Lorraine was born in Philadelphia, PA. She recently graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design and her work has been shown at the Drift Gallery, in Maine. She is open for commissions for cut paper, books, and illustrations.
Old Book Illustrations: The first thing that catches the eye, when visiting your Websites, is your predilection for cut paper. How does one decide to go from a line drawing to a cut paper, and how does one live with the idea that such painstaking work is so fragile and likely to be ephemeral?
Lorraine Nam: I start off with a very rough outlined drawing because oftentimes, I find that I get too bogged down in detail to continue to finish the piece. As I am cutting the paper, I like to let the material dictate where my next cut will be and I generally improvise as I work. Although paper cuts are very fragile painstaking work, I feel that once I’m finished with the piece, I just want to move on to my next project so I don’t really consider how ephemeral the end product is.
OBI: You took this technique a step further, using it as an original approach to conceive book illustration: whereas the standard way consists of using the two-dimensional surface of the page as the support for the image, you use the book itself, as a three-dimensional object, to give your work depth and perspective. How did this idea first come about? And did you go through a lot of trial and error before achieving such effective results as, for instance, Three little pigs or Korea?
L. N.: I actually started out creating these cut paper books and progressed to single sheets of cut paper. I guess it was sort of backwards in a way. My first cut paper book was Korea. I had a single image cut out and I was pretty unhappy with it. It was too simple and flat. After putting it against different papers, I finally decided to layer cut paper instead to create more depth. It all fell into place pretty quickly – so easily that I was nervous that I did something wrong! After the Korea book, I made the Three Little Pigs and the Three Blind Mice. With these books, I wanted to see if I could tell a story with just cut paper images and without words.
OBI: Books seem to hold a particular appeal to you, as well as the crafts related to book making: we’ve just mentioned Three little pigs and Korea,
which you designed, you also bound them yourself, using Coptic stitching, there are books that you slash (which can be considered as a devilish sort of fondness), you also have experience with woodblock printing, which is somewhat related… What do you like or find interesting in working with books?
L. N.: I’ve always been interested in books. I used to read a lot when I was younger and some of these stories influence me even today! Books are so great. They have this wonderful tangible quality and they fit perfectly in your hands to allow you to read or look at images. I wanted to go beyond just creating illustrations so I learned how to bind when I interned at the Center for Book Arts in New York and from there, I made artist books. What I like about cut paper, bookbinding and printmaking, is that it is all very tactile. I like using my hands to create an illustration or book and I like the physicality of the end product. I like to think that it’s all related.
OBI: Do you intend to try to carry these projects further, by looking for a publisher perhaps, or do you have new and different plans now that you have graduated?
L. N.: I’m looking to get my cut paper pieces published and I’m constantly looking to get freelance work. Right now I’m working on a commission piece and some personal work. I do want to continue to exhibit my work but I really just want to put my stuff out there in the world.
All the pictures included in this article are copyrighted to Lorraine Nam.
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