Interview with Social Stylate

I was delighted to chat with the lovely people at social stylate about working as an artist and how I came to design a watch for Dial watches

1. Where did the inspiration come from that made you interested in creating art from paper?
For anyone who draws or paints it all starts with a blank piece of paper, you go on a journey of what paper works best for the medium your working with, discovering different textures and weights and how it affects your work. When I first started working with paper I would collage the different papers together to create my illustrations.

2. After having so much success with creating book covers, greeting cards, and other paper art, what lead you to collaborate with Dial to design a watch?

When I was first contacted by Dial, there was no website or imagery, just the raw idea, enthusiasm and bags of creativity. I felt really honoured to be the first artist given the challenge of working within this space and create a piece of artwork in a watch. I have completely loved the whole process, and the watch has come out more beautiful than I could have possibly imagined! It was definitely a challenge, as normally I am thinking how it would look hanging on a wall not on a wrist. I had to take a different approach, thinking how I could retain the same level of detail on a much smaller scale and how that design would practically work as a watch, and a beautiful piece of jewellery. I really love working with restrictions, I find you end up with some thing far more interesting as a result!

 

3. If you could create a watch for any one person, who would it be and why?
Tough question! I can only think of fictional characters, is that allowed? My little mermaid! A blissful under the sea themed watch, so she can keep track of time. Also, Audrey Tautou, as I like the idea of creating a watch for a wrist of a thoughtful, quirky and beautiful French lady cycling around Paris.

4. How did you come up with the idea for nature as the central focus point for your watch?
Nature is the primary source of inspiration in almost all of my work. Re-imagining the wonderful imagery and processes in nature motivates me to get up and into the studio. I would love to say my inspiration comes from exotic adventures out in the world but, to be honest, most of the time it’s from watching amazing documentaries that make me go “wow”! Discovering new things about the world that seems almost unbelievable and sometimes magical, reminds me of fairytale that I was told as a child.

5. Is there any specific part about Bristol that is particularly inspiring for you and your work? Where do you find other inspiration for your art?
Well, spring is my favourite time of year so I’m really loving Bristol even more than usual right now! Just walking around the city there is so much amazing blossom poking out of the trees, I’m constantly stopping to take pictures. One of my favourite things to do on a light spring evening is to sit by the docks, spying on the barges and the boats, watching the sun shimmer across the water. There’s not a specific part of this city that inspires my art, just living here and experiencing its quirks, spots of nature, surrounding countryside and lovely people keeps me happy. The other day I was cycling home through the park and a fox stopped in my path tilted its head back and made the most haunting howl, then ran off. It made my day!

6. What is your mantra for how you live your life? How do you relate that to your work?
Stay positive, work hard and enjoy life. If I keep this balance then the work comes naturally and I enjoy it, so working hard and enjoying life go hand in hand. Sometimes I do catch myself worrying unnecessarily about things, which I try to use as a reminder to get on and make things!

7. Where do you see yourself going with your paper art in the next 5 years? Could you see yourself creating other types of accessories or designing more watches?The alarming rate at which time is passing does make me stop, plan and see where I would like to take my work in future. I absolutely loved working with Dial, its fantastic to see the reaction to the watch. The whole process really made me step back and view my work from an entirely different perspective. Paper will always be an important part of my craft, but I’ve realised that my art can work in all sorts of different formats and media. Since then I’ve been talking with designers and architects and developing grand ideas of my work being used on furniture, interior design, homeware, stationary and accessories. It’s really nice taking my artwork out of the frame and into every day life. I love the idea of more watches too. I have also been running a few workshops, sharing my love for paper cutting and its tradition. It’s the craft that I really love to share. I’m also hoping to publish a book on paper crafts to inspire people to take some time out of their routine to make things.

8. What is your best marketing tool to get the word out about your pieces?
I have recently been putting more time into my Instagram account, I think I am becoming a bit obsessed! I really enjoy discovering new artists and other people in my community who share the same passions.

9. What has been your biggest challenge in starting up your own business?
Having your own business is very personal, and I’ve had to learn not to take things personally when ideas don’t quite go to plan or someone doesn’t share my aesthetic ideals! It’s not possible to just be ‘the maker’, you have to manage, promote, liaise, travel, and keep on top of all aspects of running a business. This can be a challenge, knowing how to divide time amongst an overwhelming number of critical tasks, all the while remembering to stop and take time out and enjoy life! It’s a challenge that I relish, and I try to push myself with every piece of work that I produce and it makes it all worthwhile when I’m proud of the results and others appreciate it too.

 

10. What advice do you have for creative women aspiring to start their own business?
Consider and evaluate every detail of your visual image to try and make everything as good as it possibly can be. There is a lot of competition out there so make sure you stand out, creating something different that your audience can engage with and relate to. Also, make sure that it is easy for clients to see and understand what you are offering and, most important, how they can buy in. I always try to keep on top of my craft and connect with new businesses and artists on the look out for opportunities for collaboration, inspiration and encouragement!

It is that time of year when I am really craving flowers in my life! Anything to bring a bit of colour and life into the February darkness. So, I though that it would be lovely to share one of my latest templates designs.

Just click the link to download a free template, the next challenge will be to find a quiet moment to enjoy the therapeutic fun of cutting paper.

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Materials you will need: 

  • Template
  • A cutting matt (self healing)
  • A craft knife 
  • One blade
  • One sheet A4 of white paper 150gsm-160gsm (I used Daler Rowney Murano Paper)
  • One sheet A4 of coloured paper ( I used Murano paper in Oatmeal)
  • Acid Double sided sticky pads or Glue dots 

Step one

Download and print your template. If you are a beginner and don’t feel that confident with your craft knife quite yet, I would practice on the side of your paper trying out oval shapes and creating a curved line, creating curves comes with practice, making sure you don’t push down to hard and allowing your fingers to pivot the blade back and forth to create a curve. 

Step two

Its now time to start cutting the grey shaded shapes out of your design. Start from the middle and work your way out, ultimately it doesn't matter where you start as long as you make sure not to damage the design as you go.  

Step three

Now the final step is to cut the flowers from the paper with your craft knife. 

Step four 

You now have your finished paper cut, I like to attach mine to a piece of paper to finish it off. I have chosen a ochre colour but you can choose any colour you like. You want to attach your template so you can still see the shadow created by the paper, so raising it slightly off the paper with foam pads or glue dots is a good way to do this. Evenly space your pads or glue dots to the back side of your paper, this is the side you where looking at when cutting the design. 

 Place centrally on your paper and voila, a beautiful flower design that can be placed in a frame, hung in your home or given to a loved one as a gift. 

Hope you have enjoyed this tutorial! 

 

This is my first blog post of 2016, so happy belated new year. I know January can a bit of a tough month, but it does seem to be flying by!

I am really excited to share my latest (and favorite) commission to date!

I really love creating artwork for families as I know it means so much to them. The process is a real privilege - learning about the family to ensure that I capture their unique energy and magic within my initial drawings and the final paper art. As I wrap the the final framed piece I always find myself thinking about that special moment when it will later be unwrapped. This one was extra special as it was my own family. 

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I was so thrilled to hear how much the family loved it and the impact it had on her Birthday. 

If you like this family portrait and have something in mind for someone close, I would be thrilled to hear your ideas

Posted
AuthorSarah Dennis

I am so pleased to show you a my new book "Animal Camouflage" a search and find activity book for children and is also fun for adults.

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Author and publisher Sam Hutchinson of Bsmall publishing was inspired by the way I cuts worlds of nature from a single piece of paper and together we put together the idea for this wonderful book, I'm so pleased with how it has turned out. We used my artwork to take the reader on a journey of discovery across seven different regions around the world, giving readers the opportunity to become an intrepid explorer, discovering and learning all about the native animals encountered along the way.

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For a nature enthusiast like myself, this project was a absolute joy to create. I challenged myself to produce by far the most intricate and detailed designs I have created to date to date.  I loved cutting the complex detail into each scene, hiding each animal in their natural habitat and making sure that there is something new to discover each time your eyes glance around the page.

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Only 7 days until the book hits she shops!!! You can pre order your copy now or ask you local book shop for the book.

Here is a little time lapse of my cutting the from cover, I hope you enjoy! please share with all your friends.

I was thrilled to be asked to illustrate ‘Natural’ a fabulous new cookbook published by Parragon. I created a set of paper cut illustrations for the cover and insides of this compendium of wholesome recipes. It was a dream project for a self confessed foodie!

Last year my gorgeous friend Holly Clifton Brown married the love of her life Mr Simon Brown. They had the most stunning, down to earth, rustic chic wedding you have ever seen, it was such a fun and beautiful day.

Photographer:  Samuel Docke

Photographer:  Samuel Docke

When it came to the wedding present it of course  had to be a hand crafted paper-cut, I took inspiration from the lady her self and the love they both have for the outside world.  I also used Holly's carefully considered designs she created for the invitations, table plan, and look of the day to influence my artwork.

Photographer:  Samuel Docke

Photographer:  Samuel Docke

Here are some pictures of the artwork in the making,  I used chalk pastels to create a two tones effect on the fern leaf, oats and barley. This is a new technique for me and one I thought was really effective for this particular piece.

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It was a joy to create this piece for them, a piece that I know they treasure and has pride of place in their lovely new home together.

Holly's Instagram picture

If you have been inspired by this post and have a special occasion that deserves a bespoke hand crafter paper art I would love to hear from you.

Info@sarah-dennis.co.uk

 

 

 

 

Cosmic Jellyfish 

This piece was created for my close friend and fellow illustrator Victoria Topping for her 30th Birthday. I have created a few jellyfish pieces now and when ever I make them I think of Victoria as we share a cosmic affection for spectacular and insane sea creatures deep within our souls. Making this piece reminded me of the good times that we spent watching David Attenborough documentaries together in total astonishment at the creatures living in depths of our oceans. 

Recently I have discovered the incredible work of Ernst Haeckel, a philosopher, zoologist and artist who made detailed drawings of deep-sea creatures and microscopic organisms that he encountered throughout his lifetime of study. I have a few of his books and love looking at the detail in his illustrations which seem as precise as they are imaginative, celebrating the beauty of these bizarre marine forms called radiolarians. His work has massively inspired this piece, I can't recommend diving into the marvellous world of his artwork enough.

  So nice to see Vix's photo of it hanging in her lovely home!  

 

So nice to see Vix's photo of it hanging in her lovely home!

 

 

 

If you have ever experimented with paper, but haven't yet used crepe paper to make flowers, this tutorial is for you. Not only is it really good fun, it's also the perfect way to get in a festive mood this Christmas. By the time your wreath is finished, you'll have a completely unique and beautiful decoration for your home, not to mention a new skill to take into the new year!

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Supplies: all can be found easily online

  • Premium Italian florist crepe paper - red, green, white (available in a variety of shades; choose your favorites)
  • Petal and holly leaf templates
  • Florist tape - green, white
  • Florist wire - green - one package
  • Corrugated cardboard
  • Dinner plate, lunch plate
  • Paint - green - spray or apply with brush 
  • Ribbon - red - one piece about 1/2 inch wide x 12 inches long
  • Artificial flower stamens, double tip - 28 (I sourced mine here)
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Craft knife
  • Stapler
  • Cotton buds
  • Hot glue gun
  • Piercing tool (optional)

Step 1: Make the wreath backing board

a. Use pencil to trace around a dinner plate or other circular object that has a 12 inch diameter (approximate). Center a lunch plate inside the first circle and trace around it. Cut the outer circle with scissors and the inner circle with a sharp craft knife.

b. Spray or brush green paint onto the ring front and outer edge.

Step 2: Make the flowers

Roses: Make 4

a. Using provided templates, cut five small, five medium, and five large petals for each rose from red crepe paper. I have found five of each size to be a nice amount, but if you want your roses to be extra full, just add more. Tip: Save time and your hands: fold crepe paper into layers so five petals can be cut at once.

b. Attach your first petal to a length of florist wire by twisting it around the wire. Apply green florist tape* at the petal base. As you add remaining petals from smallest to largest, fan out the middle of each one and curl back the top edge by rolling it around a cotton bud to create the rose shape.

*If you haven't used florist tape before, you are in for a treat! Just stretch the tape and it will get sticky, then pull it around the wire with your petal attached.

Snowdrops: Make 4

a. Take four double tip stamens and snip off the heads from one end with scissors; discard the snipped heads. Attach stamens with white florist tape to the top of a piece of wire. 

b. For each snowdrop, cut four white crepe paper petals using the provided template. Use a similar technique as with the roses... fan out the middle of each petal and curl the tip around a cotton bud. Add all four petals with white florist tape, making sure the stamens can be seen poking out of the top.

Poinsettias: Make 3

a. Fold four stamens in half to make a group of eight stamen heads. Add the stamens to the top of a wire using green florist tape. 

b. Secure the first five small petals in a star shape around the stamens. Repeat with the large petals, staggering them so the petal layers aren't lined up exactly.

Step 3: Cut the holly leaves:

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Cut about 25-35 holly leaves using the template. These are nowhere near as fiddly as the flowers!

Step 4: Putting it all together

a. Loop the ribbon and staple it to the top back of the cardboard ring.

b. Attach your flowers to the ring by poking each wire through the cardboard. Twist the wires together behind the ring so the flowers are secure against the front. Snip off excess wire. Tip: If you have a sharp paper piercing tool, it may be helpful to make holes for the wires first. 

c. Attach the holly leaves by applying a bit of hot glue to the end of each one and arranging them around the flowers and upward to the ribbon loop at the top.

There you have it, an afternoon of joy and a gorgeous Christmas decoration for inside your home!

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