Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Meet Calgary-Based Hand-Cut Paper Artist Sam Heidinger aka Catfriendo - An Interview

An Interview With Hand-Cut Paper Artist Sam Heidinger aka Catfriendo
People have asked what motivated me to keep my blog running. Perhaps the most satisfying thing for me was to discover hidden gems and talented people that inspired me. Few weeks ago I was notified by Instagram (IG) to pay attention to Samantha Heidinger (@catfriendo on IG), an paper cutting-artist based out of my hometown, Calgary, AB. Being the featured account by IG is a big deal. Just imagine you are one of the few out of 700 million monthly users that caught IG’s attention. It means your work is truly worth something to talk about in the community. Originally from Medicine Hat in Alberta, Heidinger moved to Calgary for her post secondary education. Though a History major, she also spends her free time drawing and painting. It wasn’t after when she graduated university, Heidinger developed an interest in paper-cutting art. One year for her boyfriend’s birthday, she wanted to get him something special but was broke at the time. She decided to pick up a pair of scissors and made a stencil template of Gamera, a Japanese kaiju movie monster. The result was a unique piece of exquisite art and ever since she was hooked in to paper cutting.

Was it difficult to master paper-cutting? Did you like paper cutting as a kid?

In all honesty, paper-cutting isn't too hard! It really just requires a sharp knife, practice, and patience! Of course, being able to draw or sketch is pretty important in order to get your designs down, but practice is the real key. I found when I first started that I would often ruin pieces by tearing them in critical spots, but once I learned how far I could push the paper, it started happening less and less. 

I remember my grandparents had pieces of paper toile hung around their house that I admired when I was a kid. It wasn't until I stumbled across the work of Elsa Mora that I was inspired to make paper-cuts of my own. Her feminine and whimsical paper-cuts really spoke to me as an artist! 

What is the process like cutting an intricate design using paper? 

-Almost all of my pieces start using a pencil sketch or digital template of my design. I use tracing paper or copy paper to sketch out my ideas and then trace them out or transfer them with carbon paper onto the actual paper I cut from. This lets me take all of the elements of my design and arrange them to where I want them.  After I get my design down, I just start cutting. Usually, I throw on a podcast or something on Netflix to keep me company as I work through a piece. I tend to work from on side to another as opposed to skipping around a piece. 

Do you have a vision what your piece would look like before cutting or do kind of play along as you cut? 

Like I mentioned before, I generally start with a sketch. If the piece is something that demands precision, I stick to my designs. If it's something a bit more loosely, like fur or veining on a leaf, I'll just fill it in as I go. 

Being able to switch up between precision and making it up is pretty important just in case you mess up. I used to get upset if I unintentionally altered a design, now I embrace it and make it part of the piece! In most cases, you can't even tell where the goof-up happened! 

Were there ever a time someone commission you to do a piece and you're like "wow, that's a challenging one?

Yes! All the time! I did a piece featuring characters from the Cartoon Network show We Bare Bears that was pretty demanding! I had to make sure that I didn't stray too far from the original style sheet character looks while making sure that everything stayed as one sheet of paper. More recently I did a red panda piece that was super hard! Their little masks and faces are tough to transcribe! 

What's your most favorite piece you've done so far (if any)?

Oh man. I really like the sloth-mermaid piece I did during Mermay (or just May for regular humans) this year. I did research on seaweed and sea foliage to include as a sort of background to the piece, which was a lot of fun! Plus, sloths are cute and interesting to cut out! 

What's the record time you've spent completing one?

I have several heavy hitters in this department. 
The We Bare Bears piece I mentioned earlier was almost 7 hours of pure cutting. I filmed the entire process and some poor human being had to edit it down to a minute of footage! 
Another piece I made was of a giant wing, which took close to 50 hours of work! 

Do you have plans to exhibit your work in a gallery sometime soon? 

I'd absolutely love to exhibit in a gallery! Recently, I've been doing a little research to try to figure out how to make this happen. 

Be sure to check out Sam Heidinger IG account @catfriendo – IT’S JUST SIMPLY AMAZING!

xx Do the things you are passionate about; Learn from ones who inspire you; Strive to become an expert at what you do xx
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