Monthly Musings | Isobel Barber
Meet Isobel. A Dorset Papercut Artist who is sure to brighten your feed with her creativity. After graduating in Textile Design from the Arts University Bournemouth in 2012 her work has evolved into illustration and paper cutting. Isobel took five from wielding a scalpel and scissors to explain what inspires her and her unique work…
We love your playful bright style. After graduating in textile design how did you end up going down the illustration and paper cutting route?
I’ve been obsessed with drawing, colouring, creating, cutting and sticking from the word go so I’ve always known that I wanted to work in a creative field. Whilst at university I became absorbed in intricately cutting, layering and sticking coloured paper as a way of designing colourful patterns and prints in my sketchbook.
I think it was my Final Project in my last year of studies which was my ‘light-bulb’ moment. I designed and engineered a collection of Elizabethan inspired collars solely from card and paper which I had printed onto and cut into. I loved the versatility of the shapes and forms I could creative by manipulating the card and paper and was hooked from there. Paper as an illustrative medium was also becoming popular around this time with the likes of Rob Ryan and his detailed paper cuts popping up so this definitely inspired me too.
How would you describe your vibrant style?
Colourful and playful with a sprinkling of sophistication through the three-dimensional intricate detail. My work most definitely requires a steady hand!
What topics or themes do you return to in your work?
Obviously a lot of the time, the theme of my work is defined by the clients brief. However, when I’m playing or working on a self initiated brief, a recurring theme is most definitely food! I find it such a colourful, vibrant subject matter and being a total foodie is probably a contributing factor too! The scale skin of a fish, the segments in a citrus fruit, berries bursting with colour… I find the inspiration from natures patterns and colours is endless!
What inspires you about Dorset countryside and coastline in particular?
I have a concerning habit of imagining how everything I see would look constructed out of paper, so I feel very lucky to have the ability to sponge inspiration from pretty much everywhere I go! I’m very drawn to colour, so colourful signs in particular inspire me, from bunches of wild flowers when I take the dog for a walk to rows of colourful beach huts along the Dorset beaches.
Some of my favourite Dorset towns also lend themselves as inspiration for my work. I have a range of paper cut prints, including a view over the harbour in Swanage and the famous steam railway chugging down the hill away from Corfe Castle in the Purbecks, two of my absolute favourite spots.
What other contemporaries are inspiring you right now with their creativity?
Fellow Paper Cutter wise, I adore the work of Jared Schorr. He works more two-dimensionally, but his work is just so much fun! He creates the sweetest little characters and worlds from card and paper and I really admire his imagination.
I follow lots of current illustrators on social media and two of my favourites at the moment are Holly Exley and Danielle Knroll. They both work in watercolour, but their styles are completely different. Holly creates the most intricate and realistic paintings with food and wildlife as recurring themes and I think her work is just gorgeous. Danielle paints in more of a whimsical style and I love the playful subject matter of her paintings and her use of vibrant colour combinations and patterns within her work. I’m also very inspired by set designers for their compositional and three-dimensional design qualities – there is a lot to be inspired from right now!