Thursday, May 28, 2009

An Interview with Yulia Brodskaya

One of the most rewarding aspects of being an art director is seeing a concept brought to life by talented artists, illustrators, and photographers, and as soon as I spotted one of Yulia Brodskaya's amazing quilled paper illustrations, I knew that I wanted to see her unique take on the Storey logo for the cover of our Fall 2009 catalog. Her treatment has inspired "ooohs" and "ahhhhs" from our entire staff, and today the finished catalog will make its debut at Storey's booth (3577–3677) at BEA in New York.

In this interview for Inside Storey, Yulia describes the technique used to create our catalog cover and talks a little bit about what inspires her.

For our readers who aren’t familiar with paper quilling, please describe what it is.

Quilling, also known as paper filigree, paper scrolling, or paper rolling, is a paper craft that involves the use of strips of paper that are rolled, shaped, and glued together to create decorative designs. The name is believed to be derived from the feather quill on which the strips of paper were rolled.

The history of quilling is quite difficult to pin down. Although the craft is believed to have been practiced since ancient Egyptian times, it was during the Renaissance that nuns and monks developed the art. They used paper strips to decorate book covers and religious items instead of the original metal wires that their ancestors had used. Some of the earliest pieces of preserved paper filigree date from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

During that period quilling moved beyond its religious origins, but the limited availability of paper and the fact that it is very time-consuming restricted its practice mostly to ladies of leisure.

The popularity of the craft has fluctuated over the centuries, but it is currently enjoying a modern revival. Today, quilling is no longer confined to the "upper classes," though it is still practiced mostly by women and is still regarded as a hobby.

When did you first become interested in quilling, and who taught you the technique?

From the beginning I didn’t know anything about basic shapes, craft kits, and tools that can help in learning the technique. Actually, I didn’t know that the technique I have been using is called quilling; I was told that only after my first commercial commission for the Guardian. At the beginning I only knew that it is possible to edge-glue the curled strips of paper and card if a strong adhesive is used (this was mentioned by one of my tutors from the Moscow State Textile University).

How would you describe your creative process when working on a piece? Do you sketch with pencil first?

I begin with sketches and roughs; this is a very important stage, because once I have glued a piece of paper I can’t remove it (the glue is supposed to be strongly adhesive). Thus, there is no place for errors, and I need to have a very clear idea about what I’m doing from the beginning. However, there is always room for experiments with the paper itself, because sometimes it is difficult to see what will look good before starting the physical paper work.

Do you do any other crafts?

I used to do origami, paper collages, papier-mรขchรฉ, some textile painting; however, I mainly studied graphic design and fine art.

What is a typical day like for you?

Writing e-mails (discussing commissions), sketching for new projects, cutting paper, gluing paper, taking part in a photo shoot of the final artwork.

What other artists, past or present, inspire you?

Gustav Klimt.

You’ve been featured on so many inspirational blogs, which is where I first learned of your beautiful work. Do you know what initially triggered the flurry of attention?

It was the Guardian commission (g2 cover depicting a Christmas tree made of paper) that first got so much attention and feedback on the Web. I posted the work on the YCN Web site (it is a network for young creative people); after that it has been seen on numerous other design blogs.

What is one thing most people would be surprised to learn about you?

It is quite difficult for me to answer this question, as I don’t know what other people might find surprising about me that I consider normal; one thing that comes to my mind is that I usually listen to audio books instead of music, especially when I work.

Melanie Jolicoeur, Associate Director of Marketing


Inna D. said...

Thank you very much for posting this interview! There are so many blogs featuring Yulia's artwork, but only yours I found telling about the artist.
Thanks again,

Melanie Jolicoeur said...

Thanks Inna, and nice blog!

Ann Martin said...

Thanks so much for this interview with Yulia - it's fascinating, especially for other quillers to read! I've linked to it today on my blog, All Things Paper.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the interview and beautiful image of Yulia's fabulous quilling.

✿ n0ra ✿ said...

LOVE her marvelous papergraphy...