top of page

090: Intersection: Sarah Dennis, Paper Cut Artist

Updated: Dec 15, 2023



In the previous episode, we met Sarah Wright who shared the name of her business (Yes and Studio) that also encapsulates her creative philosophy, the power of constraint in breeding creativity and her proclamation of the deep love she feels for Post-it Notes. She also discussed her desire to balance different parts of her creative practice and today’s guest agrees.


Allow me to officially introduce you to today’s guest: Sarah Dennis.


Sarah Dennis is a paper artist and illustrator whose work combines traditional paper-cutting techniques with collage. Sarah worked with a range of clients including, BBC Four, Tatler, The Guardian and Gosh Arts. Sarah has also illustrated and authored a selection of books, including Papercut Woodland and Paper Plants published by Carlton Books. Sarah loves to share her craft, teaching workshops throughout the UK. Paper cutting is creative and therapeutic, focusing the mind and steadying the hand while bringing about a serene sense of achievement. Sarah loves to see others find the same level of joy in the craft as she does.


In our conversation, Sarah and I discuss how she creates her paper cut masterpieces by focusing on negative space, the ways that she works with simple tools and simple materials to make extraordinary creations, as well as the importance of setting time goals in creative work.


Key Ideas Discussed:

  • Lives in Bristol, UK

  • Illustrator and artist, teaches workshops, author

  • Fluidity - sea creatures, the way that they flow together

  • The more you look the more you see; playing with negative and positive space

  • Sometimes forget that your projects exist in the world, especially with books but then you're reminded that they're out in the world - books have a little life of their own where they exist in people's houses

  • A keen eye for composition and shape - mapping out the shapes and what's going to work together and what's going to flow together; figuring out how to create a continuous form; drawing skills are key

  • She uses the knife as her pen

  • Animal camouflage book - research, drawing in sketchbook, becoming familiar, creating mood board of environment; day or two doing the cutting If it's personal work, it tends to take a lot longer

  • The importance of setting yourself time goals

  • When you're in the work and doing it, time doesn't exist in the same way; you're in your own world

  • She works with medium weight paper so ripping is not a huge issue

  • Experimenting in linocut designs and print work Removing shapes to reveal a design She's designing for linocut similar to paper where her brain thinks that everything has to be connected (which it doesn't in lino); more freedom

  • One of the neatest projects she worked on was for a children's hospital - rewarding, sitting down with the children who would be using the final product for a children's charity, commissioning a writer, being in charge of the publishing aspect of the book; so different than other publishing projects she's worked on; this project invited her to play in a more childlike way

  • A new dinosaur book!

  • She loves teaching, she's been doing more of it; craving that connection with other people 3 parts to her business: illustration in publishing, artwork (fine art - creating without any limitations), teaching - ideal world to get a balance of all 3


Among many insights gained, Sarah Dennis reminds us about the way in which projects that involve a level of freedom allow for play. In the next episode we meet Kate, a LEGO artist who shares Sarah’s feelings about the power of play in her work.


Stay tuned…



a digital illustration that depicts Sarah Dennis’ point of intersection between ‘balance’ and ‘play’. There are two overlapping circles connecting these themes and a straight line connecting her to the place where these circles meet. When connected with the 16 other artists these circles form a map.

An intricate paper cut piece on navy blue paper, depicting all different types of wildlife in both the positive and negative space.

A paper cut piece of sky and sea with birds circling overhead and fish in the water.

Sarah holding her book ‘Food Chains: Who Eats What?’.

An image of the front cover of Sarah’s book ‘Follow the Fishes’.

An image inside of Sarah’s book ‘Follow the Fishes’,

The complete map of the colourful, intersecting circles that represent the 17 artists and their connections to one another.

About Our Guest:

A photo of Sarah wearing a sun hat, her long red hair falling across either shoulder with a teal wall in the background.

Sarah Dennis is a paper artist and illustrator whose work combines traditional paper-cutting techniques with collage. Sarah worked with a range of clients including, BBC Four, Tatler, The Guardian and Gosh Arts. Sarah has also illustrated and authored a selection of books, including Papercut Woodland and Paper Plants published by Carlton Books. Sarah loves to share her craft, teaching workshops throughout the UK. Paper cutting is creative and therapeutic, focusing the mind and steadying the hand while bringing about a serene sense of achievement. Sarah loves to see others find the same level of joy in the craft as she does.





Music (public domain via Free Music Archive): Chad Crouch - Rainbow


Talk Paper Scissors Theme Music: Retro Quirky Upbeat Funk by Lewis Sound Production via Audio Jungle


Boat Origami Photo: Boat Origami Photo byAlex on Unsplash

36 views0 comments

Comments


bottom of page