We are huge fans of Jayme McGowan and her work, so it was a no-brainer when we teamed up with her to do a wallet for our Papercut Series. Jayme’s attention to detail is so evident in her work, you can’t help but be in awe of her miniature and dream-like interpretations of everyday life. We conducted an interview with her recently we see who she was, and where her inspiration came from.
When did you really start experimenting with 3-D paper construction?
About 5 years ago – but it took a few years for me to start taking it seriously. I was in college studying painting in a “Fine Art” program at the time and started working with cut paper separately, away from my studies – I actually began working this way in an attempt to quit smoking. The construction method of cutting and gluing, cutting and gluing, over and over – requiring extended periods of focused concentration – turned out to be pleasantly meditative. My very first instinct was to work dimensionally for some reason, maybe stemming from a love of dioramas/shadowboxes. It wasn’t until 2008 when I started posting some of my cut paper work online and began receiving a lot of really encouraging feedback, that I was able to fully see the potential in my unusual form of papercraft.
Your dioramas must’ve been outstanding in elementary school…
I remember them being about five times larger, and more detailed, than the assignment required! I did love making those – except for the crappy elementary school art supplies. I hate hot glue to this day. I think my best childhood diorama was for a 4th grade history assignment – I built a Native American village with moss, sticks and miscellaneous debris collected at the park- and tiny handmade paper teepees.
I would love to collaborate on something that uses paper in a way I haven’t tried before – like an all-paper window display or theater set. I’d love to collaborate with an author to illustrate a children’s book someday too. Oooh, and do a stop-motion animation… I’m basically down for anything.
Your pieces are painstakingly detailed. If you were commissioned to create an “Aspiring Paper Crafter Starter Kit” what would it include?
You really don’t need much to get started, just a few essential tools: tiny precision scissors, sharp X-actos, a cutting mat, quick-drying glue. And paper of course, but you don’t necessarily have to pay for that. The beauty of working this way is how cheap it is – for years I didn’t even buy paper – everything was made out of found or re-purposed scraps, pages of old books and magazines. The most important thing is the patience and focus to see a really slow-moving project through to completion.
How much of your art work is directly related to your personal life?
Well, I haven’t raced birds in the sky and I haven’t parachuted with cats – I have played a banjo in a tree but it wasn’t some magical ‘Snow White’ type of thing where all the animals flocked to listen to me or anything. I think more than anything, my work is simply evidence of my insane jealously of pet owners. I can’t have dogs or cats where I live so I have to get my pet envy out by making pictures of them.
What would your personal heaven look like?
Like this, I suppose. Ladders to hop from cloud to cloud… fantastical hats.
What is the most memorable dream/ nightmare you’ve ever had?
Recurring flying dreams, not surprisingly. They’re really more like floating. I just quietly lift off the ground unnoticed and float up higher and higher into the sky very slowly and peacefully. I usually wake up while trying to grab hold of a tree top or antennae to keep from floating up into space.
What is your ideal workspace?
I’m lucky enough to have a near perfect workspace already… a big room of my own with beat-up old hardwood floors and tall ceilings, lots of widows to let the light in, interesting people bustling past. I can listen to music as loud as I like and the post office is directly across the street. But my studio is an extension of my apartment and it does get a little rough working at home sometimes – a bit lonely and lots of distractions. So I guess my ideal workspace would be what I have now, only in a building with other artist’s studios.
The proudest moment in your life thus far?
Wow, that’s hard to say… taking the plunge into self-employment is something I’m pretty proud of. It was scary at first, not knowing any other full-time freelance artists and not having a ton of support. So I’m proud of myself for being stubborn and trying it anyways – it’s working out well so far. **