Paper Crafts: An Interview with Molly & Arielle

Posted by on Mar 8, 2013 in Paper Crafts | Comments


Interview with Molly & Arielle

Creative endeavors such as arts and crafts are often thought of as somewhat solitary efforts—the thing you do when you have some time to yourself. But in the case of Molly and Arielle, it was what brought two people together to form a strong friendship, and some very beautiful projects! I’m proud to say that I introduced the two of them about a year and a half ago. Though that pride doesn’t compare to how impressed I’ve been with the fruits of their collaboration.

The first time I’d ever met Arielle, I was living in New York City. As owner of a book editing and proofing business, Arielle was kind enough to put me in her stable of editors. When I first met Molly, it was in Portland, Maine, when she became fast-friends with my wife in their MFA program. It came as no surprise to me, then, that shortly after Molly received her MFA, she also won a prestigious award for her short film, which featured her incredible paper cutout work.

A short time later, Molly was preparing to relocate to New York, and as a way of welcoming her, I gave her Arielle’s name and contact info, thinking they might enjoy each other. Sure enough, they met and became not only friends, but collaborators. They both recognized an opportunity to combine their unique talents for paper: Molly’s knack for shaping and cutting it, and Arielle’s skills when it comes to putting pens to it. They immediately set to work on a calendar, and when they completed this project, they uploaded it to Craftsy where it got rave reviews from fellow Craftsy users. This year, they created another calendar, and again the response has been phenomenal.

That’s why we decided to chat with Molly and Arielle, and share their stories and crafts with all of you readers of the Craftsy blog. Enjoy!

Paper Crafts Calendar by Molly & Arielle
Paper Crafts Calendar by Molly & Arielle

Paper Crafts Calendar by Molly & Arielle
Paper Crafts Calendar by Molly & Arielle

Molly, you come from a fine art background. Tell us a bit more about your life as an artist in terms of the kinds of art you make, mediums, etc.

I mostly work with cut paper, making animations as well as individual cut paper pieces. I have been thinking about how my work can fit into the world of  illustration, lately. I would like to have a career as an artist that exists in both the illustration and fine art worlds, though one or the other might take precedence. Children’s book artists like Maurice Sendak, Ezra Jack Keats (The Snowy Day) and others are really inspiring to me. I would like to illustrate children’s books! I have often felt kind of embarrassed when people say that my work has a childlike quality to it, but I am embracing that a little more now. I think that it’s actually a good thing, because I think I can make art that is aimed at kids or adults and it’s basically the same aesthetic, I don’t have to try to dumb it down or anything. I like to think that I can make images that are appealing to all ages of people, the way that children’s book illustrations are still so appealing to me as an adult.

Arielle, you have a varied background, from poetry to editing to life coaching. Tell us more about that, and what kinds of creative things keep you busy these days.

My creative base is definitely in writing, and that being said, what inspires me at the most basic level is the sensual-spiritual-emotional nature of experience. Every experience has within it layers of response, thought, viscera and emotion and the aggregate of that is indefinable and certainly ephemeral—to catch some of that whole in words, paper cut-outs, any medium is like trapping lightning or lightning bugs. Yet the whole exists within retelling and re-expression, beautiful acts, and those become whole and complete worlds. Currently, I am working on a poetry manuscript called “The End of Suffering” and a sci-fi/fantasy novel called “Waiting for the Nightjar.” When I coach people, I use mindfulness and kindness practices, bringing the person back to their own awareness and deepening their knowledge and relationship with themselves, others, and the world.

When you two met, how did you decide on calendars?

Molly: I started making calendars about five years ago, as a Christmas present for my mom and then for other people too, but I never tried to sell them until collaborating with Arielle. The idea for me from the beginning has been to create something that would have some motivational or inspiring words for each month of the year. When I read Arielle’s writing, I thought it would be so cool to use her words and my images together. Her style is a lot different than mine in some ways. My images and words both tend to be pretty direct and simple, sometimes verging on cute, whereas Arielle’s words are more layered and abstract. I really like the way that our two tones work together.

Arielle: I was thrilled when Molly asked me if I wanted to collaborate. I had seen her work and was blown away by its sophistication, insight and sparse, yet textural beauty. Molly has a way of taking complex ideas and boiling them down to a stunning, emotive image. She has such skill and talent and her images spoke to me deeply and moved me. I agree with Molly, our styles work together in an amazing way, like atonal harmony. Although our styles are different, we share a fundamental core of values and philosophy, so when images and words come together, it is like two ways meeting at the center. When Molly said we should make a calendar, I loved the idea of bringing uplifting, thought-provoking panels into people’s homes and having it be part of the measure of a year, a measure of time that continues with people month by month.

Talk about the process a bit. Do you work independently, and then attempt to match up the images with the words, or do you collaborate on what kinds of words and imagery you’d like to have ahead of time?

Molly: Arielle writes the words first and I come up with the images afterwards. For the 2013 calendar we collaborated more from the start, talking about what kind of imagery we might use, and putting together kind of a story culled from lines of poetry she had written over time.

Arielle: We were excited to do something different than we did last year, and like Molly said, we talked about that and about how to approach this calendar, 2013. Molly came up with the idea of a narrative pulling the whole year together, and having a beginning, middle, and end. As we talked more and I shared the lines from the poems, Molly saw the setting of the ocean and the boat, and the story and characters emerged.

Talk about paper as a medium. How has that been important to conveying your work, and why have you chosen it as the only medium for your collaborations?

Molly: I like paper for a lot of reasons: I like that it skirts the line between two and three dimensions, I like how it is so strong and so weak at the same time. My major in college was printmaking, and the process of making a paper cut-out is very similar to a printmaking process. Because that is the medium I’ve been working in for a while now, it just naturally evolved that that is what I would use for the images for the calendars. But I would really really like to letterpress the calendars. The one thing that is hard for me is that we don’t print them (we work with an incredibly kind printer named LeRoy Osborne at Keller Bros. and Miller, Inc. in Buffalo.) I would like for the finished products to have my hand in them in a more literal way.

Arielle: This is more Molly’s area, but I will just add that paper is quaint and intimate. It is a physical object that can be held in the hand and looked at as an object, as a piece of art. I love that, and I love the physical presence of it. In an age of reality being more and more subsumed in a digital realm, paper is a reminder that we have bodies and exist in three dimensions. I love what Molly said too, about paper being between two and three dimensions. I also would very much like to have a more hands-on, intimate creative process and learn how to letterpress and then produce our calendars that way.

The 2012 calendar is long-gone, but you can still see how it all started with their Craftsy project! And if you’re interested in integrating paper into your crafts, be sure to check out our popular online class, Paper Arts with award-winning paper artist, Alton DuLaney!

That’s why we decided to chat with Molly and Arielle, and share their stories and crafts with all of you readers of the Craftsy blog. Enjoy!

Comments

  1. Katherine says:

    Great interview! It’s interesting to hear how two great artists work together. They do amazing work and I’m so glad you shared a bit of their story. Fantastic job!!