Meet the Maker: Papercutting Artist Silvina De Vita
There’s so much that can be achieved with a single sheet of paper; papercutting is a prime example! Cut and score to create beautifully delicate pieces of wall art, three dimensional installations and home décor items to name but a few.
Here we catch up with papercut artist Silvina De Vita and learn all about her creative background, what inspired her to start papercutting and what’s next for 2018/19.
You have an incredibly creative background, have you always been artistic?
Yes, I’ve always been interested in music and art. My aunts got me into literature so I was a book worm since a very young age. I was always very curious and got bored easily, that made me try more than 12 different sports and activities. My poor parents!In school I was always between art classes and choir lessons.
You graduated from a graphic design course, what inspired you to pick up a scalpel and start papercutting?
After years of working as graphic designer and art teacher I wanted to do something more hands on. I wanted to see my illustrations come alive, so I decided to start working on them in 3D. That’s why I started papercutting in 2010, to make something more tangible than a print.
Who taught you what you know?
I guess being a graphic designer trains your eyes very well in terms of colour and composition. Teaching at the University of Buenos Aires also trained me as I was seeing lots of different works each day… you learn what works and what doesn’t. I did an MA in Art History in 2015 but actually to learn papercutting it was just me and a scalpel, it’s trial and error, perseverance and patience.
For those just getting started in papercutting, what tools would you recommend?
I’ve tried all the blades on the market. At the moment I’m loving Excel Blades.
I would also recommend using a good glue, it makes all the difference. PVA PH neutral glue dries quickly and sticks really well. Oh, and get a nice metal ruler.
Is there a particular weight of cardstock that works best for paper cutting?
I use 135 grams for things that I need to be more malleable for folding or 3D work. If I want something more sturdy and solid I use 270 grams.
What/who inspires your work?
I used to have a studio in South London. My window was in front of the bins, literally, and there was not much natural light. My work then was white silhouettes on coloured background in a wooden frame. Then we moved to Brighton for more space for my 3 boys and we found this amazing house. My studio window looks out over the South Downs. What a difference! I see the sea every day. For the first time ever, I have a garden. I have lots of flowers and I’m growing vegetables. I’ve started gardening and have got really into it. That’s when my work started to get more and more botanical. Walking through the woods is one of our favourite pastimes, playing hide and seek with our boys in the trees. And having a beach so close, it’s heaven for us. I also love the work of Cuban artist Elsa Mora, she was my first every inspiration to try paper cutting in 2010.
What’s been your favourite project to work on so far?
Oh I love all my projects, from tiny paper dome commissions to huge designs for brands. I’m very proud to have produced a cover for Unesco’s Youth Forum in Paris, another cover for CALMzine where I did a paper portrait of Professor Green. Two personal pieces are my favourites, one called “my garden” and another called “my neighbourhood” which were featured in Make Craft Britain, a TV show about art and craft that was on in March on BBC4.
You create lots of beautiful three dimensional papercut sculptures; what do you prefer about working in this way as opposed to 2D?
I supposed I have changed my work a lot in the past 2 years. I guess I was bored of 2D and too many people started doing very similar things. Although this was a bit annoying it pushed me to develop new ideas, new designs, something that excites me. That’s how I landed in 3D and I love it. I’m very into miniatures at the moment, don’t ask me why!
You run workshops all over London and East Sussex, what inspired you to start running them?
I think in my heart I’m an art teacher. I taught Design, Art History and Aesthetics for four years at the University of Buenos Aires, the best public university in Argentina. I love working with people, it’s my passion. I just started a community project called ‘The Art Project’ for the residents of Bevendean and Moulescoomb where not many things like this happen. I believe in the power of people, I believe that a community can move a mountain, so I want to bring arts and craft to people who maybe don’t have that possibility nearby.
What’s next for 2018/19?
This year was amazing, so exciting, a lot of things happened for me. Since I rebranded my business to My Papercut Forest, it’s blooming. I’m selling my artwork at Ditchling Museum of Arts and Crafts and maybe very soon (fingers crossed) in other very exciting shops. The recent Etsy Craft Party was wonderful. I feel very lucky to be part of such a great Etsy team. At the moment I’m just enjoying one day at a time, every project is a challenge. I’ve just finished doing some workshops and float making for Emergency Exit Arts, an outdoor theatre company. I’m working on a private commission which is huge and will look great. Hobbycraft has a brand new shop two blocks from my house and I can’t wait to do some workshops there. So I think amazing things are just around the corner.I feel extremely lucky that I can do what I love for a living. I cherish that every day of the week!