Paper illustration art
Paper Art

Heather Bowley Illustrator and Paper Artist

I’ve always loved making things from paper and card. As a child in England, I would cut up empty cereal boxes and turn them into houses, cars, robots; whatever my imagination came up with. I was also obsessed with making things in miniature; tiny cakes and bread rolls, books with individual pages typed up on the family PC in tiny letters, hand sewn bed sheets the size of a napkin, all props for the soap operas I was constantly inventing for my dolls and ornaments. My dream for the future was to become an artist or maker.

Life has since taken me in some unexpected directions; since finishing my degree in modelmaking I’ve worked both as an architectural modelmaker and an English teacher. I now live in Valencia, Spain, where I’m just starting out on my journey as an illustrator, creating work for editorial and advertising, along with family portrait commissions. A lot has changed, but I still love working with paper, and it forms a big part of my work. Most of my work is bas-relief, which is more or less the mid ground between two and three dimensional art, although from time to time I’ll make some kind of miniture scene that is completely 3D, which always reminds my of my childhood projects! I’ve recently been experimenting with popup designs as well.

Paper has so much versatility as a sculptural medium; you can cut it, fold it, roll and shape it, emboss it, build it up into layers, use it wet or dry; the possibilities are endless! The low-cost and easy availability of materials make paper art accessible to almost everyone, which is not to say it can’t be incredibly skillful and elegant. Most of my work is made from hand cut, shaped and embossed pieces of watercolour paper, in a range of colours. I then use spacers to create the illusion of depth in my work. The finished illustration comes from a digital photograph of the sculpture.

Recently, I’ve also started teaching paper sculpture workshops, which I love. It’s so much fun helping people to tap into their creative side and try out something new. I would recommend anyone having a go at this unique art form as you don’t need many special tools or materials when you’re starting out, just a scalpel or cutter, a steel ruler, an embossing tool, glue and paper, and you can get some spectacular results!

Family portrait paper art by Heather Bowley

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