How did you discover paper craft/quilling?
My background is in graphic design, but I always had a tendency to use hand drawn illustrations quite a lot and have been interested in various forms of paper craft since school years (as a hobby). It took me quite a while to find my own way of bringing together my love of paper with my experience in graphic design, especially interest in typography. I started to use edge-glued paper technique more than 10 years ago - I don't always call it quilling because I have actually discovered a new way of using the basic technique - as if I'm drawing with paper instead of on it (traditional quilling often uses a number of basic shapes, so it is a bit different).
The first such paper artwork that I made was my name ‘Yulia’ – I was looking for an eye-catching way to illustrate my name for promotional purposes. Somehow I remembered this method of edge-gluing strips of paper (at that point I had no idea it was called Quilling) and started gluing the letters of my name. That was the starting point for my further experiments with paper and typography; quoting other people, I made quilling cool, modern and gave this old paper craft technique a new life and significance.
Can you explain your process?
I always make detailed sketches first and at this stage might look for some references for inspiration and do a quick research. Having a clear idea of the design at the sketching stage is important because once a piece of paper is glued I can’t remove it without damaging the background to some extent. However this has never been a real issue: the process is so slow, that I get plenty of time to see and evaluate how a particular strip of paper looks in the composition and remove it straight-away, if necessary.
How long does it take to create one of your paper artworks?
These paper artworks can take from a couple of days to couple of weeks or even longer – it all depends on the level of detail, size and design complexity; there are hardly any short-cuts – if you want to create something beautiful and intricate you have to spend long hours working on the piece. The largest paper portrait I ever made took me around 5 weeks.
Why are you interested in portraying the elderly, what message are you conveying to the viewer?
In between the commercial jobs the project I work on is a series of old people portraits - it is an ongoing personal project where I try to experiment with the material (which is always paper) and the technique (usually quilling, but not only) to find unique ways of portraying old people. I'm fascinated by how person’s whole life gets written on his/her face; I have really strong mixed feelings that make me look through photographs of old people in a search for inspiration for my own work - I'm looking for unusual ways to portray aging people with dignity by rendering them in brilliant color, for example, or by showcasing their interests or situations they may find themselves in. There’s also an added bonus: quilled paper is an excellent medium for creating wrinkles. I finished this series with a portrait of my own grandmother. It was an emotional experience trying to portray someone so dear to me, so after going through it I decided to take a break with the series and experiment with new themes (for instance portraying younger subjects and working on a larger scale).
By working on self-initiated projects I’ve managed to evolve my technique even further away from what is called traditional Quilling. If initially I was applying paper strips in a neat, precise manner, right now I feel an amazing freedom to express myself with paper almost the same way an artist would do using oil or acrylic paint. This new method of working with paper comes as close to painting as: I combine different colour paper strips as if I would select and mix different paints on a pallete, and then pack them tightly together into angular arrangements that mimic the look and feel of an Impressionist brushstroke.
I’m fascinated with this method I invented, the only negative is that it is not much faster than the neat and refined way of gluing strips one by one… I wish I could work faster in order to bring all my numerous ideas to life, but the reality is that I have to preserve all the emotions and inspirations keeping them inside, and only spill them drop by drop (paper strip by paper strip) while working on my pieces.
What kind of paper and tools do you use?
I use all sorts of paper, there is no particular brand that I can recommend: different types work for different purposes, however I tend to choose heavy paper and card (e.g. from 120-150gsm and heavier), just because I find it more versatile and easier to handle.
The main ‘special’ tools that I still use till this day is a cocktail straw for rolling and curving strips and little wooden toothpicks for rolling tight circles. And of course, some scissors, PVA glue, tweezers, and a cutting knife and ruler for cutting paper strips.
How can I buy your artwork?
Currently I sell some of the originals from past projects directly (except for personal works/portraits or very recent pieces). Please feel free to send me an email and I will get back to you with the list of available artworks, I ship worldwide, the delivery cost will depend on the size of the selected artwork and your location; artworks are not too flimsy and travel well.
I also take on selected personal commissions depending on schedule, please email me the details if you would like to discuss this option.