3rd December 2015

Paper cut flower blog post edit

Meet Zoe Bradley

Artist, Zoe Bradley does amazing things with paper.  Her talent knows no bounds. Her work has been used in some of the world’s most famous department stores including Selfridges, Harvey Nichols, Harrods, Louis Vuitton and Tiffany & Co.

In episode 2 of Kirstie’s Handmade Christmas she makes a show stopping centre piece, the like of which you’ve never seen before. We managed to catch up with the lady behind this unique craft to find out what keeps her a cut above the rest.

What made you want to become an artist

I went to quite a free thinking school and was encouraged from a young age to study the arts, theatre and music. I loved drawing, mostly figurative and this lead me into the fashion world, if it wasn’t fashion, then I think I would
have ended up being a performer. The Arts always had a big influence on me.

How did you get started?

I studied a BA (Hons) in Fashion Design at Middlesex University, in London in 1997. After I graduated I was lucky enough to get an internship with Alexander McQueen. While I was there I worked on special projects and showpieces which was an amazing experience. From there I started producing paper showpieces for Michiko Koshino. Liberty’s Store spotted my work and commissioned me to make a range of paper showpieces for their Christmas windows. Liberty’s windows were the spring board to what I do today, creating spectacular window installations for many of the leading luxury stores and brands in London and world-wide.

Why do you specialise in paper art?

My love of paper comes from a desire to find a material that can keep its form and that is readily available in abundance. When I find a new paper I’m always looking to see what limits I can push it too!

How do you work with it?

I work with paper just as a designer works with fabric or a sculptor works with wood or metal. My challenge is always to create something unexpected from its original 2D sheet form into a magical 3D sculpture. I fold, pleat, curl, stitch, cut and score it.

Where do you source your paper from?

I use some incredible paper suppliers from the UK, Italy, France and the Far East. I have hundreds of swatch books of different textured papers.

Is it difficult to work with compared with other materials?

The advantages are that paper is endless and can be sourced in abundance. The disadvantage is that the sculptures can dent and tear easily so it can be as delicate as working with porcelain. You certainly need patience to work with paper, even a slight error, means starting all over again!

How do you achieve the detail that you need?

Lots of patience! And endless observing of details in everything I see.

Is it all done by hand?

All our pieces are hand sculpted. My work is very intricate and there is a lot of attention to detail. I am a bit of a perfectionist! With larger installations we have to use technology to maintain the very delicate detailed work. This is achieved through laser or die cutting my designs when we are dealing with large scale.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

I draw inspiration from lots of different things theatre, fashion, Couture, architecture and nature. I always take pictures wherever I am, be it a forest or a gallery. Old books I find, supply me with a wealth of materials.

Who has inspired you?

My biggest inspirations are fashion, architecture and art. I draw a lot from the world of haute couture for all its artistry and intricate craftsmanship.  Working with Alexander Mc Queen was a highlight for me, I found him very challenging in a creative way. He would always look to create the impossible.

What’s been you most spectacular installation to date and why?

Tiffany worldwide windows are our biggest works to date creating 146 bespoke windows for Christmas. The fairy tale and winter wonderland designs were intricately crafted in laser and sculpted by hand. For the fifth avenue store in New York I created animated moving parts bringing the sets to life with
fluttering butterflies and galloping reindeers.

What are your aspirations for the future?

I love the world of modern architecture, especially Architects who challenge the norm. I’d love to put on an exhibition or fashion show within one of Frank Gehry’s or Zaha Hadid’s buildings.

What advice would you give to budding artists just starting out and deciding which path to go down?

Approach the people you most admire and feel inspired by. Write letters, send e-mails and show examples of your work. Show real passion and keen interest. Try stuff out and get an internship in an art or design studio or gallery. Being present is the only way to learn and gain knowledge.

Find out more about Zoe Bradley here.