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On the Side: Paper Cuts

Alongside her work as a freelance designer, Bianca Chang explores tone and type in her 3-dimensional paper artworks.

On the Side: Paper Cuts


June 14th, 2011

Earlier this month the A4 Paper Festival saw a collective of paper-mad artists come together for an exhibition and celebration of this most simple and versatile of mediums.

One of these artists was Bianca Chang – a Sydney-based designer who also crafts tactile sculptures that explore shadow and letterforms. Indesignlive spoke to Bianca about how her side project lets her get back to basics. 



What do you love most about paper? What makes it a good material to work with?

Paper is such a versatile material. As a designer I use paper every day, whether that be for sketching up ideas or using stock for publications or collateral. In particular, photocopy paper is such a readily available and economical material.

I take great pleasure in transforming such a common and highly disposable material into a long-term and involved piece of art.



Where does the inspiration for your individual pieces come from?

Having worked in branded environments, I’m always inspired by the subtlety of tone on tone signage and the shadow-play of three dimensional letterforms.

As for the type within each piece – this is mainly specified as part of the commission.



You do a lot of graphic/digital design. Is working with paper a way of getting back to more simple, hands-on techniques?

It certainly is. Working with paper is a break from the computer screen.

I love the hands-on physicality of using just a ruler, blade and pencil to transform the paper into something that is 3-dimensional as opposed to something that only exists digitally.



How are the pieces actually created? Is it all very step-by-step, made entirely by hand?

I create each piece from a very mathematical perspective rather than as an organic or spontaneous expression.

Each layer of paper is hand-plotted and cut. There is a certain amount of calculation involved.


I find this method of creation very relaxing and therapeutic. The hard work is in knowing the limitations of the material and creating a design that will work well. In most cases, the cut-out in each layer gets incrementally larger about an axis to make a smooth void when finished.



What sort of pieces have you had commissioned? Has your work ever shown up in an unexpected place?

All of the commissions I have received have been given as gifts to loved ones. I like this idea very much. I really enjoy stories of the reactions that people have had when they unwrap a framed piece.

The only exception was commissioned as a feature opener in O, the Oprah Magazine. I guess that commission was unexpected, but still very lovely to do.



What do you want people to realise about paper when they encounter your work?

I guess when people see my work I want them to have an appreciation for the beauty of paper as a material.

I use 80gsm paper, the same paper that feeds through photocopy machines. Most studios and offices go through so many reams of paper each week. Paper in this regard is often mindlessly discarded.

The calculation, precision and time-intensive nature of my works seeks to give a sense of permanence back to the material.


See Bianca’s work in (stop)motion here – incredible stuff!

Bianca Chang

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