Originally a designer of constructed textiles, Julene Harrison later turned her hand to paper-cutting. Her passion for the precise and her background in textile patterns have combined to make her style of paper cutting a success.
Julene Harrison has a passion for paper. Her paper-cut work is primarily text-based, but she also does portraits and illustrations of all kinds. She’s done editorial work as well as commercial artwork for such brands as Samuel Adams and L’Artisan du Chocolat.
For this uk-born artist who currently lives in Chicago, changing from textiles to paper was a bit of an accident. “I made the first paper-cut as a gift for a friend in 2009,” she says. “I didn’t think much of it, and it certainly didn’t occur to me that it would become my career.”
"It’s not surprising that someone who liked to weave now likes to paper-cut.”
Harrison made a few more paper-cuts for other friends and was encouraged to create a website. “I then started to receive orders from individuals who wanted them to give as gifts, then from companies who wanted to use them commercially,” she says.
Her experience as a textile designer taught her a lot about the importance of balance and harmony in a piece of work.
"I always keep those two in mind when I design my paper-cuts,” she says. “I studied woven textile design, a practice that is very fiddly and labour-intensive.”
Harrison designs her work in Photoshop, then prints it out in reverse on the back of the paper. Finally comes the cutting, which Harrison finds the most enjoyable.
“I simply trace what I have drawn with my scalpel, then lastly pick all the redundant paper away, revealing the final piece,” she says.
The designing is more of a challenge than cutting. “It isn’t always easy to come up with new variants,” she says.
Harrison draws inspiration from the Internet, and she keeps an eye on other artists through design and lifestyle blogs and Instagram.
“As I am asked to draw everything from stingrays to Cambodian temples to Harley-Davidson bikes, image search is really helpful to give me an idea of what each specific thing looks like,” she says.
TEXT: JESSICA JOHANSSON PHOTO: JULENE HARRISON