on the dining table. Occasionally I take the project to my office, but generally I work on this business in the evening, so the dining table is the best option! I have an anglepoise lamp so I can get good lighting, a cutting mat, a dish for the scraps to go in and my pencil case which holds a selection of knives and blades. I like to listen to a webinar at the same time, so my macbook will be somewhere around too and a cup of tea. Thankfully I’ve never spilt my tea!
Carrie: You also work to help people with visual brand design including logos, etc. How do your two interests intersect?
Illustration is a service I offer at Whiteacres so I do a lot of drawing for both businesses, however, I was asked to create a papercut logo once so that was a big overlap. It was a tree with books in it for Forest House Press and I really enjoyed taking my papercut and making it into a logo. The client received a logo and the papercut too – so it was quite special for them.
Carrie: How do your interests outside of art fuel your artwork?
I love interiors magazines and am always cutting things out of them for patterns to work with. I stick them in a book so I can keep them handy. I have a large pile to work through and tend to do this once I’ve finished reading them. I also like spending time on Pinterest finding ideas and patterns. I don’t really think about my artwork when I’m out and about, say we’re out at the weekend with the kids, but then I’ll see something, like a carved stone at an English Heritage project or a pattern on the sand at the beach and I’ll have to photograph it. Whatever I’m doing can fuel my creativity as even if I’m not thinking directly about a project; I can be anywhere doing anything and suddenly feel inspired.
Carrie: Can you share one challenge you’ve faced as a creative and how you’ve dealt with it?
When my son was born (a year ago) I lost my evenings because he’s not a great sleeper. It takes a long time to create a papercut (6-8 hours for an A4 size) and to lose the time to be able to work on them has meant that I’ve not done so many, and I miss that. I find it very relaxing cutting paper – but not very baby friendly! Knives and babies are not a great mix. Sleep is improving so I shall be able to work more and more as he gets older. I have had a lot of time to have plenty of ideas for when I have more time to implement them – so I’m very excited about that! He’s a worthwhile challenge 😉
Carrie: What is one piece of advice you have for beginning artists?
Begin. When I started Embellish I wasn’t as good as I am now. I look back at my earlier cuts – my parents have one framed on their stairs – and I can see how much I’ve improved. It’s important to just start and see where it goes. And to enjoy it – otherwise what’s the point?
Carrie: What is one creative resource you can’t live without?
A pencil. If you have a pencil then you can note things down, sketch ideas and make dreams and thoughts into real things.
Carrie: Who/what inspires you?
My family – kids see things so differently to how we see things as adults. It’s a whole new perspective! Inspiration is everywhere. You just have to walk out of your front door, open a book or take a peek at Instagram. If you have your pencil handy then there’ll be something.
Carrie: How do you define Creativity?
Creativity is what happens when something is made from nothing. It’s like magic.
Be Creatively Courageous: Where do you work on your art? It doesn’t have to be a studio, it can be a dining room table! Creating a space for your art, however, is important. Tell me about your workspace in the comments below.
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